3 Great Dartmoor Trail Runs

3 Great Dartmoor Trail Runs

3 Great Dartmoor Trail Runs

Trail running is one of the best ways to explore our National Parks, especially Dartmoor. With endless miles of footpaths, bridleways and trails both marked and unmarked, moving swiftly with your feet you can get to some of the countries finest wild places and the best snack spots available! 
With a perfectly brewed espresso as pre-run fuel, you can leave right from the front door of the dewerstone Princetown store and step out onto some of Dartmoor's best trails.
 
We have compiled three of our favourite runs that leave right from our front door. 
There are classic routes that can be a 30 minutes easy jog, never far from the road or facilities, through to all-day epics taking on some of the best climbs, descents and views the national park has to offer. 
If running is not your thing then take a look at our Top Five Dartmoor Walks 🥾

1. The Princetown Dash 

This route involves firm gravel footpath, defined moorland trail and a short section of open moorland. A great introduction to the landscape and trail types around Princetown. With only a small elevation gain, this is the place to start. 
Length: About 5km / 3.5 miles and with dry ground is about a 30-40 min run at an easy pace. 
Strava Route (use as guide only)
Head out of the dewerstone shop towards South Hessary Tor, past the Plume of Feathers pub and campsite (pub is closed). Follow the track all the way to South Hessary. 
Take in the views towards Leather Tor, Sheeps Tor, the Tamar river and Plymouth in the distance. 
Follow the obvious trail over the open moor (not a made trail) West South West (WSW) down hill towards Hart Tor which if visibility is good you can see in front of you. This section can get a little wet in rainier times. 
From Hart Tor look for the tall aerial at North Hessary tor on the skyline. Follow the trail downhill north toward the road. Cross the road and continue up the trail from the layby to the old quarry railway track. (now the Granite and Gears routes). 
Head East on the rail track towards the fire station and Princetown following the Granite and Gears railway line track.
Descending from Hart Tor
 
 Across the road and up to the old Railway track with the aerial in view. Then dewerstone bound.

 2. The Big Loop - South Bound

This loop takes in the longer Southern section of the Granite and Gears loop. 
Its all defined gravel track, a short piece of moorland path and slightly more technical rocky track. Some trail running experience would be good. Great views towards Plymouth and Burrator Reservoir. 
 Strava Route (use as guide only)
Length: About 17km / 10miles 2 - 2.5 hrs for a nice cruisey run.
Head south out of Princetown up the track past the Plume Of Feather pub towards South Hessary Tor. (same as the Dash route)
Follow the track past the tor on towards Nuns Cross and Nuns Cross Farm.
 
Between the trees at Nuns Cross Farm with the old farm house behind.
Go up the hill now heading southwest-ish towards Eyelsbarrow on some good and sandy but rocky path that peaks by some old tin works and then goes down the hill towards the Scout hut near Gutter tor. 
When you get to flatter part of the track take a right and follow the obvious earth ditch towards Burrator. 
At the end of the ditch find the gate and track that leads down towards Burrator. It's steep to start but is really fun and then leads to the old farm house ruins and down to the Norsworthy Bridge parking area.
When you reach the bridge over the Meavy at the north end of the parking area turn right up the track, as it splits, stay right as the hedgerows narrow the track down, this is the start of the more rocky and technical part of the loop.
If running is too much, just walk it! We do! Once you go through the gateway (no actual gate there) by the end of the wall and edge of the plantation, the moor opens up again and its a very obvious track all the way back to the top! 
This is locally known as "The Rim Wrecker" for its famous ability to bust up even the hardiest of mountain bikes.  For experienced trail runners this section is the best part of the whole route, even if it is the longest climb. Don't forget to look back towards Burrator for some great views. Snack stop recommended! 
At the top part of the track you will be at a cross roads. Turn left and cruise back to Princetown for a well earned coffee and cake at the dewerstone store! 
Climbing towards Eylesbarrow tin works. Take this outward path for the Big Loop and Ryders Revenge. 
The last climb of the "Rim Wrecker"
 
Back to coffee and cake ☕️ 🧁

3. Ryders Revenge

An off road, open moorland adventure. A good long run for those with experience of running for 3 hrs or more. A couple of steep climbs, a bit soft underfoot in places. Best in summer ☀️
Strava Route (Use as guide only)
 Length: 28km / 17ish Miles 3 - 3.5hrs is a nice easy pace 
Take the Granite and Gears path out to South Hessary and beyond to Nuns Cross. We like to continue up towards Eyelsbarrow before turning off down towards some old tin workings and Plym Ford (on the map, and on the Abbots Way). 
Follow the Abbots Way past Erme Head (look for the Erme Row standing stone row by looking south across the hill as you meet the stream, small stones but very long, the longest stone row in Europe!).
Continue along the bottom of Green Hill and towards Redlake; follow the well worn but soft going path toward the old Tramway that runs along Ugborough moor, past Piles Hill towards the Redlake Volcano.
Cross the tramway where you will pick up the Two Moors Way and then descend directly down a steep hill to the clapper bridge over the Avon. Take in the sights of Huntingdon Warren and Avon reservoir.
 
From the clapper bridge take a direct line up the hill to the cairn at the top of Huntingdon Warren then almost due north to the summit of Ryders Hill. If you still had dry feet up to this point, you can forget about that now! 
Ryders Hill is the highest point on this part of the plateaux at 515m. Enjoy the 360 views over the Dart valley, back towards Princetown and south towards the sea. 
Here, we go slightly off the obvious path and head off nearer to Skir Hill down towards the old tin workings of Hooten Wheals - its a bit easier to cross the streams here, rather than further down the O Brook.
Pick up the well defined track that contours Down Ridge on your left and continue towards the Forest Inn at Hexworthy. Near the end of this track it gets a bit lost in the gorse bushes but its not hard to work out where you should be. 
When you hit the road feel free to take a quick detour to the Forest Inn for refreshments if its open! 
If you want to catch a coffee and Ice cream in Princetown take the left fork and follow the road for 500m. Before you reach an obvious parking spot take a left along the bridleway down to the river Swincombe and cross at the footbridge.
The trail is now obvious, a rocky track that takes you past some great old building ruins and on towards the Crock Of Gold. Its gets a bit peaty / soft in places but is all good going. Continue to the gate at Bullpark (some small cottages) and the very soon after go right through another gate towards Bachelors Hall. 
Take a left up the hill before you get there and keep going, when you hit the road by a cottage take a left back into Princetown where coffee and cake awaits! 🙌
 

Leave no trace 🌲

While you're out, be sure to pick up any litter you come across, after all, it's all our responsibility to do our part and leave the places we love in a better state than we found them. 
Rory and Jack doing their part after a post work run 🙌

 
And that about sums it up, these are some our favourite routes. We'd love to hear some fellow trail runners routes! We are always discovering new routes on Dartmoor - one of the many reasons we are lucky to call it our home 🏡
As always when it comes to being outdoors, please make sure you have the relevant experience, fitness and equipment to take them on. We recommend you have and use a map, don't rely on a mobile phone! 
- the dewerstone team -

2 comments


  • David White

    Brill! Got some great ideas there. My wife is a proper runner… me less so! We’ll take the kids and do the 3.5 mile loop while the runner of the family does the 10mile. We’ll probably get back at the same time! Refuel with a cuppa :-) that’s one of our weekends sorted. Thanks!


  • Paul Arnold

    Great guide to three trail runs. Think I’ll start with the little one.

    Thank you Dewerstone. 👍


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