top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureGary Holpin

8 hidden waterfalls of Dartmoor

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Happy New Year! After a festive break, my weekly emails on all things photography (and Devon) are back for 2023. Just to mix things up a bit, we're starting with a quick whistle stop tour of some of my favourite Dartmoor waterfall locations (if you subscribe to Devon Life Magazine you might see a version of this article in an upcoming edition!).

As a photographer, I love waterfalls; they are invariably in beautiful secluded locations, and are a great subject for cloudy days, when there is less dynamic range between the bright sky and the darker shadow regions which are often found around them.

Dartmoor has some well- known tourist waterfalls, such as Becky and Canonteign Falls, but I much prefer the challenge of searching out the lesser known and harder to find falls. I still have more to find, but here is my pick of the top 8 hidden waterfalls of Dartmoor. The list begins with fairly well-known waterfalls, gradually moving to less well known and harder to find falls, and ending with some which only just count as waterfalls at all, and are so hidden that you would probably walk straight past them if you didn’t know they were there!

Do you know of any hidden Dartmoor waterfalls not mentioned here? If so, I would love to hear from you at gary@garyholpin.co.uk.


1 Tavy Cleave Falls

This waterfall sits in the rugged and beautiful steep sided gorge from which it gets its name; Tavy Cleave, on the west of Dartmoor near Mary Tavy. As it’s within the Willsworthy firing range, this waterfall can only be visited when the range is open to the public. The hardest part of visiting Tavy Cleave is probably finding the car park! (follow minor roads from Mary Tavy to Willsworthy, and then on to the end of the road to the aptly named, Lane End). From the car park, head east to meet the leat, before following it north east up the beautiful valley of the Tavy until you reach the waterfall. If you like a bit of a swim, the plunge pool below the falls is a popular spot for a dip.


The waterfall at Tavy Cleeve, Dartmoor, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography
The waterfall at Tavy Cleeve, Dartmoor


2 East Dart Falls

Next on the list is the impressive East Dart Falls, near Postbridge, which thunders with water after heavy rain. To find this waterfall, take the footpath immediately to the left of the Visitor Centre and follow it as it gradually climbs up onto the eastern side of Broad Down. Dropping down the other side of Broad Down, the waterfall can be found in a remote spot on the East Dart directly below. If the water level is low enough, it’s possible to cross the river at this point and make the trip into a circular walk by following the north / east side of the river back to Postbridge.


A photo of East Dart Falls, Dartmoor, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography
East Dart Falls, Dartmoor

3 Black Rock Falls

This scenic waterfall sits on the River Lyd near Lydford on the west of the moor, and is easy to miss on the popular walk up to Widgery Cross. To find this little gem, park at the public car park along the track beside the Dartmoor Inn, before taking the obvious path north east towards Widgery Cross. Instead of crossing the river Lyd at the ford, instead turn right and follow the river downstream, until you find the cascades of Black Rock Falls. After visiting the falls, it’s worth retracing your steps back to the ford before completing the walk up to Widgery Cross, which has panoramic views across west Devon towards the Tamar Valley and Cornwall.


A photo of Black Rock Falls, Dartmoor, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography
Black Rock Falls

4 The waterfall at Beckamore Cross (or Windy Post Cross)

OK, let’s face it, this fall of water barely counts as a waterfall, but there is something about this place, with its ancient granite cross next to the Grimstone & Sortridge leat which is definitely worth searching out. Maybe it’s remoteness of the location, or the feeling of history (English Heritage say that the cross is at least Medieval in origin), but what this small waterfall lacks in size, it definitely makes up for in terms of atmosphere. Although it has a remote feeling, this one is easy to find; from the car park directly south of Fox Tor (on the B3357 West of Merrivale), take the path south east across Whitchurch common. until you hit the leat. Depending on where you hit it, you should see Windy Post Cross not far to the left or right of you!


A landscape photo of Windy Post Cross, Dartmoor, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography
Windy Post Cross

5 Waterfalls on the River Avon

This one isn’t a definite waterfall that you will find on a map, but instead is a series of minor waterfalls along the course of the river Avon in the south east of Dartmoor, south of the Avon Dam. Parking at Shipley Bridge, there is a scenic walk along the river, upstream to the dam, where a series of small waterfalls can be seen along the way. Look out for the amazing lichen covered trees; a good sign of just how clean the air is around here!). However, the waterfall pictured is a little further downstream, just south of Didworthy, where this lovely autumnal scene, with autumn leaves scattered around a small waterfall was captured back in November 2021.


A landscape photo of the River Avon, Dartmoor, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography
Falls on the River Avon


6 Cascades on the Becka Brook

Again, this one isn’t a single waterfall that you will find on a map, but instead a series of small cascades along this lush and beautiful Dartmoor brook, which can be found below the popular Hound Tor in the east of Dartmoor. To find the Becka Brook, take the bridleway which passes to the south of Hound Tor, travelling east between the Medieval settlement and Greator Rocks, before heading steeply downhill to meet an ancient clapper bridge over the Becka Brook. Cross the bridge and turn left to explore the upper part of this lovely stream with its multiple cascades and small waterfalls.


A landscape photo of the Becka Brook, Dartmoor, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography
Becka Brook


7 Venford Falls

Next is probably my favourite Dartmoor waterfall; the stunning secluded dual waterfalls of Venford Falls. Nestled in a steep wooded valley between the Venford Reservoir and the River Dart, the Venford Brook flows in a series of small cascades, of which Venford Falls is the most impressive. What these twin waterfalls lack in height (being only a couple of metres high) they definitely make up for in beauty as they tumble down into a damp hollow, full of mosses and ferns. It’s not easy to follow the Venford Brook directly down from the Reservoir, so the best way to find these falls is to park in the car park to the west of the reservoir before taking a path roughly north east and parallel to the tree line. This path stays roughly level, with the wooded valley of the Venford Brook to your right. Eventually you take the path as it descends steeply into the valley before eventually reaching the brook itself; Venford Falls can be found around half way between the reservoir and the river Dart. Be aware that the steep slope down to the Brook can be muddy and a little treacherous in wet weather, and when you arrive, you’re likely to have this beautiful place to yourself (apart perhaps from a photographer!).


A landscape photo of Venford Falls, Dartmoor, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography
Venford Falls


8 Henchertraw Falls

Finally, a waterfall that really does take some effort to find, and you’d be very likely to walk straight past if you didn’t know it was there. So, if you want a bit of an adventure then see if you can find the small but lovely Henchertraw Falls.

Starting at the car park for the Avon Dam at Shipley Bridge, first follow the tarmac road towards the dam. After a short distance, turn left up a service road for the filtration plant Just before the plant, take the path that heads north west up onto Brent Moor. Now things get a bit sketchier as there are no paths marked on the map from here! After around half a mile, you need to turn left and head down to the valley of the Bala Brook, at the point where it passes into a fenced enclosure. Somewhere here your need to find a way to cross the Brook (there are no bridges so don’t try it if the water is too high!). After crossing, turn left along the fenced enclosure until you meet the Red Brook flowing down towards you. You now simply follow the Red Brook up the hillside, until eventually you should find Henchertraw Falls hidden in the trees. Good luck!


A landscape photo of Henchertraw Falls, Dartmoor, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography
Henchertraw Falls

9 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page