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Dartmoor National Park || Aune Head Arts

the Dartmoor artists: Volkhardt Müller || Hugh Nankivell

The Park
Dartmoor is an area of moorland in the centre of Devon, England (see map). Protected by National Park status, it covers 368 square miles (953 km2).
The granite upland dates from the Carboniferous period of geological history. The moorland is capped with many exposed granite hilltops (known as tors), providing habitats for Dartmoor wildlife. The highest point is High Willhays, 621 m (2,037 ft) above sea level. The entire area is rich in antiquities and archaeology.

Dartmoor is managed by the Dartmoor National Park Authority whose 26 members are drawn from Devon County Council, local District Councils and Government.

Parts of Dartmoor have been used as a military firing range for over two hundred years although live firings happen on relatively few days each year (go here for the firing schedule). The public enjoy extensive access rights to the rest of Dartmoor, and it is a popular tourist destination, and the Park Authority - amongst many others - provide a series of guided walks and other activities on the moor.

Tors
Dartmoor is known for its tors – large hills, topped with outcrops of bedrock, which in granite country such as this are usually rounded boulder-like formations. There are over 160 tors on Dartmoor. They are the focus of an annual event known as the Ten Tors Challenge, when over a thousand people, aged between 14 and 21, walk for distances of 35, 45 or 55 miles (56, 72 or 89 km) over ten tors on many differing routes. While many of the hills of Dartmoor have the word "Tor" in them quite a number do not, however this does not appear to relate to whether there is an outcrop of rock on their summit.

The highest points on Dartmoor are High Willhays (grid reference SX580895) at 621 m (2,040 ft) and Yes Tor (grid reference SX581901) 619 m (2,030 ft) on the northern moor. Ryder's Hill (grid reference SX690660), 515 m (1,690 ft), Snowdon 495 m (1,620 ft), and an unnamed point at (grid reference SX603645),493 m (1,620 ft) are the highest points on the southern moor. Probably the best known tor on Dartmoor is Haytor (grid reference SX757771), 457 m (1,500 ft). For a more complete list see List of Dartmoor tors and hills.

Rivers
Dartmoor is very wet, and is the source of a number of water courses, including the Ashburn, Avon, Bovey, Dart, East and West Okement, East and West Webburn, Erme, Lyd, Meavy, Plym, Swincombe, Tavy, Taw, Teign, Walkham, Yealm Rivers. As well as shaping the landscape, these have traditionally provided a source of power for moor industries such as tin mining and quarrying. The levels of rainfall on Dartmoor are considerably higher than in the surrounding lowlands. With much of the national park covered in thick layers of peat, the rain is usually absorbed quickly and distributed slowly, so that the moor is rarely dry. In areas where water accumulates, dangerous bogs or mires can result. Some of these, up to 12 feet (3.7 m) across and topped with bright green moss, are known to locals as "feather beds" or "quaking bog", because they shift (or 'quake') beneath your feet. This is the result of accumulations of sphagnum moss growing over a hollow in the granite filled with water.

The moor takes its name from the River Dart, which starts as the East Dart and West Dart and then becomes a single river at Dartmeet.

Farming
Another major factor shaping the life - and culture - of Dartmoor is farming, still one of the most significant economic contributors to the local economy. These are not large arable farms, but mixed hill farms, often small and many of great antiquity. Hill Farming is not an easy life and has come under great pressure in recent times. The Park Authority provides support and information about hill farming through its Devon Hill Farm Project; you can also gain insight into contemporary farming through Aune Head Arts' projects Focus on Farmers and Women in Farming.

 

For a virtual visit to a number of Dartmoor places, visit Virtually Dartmoor.

 

Significant parts of the above text is taken from the Wikipedia entry for Dartmoor.


aune head arts

The local organising partner (and the overall lead organisation on the Triparks project) was Aune Head Arts. AHA has been based on Dartmoor since its inception in 1997, and has been producing projects with some connection to Dartmoor ever since. More information is available on their website.

Contact details: The High Moorland Business Centre, The Old Duchy Hotel, Princetown, Yelverton, Devon PL20 6QF
Telephone: 01822 890 539
email: info@auneheadarts.org.uk

 

 

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