Considering that the highest point on Dartmoor is High Willhays at 621m and the abundance of rivers and streams that tumble down through the valleys and cleaves it is not surprising that there are water falls or simply ‘falls’ as they are known on Dartmoor. If ever you really want to treat yourself simply pick a dry day, pack a lunchbox with your favourite snacks and take off to one of the remote falls and just relax and let the cascading water wash away your worries. There are many waterfalls on Dartmoor of varying size, some are natural and others are man-made, below is a map showing the more popular ones:
Becky Falls – SX 7618 8008.
These falls, there are two sets, are formed where the Becka Brook tumbles down through a small gorge on its way to meet with the river Bovey about a mile and a half downstream. The whole gorge has been turned into a tourist attraction with woodland walks, etc. see Becky Falls.
Black Rock Falls – SX 5330 8531.
Black Rock Falls can be found nestled under High Down and Brat tor (otherwise known as Widgery tor) where the river Lyd thunders, or gently cascades, depending on the flow, through a narrow rock strewn defile. It is a splendid spot but is also very popular with locals and visitors. One the bank opposite the Brat tor can be found a bench and above the bench is a memorial plaque to Captain Hunter, it reads:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
CAPTAIN NIGEL DUNCAN RATCLIFFE HUNTER M.C. (AND BAR)
WHO WAS KILLED IN ACTION AT BIEFVILLERS,
NEAR BAPAUME ON MARCH 25TH 1918, AGED 23 YEARS.
HE LOVED THE MOORS OF DEVON, AND ON HIS LAST VISIT
TO LYDFORD, HE WROTE THE FOLLOWING LINES:-
“ARE WE NOT LIKE THIS MOORLAND STREAM
SPRINGING NONE KNOWS WHERE FROM,
TINKLING, BUBBLING, FLASHING A GLEAM
BACK AT THE SUN; E’ER LONG
GLOOMY AND DULL, UNDER A CLOUD,
THEN RUSHING ONWARDS AGAIN;
DASHING AT ROCKS WITH ANGER LOUD,
ROARING AND FOAMING IN VAIN!
WANDERING THUS FOR MANY A MILE,
TWISTING AND TURNING AWAY FOR A WHILE.
THEN OF A SUDDEN OVER THE FALL
AND THE DARK STILL POOL IS THE END OF ALL.
IS IT? I THOUGHT, AS I TURNED AWAY,
AND I TURNED AGAIN TO THE SILENT MOOR.
IS IT? I SAID, AND MY HEART SAID “NAY”!
AS I GAZED AT THE CROSS ON “WIDGERY TOR”.
Black Tor Falls – SX 5740 7149.
Crossing describes these falls as “… one of the beauty spots of Dartmoor. This is Black Tor Fall, where the stream comes swiftly round a heathery bank to glide over moss-covered stones; where dripping ferns margin the waters, and the mountain ash waves her branches gracefully above them.”
Broad Falls – SX 6531 6701.
Canonteign Falls – SX 8320 8243.
This is reputed to be the home of England’s highest waterfall as its drops down over 220 feet. The whole area is now another visitor attraction with walks, play parks, cafe and shop.
Cascades, The – SX 6986 7089.
“A new sound, a treble counterpoint to the bass theme of the river, here steals upon the ear: an upward glance, right, reveals the beautiful Cascades of Vearge’s Stream, the frothing water impelled to the head of the water-slide from where it glides into the river. The old river terrace on which the Holne Park lies affords a good view of the Cascades and makes it easy to visualise the former hanging valley, immediately above the terrace of Vearge’s Stream. Everything here, so rugged and wild, minimizes even the most cherished of our self-important activities. Nature’s is the only true magnificence,” Hemery.
Devil’s Kitchen – SX 5549 8320.
Doe Tor Falls – SX 5352 8514.
“A most charming cascade, hidden away in a narrow rift,” – William Crossing. Hemery is equally as prosaic when he portrays them as, “Doe Tor Falls begin, a new scene opens. Cascades and waterslides succeed each other in glistening array; bends add to the effect; pools are deep, the banks precipitous, and the valley becomes one of the miniature gems of western Dartmoor.”
Horseshoe Falls – SX 7106 7042.
Kitts/Kate’s Falls – SX 51722 84543
see – Kitts Steps
Alternatively known as Kitt/Kitt’s Steps, this is where the course of the river Lyd drops down from the moor and flows down a 30ft, natural waterfall before entering the gorge.
Raddick Hill Falls – SX 5739 7133.
Alternatively known as the Devonport Leat Falls, Raddick Falls are obviously man-made. On a clear day they are visible from the Princetown to Plymouth road as a livid white ribbon tumbling down from Raddick Hill. The leat having descended the hill flows over a metal aqueduct known as ‘Iron Bridge’ and then turns towards Plymouth. About 100 yards downstream from Iron Bridge is/was a small round white carving set into the bank, it depicts a head of what some call a Red Indian and others a Turk’s Head, I have always known it called the ‘Turk’s Head’. The carving was said to have been placed there by a French Prisoner of war when he was working on the leat. The Turk’s Head was removed a few years ago and I am not sure if it has been replaced.
Shavercombe Falls – SX 5951 6600.
Hidden halfway down the Shavercombe Valley is a small waterfall that plunges into a tiny tree lined pool. This secluded spot is an ideal place to while away the time to the accompaniment of ‘water music’. It is a charming, magical spot and after a long walk there is nothing better that to shed your boots and socks and dangle your feet in the chilled waters. Above on the hillside known as Hinter Moor are several Bronze Age kists and I often think the long dead occupants of those granite chests must have been special to have been afforded such a final resting place.
Waterfall, The – SX 6274 8105.
Probably one of my favourites this, this series of falls can be found below Broadun where the East Dart river leaves Sandy Hole Pass. When the river is in full spate they are an amazing sight and the booming noise of the rushing torrent awesome. In drier spells they afford an ideal crossing place for those walking on to Winney’s Down or for people doing a short circular walk of the river. I remember one glorious autumn day sat here at lunchtime, the previous few days had been wet and the river was fairly full but crossable with care. The peace was suddenly shattered by the babble of foreign tongues, it was a party or German hikers, mostly female who all obviously enjoyed their Bratwurst. Well, watching them gingerly hopping from rock to rock was the most amusing thirty minutes I have ever spent. I suppose in true Dartmoor spirit I should have helped but if you had seen how tightly they were clinging to each other as they wobbled on the rocks I think you will understand. I am sure if one went in they would all go, the chain was that tightly linked.
White Lady Falls – SX 5010 8351.
see – White Lady Falls
Arguably the most spectacular of Dartmoor waterfalls, although there could be some debate as to whether or not it is actually within the borders of the national park, if it isn’t it’s only a matter of yards. The actual cascade is estimated to be around 30 metres and as always it depends on the water flow as to how spectacular it is.
Yealm Falls – SX 6173 6371.