Skip to content

Burrator Reservoir

burrator reservoir

A Fun Family Day Out at Burrator Reservoir

Nestled amongst Dartmoor’s rolling hills lies the beautiful Burrator Reservoir, a picturesque man-made lake that offers a fantastic day out for families in Devon. At over 400 acres, Burrator is Devon’s largest reservoir, and with its easy accessibility and wealth of activities, it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular destination. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Burrator Reservoir with kids.


Getting There

Burrator Reservoir is located approximately 10 miles north-west of Plymouth, close to the villages of Sheepstor and Meavy.

It can be easily accessed by car – simply head to the reservoir’s main car park off the B3212, which has ample free parking available.

If you’d prefer not to drive, you can also reach Burrator via public transport. Catch the 83 or 84 bus from Plymouth which stops at Sheepstor, a short 1 mile walk from the reservoir.

Opening Times and Entry Fees

The good news is that Burrator Reservoir is open all year round and entry is completely free! The car park and main areas around the lake are accessible from dawn until dusk.

Some of the facilities such as the visitor centre and cafe have more limited opening times, but there is still plenty to see and do without these.

Walking and Hiking

With over 9 miles of walking trails circling the lake and leading into the moorland beyond, Burrator is a walker’s paradise. Families can enjoy short strolls around the reservoir or be adventurous and explore the network of paths and nature trails. Look out for wildlife like birds and Dartmoor ponies along the way.

burrator map
(South West Lakes Trust)


Cycling is permitted on certain trails around Burrator, making it a fun active way for families to explore. Cycle hire is available on-site near the dam from Easter to October. Kids will love cycling along the scenic lakeside routes.

Picnics and Relaxing

With plenty of picnic benches dotted around and wide open green space, Burrator is perfect for lazy summer picnics. Pack a hamper full of treats or have a barbecue while the kids play games on the grass.

Burrator Reservoir


Keen anglers can fish for brown trout and rainbow trout in Burrator’s well-stocked waters. Day permits can be purchased on-site. It’s a peaceful pastime for parents, while little ones will be fascinated watching the fish being caught.

Visitor Centre

Burrator’s visitor centre gives an overview of the reservoir’s history and wildlife. Interactive displays and maps provide info on the area’s heritage and guided walks. The centre also has a gift shop selling local souvenirs.

The Dam

Take a stroll out along the impressive dam for panoramic views over the lake. Spot boats out on the water and learn about the dam’s essential water supply function. Free guided tours run on some weekends.

Burrator Reservoir dam


As well as the visitor centre, Burrator has a cafe and toilets located in the main car park area. The Reservoir Rangers office is also here for any information you may need during your visit.

Other facilities include the cycle hire centre, fishing permit office, and self-serve kiosk for snacks and ice creams.

There are also plenty of bins, benches and marked trails to make your day run smoothly.

Tips for Families

  • Come prepared for changeable Dartmoor weather – bring waterproofs and sunscreen
  • Wear sturdy shoes/boots suitable for walking over uneven ground
  • Bring a ball or frisbee to play games across the open grassy areas
  • Pack binoculars for wildlife spotting around the lake
  • Hire a cycle trailer attachment for younger children unable to ride themselves
  • Visit the dam for excellent lake views and free guided tours
  • Have an early evening picnic to watch the sun set over the water

Make a Day of It

Burrator Reservoir offers enough activities and natural beauty to fill a whole fun family day out. Arrive early to give yourselves plenty of time to explore.

Start by strolling around the lake and finding a scenic spot for a picnic. After lunch, rent some bikes or lace up your walking boots and hit one of the reservoir trails to admire the views and fresh Dartmoor air.

Finish up at the visitor centre to learn about Burrator’s fascinating history, then let the kids enjoy the outdoor play trail before heading home after a memorable day.

With its idyllic woodland setting, array of outdoor adventures and family-friendly facilities, Burrator Reservoir is a brilliant choice for a day trip to delight kids and parents alike.

ice at burrator

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Burrator Reservoir dog friendly? – Yes, dogs are welcome, but they should not be allowed to swim in the reservoir and should be kept on leads when other animals are nearby

Where does the water from Burrator go? – Most of the water from Burrator Reservoir is used to serve the people of Plymouth and Yelverton.

Are their toilets at Burrator Reservoir? – Yes, they have toilets and picnic tables and in the warmer months, there will be an ice cream van.

Other nearby places to visit

There are so many fantastic places to see when you are in Dartmoor. Here are some suggestions:

  • Plym Valley Railway – Scenic steam train rides along the Plym Valley’s tranquil nature trails and riverside paths departing from Plymbridge.
  • House of Marbles – Fascinating attraction with marble runs, games and manipulative puzzles. Shop selling classic toys and games onsite.
  • Lydford Gorge – Dramatic gorge with waterfalls and lovely nature trails along the River Lyd. Managed by the National Trust.
  • Tavistock Abbey – Impressive ruins of a 961 AD Benedictine abbey. Interesting to explore for history enthusiasts.
  • Plymouth Gin Distillery – Opportunity to learn about gin production and sample the spirits at the oldest working gin distillery in England.
  • Saltram House – Elegant Georgian mansion with impressive interiors and gardens designed by Capability Brown. National Trust property.
  • Buckfast Abbey – Working Benedictine monastery with medieval church and tranquil grounds. Homemade produce for sale.
  • Pennywell Farm – Family friendly farm with animal encounters, tractor rides, indoor play and more. Great rainy day option.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *