It is rarely too hot on Dartmoor and in winter the temperatures are warmer than the rest of the UK. In general temperatures below -2 are rare! Bad weather is possible (likely) at any time of year, there isnt a good or bad time. Early spring is probably the wettest under foot however and some pitches can become waterlogged. Midges are not a problem on Dartmoor except near rivers when it is still, particularly in the mornings. This has never even factored into when or where I have camped, nevermind being a problem.
The north moor is far more scenic than the south moor and bogs are less of an issue. There are excellent camping spots almost everywhere, you really can take your pick. Most places it also isnt a problem to park overnight, I have never left my car 2 nights but you certainly could in any of the villages local to Dartmoor.
If you want to camp next to water then Tavy Cleave might be your best bet. There are 3 large and excellent grassy pitches up the Cleave right next to the water. They are dry pretty much year round except after sustained rain. This blog article gives you an idea of what to expect at Tavy Cleave with a mention of camping. http://www.alexnail.com/blog/dartmoor/tavy-cleave-dartmoor-locations-2/ You can park for 2 nights at lane end I would imagine without any problems at all. Ihave left my car there for 2 full days and overnight there perhaps 10 times without anyone saying anything! The rangers rarely come out that way anyway.
In my experience you can find a pitch near every single tor on Dartmoor without much trouble, the camping is excellent. I would suggest a trip to Great Links Tor if you decide to go to Tavy Cleave. The views are wonderful.
This general area is better that Piles Copse in almost every way in my opinion.
The north western moor is a lot less touristy than the other side. In the summer Haytor and hound tor in particular are overrun with tourists. Do be aware of the shooting times on the moor though. You can find a timetable online. Weekends generally have no shooting and much of the summer is also free from army activity.
Finally I really cant emphasise enough how camping friendly Dartmoor is, if you see somewhere on the map that looks promising, just walk there and set up your tent.
Meldon Reservoir is a safe place to leave your car overnight if you intend to do Northern Dartmoor; don't rule out Southern Dartmoor though, fewer features but more wildlife and no soldiers to dodge.
There is a perfect camping spot at Sandy Ford (it really is bizarre compared to all surrounding areas.
If you are going to go over South Dartmoor you can park at Avondale Reservoir (I haven't but it at least seems OK). Red Lake is a good place to aim for and there are lots of points of interest around too. See some pictures below:
Camping at Sandy Ford (North Dartmoor)
Camping at Broad Falls (South Dartmoor)
Camping at Red Lake (South Dartmoor)
I would rather disagree with AN on the proliferation of camping spots, but there are plenty, to be fair. Best to find for yourself, I reckon - more fun. Tavy Cleave has the added benefit of a couple of good swimming spots, too.
The southern moor has a remoteness to it, I feel, that the north moor does not. It can be rather strange to be out on the N moor, thinking it's remote, then find a couple of minibuses cruising around, dropping people off on the military link road. There's a possibility this is closed, but I don't think so.
Re water, it's fine, tho some prefer not to drink it. Just be sensible.
Re midges, very occasionally they can be a problem, but if so, just move higher up the hill. They have written off an evening social event for the team I'm in on more than one occasion.
Re leaving your car, break-ins to cars seem to have reduced, but you'll find the tell tale bits of broken glass in many carparks. Again, making sure you don't display items is wise.
SimonDawes wrote (see)
Last time I was there, there was a ban on overnight parking at Meldon reservoir carpark. The taxi driver told me that it was because of dogging. Has it changed? Mind you, I can't see how it could be enforced. If a car is left there, is it going to get towed away within 48 hours?
Yeah the miliatary road is still open. I wasnt quite clear but when I say 'north moor' I am refering to the half of the moor north of the B3357, which is hardly an accurate description I must admit!
I agree that the area around Yes Tor/Oke Tor is probably best avoided if you dont want to meet people. The northern moor does have some truelly remote spots though. A couple of my favourites are Fur Tor (at the end of Tavy Cleave, with an outstanding view) and Wild Tor, which is also very remote and near to Watern Tor, which is relatively unique as a Tor.
I stick by my assertion that you can camp anywhere because I have always been able to set up a tent within 100m of where I planned. Of course I have never planned on setting up my tent on a hillside or in a bog, but I have yet to find a tor or river that I cant pitch a tent at and have a good nights sleep. So far I have camped at:
Wild Tor, Watern Tor, Bowermans Nose, Hound Tor, Saddle Tor, Rippon Tor, Mel Tor, Great Mis, Grimspound, the west Dart, the walkham, tavy cleave, Sharp Tor above tavy cleave, Ger Tor, Great Links, the beardown man, Grey Wethers, the abandoned farm nr fernworthy, fernworthy woods, Leather Tor nr Burrator, Down Tor (which has a brilliant spot overlooking Burrator) and I think that's it! My walks around some of the southern moor have not brought up much in terms of photographic interest so I have never camped there.
On the subject of water purity, I do drink directly from the streams and occasionally from rivers. I have never been ill but obviously with animals and people about the potential is there!
Yes. plenty of places where you can camp, but in terms of area a very small proportion of it will allow a tent to be pitched due to terrain.... I prefer tors for the possible views/shelter good chance of a pitch. Often what appears on the map to be flat river/stream-side ground is just a load of centuries old rubble heaps from old tinners workings or too wet.
Although you can camp legally in a lot of places, you should be aware it is by no means 'legal' in much of the national park - see map here for detail. (Not that it ever stops me or should stop anyone who behaves discreetly and sensibly IMO. Anywhere in the country... )
I reckon that the only real difference between south and north is that there are less tors/clitter in parts of the the south.
Plenty of remote spots in the north well away from the roads/military tracks
I have camped there all time sof the year - watch your forecasts really - apart from temperature,any season can be wet and windy....
Midges are never too bad compared to up north....
If you had a aprticular area where you might want to camp, someone here could probably advise a good pitch ....
I drink the water
I don't think I'd be into camping right at at Sandy Ford at the moment (We crossed there sunday) - it would be cold and damp for me - better off up higher unless you like a lot of condensation in the tent or to be in a low cold spot. (Simons pitch is surrounded by very wet ground/river at the moment)
Access and parking is easily had from all round the moor - just have a look around when you get there - you won't have to walk more than 1/2 a mile from anywhere you might want to start the walk - if at all.
I know Mole is right, we were told the spot we had sometimes floods!
Jake, we parked there last April (3rd). Did not see any signs about overnight parking and we were too far away to see any overnight action
Dartmoor is vast, there are plenty of good spots in both North and South for camping. ps I always filter my water through a travel tap.
as i understand it wild camping is permitted on the moor as long as its kept low key and away from roads and access points and only really 1 night in a small tent in one area.
i think if you have a load of tents or a large 5 berth within range of your parking the rangers may have a word.
You also want to watch out for ticks in the warmer months, they can carry limes disease. There are various threads on here about it. Don't let it put you off wild camping though. I bought home 3 ticks on my on my first Dartmoor wild camp and never got limes disease. Since then Ive been more careful and havent had any .
JW - you'd be better off using 2 smaller tents - less obtrusive. Better again if they're green. Re ticks, I get dozens every year but some don't. Just ensure you get them off within 24 hrs to reduce chance of disease. And check everywhere!
How far do you think you can carry your stuff? If you've got a bunch of teens, make 'em work!
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