Top 8 Picnic Spots on Dartmoor - For a scenic bite to eat in Nature
The Best Picnic Locations on Dartmoor for a scenic lunch
Picnicking with friends and family remains one of Britain's most enduring pastimes, creating a tasty picnic hamper for a trip to a special location in The Great Outdoors, is the perfect combination for a great day out for the whole family.
Nature is good for us and everyone can benefit from the extra time spent in the fresh air among beautiful surroundings and whatever your age, taking the time to explore nature whilst having a tasty picnic offers an opportunity for friends and family to burn off some energy and enjoy some time together so check out these picnic spots on Dartmoor to visit and enjoy a picnic.
So why a Picnic on Dartmoor?
The Dartmoor National Park at 368 square miles has stunning views and many amazing locations to explore, it really is an area of outstanding natural beauty and makes the perfect location for a great midday lunch or a scenic evening BBQ, of the many locations in Devon, I couldn't recommend Dartmoor more for a Picnic out in Nature.
Time spent on Dartmoor provides you with the opportunity to explore Devon's largest nature reserve and be surrounded by wildlife and nature among some stunning views and whether you're taking a drive through the countryside or taking a leisurely stroll, make sure you take a picnic with you during your visit.
Here are our favourite 8 locations for a Dartmoor picnic.
1: Haytor Rocks
Located close to the southeastern edge of the moor, Haytor rocks offers unique views over South Devon's Teignbridge coastline and sweeping views over Dartmoors moorland. It also provides an opportunity to explore its stunning wildlife, ancient heritage and fascinating past by popping into one of the national parks visitor centers that are located nearby.
If you find yourself close to Bovey Tracey, then Haytor can be a great choice for some great picnic spots, there are three big car parks right next to Haytor, with miles of flat moorland to sit on, if you fancy a climb then head up to haytor and have a picnic at the top.
This is one of Dartmoors most iconic locations with thousands of people visiting each year, despite this it's not difficult to find a secluded place to enjoy a picnic offering beautiful interrupted views.
There are three large car parks for Haytor so parking is easy with nearby facilities at Haytors lower car park which is run by the national trust. https://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/enjoy-dartmoor/planning-your-visit/virtual-visitor-centre/haytor-visitor-centre
2: Burrator Arboretum and Nature Reserve.
The famous Burrator reservoir lies on Dartmoors Southern edge and offers stunning moorland views along with the vast views of the reservoir, and of course many great picnic opportunities.
Located close to the waters of the Arboretum, one of the best places for a picnic is on the north, the area here is surrounded by bridges, ponds and stunning specimen trees, with lots to explore and see.
Many parts of Burrator can be quite secluded and it can offer several quieter or lesser known places to picnic. So make sure you explore to find that special place.
Burrator as a whole offers the perfect place for families to relax and enjoy a day out. The Arboretum was created in the 1980s. By planting a series of non-native trees and integrating them with the local trees, the Arboretum has several picnic tables dotted around so makes an array of great picnic spots.
The whole idea was to provide people easy access to the reservoir so they could explore the area and enjoy outdoor activities such as picnicking. Be sure to utilise the many picnic benches overlooking some spectacular views.
Burrator has a big car park so parking is easy for this one. https://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/burrator
3: Emsworthy Common and Mire.
If your on Dartmoor in April to May, you simply can't go far wrong than to visit Emsworthy Common, the area becomes full to the brim of stunning rows of bluebells, stretching as far as the eye can see making it a great place to explore and a brilliant picnic spot.
You will want to aim to visit here anywhere from 3-6 weeks after the bluebells are in the woods to get the best blooms, and see meadows full of vibrant colour.
The area is a must visit and of course a great place to have a picnic throughout the year. The area is approximately 99 hectares in size and allows you to explore many great places for a picnic. There are many Dartmoor walls to sit against or trees to shade under, as well as many flat spots to choose from.
The area really does offer a great range of possibilities, explore the red barn abandoned in the 1870's or the Dartmoor stone walls built by the French prisoners from the 100 years war.
The area also has a variety of wildlife such as cuckoos, redstarts, butterflies, or dragonflies to see.
To find Emsworthy Common, head up the hill towards Haytor from the big carpark at the bottom, with haytor on your right hand side, continue around the left hand bend then go past saddle tor on your right, follow the road around as it bends right, then pull into the second small car park on your right, you should be able to walk down hill away from Haytor direction and go through the gate into emsworthy Common. About a 3min walk
The nearest facilities will be at Haytor lower car park.
Once you have finished your tasty picnic at Emsworthy Common you can walk of your lunch with a pleasant afternoon walk around the nearby hound tor.
4: Spitchwick Common and the River Dart
When talking about picnic locations on Dartmoor it would be a remiss not to mention Spitchwick Common, This one really does make a great picnic spot among the natural beauty and beautiful river dart.
Spitchwick lies on the South Devon side of Dartmoor and consists of a semi large and very flat river bank running alongside a fairly calm section of the River Dart, some sections have a weir so are more like natural swimming pools. The River Dart twists and turns its way through spitchwick creating many slow, calm and wide sections to swim in.
The river bank spans several hundred meters back from the river, consisting of very flat ground perfect for a picnic by the famous River Dart.
Spitchwick can get quite busy as it becomes popular with tourists in the summer and is one of the more popular Dartmoor picnic spots but since the Common extends for a good half a mile along the River Dart, there are lots of places to find for a more secluded picnic.
Spitchwick has one main car park at the bottom of the steep hill (both hills) and you then have to walk about 5mins to get to the river.
Leave the car park walk to your left, as the road bends around to the left at the bottom of the steep hill, turn right and then spitchwich is on your right hand side. If you have walked over the bridge by the carpark you have gone the wrong way.
There are no facilities at Spitchwick. https://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/enjoy-dartmoor/planning-your-visit/car-parks
5: Visit Okehampton and Simmons Park
If you're near Okehampton and looking for a place to enjoy a picnic, then Simmons park which is only 250m away from the center of the Okehampton offers the perfect setting. If you have a younger family, and are after an easier picnic location this one is a great choice.
Comprising approximately four hectares it includes rocky banks, ornamental shrubs, grassy areas, specimen trees and formal gardens, and of course this also includes lots of perfect grassy areas for you to spread your picnic rug and relax whilst enjoying a beautiful location.
Because of the proximity to town if you forget anything or you want to get some fresh produce for your picnic, you can head into Okehampton Town centre and pick up some vital items by exploring the many family run stores offering excellent locally produced goods.
The park itself was founded in 1905 by Sydney Simmons when he bought the woods and surrounding meadowland close to the river he funded the landscaping of the park including his waterfalls and fountains and built a stunning Swiss style chalet for the people of Okehampton to enjoy.
There is a good car park right next to the park, so parking is easy with nearby facilities. https://www.okehampton.gov.uk/simmonspark.php
6: Widecombe and Natsworthy gate
This is a bit more of a walk combined with a picnic location, firstly explore the beautiful village of Widecombe in the moor, with it picturesque church and unique shops, then head north going past the Old Inn and Wooder Manor on the old Manaton Road.
Natsworthy Gate can be found just past the Karuna institute entrance at Natsworthy Manor, approx 200m uphill at post code TQ13 7TR. parking isn't great here with just a few laybys to choose from, but the area is generally quite a quiet spots so most of the time you will find a space.
You should see the gate on your left which marks the entrance to the area. There is lots to see here, you can either head East and follow the path to Jay's Grave or head West and continue onto Grimpsound historical village.
The route will offer you many picturesque locations to have a bite to eat along the way while taking into the sweeping views of the moors and nearby forests whilst being adventures and getting in a good amount of exercise.
7: Meldon Hill by Chagford
One of Dartmoors many beautiful towns and one of the great spots on Dartmoor to visit, Chagford is nestled among Devon's stunning valleys, hills and moorland. So after you've spend a good time exploring the many unique stores, coffee shops and pubs the village has to offer and of course grabbed an ice cream why not go on a journey in search of some amazing views.
Meldon Hill at 380m high will give you that chance and being one of Dartmoors highest hills, it will give you amazing 360 degree views as far as the eye can see across Devon's rolling landscape.
One way to find Meldon Hill is to take a right turn close to the town centre then drive up manor road, turning left at the top of the hill, you'll pass the recreation ground and then will be a short distance from the hill, this route tends to offer more gradual inclines.
There are several routes up Meldon Hill, so its best to use your satnav or Google, or apple maps to find this one. The postcode of Meldon Hill is TQ13 8EG or you can use the grid ref SX6953 8610
A steeper but quicker path can be taken from the town centre via the Cricket pitchup, or simply head around the hill by car and park in one of the many small car parks
Once your at the top, relax and enjoy a very scenic picnic whilst taking in one of the countries most breathtaking views, smell the fresh air and look across to the huge Cosdon Hill, Yes Tor, High Willhays, Hangingstone Hill, Fernworthy Forest, Haytor Rocks and of course great views of Chagford to name a few.
8: Bellever forest
The picturesque Bellever forest lies bang in the middle of Dartmoor and is a great location to visit for some pine fresh air and a spot to eat in the great outdoors.
Bellever is medium sized pine forest, with several small walks and trails. The area also has lots of picnic tables and flat spots around the river to enjoy a great picnic.
There are quite a few things to see and do here from the Dartmoor ponies that roam near to the Old Clapper bridge over the River Dart. I would highly recommend a visit to Bellever forest.
Once you had finished exploring, you can head into Postbridge to walkover a famous clapper bridge from the 12th century and visit the Dartmoor national Park Information Centre for many more things to see and do in the area.
This is just a selection of locations to visit and I hope you find them useful when deciding your day out on Dartmoor.
What's your favorite place to Picnic on Dartmoor? Let us know in the Comments box below!
You might find our blog on the 10 Best Short Dartmoor Walks useful
Find out more about Places to visit in Devon in our Devon Guide
Meet the Author:
I am a Devon based photographer, who enjoys travel, hiking, rugby and photographing the beautiful world in which we live in, I see photography as a creative expression upon visiting beautiful places. Each picture often tells a story.
Thank you for reading this article, please feel to share it with your friends and please check out all my photography - and Dartmoor Prints for Sale
Sebastien Coell Photography