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Dartmoor and The Moor Otter Trail

Dartmoor and The Moor Otter Trail

A Mini Adventure on Dartmoor following Moor Otter Trail

Dartmoor makes me slightly nervous. It’s quite big, a bit bleak and a little scary when the fog descends.  I remember being in the Cadets, hiking across the vast open expanse of moorland near Okehampton, trying to map read and getting wet feet!  I’ve been back a number of times during a pre-children rock climbing phase, but I don’t really know my way around many areas.

I see other people’s pictures and posts of gurgling rivers, pretty bridges and beautiful views and think I really need to be a bit braver. Well I haven’t really been yet, but following the Moor Otter Trail is certainly a good start to finding our way to some new areas of Dartmoor.

A Mini Adventure on Dartmoor following Moor Otter Trail Hay tor

A Short Hike up to Haytor

 Moor Otter Trail

The Moor Otter Trail is a great arts project that is raising awareness and money for the protection of the Dartmoor ecosystem and helping to fund the Junior Rangers programme in the South West.

Otters have slowly been returning to Dartmoor and are becoming more established. They are hard to spot in real life, but fortunately these works of art are much easier to find.

The otters are a great way to help navigate Dartmoor, but even once the project has finished the little route that we took would be just as worthwhile for a day trip.

A Mini Adventure on Dartmoor following Moor Otter Trail House Of Marbles

Where Can The Otters Be Found ?

There are 100 otters dotted around Dartmoor and a few in nearby towns such as Newton Aboot and Totnes. They stand about 3 feet high on a plinth and each one has been beautifully painted by a local artist. You will find them at tourist attractions, pubs, cafes and hotels – most of then are accessible without having to pay any entrance fee or feeling obliged to buy anything. There is a Moor Otter Trail map and booklet you can pick up in the visitor centres or download one. Each has a name and number to record. If you want you can try collecting as many as you can with the chance of a prize if you identify 20 or more.

Dartmoor Moor Otter Trail Bumbershoot
Dartmoor Moor Otter Trail Colin
Dartmoor Moor Otter Trail Otter Spotter
Dartmoor Moor Otter Trail Otterly Spotterly

Our Route

Coming from the Exeter direction we headed for Bovey Tracey.  Sat nav helpfully at the ready.  The first stop was the Devon Guild of Craftsmen (free parking) where we found our first otter to great excitement. There was also the chance to have a look around the lovely art and crafts on display.  This was a new place for us us, it was very calm with a cafe on site as well.

Our second stop was The House of Marbles which was a lot busier.  My girls had been before with Grandma but this was also a first for me.  What a great attraction –  also free with free parking!  Not surprisingly there are many types of marbles on display, vintage toys and lots of lovely things to buy.  It’s surprising child friendly with only a few “don’t touch” moments needed!

We really enjoyed watching the free glass blowing demonstrations, amazing how they can make such delicate and intricate ornaments. There’s also marble runs to entertain, a play area and cafe.

Result –  2 more otters ticked off!  We loved the blue umbrellas and tiny Mary Poppins on Bumbershoot.

Dartmoor Moor Otter Trail Tiverton

Our mini adventure next took us to Parke Estate. This is a National Trust owned site. A huge area of land on the edge of Dartmoor with the River Bovey running through the middle. Perfect for walking, cycling, there’s also an orienteering course to download and of course the all important tea room.

Despite being a NT member for many years I had never heard of this before.  Free parking for NT members.  We will be back to have a good look around.

Tick – 2 more otters (in the main house)!

The Otter Trail took us to Parke Estate – if it wasn’t for the Moor Otters I would not have known how big a place this is”.

Back in the car (this was a whistle stop tour!) to another new place for me (and one to go back to!) just up the road from Parke. A delightful farm shop and tea room called Ullacombe Farm.  There was a lovely play park and one of my favourite otters – the spotty one!

Dartmoor Moor Otter Trail Haytor climb

Finally a diversion to a pub before my main plan for the afternoon – the short hike up to Haytor. The girls couldn’t remember being taken as toddlers.  At least now they can make it all the way under their own steam. We climbed right to the top (no health and safety signs or don’t climb rules –  horray!) It was very windy but with amazing views.

Back in the Dartmoor Visitor Centre we found our last otter of the day just as it was closing at 5pm.

“It’s a short hike up the hill to Haytor is perfect for all ages. Climbing to the top is entirely optional!”

A Mini Adventure on Dartmoor following Moor Otter Trail view from Hay Tor

The View from Haytor looking South East

Given more time, our trip around Bovey Tracey and Haytor would certainly have been a full day out.  It really should have included a cream tea as well, there were enough chances!

In fact we were on the way to Tiverton for a night camping and then caneoing the next day.  We had a lovely time on the River Tamar.  Our trip took off from Cotehele Quay (a wonderful National Trust location just across the border into Cornwall).  You can read about our canoeing trip on my post about Tamar Trails.

So in summary if you are looking for an enjoyable day out or something to add onto a trip to Dartmoor then this is a really great idea. The competition to record 20 otters is open until 19th September (so I am assuming that it when the trail closes) and you can bid online for the otters 4th October.

Have you spotted any otters and if so which was your favourite?

Dartmoor Moor Otter Trail Haytor view
Country Kids
Potty Adventures
Tin Box Traveller

About The Author

mm

Whether you are on holiday, recently moved to the region or like me live here and realise that there are great places a just few miles away that seem to have passed you by, then I hope you enjoy reading this.

19 Comments

  1. natalie williams

    I feel the same way about Dartmoor, it is creepy but beautiful at the same time. Love the photos in this post! #Devonbloggers

    Reply
    • mm

      Thank you. I definitely prefer Dartmoor on a sunny day!

      Reply
  2. Rachel

    This sounds like a fun idea – especially with children. Sounds like you found many of the otters – great way to raise awareness. We saw a couple when in Dartmoor recently and hadn’t realised there were so many about!

    Reply
  3. Jo (Seaside Belle)

    I’ve not spotted any otters yet – these holidays are full on! But I think it’s a great initiative and a really clever way to help people discover new attractions on and around the moor.

    Reply
    • mm

      There are some in Newton Abbot and Totnes as well so they are quite spread around the area.

      Reply
  4. JADE THE PARENTING JUNGLE

    Ahh fantastic so this is where all your fab otter pictures have come from. I feel the same about Dartmoor and really want to give this a go. I love the otter with the Umbrellas. Fab post lovely xx

    Reply
  5. Anne

    I love that these animal art works are popping up all over the place to get people out and about to explore new places. I’ve never been to Dartmoor but these otters look great. In my city we have bears to find.
    #countrykids
    (please delete if you find duplicate comments, I had trouble submitting my last one.)

    Reply
  6. Fiona Cambouropoulos

    I hadn’t heard of the otter trail but they certainly look very elaborate and located in some fascinating places which look worthy of a visit in their own right. I keep meaning to visit the house of Marbles, looks like checking out the otter at the same time is well worth it. As for the walk what a delight not to have fencing and health and safety signs so that the kids can clamber to the top. This would be essential for my kids. It reminds me of climbing Rough Tor on Bodmin Moor, a favourite of ours close to Coombe Mill.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    Reply
  7. Lucy Mackcracken

    What a lovely adventure to have in the outdoors. The otters are super cute and a great way to get kids engaged with outdoors adventures. Hopefully you all had a good nights sleep after your busy adventures #countrykids

    Reply
  8. Emma T

    I do love trails like this although we’ve never had any in towns or cties near us. Must try and do one somewhere else. #countrykids

    Reply
  9. Laura

    Oh wow I love the look of the otter trail – making things more fun and colourful. Sounds like a great walk, have never explored Dartmoor on foot, have only ever driven through the area but want to go back

    Just popping over from #CountryKids

    Laura x

    Reply
  10. Sherry

    It sounds like a brilliant way to explore the area, create better understanding and bring tourism to the area too. I love the view from the top #CountryKids

    Reply
  11. Steph

    Oh I hadn’t heard about this otter trail, such a great way to raise awareness and I can imagine it really encourages people to get out and explore the places the otters can be found! Brilliant! #countrykids

    Reply
  12. Lisa (Travel Loving Family)

    Aw this is such a fabulous idea. My boys would love searching for otters so i will keep this in mind for a future family day out. Thanks for linking to #MondayEscapes

    Reply
  13. Claire at Tin Box Traveller

    Wow! You covered a lot of ground in a day. We’ve not seen as many of the otters as I’d hoped over the summer – they need to make it all year round! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

    Reply
    • mm

      Yes it’s a shame they will be going. Apparently you can bid to buy them, I rather fancy one in my garden!

      Reply
  14. vicky

    We love the house of marbles, the children spent ages watching the amazing structure on the wall with the marbles running down it 🙂 The Otters look lovely and anything to help encourage the children to get out walking is a bonus to me 🙂

    #adventurecalling

    Reply
  15. David - Potty Adventures

    How brilliant that they’ve set up an arts trail to help fund the junior rangers – it’s initiatives like that, that more areas to invest in. I love Dartmoor but it’s is so many years since I last visited, so I’d dearly love to get back down there again soon. Thanks for for joining us on #adventurecalling I hope you can again when we open again tonight.

    Reply
  16. Lauren The Helpful Hiker

    Love the otters, I keep meaning to do one of these trails, such a great idea to find new places. You managed to cram a lot into your day, the hike up to Haytor was a great way to end on a high. The views are stunning. I’ve never really explored Dartmoor, another place on our never ending wishlist! Thanks for linking up with #AdventureCalling

    Reply

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About Clare

Clare Flipflops or WelliesHi! I am Clare and I live in glorious East Devon with my family. I love finding new places to explore in the West Country as well as further afield. I hope you enjoy reading and taking inspiration from my blog.

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