Princetown to Burrator reservoir route

Ride level Regular cyclist
Distance 24 mi / 39 km
Type of bicycle Mountain bike
Traffic free
Circular route
Dartmoor. Photo by Matt Woodcock

Matt Woodcock grew up near Dartmoor and is Cycling UK's Training Manager; he regularly runs courses like the Mountain Bike Leader and Expedition modules on Dartmoor. This is his favourite loop.  

The route

Heading south east from the roundabout between the Plume of Feathers and the Fox Tor Cafe, head up a well-defined bridleway to a gate. This is your entry to the moor proper. The route it self takes you on into the middle of the moor with great view (on a clear day) of Burrator Reservoir, Plymouth and the wild moor.

From the moor gate the path heads up gently for 1.3km to South Hessary Tor on the left of the path, a mall but rocky outcrop.

Behind and east you will see view of Fox Tor Myre the inspiration for Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles.

Continue on the path for a further 1.5km until you reach an obvious crossroads. If you miss this turning and go straight on you will eventually will reach Nun Cross Farm, a disused house and clearing.

At the crossroads, take the right hand turn taking you west towards Burrator. This path contours the hillside, heading down until you reach the forest.

After 1.7km you will reach a gully which heads up to Crazy Well Pool. This is well worth a look; legend says that this is bottomless! It is also used to train the Royal Marines, who cross this open pool as part of their training marches.  It's a good place for a snack stop.

Continuing down the path for a further 400m and you will be at the forest. The path heads down hugging the edge of the wood all the way to Norsworthy Bridge and carpark. A great place to stop and have an ice cream.

At Norsworthy Bridge follow the road clockwise for almost 3km to the top of the reservoir and dam. This gives you great view across the dam and looking north west on to Sheepstor and beyond.

Once you are over the dam, turn right and ride for 500m, before taking the left turn back into the forest and heading north. After further 1km you will reach the B3212, a fast-moving road to Princetown. You need to cross this road, and then head up the track north, as this will take you between the field boundaries. After 1km it takes you back out onto the open moor.

The path continues to contour north east past Leeden Tor, Ingra Tor and finally looping around Kings Tor before heading back east towards Princetown. Once you have ridden through Swell Tor Quarries, you can stay on the path and disused railway track which will take you back into Princetown.

This route takes you through varied moorland terrain, on- and off-road, plus gravel tracks.

On clear day you will see some of the best bits of the moor. Although this route is predominately on well-defined paths, you should always have a map and compass to be able to cope with the Dartmoor weather. The same can be said for clothing - bring a good waterproof with a hood!