Great Staple Tor is an amazing granite outcrop that is the perfect centerpiece for an exciting two-day Dartmoor adventure.
Why: The rugged wilderness of Dartmoor National Park offers a stunning natural playground for all outdoor enthusiasts. Due to the military ranges, nothing much has changed on the moorland, which means vast open spaces, amazing rocky tors and a genuine sense of wilderness. In addition, Dartmoor is the only destination in England to accept wild camping, so you’re free to put up a tent for a night or two with only few restrictions, and revel in the star-spangled dark nights and admire the sunrises and sunsets. This all leads rather neatly to Great Staple Tor, a superbly photogenic basecamp. At 455 metres above sea level this is a vantage point to see for miles around, while a bridle path from Merrivale to Higher Godsworthy puts it on exciting mountain biking and walking routes.
Walking adventure: Great Staple Tor is on open access land, meaning you’re free to stroll wherever you want, without having to follow footpaths. Everywhere there are tracks and trails, many of them aren’t even marked on maps, and there’s a great ridge to explore north from Great Staple Tor to a stone circle, passing by Roos Tor.
Mountain biking adventure: Off-road cyclists have to follow bridle paths and designated tracks within the national park area, but this still leaves miles of spectacular cross-country to explore on two wheels. A bridle path divides Great from Middle Staple Tor and it’s easy to make an enormous moorland loop from Merrivale to Lower Godsworthy, continuing north-east across the moor before descending south to Princetown, where the notorious Dartmoor Prison is located. Nowadays, it’s a less high-security affair, housing low category prisoners and a museum (dartmoor-prison. co.uk). Cycling east from Princetown provides fine opportunities along the Dartmoor Way; or go south through Hessary Tor to Burrator Reservoir before following the Old Railway Line north back to Princetown.
Running adventure: If you’re interested in guided off-road running in the area, visit wildrunning.co.uk
Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 is needed to navigate your way across the moorland.
Beware: Areas of Dartmoor are still active military firing ranges, so respect red flags and keep out when they’re flying. You can find information on the firing program for the following week in local newspapers, at information centers and ver the phone on a toll-free number 0800 4584868 or online at dartmoor-ranges.co.uk.
Accommodation: If you’re planning to wild camp, the national park publishes useful information in leaflets. For more information see dartmoor.gov.uk. If you don’t like a night under the sky, or simply want a pint and a meal before going to bed, check out the Dartmoor Inn at nearby Merrivale (01822 890340).