Special qualities in Dartmoor

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10 reasons why Dartmoor is a special place...

From archaeology to geology, history to industrial heritage, flora to fauna, the park has many special qualities including:

  • The landscape of the park has been modified by thousands of years of human activity - but in less intensive ways than elsewhere in lowland Britain, at least in recent centuries. It's also the largest open space in southern England.
  • Dartmoor is the largest expanse of unglaciated upland in Great Britain and the largest granite surface in England.
  • It's a geologist's paradise - you'll find sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks as well as minerals like tin, copper, iron and other ores, which were mined in the area (which still includes many industrial remains of interest to historians).
  • Dartmoor is an important reserve for species that can withstand harsher conditions - it is particularly noted for rare lichens, butterflies and other insects.
  • Dartmoor is also home to more than 50 percent of Britain’s population of several globally threatened species including: greater horseshoe bat, blue ground beetle, bog hoverfly, flax-leaved St John's Wort, dormouse, types of fritillary - high brown, pearl-bordered and marsh - freshwater shrimp and cirl bunting
  • It's home to blanket bogs and rare mosses - there are 12 known species of sphagnum mosses on Dartmoor, each indicating slightly different conditions. The valley mires of Dartmoor are unparalleled in upland Britain - valley mires are areas of waterlogged, deep peat in valley bottoms, with characteristic acid wetland plant communities.
  • Dartmoor Ponies - the ponies help to give Dartmoor its unique character and are an integral part of the moorland landscape and are a part of the area’s cultural heritage
  • The park is an archaeologist's paradise, too - it has a tremendous diversity of archaeological sites and features which reveal how people have been exploiting and living on the moor for thousands of years. The earliest visible monuments date from the Neolithic period c.6,000 years ago. Examples of more recent interest include the industrial heritage site at Meldon Quarry.
  • The park's landscape has inspired poets, artists, photographers and authors - and featured on the silver and small screen, for example on TV in the recent BBC Sherlock Holmes adventure, Hound of the Baskervilles and in cinemas in Steven Spielberg's War Horse.

Keeping it special - the role of the Authority