National Character Area 150

Dartmoor - Key Characteristics

  • Extensive unsettled moorland with broad ridges, expansive panoramic views and an overwhelming sense of remoteness and wildness. Hardy sheep, cattle and ponies, including the Dartmoor Pony, freely graze.

  • Granite tors forming characteristic silhouettes on otherwise smooth, uninterrupted skylines, and granite boulders and ‘clitter’ punctuating smooth moorland slopes.

  • Large tracts of internationally important blanket bog and valley mires overlying thick deposits of peat; home of hare’s-tail cotton grass and the breeding ground for golden plover and dunlin.

  • A major water catchment, with an extensive network of small streams and mires radiating off the high moor, feeding into fast-flowing rivers with white water, small waterfalls and gushing torrents occupying steep-sided, woodland-clad valleys.

  • A cultural landscape with a strong time depth, including extensive remains dating from the Bronze Age, and farmsteads as well as a mining industry from the medieval period.

  • A landscape unified by granite, reflected in ancient monuments, stone walls, bridges and settlements.

  • A relatively sparsely settled landscape, with isolated farmsteads dotted across the moorland, small settlements clustered around bridging points or crossroads, and small market towns scattered around the periphery. Church towers form prominent vertical elements.

  • A small-scale pastoral landscape – with a strong field pattern defined by granite walls, granite-faced banks or hedgebanks – which surrounds the open moorland.

  • Mature hedgerow trees, valley floors fringed with wet woodland, and valley sides often cloaked in extensive areas of ancient semi-natural woodland, which create a sense of enclosure – a stark contrast to the central moorland.

  • Open and straight roads that cross the moorland and contrast with the narrow, winding myriad of lanes that thread through the enclosed pastoral landscape linking farmsteads, hamlets and villages.

  • An area with a high level of tranquillity, with dark night skies. As a National Park, the area offers opportunities to experience peace and solitude in open ‘wilderness’ or in intimate enclosed areas.