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Dartmoor National Park offers hundreds of potential hiking trails through gorgeous rugged terrain and something for all abilities, whether you’re looking for a challenging long-distance multi-day hike or an easy amble through beautiful moorland. We recently walked from Postbridge to Fernworthy Reservoir and it was absolutely beautiful. The hike is approximately 13.5 miles and is an easy to moderate hike with mostly flat stretches and only one steep ascent to Hartland Tour. Read on for a full guide of the Postbridge to Fernworthy Reservoir walk.
Don’t forget to check out our other Dartmoor hiking guides.
Postbridge to Fernworthy Reservoir Walk
Start/Finish – Postbridge National Park Visitor Centre, PL20 6TH
Distance – 13.5 miles approx
Time Required – Approx. 6-8 hours – allow plenty of time to enjoy the views and a break at Fernworthy Reservoir
Ascent – 1250ft / 381m
Public Transport – No. 98 bus travels from Tavistock to Yelverton via Princetown and Postbridge
Facilities – Toilets located at National Park Visitor Centre. Small shop at the Post Office in Postbridge. East Dart Inn in Postbridge for food and drinks. Shops, pubs and cafes in Princetown, a 12-minute drive away.
Difficulty – 2/5 – Mostly flat terrain, the distance is the hardest element
The Route and Scenery
If you’re looking for beautiful untouched scenery, you really can’t go wrong in Dartmoor National Park. This Postbridge walk was especially enjoyable because the landscape is so varied. Starting off in the cute little hamlet of Postbridge, you’ll head across untouched moorland before climbing to Hartland Tor, then 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 is approximately 13.5 miles and is a relatively easy, flat hike with limited elevation. You can cut this hike short by walking along the road to avoid the last part of the hike. This is what we did, and the walk ended up being about 10 miles, cutting out the last 3.5 miles.
This Postbridge to Fernworthy walk isn’t a difficult hike if you’re comfortable with the 13.5 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 longer distances.
Difficulty rating – 2/5
We parked at Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre in Postbridge. Parking costs £5.00 for over 3 hours. Further information regarding parking charges can be found on the Dartmoor National Park website.
Postbridge to Fernworthy Reservoir Route Guide
Parking at the National Park Visitor Centre in Postbridge, we made our way past the Post Office and over the clapper bridge and turned left into a field to join the trail.
Did you know? 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 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 of the stones are 5000 years old 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 walked along the road to head back into Postbridge.
The official 13.5-mile route crosses the road and continues on a circular loop back to the car park for another 3.5 miles, but we decided to cut the hike short and walk back along the B3212 back to the car park.
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. I always carry one of these with me on every hike, so we know we’ll never run out of water.
If you’re looking for a beautiful Dartmoor walk 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.
If you’re looking for other hikes in Dartmoor National Park, check out this guide to hiking from Princetown to Foxtor.
Accommodation in Postbridge
If you’re looking for accommodation close to the trailhead, we’ve got you covered…
YHA Dartmoor – youth hostel in Postbridge close to the trailhead
East Dart Inn – Cosy inn in Postbridge very close to National Park Visitor Centre
Railway Ramblers’ Rest, Princetown – Comfortable guesthouse with hot tub in Princetown, a short drive from Postbridge
If you have any questions about this Dartmoor hike, please drop them in the comments.