The United Kingdom is home to 15 national parks, offering hugely diverse areas of protected countryside that everyone can visit. National parks are distributed throughout the country, from the Caingorms National Park, in the eastern Highlands of Scotland, to Dartmoor National Park, in Devon, England.
Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor National Park covers an area of nearly 370 square miles, composed predominantly of heather covered moorland, but interrupted by steep, wooded river valleys of the River Dart and its tributaries and dramatic rocky outcrops, known as tors, formed through the weathering of granite over millions of years. Dartmoor offers miles of open moorland, path and tracks and lends itself well to a range of outdoor activities, such as camping, cycling and hiking, while the wild, rugged landscape is perfect for photography.
Camping on the Moor
Dartmoor National Park offers limitless possibilities for camping and you can camp on most parts of the moor for free. You should check with the National Park Authority or press for military training scheduled and the weather to ensure your camp doesn’t have any surprises.
Cycling on Dartmoor
Whether road cycling or mountain biking is what you are looking for, you will find a vast network of cycle routes, bridleways and byways within the confines of the Dartmoor National Park. The National Park Authority is keen to promote safe, considerate cycling on and off-road and has released a cycling code of conduct leaflet in conjunction with cyclists and local farmers.
Hiking or walking on Dartmoor is so popular that the National Park hosts the annual Dartmoor Walking Festival in late August and early September. A variety of walks, talks and events takes place over the nine days of the Festival. At other times, you can choose from self-guided or guided walks over numerous routes and distances at different times of year. Of course, a guided walk will prevent you from becoming lost on the moor, but bear in mind that the terrain is often demanding and exposed to the vagaries of the British weather, so pay attention to the safety advice offered to walkers.
Photography on Dartmoor
Dartmoor is the top of an exposed batholith or, in other words, a huge, irregularly-shaped mass of granite, so the rocky outcrops, or tors, are an obvious starting point for most photographers. However, Dartmoor is rich in prehistoric artefacts, including the numerous granite crosses and stone circles dotted across the landscape, and the impact of the Industrial Revolution can still be seen all over the moor, so photographers should never be short of subject matter.
Image credit: Dave Gibbeson