Dartmoor National Park is irresistible for anyone with an eye for beautiful, rugged landscapes. The park is nearly 370 square miles in size, and it’s famous for wild ponies and moorland speckled with natural monuments of light grey Dartmoor granite. Its rocks were formed over 280 million years ago. Dartmoor has kept a wistful, romantic appeal that draws in millions of tourists annually. It is easy to see why you are planning a visit. But if you could possibly make your trip even more exciting, it would be by doing one thing – adding these Dartmoor waterfalls to your itinerary.
In this guide, we’ll give you the rundown on the top ten prettiest waterfalls in Dartmoor National Park (plus a few nearby waterfalls that we just had to sneak in). Pack your walking boots, lots of waterproof layers, and some swimming costumes and a towel; you are in the region of wild swimming, after all.
Highlight: Atmospheric access through woodland trails
Address: Lydford, Tavistock, Okehampton, EX20 4BH
Lydford Gorge is the Dartmoor waterfall that has already achieved celeb status. The National Trust is in charge of caring for this 30-metre waterfall in Dartmoor National Park, and it is scenically surrounded by trails looping through protected woodland. Lydford Gorge has an atmospheric appeal, with moss-covered rocks and tiny wooden bridges that will have you childishly envisioning elven princesses and fairies. The roundtrip hike to Lydford Gorge takes approximately three hours. You’ll pass through cliffside tunnels and peering at picturesque streams over wooden railings – it is scenic.
If you travel solo and are anxious about remote hikes, Lydford Gorge is one of the best Dartmoor waterfalls because of its popularity. If you visit in peak times, you have safety in numbers. It is also a firm family favourite, and you can even enjoy a nearby kids’ play area.
Highlight: Serene, lesser-visited waterfall
Address: Newton Abbot, TQ13 7SS
Venford Brook is a more locally known Dartmoor waterfall. You won’t catch throngs and throngs of tourists here, and it is a much quieter, more serene experience. Venford Brook is well hidden in a small woodland area. You park at Michelcombe Lane Parking and walk past Venford Reservoir to take a small public footpath on your right. It should only take 15 minutes to find the waterfall at this point if you take the right-hand path on the eastern side of the woodland. Still, some visitors have reported spending hours searching for this waterfall. Bring refreshments and a sense of adventure.
The waterfall is stunning and looks like something straight out of Jurassic Park. The water flows through bracken and over moss-covered rocks into a small plunge pool underneath.
Highlight: Plunge pool and an exciting river crossing
Address: Plymouth PL7 5EJ
Shavercombe Falls is easily one of the prettiest Dartmoor waterfalls, but its leading quality is its little plunge pool. The plunge pool is deep enough to take a quick dip, and while it is too small to be classed as one the official Dartmoor swimming spots, it is definitely a hidden gem for ‘dippers’. The walk to Shavercombe Falls takes you over the moorland. It follows the Shavercombe Brook with a brief river crossing that requires wellies or easily rolled-up clothes. It is an approximate two-to-three-hour roundtrip starting and ending at Gutter Tor Car Park.
Shavercombe Falls is one of the most exciting waterfalls on Dartmoor moorland to reach, especially with the river crossing. If you fancy putting your navigational skills to the test and trying out some Dartmoor wild swimming, Shavercome Falls is ideal. Avoid this hike after periods of heavy rain when the river crossing becomes impassable.
Highlight: Collection of waterfalls and friendly animals
Address: Manaton, Newton Abbot, TQ13 9UG
Becky Falls are a collection of waterfalls in Dartmoor, all clustered around an ancient woodland preserve. As of 2023, Becky Falls Ancient Woodland Park costs £9 to enter. However, you can access miles of hiking trails through scenic woodland for this humble price. Plus, stunning waterfalls (and some resident animals, including a herd of extroverted goats) keep you entertained along the way. The park covers a staggering 50 acres and has been run by a family since 1903. You get different trail options, but we recommend the Red Trail, which takes you to a 70ft waterfall in the middle of the park.
Becky Falls is one of the best-paid entry waterfalls Dartmoor offers. If you fancy a more organised experience, Becky Falls Ancient Woodland Park is a brilliant choice – it even has Meet the Keeper sessions in its petting zoo.
Highlight: Fern-surrounded waterfalls
Address: Exeter, EX6 7RH
Canonteign Falls is one of the most visually striking falls in the UK, never mind just amongst the waterfalls in Dartmoor National Park. The falls consist of multiple separate waterfalls and are situated in the beautiful Canonteign Estate, originally belonging to a Naval Officer who fought in battles of the American War of Independence, Napoleonic Wars, and French Revolution. The estate has everything from play areas to a bee garden and its stunning Canonteign Falls.
Canonteign Falls are located in the estate’s Victorian Fern Garden, giving them a Jurassic framing and massively photogenic appeal. You can book day admission tickets online for under £10 for an adult to visit the falls.
Highlight: Manmade waterfall
Address: Newton Abbot, TQ13 8EF
Fernworthy Reservoir isn’t technically one of the Dartmoor waterfalls. However, it does have a massive spillway that turns into a manmade waterfall after periods of heavy rain. If the weather is miserable, you can usually guarantee that Fernworthy Reservoir’s spillway will be a sweetener. The overflowing water pouring down the stone is one of the most dramatic sites in the national park. And as a huge bonus, a well-kept tarmacked path takes you around the entire perimeter of the park. It is an accessible ‘waterfall’ in Dartmoor to reach and a super pleasant hike, suitable for those with poorer fitness and suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
Highlight: Wild horses and waterfalls
Address: Yelverton, PL20 6PE
This 19th-century reservoir is an unlikely candidate for the prettiest waterfalls in Dartmoor. However, like Farnworth Reservoir, its spillway becomes one of the most impressive manmade waterfalls you could find after heavy rain spells. And it goes without saying that this happens quite frequently in rainy England. You can also see little waterfalls along the side of the trail when you walk around the reservoir perimeter. Plus, if you are lucky, wild ponies.
The walk around Burrator Reservoir is around 4 miles long and takes approximately two hours. If you want a manmade wow factor with the potential chance of spotting wild ponies, Burrator Reservoir is an excellent choice.
Highlight: Ancient oak woodland
Address: Liskeard PL14 6RX
Golitha Falls is one of our sneaky additions to the best waterfalls in Dartmoor National Park. Technically speaking, they aren’t actually in the park, but they are less than an hour’s drive away; we just couldn’t resist adding this beautiful attraction to this guide. You’ll drive out of Dartmoor National Park and through its lesser-visited neighbour, Tamar Valley AONB. Before you know it, voila! You are finding street parking for the Golitha Falls National Nature Reserve.
The waterfall is in a valley cloaked in ancient oak woodland. Keep your eyes out for salmon and otters as you go along riverside trails to reach the ‘money shot’ of Golitha Falls.
Highlight: Local secret
Address: Callington, PL17 7PG
Stara Wood is another rewarding collection of waterfalls for those who dare venture just 30 minutes outside the Dartmoor National Park boundaries. Stara Wood is not a famous attraction, and instead, local dog walkers keep this collection of beautiful falls as a tight-lipped secret. The woodland offers unmarked paths that take you over little swing bridges and past tiny, unmapped waterfalls. And it has a magical, preserved quality, with tree species dating back to before the 17th century.
Stara Wood is tricky to find. Head for Stara Bridge (PL17 7PG) and watch for wooden gates shortly after on the bridge’s east side.
Ham Woods Local Reserve
Highlight: Suburban waterfalls
Address: 22 Dryburgh Cres, Plymouth, PL2 2NU
Ham Woods Local Reserve is where to head if you crave a bit of built-up civilisation. Dartmoor National Park is so close to Plymouth that it would be a crime to miss out on a detour. And if you take a day trip to Plymouth, visiting the waterfalls dotted around Ham Woods Local Reserve is a must. It is also one of the best Dartmoor swimming spots (paddling, really) for children, with plenty of shallow streams to splash around in and cool off with parental supervision. The waterfalls are just the icing on the cake.
The reserve is nearly 90 acres, and you can easily spend a whole day treading the different trails. More than 80 other bird species call Ham Woods home. Despite its suburban locale, it is a brilliant place to embrace nature.
To Conclude: Enjoying the Prettiest Waterfalls Dartmoor Has to Offer
Dartmoor National Park is so beautiful, and these pretty waterfalls in Dartmoor will make your trip even more memorable. Whether you want to visit Dartmoor swimming spots and dip at Shavercombe Falls or see the wild horses and manmade spillway at Burrator Reservoir, you’ll have a wonderful time.
Looking for more inspiration ahead of your trip to Dartmoor National Park? Check out this guide on the best things to do in South Devon – in summer and beyond.