If you want to get away from it all for an outdoor activity break, YHA Dartmoor is the perfect…
Two Moors Way: Hamel Down to Bennett's Cross
A lovely moorland ridge walk, passing evidence of Bronze Age activity, with 360-degree views across Dartmoor
Try to pick a fine day for this stretch of the route: the views from the top of the Hameldown ridge stretch for miles in all directions, and navigation should not be a problem. The route is peppered with archaeological evidence from the Bronze Age: Dartmoor boasts the highest concentration of remains from that time in the whole of Europe. On this stage of the walk you will pass standing stones, barrows and a large walled settlement, Grimspound, dating from c1300BC and thought by many to be Dartmoor’s finest prehistoric monument.
Along the length of the ridge the route passes a number of Bronze Age barrows. Some of these were excavated in the 19th century and were found, uniquely on Dartmoor, to be of the Wessex culture. They are mainly made of earth with a ring of small stones. Underneath is a small cairn, with cremated human remains under that.
From the crossing of tracks, the route continues uphill along the crest of the ridge for a total of 2 miles (3km)
En route pass Hameldown Beacon and start to enjoy 360-degree views as far as the Haldon Hills to the east and the radio mast on North Hessary Tor above Princetown to the northwest. The white building seen in the distance ahead beyond Challacombe and Headland Warren is the Warren House Inn (see ‘Where to eat and drink’).
Follow the ridgetop path past Two Burrows, Single Burrow and Broad Burrow, where the path splits: keep straight on. Excavations at Single Burrow revealed the bronze blade and amber pommel of a dagger. Engraved stones on the barrows were erected in 1854 and bear the initials of the Duke of Somerset, then lord of Natsworthy Manor.
Pass close to Hameldown Cross, a manorial boundary stone, and keep ahead to reach Hameldown Tor, the highest point on the ridge.
Descend rockily to reach Grimspound; the official route of the Two Moors Way turns left and follows the outside of the wall to the far side. You can walk through the gateway, cross the settlement and pick up the route again. Turn left to ascend past Hookney Tor. Keep ahead between granite gateposts in a tumbledown wall, and bear half left to descend to a road.
Cross over and follow an obvious track over the next hill, skirting Birch Tor, to reach the B3212 road and parking area at Bennett’s Cross.
Moorland paths, damp in places, with far-reaching views
On leads 1 March–15 July; under close control at all times because of livestock
OS Explorer OL28 Dartmoor
Laneside on Dunstone Down (near start); parking area at Bennett’s Cross
None on route
<p>Do not attempt this stage in misty weather unless competent in use of map and compass; take extra and waterproof clothing.</p>
WALKING IN SAFETY
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
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About the area
With magnificent coastlines, two historic cities and the world-famous Dartmoor National Park, Devon sums up all that is best about the British landscape. For centuries it has been a fashionable and much loved holiday destination – especially south Devon’s glorious English Riviera.
Close to the English Riviera lies Dartmoor, one of the south-west’s most spectacular landscapes. The National Park, which contains Dartmoor, covers 365 square miles and includes many fascinating geological features – isolated granite tors and two summits exceeding 2,000 feet among them.
Not surprisingly, in Dartmoor the walking opportunities are enormous. Cycling in the two National Parks is also extremely popular and there is a good choice of off-road routes taking you to the heart of Dartmoor and Exmoor. Devon’s towns and cities offer stimulating alternatives to the rigours of the countryside.
Restaurants and Pubs
Recommended things to do
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