There are plenty of fascinating things to see in Dartmoor, stunning tors and ancient settlements. One of the coolest is the prehistoric village Grimspound. It’s free to visit and can be combined with breathtaking walks all over Dartmoor.
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What is Grimspound?
Picture a stone circle in a remote location on top of Dartmoor National Park. In its midst are 24 rings of stones, which used to be hut circles of an ancient settlement. In fact, Grimspound was dated back to the Bronze Age, about 1450–700 BC.
The huts each are about 3.4 metres in diameter and the entire settlement is 150 metres in width. The settlement walls, like the huts, are made from granite stones and had one entrance. The wall looks quite sturdy but not massive enough to be used for defense purposes.
You can’t see the site from the parking but even standing in it is already fascinating. Get even better views from Hookney Toor and Hameldown.
Why the name?
The name first fell in 1797 in the local annals. It’s suggested that the origin is from the Anglo-Saxon word for the God of War, Grim. He also went b the name of Odin.
History of Grimspound
The settlement was created during a time when nomads were had set up roots in order to farm. The fact that these round houses were built in stone shows the intention of permanence.
However, it is assumed that because of deteriorating soil and climate change, the local people moved on. Excavations – and reconstructions – of Grimspound took place in 1893.
Need more history? Check out Totnes and its Castle
How to Get there
From Ashburton to Grimspound, it’s a 26 minute drive. You will pass Widecombe in the Moor on the way, where you can stop at the beautiful old church and the local pub for refreshments.
Roads around Dartmoor are narrow and you often have to rewind and halt in smaller nooks to be able to let cars pass by. Also, some cars seem to drive way too fast even though the typical speed limit is 30 or 40 km/h.
There is a small layby parking spot just below the walk up to Grimspound. It is easy to miss. Look out for the little wooden sign saying “Grimspound”. Come early in the day during high season to be able to snatch one of the limited spots.
hiA stoyike would take 3 and a half hours. Be aware that there is quite a steep uphill climb from Ashburton. While there are hiking trails through the country, there will be times when you have to walk by the side of the road.
There is no public transport going here. A one-way taxi ride might cost up to 50 GBP. There is the option to rent a bike or e-bike for the day.
Address: Postbridge, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6TB
When to Visit
Summer in Dartmoor is high season and you will see quite a lot of visitors, especially during holidays or weekends. Winters and early spring can be harsh and super windy. I visited at the end of April and it was beautiful.
Since it’s the moors, there are no stunning trees or flowers around, so from that viewpoint, it doesn’t matter much what time you visit. Just watch the weather report for temperature and wind speed.
While you can use regular sneakers to walk the bit from the parking up to the stones of Grimspound, you might want to hike some more. After all, there are plenty of Dartmoor walks you can do. Don’t miss out and be prepared.
The terrain is uneven, there are a lot of stones and some steps. So choose shoes that have a good grip and also are waterproof. You might end up in a drizzle or a puddle. You’re in a moor, after all.
The weather can shift really fast up here on the moors around Grimspound. It’s typically windy. And clouds get caught in the nearby hills fast.
So definitely come with a wind- and waterproof jacket, preferably one that has a hood. (Not just a water repellent jacket as heavy rains during longer hikes may seep through the seams after a while.)
Roaming through undergrowth and open countryside, you might unknowingly get a tiny hitchhiker on you. Ticks aren’t cute though and can spread disease. Definitely get a vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis if you don’t have it already.
Wear long pants that can be pushed into your hiking boots so ticks find it harder to reach your skin. Always check clothes and skin after your hikes and then use your special tweezers to get ticks out the right way.
You might be hiking for a bit. Don’t forget to hydrate! Naturally, there are no water fountains waiting for you and you shouldn’t just drink from streams. At the very least, use a coal tablet (and a filter water bottle) or the LifeStraw if you do fill up your bottle.
Alternatively, you can use a camelbag backpack with a hydration pack. It won’t take up space in your backpack and are super easy to use on the go. They can be cleaned and used for other trips. So they’re definitely an investment.
On top of a weather proof jacket, you might want to bring along a poncho too. This way, youcan cover your equipment and backpack. It’s also an added layer on chill and windy days. And it dries much quicker.
If you have the jacket, you might only need a poncho when hiking on bad weather days. Or you can use it as an alternative to the jacket. I do this a lot. They are lighter and easier to carry than a jacket.
Note: Drones aren’t allowed.