Summer star gazing walk in the Teign Valley
Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, South Devon EX6 6PBRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
On a clear night you can see some 4,000 stars sparkling in our universe. Perfect for families and anyone unfamiliar with astronomy, this guide will introduce you to star gazing in the tranquillity of the Teign Valley, near Castle Drogo. The open skies are a magical location for star gazing and wildlife spotting. Print off a copy of our Star Guide to take with you on your way.
- Bus stop
Start: National Trust Car Park, Castle Drogo, grid ref: SX724902
Start in the car park and walk out of the car park back to the drive.
Turn left and follow the drive until you reach a sign to Hunters Path. At dusk, while you wait for the stars to be fully visible, keep an eye out for bats as they come out, to hunt and swoop through the valley in search of moths and other insects.
The North Star, also known as the 'Pole Star' or Polaris, is a very bright star and is always fixed above the north point of the horizon. It has been used for over 2,000 years to help navigators at sea and on land find their way. The Teign Valley is a dramatic, steep-sided woodland valley on Dartmoor, teeming with wildlife and history.
Turning right, follow the path through the trees until you emerge onto a grassy area. Star gazing spot 1 - there are good views of the night sky here, looking west.
Look up to see the Summer Triangle. It is made up of three bright stars positioned in a triangle shape, directly overhead. The stars are called Deneb, Vega and Altair, and also form part of other constellations. Arrive at dusk and keep an eye out for deer and badgers: the best time to catch a glimpse of these shy animals. Listen out for snorting, coughing or noisy munching as the badgers come out to feed and play, and pick their way through the undergrowth, eating worms, beetles and other insects.
As you emerge on to the grassy area follow the path bearing left across the grass. Follow the path up the slope and past the trees to Piddledown Common. Star gazing spot 2 lay a blanket on the ground at Piddledown Common and take in the excellent views of the wide open sky. It has stunning views across the high moors by day.
Try and spot the Milky Way, a ribbon of millions of stars, which threads its way across the night sky. The light you see from a twinkling star has travelled across the universe for millions of years to reach you; so when looking at a star, you are actually looking back in time. The valley comes alive with wildlife at night. Listen out for the toowhit-twhoo of the tawny owls, a familiar woodland sound on a summer night.
Return to the car park along the same route. Why not return during the daytime to try one of the excellent walks through the wooded Teign Valley? Follow the fast flowing River Teign as it tumbles down from Dartmoor.
End: National Trust Car Park, Castle Drogo, grid ref: SX724902
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 1 mile (1.5km)
- Time: 30 minutes
- OS Map: Explorer 113 (Okehampton); Landranger 191 (Okehampton and North Dartmoor)
Flat with grass and stony paths, and one slope. There are two star gazing spots, 0.25 miles (0.6km) and 0.5 miles (0.8km) from the car park. Please be aware of trip hazards in the dark. Choose a clear night, and take binoculars and a torch to follow in Galileo Galileis footsteps...
- How to get here:
By bus: Devon Dartline No. 173 – Exeter to Moretonhampstead, Mon to Sat, passing Exeter Central railway station
By train: Yeoford station 8 miles (12.8km)
By car: 5 miles (8km) south of A30 Exeter to Okehampton. Take the A382 Whiddon Down-Moretonhampstead road; turn off at Sandy Park. Follow the brown National Trust signs to Castle Drogo
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