There are of course a great many beautiful picnic spots in our beautiful Dartmoor National Park from the popular riverside areas at Spitchwick and Cadover Bridge to the more remote splendours of Fur Tor and Redlake. Some are best enjoyed during the heat of the summer while others make the perfect stop for a hot drink or a flask of soup during the colder months.
Meldon Hill – Chagford
Turn right at the top of the square in the centre of this historic stannary town and follow Manor Road downhill out of the town. At the bottom of the hill turn left and take a stroll past the recreation field and across the flat area of common before attempting the challenging north face of this isolated hill that overlooks Chagford. Site of the locally famous Two Hills Race (Nattadon forming the second hill) Meldon offers picnickers stunning 360° views from the top and a variety of grassy areas to spread a rug among the rocks that form mini tors at the summit. For the less energetic there’s the chance to drive around to the south side and park in a small car park before following a wide, gently sloping grass path to the top. For a perfect end to a day out, stop for a cool drink or cream tea on your way home that evening! Try Globe Inn in Chagford or The Post Inn at Whiddon Down.
If you’re in the Bovey Tracey area, then Haytor has to be the place to take your picnic. Although Haytor is the most iconic tor on Dartmoor with its own National Park Visitor Centre and thousands of visitors each year it’s still possible to find a quite spot for a picnic and enjoy the views uninterrupted. Rather than picnicking right beside the rocks why not drop down a little and explore the area around the disused quarries either to the west or north east of the tor itself or walk out along the granite tramway that now forms the start of the Templer Way, a walking trail that follows the old export route of the granite from the quarries to the coast? For fantastic fresh produce with which to create your perfect picnic, call in to Ullacombe Farm Shop on your way up to Haytor!
Simmons Park – Okehampton
If you’re looking for a great picnic spot for younger children on the northern side of the National Park or perhaps a more sheltered option during the shoulder months, then Simmons Park, in Okehampton is the place to visit. Situated 250 metres south of the centre of the town, to the west of the East Okement River, Simmons Park covers 4 hectares and includes formal gardens, specimen trees, rocky banks planted with ornamental shrubs, woodland and grassy areas perfect for spreading out a picnic rug or playing games. For superb food shopping to make your picnic, stop at Whitehouse Services on the A30 exit for Okehampton. Wonderful, family run shop, garage (and restaurant) with great fresh, local produce.
The Arboretum – Burrator
Burrator is of course most famous for its reservoir which draws many people to this south western part of the National Park. While there are many beautiful picnic spots close to the water, the Arboretum, at the top end of the reservoir, with its wide variety of specimen trees, winding paths and bridges is a lesser known and often quieter spot for a picnic. Children will love running along the flat paths and the whole area is accessible for those with special needs. The site has its own free car park. On your way home, call in at the lovely Royal Oak Inn at Meavy.
Natsworthy Gate – Widecombe
If you’re looking for a quiet stream-side spot then consider stopping off at Natsworthy Gate approximately 2 miles north of Widecombe -in-the-Moor along a minor road that leads out of the centre of the village. Keeping to the right of the East Webburn River, which is still really a stream at this point, walk along the path partly up towards the Airforce memorial stone then branch left to a small pool by the stream, with a little tree for shade and water for a cooling paddle.