Sunday , June 23 2024



According to William Crossing this is probably the most boring page on this website, in the section headed “Terms used in connection with the Forest and Commons,” he has the following to say about ‘pools’: “… there are a number of pools, and so-called pools, on the moor, not one of them, however, being of the slightest importance as such. Certain associations lend some interest to one or two of them, but for the most part they possess little to attract the visitor.”, 1990, p.30.

Perhaps when he penned those words there was very little emphasis on ecology and habitats but that certainly is not the case today as will be seen later. It is astounding the different types of ‘pools‘ that can be found on Dartmoor, some are natural and others are man-made. There are pools that have formed as a result of quarrying such as those at Haytor, others have come about thanks to China Clay extraction and similarly mining activities. Some smaller ones can owe their existence to military activities and were formed from artillery shell craters. There are those that were made in order to provide drinking water to passing draught horses as well as grazing cattle, sheep and ponies and tend to be located beside roads and tracks. This type has been likened to the dew ponds found on the chalklands of Britain, Mercer, p.223. There were also ‘pools’ associated with rabbit warrening and were used for storing carcasses intended for dog food. Then there are the naturally formed pools that can be found at the heads of rivers (although strictly speaking these are mires and bogs) and along the course of their waters.

As always with Dartmoor there has to be an element of confusion and in this instance it arises with the question of ponds, namely what’s the difference between a pool and a pond? Basically very little except the actual place-name element and in some cases its uses. Here we can consider mills ponds, fish ponds and fishing ponds, some being natural and others man-made. For the sake of clarity both pools and ponds will be treated here as one and the same, especially as far as the gazetteer below in concerned.


A typical Dartmoor pool

Arguably the most famous of Dartmoor pools has to be Cranmere Pool which is closely followed by Duck’s Pool and Crazywell Pools. Cranmere and Crazywell pools are man-made whilst Duck’s Pool is deemed to be a dried up natural tarn. It is fair to say that all of these places have become ‘must visits’ for any dedicated Dartmoor walker and their associated letterbox stamps a must for any credible collection.


Over the centuries quite a great deal of legend and tradition has become attached to the pools of Dartmoor, mostly of a supernatural kind with a whole host of unearthly beings haunting them. Many of these legends can be found by following the links in the gazetteer below. This list is one that I have compiled over the years from various books, maps, magazines etc and is by no means exhaustive, many have come from Mike Brown’s excellent gazetteer of Dartmoor place names.

Place OS Grid Ref Comments
ABBEY POOL SX 7420 6755  
BIRCH POOL SX 7332 6811  
BLACK POOL SX 6549 5812  
BLACK POOL SX 6850 7199  
BLACK SHELLS SX 5170 7825 AKA Tadpole Pond. 321/6
BLACKPOOL SX 8127 7406  
BLOODY POOL SX 7029 6262 Bronze spear heads found in 1854. 72/363
BOATING POND SX ???     ???  
BRADFORD POOL SX 700     910  
BRADMERE POOL SX 700     910 see legend HERE
BRIDGE POOL SX 658     728  
BRIM PARK POOL SX 6431 7395  
BROOM PARK POOL SX 6430 7400  
BUSH POOL SX 6600 7292  
CHURCH POOL SX 6610 7299  
COMBWEAR POOL SX 6657 7256  
CRAMBER POOL SX 5895 7112  
CRANMERE POOL SX 603     858 AKA The Lake of Cranes. – see legends HERE
CRAZYWELL POOL SX 582     704 see legends HERE wild swimming location
DINGER POOL SX 584     872 AKA Pixies Pool.
DOE TOR GATE POOL SX 5275 8470  
DOWN POOL SX 5259 8185  
DRAGONFLY POOL SX 593     867  
DUCKS POOL SX 624     679 see legend HERE
DUCKY POOL SX 6187 9130  
DUNNA POOL SX ???     ???  
FISH PONDS SX 751     784  
FOSTER’S POOL SX 728     718  
GOOSE POOL SX 6830 7280  
GORSE POOL SX 6595 7292  
HEYTOR PONDS SX 7602 7748  
HORSHAM POOL SX 759? 817?  
HOUND’S POOL SX 7181 6469 see HERE
HUGGATON POOL SX 6032 8688  
HURDLE POOL SX 6400 7380  
JACK-IN-THE-BOX SX 6823 6452  
KENLAKE POOL SX ???     ???  
KITTS STEPS SX 5172 8454  
KNATTABURROW POND SX 6560 6448 AKA Petre’s Pits Pool and Knattaburrow Pool
KNATTABURROW POOL SX 6560 6448 see legend HERE
LAKE OF CRANES SX 603     858 AKA Cranmere Pool. 72/479
LANGAWELL SX 6820 7210  
LONG ASH PONDS SX 5499 7470  
LONG POOL SX 5549 8320  
LONG POOL SX 751     784  
MEAVY POOL SX 579     661 AKA South Goater Brook.
MEL POOL SX6935 7214 AKA Mil Tor Pool. wild swimming location
MELDON POOL SX 564     921 see legend HERE wild swimming location
MIL TOR POOL SX6935 7214   AKA Mel Pool. wild swimming location
MILL POND, THE SX 5199 7761  
MILL POND, THE SX 6910 7224  
OCKERTON POOL SX 6032 8688 AKA Huggaton Pool
ORCHARD POOL SX 6655 7258  
OTTER POOL SX 6655 7258  
PAN POOL SX 7128 6468  
PETRE’S PITS POOL SX 6560 6448 AKA Knattaburrow Pool.
PIXIES POOL SX ???     ???  
PIXIES POOL SX 5848 8720 AKA Dinger Pool.
QUEENIE POOL SX 6670 7280  
RAYBARROW POOL SX 638     900 see legend HERE
SALTER’S POOL SX 7106 7061  
SANDY POOL SX 6400 7380  
SCUM POOL SX 6395 7370  
SHARRAH POOL SX 6971 7163  
SHILLA POOL SX 6520 9120 AKA Shilley Pool.
SHILLEY POOL SX 6520 9120 AKA Shilla Pool. – wild swimming location
SHINY POOL SX ???     ???  
SHIPLEY POOL SX 6808 6280  
SNAKEY POOL SX 6472 7427  
SOLDIERS POND SX 5870 7323 Site of a soldier’s death in 1853. See HERE
SOUTH GOATER BROOK SX 579     661 AKA Meavy Pool.
STILL POOL SX 6453 7904  
TADPOLE POND SX 5170 7825  
TADPOLE POND SX 5170 7825 AKA Black Shells.
TAN POOL SX ???     ???  
TIMBER POOL SX 6520 7362 So called from an oak tree brought down by a flood.
TURN TEIGN SX 6500 8654  
TWO DAY POND SX 5699 6884 So called because that is how long it took to build.
UPPER WEIR POOL SX 7410 6793  
WEIR POOL SX 7412 6778  
WISHING POOL, THE SX 6680 6039  
ZEAL POOL SX 68?? 62??  

Today there is a craze for ‘wild swimming’ where basically folk can enjoy a free, cold and invigorating swim in some of the above pools and ponds, hence the reference alongside some of them.

As briefly noted above, due to the present situation whereby it’s thought that areas or blanket bogs are reducing at an alarming rate due to peat erosion. In an effort to halt this process certain concerned bodies are artificially creating small pools which it is hoped will enable the water table to recover and protect the bogs from further shrinkage. In theory these small pools will allow for the re-colonisation of bog plants which in turn will form new peat layers. The consequences of this may mean that more carbon will be stored in the vegetation thus reducing the UK’s carbon emissions – nice idea but we will see.

Needless to say with such a rich diversity of pools and ponds they provide a whole range of habitats, ecosystems and food sources for numerous types of fauna and flora. Just a quick glance at the above list will suggest a few; dragonfly, ducks (and I have certainly seen some of them there), geese, fish, herons (cranes), otters, snakes, tadpoles and even pixies. In reality the list of mammals, reptiles, insects and plantlife is vast, many of which can be found – HERE.


Brown, M. 1995. The Gazetteer of Dartmoor Names. Liverton: Forest Publishing.

Crossing, W. 1990. Crossing’s Guide to Dartmoor. Newton Abbot: Peninsula Press.

Mercer, I. 2009. Dartmoor. London: Harper Collins.


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.