Discovering Dartmoor With The Moor Otters Trail

Have you heard of the Moor Otters Trail? If you are visiting Devon this summer then it’s a great way to explore the Dartmoor area and have some fun with the kids while you’re at it.  If you’ve been following my Twitter account, you’ll know my 5 year old daughter and I went to Dartmoor to find out more about the trail and to hunt down as many otters as we could find during our recent road trip.

Bedford Hotel Tavistock

Over 100 otters have been designed by local and UK artists and dotted around various locations across Dartmoor and Devon.  The otter is an indigenous local species, but only a few years ago they were nearly extinct.  The otter numbers are making a strong comeback in the  area, but Dartmoor’s natural landscape is particularly fragile.  The Moor Otter Trail is a way of raising people’s awareness of this local issue and raising money to support initiatives to protect the natural habitat.

Discovering Dartmoor With The Moor Otters Trail | Otter Spotting Devon | What is the Moor Otters Trail

When my daughter heard that we were going to be otter hunting, she was so excited and couldn’t wait to get started.  Our first stop was The Bedford Hotel in Tavistock and they have a lovely otter nestled in their wonderful walled garden at the end of the carpark.  After an exceptional dinner and catching up with some much needed sleep after Camp Bestival, we started otter hunting in Tavistock the very next day.

Moor Otter Tavistock

Now, 5 year old’s aren’t so fond of pottering around towns looking at local landmarks I find.  Give them a Moor Otters Trail book and a mission of finding as many as possible and all of a sudden you have a very different scenario on your hands.  My daughter loved exploring Tavistock and looking for otters, and on the way we were able to enjoy some of the local landmarks too.

Rosie Otter

The next otter we spotted was Rosie at Tavistock Wharf, and we both agreed she was very sparkly.  We strolled along the River Tavy and took a detour to the Tavistock Museum to learn a little more about the historic town and local legend Sir Francis Drake.

Tavistock museum

Next, we took to the car and headed over Dartmoor to some more otter locations.  We stopped at the Trout and Tipple and saw Jonny Rotter!  We loved this otter a lot, but it was raining quite a bit and we couldn’t stand and enjoy him for very long.  As we started to explore more of Dartmoor we were able to enjoy the stunning scenery and we even spotted some Dartmoor ponies along the way.

view Dartmoor

We finished our first leg of the Moor Otters Trail at The Two Bridges Hotel where we had clocked up 7 otters for the day.  We were super happy with our achievements and were looking forward to a good nights’ sleep before hitting the road the next day.

otter Two Bridges Hotel

We were now in the heart of Dartmoor, and I was looking forward to getting to know the area much better.  My daughter was armed with her otter spotter book and loved trying to guess who we might find next on our travels.

We arrived in Princetown, which is an excellent place for otter spotting.  We found three otters that were in our book at the visitors centre, as well as a very special otter who had recently been unveiled, ‘The Duchy of Cornwall Otter’.  We also got to enjoy the mini-otter collection that had been created by local children, and we totally loved all their contributions.

view Dartmoor Princetown

There were two more otter’s hiding out in Princetown, so we decided to track them down on foot.  We enjoyed a lovely walk together just outside of the village looking at the local landscape and the views back over Princetown and it’s rather forbouding prison, which is now a museum.  To top it off the sun was shining, making for an even more memorable day out in Dartmoor.

moor otter trail

After more otter missions in the car exploring Pixieland in Dartmeet, Hexworthy and Burrator Reservoir  we felt that we had another fantastic day under our belt.  The sense of adventure was high as we scoured Dartmoor and it’s narrow country lanes to the different otter locations.

Our final resting stop was the gorgeous Moorland Garden Hotel in Yelverton where we got to meet another very special otter.  This is where the Potter Otter is in residence and he is definitely one of our favourites.  We got into the Harry Potter spirit with some wizard inspired dressing up, which made the experience even more fun.

Harry Potter Otter Moorland Garden Hotel

Before leaving Dartmoor and the Moor Otters Trail, we also got the chance to explore Buckland Abbey.  This was a landmark stop for us as ‘Otterman’ was our 20th otter on the trail.  If you find 20 otters you can claim your otter spotter badge at one of Dartmoor’s visitor’s centre’s and enter a competition to win some lovely prizes including a 2 night stay at Harford Bridge Park.

As well as finding our final otter, we also enjoyed exploring Buckland Abbey and the wonderful art collection currently in residence there called The Art Of Reflections by Andrew Logan, all of which really captured my daughters’ imagination.

Otter Buckland Abbey

I had no idea how my daughter would react to the Moor Otters Trail or indeed if it was going to be something she would enjoy.  I loved how much she embraced the experience and it really helped to bring Dartmoor to life for her.  She loved using the maps in the trail book and guessing which otter we might see next.  She actually picked Caesar correctly when we arrived at The Rock Inn at Yelverton, which made her otter spotting day.

Since coming back home, you can tell she really feels like she has achieved something by going otter spotting.  She’s so proud of her book where she has ticked off the otters she has seen and has told her Daddy and sister all about her adventure.  There is also talk of sharing her otter story at show and tell when she goes back to school.

If you are visiting Devon this summer I can totally recommend adding the Moor Otters Trail to your holiday experience as you will enjoy exploring the area, finding these incredibly beautiful creatures and you might even get to win a prize!

Have you read the Ultimate Guide to Making Family Travel Easier yet? It’s awesome!

If you are planning a visit to Devon, make sure you visit the Official Dartmoor Tourism Organisation to help plan your trip.  You can find this essential source of information for anyone visiting Dartmoor here

Read our Dartmoor hotel reviews here:

The Bedford Hotel, Two Bridges Hotel and Moorland Garden Hotel.

Our visit to explore Dartmoor and the moor otters trail was a planned press trip, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Zena's Suitcase
Zena's Suitcase

Zena Goldman is a UK based travel, family & lifestyle blogger who left her 9-5 job behind in the not-for-profit sector to follow her creative dreams and enjoy a more flexible family life. She began writing Zena’s Suitcase in 2011 and shares the holidays and adventures she goes on with (and without) her 2 young daughters. She wishes her son would join them more often but he’s carving out his own dreams now and enjoying university life.

Since beginning Zena’s Suitcase she has worked with a number of brands and also has a regular monthly feature in the ASDA Good Living Magazine feature, ‘Ask The Expert’ where she shares helpful parenting tips. In 2018 she was also a finalist in the prestigious BIBs Awards for Social Media.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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  1. Susie Wilkinson
    August 6, 2017 / 1:05 pm

    It’s been a long time since I was last in Devon, it’s such a beautiful place, and the otter hunting looked fun!

  2. Kayleigh Watkins
    August 6, 2017 / 2:30 pm

    It looks like great fun, and a lovely way to explore Dartmoor, we stayed in Dartmouth and visited Dartmoor zoo which was a lovely day out, although a few of the animals could have been kept better xxx

  3. Margaret gallagher
    August 6, 2017 / 3:57 pm

    It’s years since I’ve been here
    Time I went back soon

    I forgot how good it is

  4. Bev
    August 7, 2017 / 7:58 am

    Looks like a lovely day! Beautiful photos, as always!

  5. August 7, 2017 / 8:45 am

    Oh that trail looks such fun I do love king children’s trails.

  6. Ashleigh Allan
    August 7, 2017 / 5:19 pm

    Looks like fun im sure my kids would enjoy it. Love the sparkly one

  7. Vicki D
    August 8, 2017 / 3:15 am

    This is a fantastic idea and a great way to teach children about wildlife in a fun and enjoyable setting

  8. Yasmine choudhry
    August 8, 2017 / 5:05 pm

    A great day out. Just what i would have liked as a child.

  9. Sally Hill
    August 15, 2017 / 4:20 pm

    Oh my gosh that looks like SUCH a fun trail! Thanks for sharing!

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Whether you are looking for travel tips to make the most of your next cruise holiday or you need UK travel ideas we’ve got you covered on Zena’s Suitcase UK travel blog.  We started sharing our holiday and travel reviews in 2013, so if you can’t find the travel, family or lifestyle blog above you are after make sure you head over to the search bar to find what you need.  Think of us as one of the best travel blogs brimming with ideas to get you out and about with and without the kids.