This extensive tract of moor and heathland is one of Dartmoor's many ancient commons where, for generations, local farmers have had common rights to graze their cattle, sheep and ponies.
Situated on the south eastern edge of Dartmoor, Haytor Down is one of the more easily accessible parts of the moor and with its distinctive granite tor and extensive view across to the south Devon coast has long been an attraction for visitors; one of the more famous being Agatha Christie who, in 1916, wrote her first novel while staying in the area.
One of the few tracts of land actually owned by the Dartmoor National Park Authority, this area of open moorland may appear to the untrained eye to be a wilderness but in order to keep the vegetation in good condition, support wildlife and make the area accessible for both animals and visitors, it needs careful management through a variety of mechanisms such as grazing and controlled burning; the Dartmoor pony, an integral part of the Dartmoor landscape, plays a significant role in Haytor's management.
The western heathland that covers wide areas of Haytor Down is the home of a wide variety of insect and birdlife and in the late summer gives a spectacular display of colour as the purple and gold of the heather and gorse comes into flower; The wide variety of lichens that can be found of the rocks of Haytor is evidence of Dartmoor's pure air which is also appreciated by the many thousands of visitors who flock to the area every year. As one of the gateways to the moor Haytor Down has attracted visitors since the Victorian times and provides people with the opportunity to enjoy, within easy reach, the wide open spaces, granite tors, wildlife and archaeology that Dartmoor has to offer.
The underlying rock here is granite and rocky outcrops, known as tors, dominate the landscape. This granite has been exploited by humans for thousands of years and extensive evidence of this human use can be found across the down; including the remains of prehistoric round houses (hut circles), field boundaries and burial cairns.
A granite quarrying operation was opened here in the early part of the 19th century by a local landowner and businessman, George Templer. A tramway, uniquely built from granite and designed to take horse-drawn trucks, was constructed in 1820 to transport granite down to the Stover Canal near Bovey Tracey and thence out to Teignmouth. Granite from Haytor has been used in the old London Bridge and the British Museum. The quarries closed around 1850.
As part of this virtual tour of Haytor Down you can take a trip down the granite tramway on the horse-drawn truck to the nearby National Nature Reserve of Yarner Wood. This ancient oak woodland, part of a private estate until the 1950s, was the site of extensive coppicing and charcoal making until the early 20th century and a copper mine operated there during the middle of the 19th century; life on the estate was the inspiration for Eden Phillpotts 1912 novel, The Forest on the Hill.
Haytor Down lies on the south east edge of Dartmoor and can be reached by road on the B3387 four miles west of Bovey Tracey.
The Dartmoor National Park Authority has an Information Centre and toilet facilities situated in one of the three car parks situated along the road; the Information Centre is open daily, 10am to 5pm, from Easter through to October and weekends only, 10am to 4pm, from November to January 1st (except Christmas): There are bus services to Haytor during the summer, check the details with Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 or at www.travelline.org.uk
The entrance to Yarner Wood is at Reddaford Water on the road between Bovey Tracey and Manaton.
Haytor is situated on the south eastern edge of Dartmoor
Using the Tour
Each location in the Haytor interactive visit may be accessed by clicking the locations indicated on the map, or the arrows that hover within the panoramas. Each location will have a series of speakers associated with it. You may select any speaker, or just sit back and allow the narrative to unfold. As the speakers deliver their presentation, supporting images will appear in the presentation panel, from which you may gain access to the gallery of photographs. This will pause the presentation and give you the opportunity to peruse the images in your own time. For those users with Apple's Quicktime plugin, fully immersive 360° spherical panoramas of each location are also available.
Please leave your comments in the guest book provided.
Navigate the interactive features is easy and intuitive
The Haytor visit is an interactive multimedia presentation that uses Macromedia Flash, there is also an option to use Apple Quicktime.
If you don't have these plugins you can download them from here:
The commons are areas of open unenclosed moorland that are privately owned but upon which certain local farmers have rights to graze their livestock. This is one of a number of 'common rights'.
Gravel derived from decomposed granite.
A sizable area of moorland enclosed by a stone wall, usually in the 18th or 19th century.
An artificial watercourse.
The study of ancient environments.
A prehistoric boundary wall.
A prehistoric boundary wall.
A rectangular block of dressed stone.
Controlled burning of vegetation.
Here at the Dartmoor National Park Authority making sure the information on our websites is easily accessible to all is a high priority.
We have made sure this site is fully Accessible (see our Accessibility page for details) and we have introduced features within the Interactive Visit that accommodate users with visual / hearing impairment:
Visits are primarily audio tours, playing sequentially without the need to click anything.
All objects are captioned.
All text/captions are re sizeable.
Transcripts for all audio elements are available for the hard of hearing.