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Another week, another beautiful Dartmoor hike. While we’re unable to travel internationally at the moment, we’re still making sure to enjoy socially-distanced days out in our local area. There are hundreds of potential hiking trails on Dartmoor, whether you’re looking for a long-distance, challenging day hike or an easy walk through untouched terrain. Here’s one we enjoyed recently from Postbridge to Fernworthy Reservoir.
Postbridge to Fernworthy Reservoir Hike
The route and scenery
If you’re looking for great scenery, you can’t really go wrong wherever you head to on Dartmoor. This hike, though, was especially enjoyable because it was so varied. Starting off in the cute town of Postbridge, heading across untouched moorland, up to Hartland Tor, past the Grey Wethers Stone Circles and through a beautiful forest to the gorgeous Fernworthy Reservoir, before heading back to Postbridge. This walk truly offers a little bit of everything.
The circular route we planned ended up being just short of 10 miles and is an easy, flat hike with very little elevation. There’s not really much opportunity to cut this hike short, unless you’re happy to skip the forest and reservoir but, in my opinion, theses were some of the nicest parts of the walk and if you can endure 10 miles, I’d recommend doing the full hike.
This isn’t a difficult hike if you’re comfortable with the 10-mile distance. The walk is mostly flat, aside from a short ascent to Hartland Tor. After that, the hike is flat all the way. I’d say this is an easy hike for seasoned hikers, but perhaps intermediate for beginners if you’re not used to walking 10 miles.
Difficulty rating – 2/5
We parked at Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre in Postbridge. Currently, the car park is free due to the pandemic but usually it’s pay and display.
Parking at Postbridge, we made our way over the clapper bridge and turned left on the trail. The clapper bridge in Postbridge is thought to be one of the oldest bridges on Dartmoor. It was recorded as far back as the 14th century, likely built in the 13th century, and was probably built to help horses cross the river in medieval times.
Following the East Dart River north, we made our way past Hartland House and up to Hartland Tor. This is the only uphill section of the hike and it’s quite a short sharp incline to the top of the Tor. We then continued to follow the river north until it bends to the left. The path can be difficult to follow at times, with a lot of overgrown shrubbery and bushes but if you head in the general direction of north, following the East Dart River until it diverts to the left, you can’t go far wrong.
Once the river bends to the left, continue straight ahead until you come across two huge stone circles. Grey Wethers Stone Circles are, incredibly, thought to date back to the Bronze Age, which would put them at an astonishing 5000 years old! Many of the stones in the circle have been restored in recent years, so not all date back 5000 years but, even so, standing in the middle of the circles, it’s amazing to consider the history and heritage of that patch of earth.
From Grey Wethers Stone Circles, you should spot a large forest to the north east. Head towards the forest and follow the wall until you come to an entrance. The forest path will lead through beautiful woodland areas, eventually bringing you to Fernworthy Reservoir, which is a lovely spot for a picnic. I’ve pinpointed our lunch location below, where you’ll find a grassy area with picnic tables beside the reservoir.
From Fernworthy Reservoir, there are several footpaths that you can follow south. Either head towards Assycombe or follow the footpath along Lowton Brook until you reach the edge of the forest. When we reached the perimeter wall, the path kind of disappeared, so we had to hop over the low wall before heading over the brow of the hill to rejoin the footpath. From here we followed the footpath to Merripit Hill where we descended to meet the road and head back into Postbridge.
Tip: If you’re concerned about being able to carry enough water for the whole day, I’d highly recommend purchasing a Sawyer Mini Water Filter. The Sawyer Mini allows you to collect water from any river or stream and filters out any bacteria or dodgy stuff that may give you a bad tummy. My husband and I always carry one of these with us on every hike, so we know we’ll never run out of water.
If you’re looking for a fairly easy hike with a variety of scenery, this Dartmoor hiking trail is for you. This is a great hike for beginners who want to push their distance, without it being too challenging and there are plenty of lovely spots to stop along the way to enjoy a drink or lunch with a view. As is usually the case with hikes on Dartmoor, there are no cafes, pubs or restaurants along the route, so it’s important to bring your own food and plenty of water.