Dartmoor. Granite Tors, impassable bogs and mires. Wide open heather clad moorland and superb vistas. Ancient oak woodland, small fields with dry stone granite hedges. And of course home of the Dartmoor pony. Unspoilt villages, thatched cottages by the dozen, a delight to the eye. In its heart, Widecombe, with its famous fair.
On the eastern flanks of Dartmoor off the beaten track villages such as North Bovey and Chagford, on the Moor's western edge towns such as Okehampton and Tavistock, and the Moors' southern edge Ashburton, Buckfastleigh and Chudleigh. Rivers such as the Dart and Okement tumbling through steep often wooded valleys on their way to the sea.
Dartmoor has an history stretching back to prehistoric times, dolmens, long barrows, hut circles, granite stone crosses, old field patterns, clapper bridges more recently tin streaming, mining, mineral railways and tin stamping mills, peat cuttings to rabbit warrens. Ruins of medieval settlements. So beautiful churches. Did you know some of the stone crosses date back to the time of the Abbeys, and are believed to be waymarkers?Lots of things to do on Dartmoor , from walking, hiking, cycling, fishing, horse riding and pony trekking, to exploring towns and villages, to sightseeing.
Mention must be made of some of the many Dartmoor tors. In West Devon. Brat Tor with its Widgery Cross, the River Lyd far below. In the south east. Hound Tor and deserted Medieval village. In the north. Yes Tor one of the highest points on the Moor, no wonder used as site for a triangulation pillar by the Ordnance Survey, nearby is High Willhays. East Mill Tor reachable from the Camp road. In the south. Rippon Tor with views as far as the Teign Estuary. Haytor only a short stroll from the car park, very popular with visitors having a Devon holiday, and locals alike. On a clear days fine views as far as Torbay.
Villages such as North Bovey- the Ring of Bells Inn dates from the 13th century; Drewsteignton- Drewe Arms, a more picture box setting one could not find, on the northern side of the village square. Widecombe famous for its fair held on the second Tuesday in September. Chagford with its market square.
Burrator Reservoir constructed 1893-98, to feed the growing population of Plymouth's demand for more and more water. Enlarged 1923-28 to its present capacity of 1026 million gallons. Keen walkers climb Sheeps Tor for its fine views over the reservoir, also Sharpitor and Leather Tor. There is a pleasant circular walk or drive around the lake. The oldest of the Moors' 8 large reservoirs is Tottiford, the most recent is Meldon, opened in 1972. Constructed in 1585 Drakes Leat carried water 17 miles to the city for over 300 years.
High on the moor Princetown with its grim prison. On a more pleasant note visit the superb High Moorland Visitor Centre. Once an hotel then the Prison Officers Mess, in 1993 opened by the Dartmoor National Park Authority as an Information Centre. With a whole host of mesmerizing exhibits from prehistory, to 12th century knights marking the boundary of Dartmoor Forest, to wildlife, to tin mining, to forestry, to peat extraction to quarrying and working granite. You will find the staff particularly helpful.
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Did you know that granite blocks were once painstakingly split by hand, using a jumper, feather and tare? Excellent walking guides are available from the Centre Bookshop. Dartmoor Prison, built for prisoners captured during the Napoleonic War in 1809. Empty from 1820 to 1850 when the building was first used for housing up to 1600 convicts. Visit the Prison Museum for a sobering, and thought provoking, snapshot of life behind bars. From the severe, brutal by today's standard, of discipline enforced by use of flogging frames and the cat o' nine tails to the hard toil of working on the prison farm.
Drive with Moor Care. Part of the beauty of Dartmoor National Park are the wide open spaces and unfenced roads. Please observe the 40 mph speed limit and help reduce the number of animal casualties, including Dartmoor Ponies every year. In spring ponies foal. Young ponies are so cute, but please don't feed them.
Walking on Dartmoor
Treat the Moor as the unspoilt wilderness it is.
Wear proper clothing and footwear.
Take waterproofs, a map and a compass.
Tell someone you can trust your route,
and expected return time before you set out.
Check the weather forecast. Close gates behind you.
Don't leave litter.
Keeps dogs on a lead.
Mention Becky Falls, and Buckfast Abbey. The Moor's Arthur Conan Doyle association's.
Look at our High Resolution Picture Show
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