Something for everyone: Dartmoor's resurgence

Posted by Inigo Atkin on 03/09/2019

The Nuns Cross Path is used by more than 30,000 walkers and 10,000 mountain bikers, as well as horse riders, disabled ‘trampers’ and many others each year - it is a shining example of the accessible but wild landscape Dartmoor can be. But a combination of extreme weather, like the storms of winter 2014, and erosion damage had taken its toll over the years. In stepped the BMC's Mend Our Mountains campaign.

Famous for its unique and beautiful granite outcrops, its ponies and its mystery, Dartmoor's anomalous geography hovers in England’s southwest like an escape route from the bustling metropolises of London, Bristol and the south coast. Yet like any natural landscape, its beauty is a double-edged sword: the more people love it, the more people trample its routes and by-ways.

The path to be repaired was part of a bigger route, known as the Princetown-Burrator Loop, and three years ago, Dartmoor National Park kick-started an ambitious plan to repair, restore and preserve what would be an accessible, quality 12-mile circular walking and off-road cycling route. That project has a bit of recent history for the British Mountaineering Council: the Nuns Cross Path initially benefited from £8,497 from the original Mend Our Mountains campaign which was co-ordinated by the BMC and funded by its charity the BMC Access and Conservation Trust (ACT).

When the opportunity came up to help complete this work, it seemed like a perfect choice - and this time the target was far more ambitious. After 18 months of fundraising work from the Mend Our Mountains team, the Nuns Cross Path repair scheme was given a £20,000 boost, thanks to a generous contribution by ACT.

Andrew Watson, Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Head of Recreation, Access & Estates, said: “The support and funding from public donations has been absolutely fantastic so far and we are delighted to receive an additional £20,000 from the BMC’s Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million appeal. The trail improvements will make it easier for people to access Nuns Cross Path, connect with nature and experience the natural beauty of the area.”

Dartmoor ponies in front of a typical granite outcrop. Photo: Shutterstock.

So far more than 4km of trail has been repaired and moorland restored between Princetown and Nuns Cross Farm. Work included installing granite cross-drains using locally sourced materials, repairing eroded sections and providing a more sustainable path surface for people to use. The extra £20,000 will extend similar repairs and restoration to the path and moorland at Eylesbarrow. The route is a key step toward securing a sustainable path-building legacy on Dartmoor and around the country.

If you really care about Dartmoor, you can donate and support the work of Dartmoor National Park to look after Dartmoor’s wildlife, environment and cultural heritage now and in the future. Donations can be made at any of the Haytor, Postbridge and Princetown visitor centres or you can donate online. To support the ongoing work of the BMC ACT and Mend Our Mountains, please look at the information below.


As the climbing walls, crags and mountains start to open, we wanted to say thanks to every BMC member who supported us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t have made it without you.

If you liked what we did, then tell your friends about us: www.thebmc.co.uk/join


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