We almost didn’t go. The packing had been an absolute faff to get our heads around. The weather forecast wasn’t looking great, the baby was having a terrible few days with teething and our original plan – to hike the Ridgeway – went down the drain last minute due to public transport changes.
We came up with a plan B quite quickly – Dartmoor – but by now I was starting to wonder if it was even possible to do a multi-day hike using a buggy in the UK. There was so little information online. Josie Dew was one of the few blogs I’d found online where someone had done it, and this was on the South Downs Way….the UK’s only fully accessible trail (you can read my guide to hiking the South Downs Way here).
At the last hour, we decided to just go for it. Saying to ourselves that there was no pressure to cover the distance. Even if all we did was walk a few hundred meters, camp and turn back then at least we’d be outside in nature for a bit.
So we went for it!!! And man I’m glad we did. It was the BEST 3 days and exactly what we needed as a family!!
Hiking and wild camping with a baby
In this blog post, I’ll cover all the details about this specific route for anyone wanting to try the same stretch of Dartmoor.
In a separate blog post I’ve included a kit list, along with sleeping arrangements, tips and tricks for hiking and wild camping with a baby…..you can read that blog post here.
How long did it take?
Including detours, we walked about 40km. We covered this in 3 days although our first day only started after lunch. We were walking at a very chilled pace with loads of stops….ideal for a baby as they are absolutely in charge. As we found out that a grumpy non-cooperative few hours makes it impossible to travel much distance so it’s best to take the pressure off and go slow.
We enjoyed having the relaxed extra day of wild camping but this is absolutely manageable as a 2 day hike. This would also mean less food and water to carry.
Water is a bit of a problem on this hike as there are so few options. I explain where we re-supplied in my breakdown of the route below.
Wild camping in dartmoor
It’s easy and legal to wild camp in Dartmoor although you aren’t allowed to just pitch up everywhere. This map shows you all the places it is ok to do so. Not all the areas we walked through were open to campers so make sure you mark your boundaries on your map before leaving. You can find details about those boundaries here.
The (not so perfect) route we took
We had found this route online for cyclists so decided to give it a go (link to route)…..
It basically follows the Granite & Gears Trail but then continues on a loop around the Burrator Reservoir and back to Princetown. We altered it slightly making the slight detour to Crazy Well Pool which was a great decision as our swim there was a real highlight.
The Granite & Gears Trail follows a disused railway trail and is very comfortable hiking with a buggy. The second half was really not so great as I explain below…….
We walked the few km from Princetown to Kings Tor. We’d intended to go all the way to Kings Tor but a very aggressive bull was right in our path and really aggravated by our presence we climbed the tor a little earlier, heading for a rocky section just south of Kings Tor. The path there was easy – a little bumpy on the buggy but not bad. There were loads of camp options and the views were great!
We rejoined the main track from Kings Tor and continued on the path to Burrator Reservoir. The path was very manageable and it was mostly downhill, cutting through some paths parrallel to farmland before opening up again. There was an option to camp at Yennadon Down and there were loads of easy flat spaces just off the path here. We needed water though and headed down to th Burrator Resevoir car park toilets. Frustratingly they were automatic sinks meaning we couldn’t fill up. Thankfully there was an ice cream truck selling water nearby although I’d suggest planning in walking to the nearby pubs or church to refill as the ice cream truck isn’t always there and this will also reduce your plastic usage.
We decided to push on the 1.5km to our next wild camping option, Yellowhead Down. This was a mistake as the path here was not suitable for a buggy and the thick coverage of ferns meant few wild camping options. Too tired to turn back we hid the buggy in the shrubbery and carried our supplies and baby up to Sheeps Tor where we found a spot for the night.
Dropping back down to the resevoir we continued on a road until we truned off, heading to Crazy Well Pool. There’s 4km of uphill very rocky track here…..it’s not fun pushing a buggy but it is managable. Not taking the detour to Crazy Well Pool will save you a short stretch but then you’ll miss out on seeing/swimming in this gem!
The track gets easier as you near Whiteworks and the turning left to Princetown is back on a lush flat trail again. There’s an option to camp by the side of the trail here or a bit further on south below Peat Cot. We were all tired though so headed back to the car and home.
An easier option for buggies!
If I was to recommend this trip for anyone using a buggy I’d probably suggest just following the Granite and Gears Trail the whole way. Although you do double back on yourself it still makes for a great walk taking in all the best views. You’d miss out on Crazy Well Pool but if you want to swim can make the effort to visit Foggintor Quarry near Kings Tor instead.
Getting to and from the start
Frustratingly there are no overnight car parks in Princetown so we needed to find other options. The lay-by coming into town from Yelverton was full so we looked for other options. There is plenty of residential camping in the town. Please be wary of not parking in front of someone’s house. We turned down the first street we passed after the high street and found a great spot at the end of the road away from houses so it shouldn’t bother anyone.
If you want added security you could call ahead to the campsite or hotels in the area to see if they’d be happy for you to use their car park in exchange of buying a meal and drinks at the end of the trek.
Our wild camping spots
I’ve marked where we camped using a blue star on the maps below….
An off-road buggy suitable for multi-day trekking
There was very little information online for anyone wanting to do a multi-day hike with a buggy. We opted for a Out’n’about Nipper Sport (which was gifted to us). It worked wonderfully! We used lots of bungees and straps to attach our bags to the back and the footrest. The baby was comfortable inside and it went over some seriously bumpy terrain without issues.
Make sure you take a spare puncture kit! You can read my full kit list for this family adventure here.
A made a short video explaining how we set up our buggy here:
A few tips for this specific route
- Princetown is a great start and end point for this trail. There are a few handy outdoor shops, cafes (try the Old Police House Cafe!), pubs and an information center. There’s also a great little playground in town which was perfect for the baby to run around in before driving home.
- We stopped at Honiton on the way home for a celebratory lunch at Boston Tea Party (they do a delicious plant burger!). Another option is the Two Bridges Hotel down the road from Princetown for a nice meal or afternoon tea to celebrate.
- If you enjoy wild swimming then plan to go to Foggintor Quarry or Crazy Well Pool for a dip. We just used a shawl as a towel which was also handy as a blanket for the baby when napping. It’s not safe to swim in the Reservoir.
- Don’t forget the midge repellent! They were especially bad at sundown and early in the morning.
- There is some climbing with this route but nothing too bad. The first half is almost entirely down hill so account for the fact that your last day will involve most of your climbing.
- We found pushing on grassy tracks to be the most comfortable so look out for these as alternatives to any rocky trails which are harder with the buggy.
- It’s a very easy route to navigate. We didn’t have time to pick up a map so just printed the route before leaving. We also had it on our Komoot app as a backup although didn’t need to use it.
Thank you for reading my guide and I hope it was helpful! I’m very happy to answer questions – just use the comments box below. If you want to support this blog you can say thanks by buying me a coffee! I use the money to pay for hosting and domain fees to keep the site running.
**GRAB A COPY OF MY BOOK!** My published book, Three Stripes South is all about my life-changing adventure, hiking the length of Israel. It was the journey that inspired me to launch Love Her Wild, the UK’s largest women’s adventure community.