Moorland Guides was created in 2012 by the former guides of the Dartmoor National Park volunteer guides service as a small co-operative sort of group comprising existing and qualified guides who, for many years, have been working with the Dartmoor National Park Authority in providing and leading guided walks and also supporting the educational programme by guiding school groups from both this country and abroad. During the run-up to 2012 and the austerity measures imposed by central government, many organisations have had to review their work and rationalise their manpower and services. The Dartmoor National Park Authority has not been immune from that challenging situation and had to make some very difficult decisions to move forward into a future with a much reduced income. One of the various ways identified to reduce expenditure by the Authority was to look closely at the provision of the guided walk service. To that end, on 1st April 2012 the Authority stopped providing the existing public guided walks programme and also relinquished the international student guided walks involvement, thus handing that engagement over to Moorland Guides.
The Park Authority will be retaining responsibility for the educational walks service for UK schools and colleges and nothing changes there. This gave a great opportunity for the guides themselves to look at the guided walk programme and take it forward as a private entity. It gives us the chance to really expand the variety of walks available and to listen to our clients and customers and provide a new and innovative programme of walks aimed at all abilities and groups. Many of the guides (who had previously been engaged in the work of the Dartmoor National Park Authority) have now become self employed, freelancing to Moorland Guides a small group being run and administered by one of the guides – Simon DELL. We will also take on the international student guiding as well as providing voluntary guides to the National Park to help with their retained responsibility of leading guided walks and educational visits for UK schools, which is what we have done for years.
Simon Dell is currently the Director and Co-ordinator of Moorland Guides. He has since retired as a full-time and volunteer Police Constable after thirty two years regular service in September 2007, and since then as a Special Constable volunteer in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary having been a member of the Force since 1975. His last post was leading the Special Constabulary volunteers throughout the Force area in supporting the work of the Wildlife Crime Officers, thus continuing the work when he was, for many years, a Wildlife Liaison Officer in the Police Service . He served in various stations throughout the counties of Devon and Cornwall as well as working on the Isles of Scilly. Seventeen years of his service was spent at Tavistock Police Station as Community Constable, where, in 1997 he was awarded the MBE for services to the community as well as Mountain Rescue.
His interests have involved twenty years as a member of the Dartmoor Rescue Group, being its chairman in 1995 and is also a Dartmoor National Park Guide. He leads guided walks on Lundy Island and is a member of the Lundy Field Society having written several books about the island including a guide. His guided walks now also include guiding on the Pembrokeshire island of Skomer during the puffin season.
In 1997 his first book, ‘The Beat on Western Dartmoor’ was published and following the success of this first book (it has since sold out!) he has been much in demand for talks and presentations all around the Force area as well as nationally. He has appeared on television and radio talking about policing history and has completed two series of the television documentary series ‘Murder Most Foul’ with the actor Jack Shepherd.
He was for many years a member of the National committee of the Police History Society as well as being a member of the local Devon & Cornwall Police Museum Committee.
Simon has received the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in 2003 and shortly after, he received the Daily Mirror’s ‘Pride of Britain’ Award and also the “Sun” newspaper’s Police Bravery Award 2002. In 2009 he was awarded the “Anne Frank Educator’s Award” for his work with young people who suffer discrimination, this award was presented by Anne Frank’s posthumous-step-sister. In 2013 he was awarded the Lifetime In Policing Award by the Home Office after serving through five different decades in the Force as both a Regular full-time Officer and a volunteer Special Constable.
He is now a freelance writer having published fourteen books on policing as well as Dartmoor Prison, industrial archaeology and Lundy Island. He also writes for various Dartmoor magazines and periodicals as well as the Times Educational Supplement and more recently the BBC Countryfile Magazine. He has a regular feature called “Dartmoor Curiosities” in the Dartmoor Magazine. Simon’s books can be obtained from this website at the Books for Sale page. He has also been involved in reviewing Oxford University publications. His books can be found for purchase on his website at http://simondell.co.uk/book-shop/
He still lives in Tavistock with his wife Shirley, son Matthew & daughter Laura along with grandchildren Maddison and Joseph. In his spare time he enjoys relaxing mountaineering both in the UK as well as the Alps and Himalayas, having taken part in several expeditions in Nepal and Tibet to both the north and south sides of Mount Everest and to the summit of nearby Kalar Pathar as well as climbing in the Alps and summating Mont Blanc.
When not found on Dartmoor or up a mountain he can be found playing in the South Wales Police Band of which he is a member.