Dartmoor - Southern England’s Last Great Wilderness

The mysterious and awesomely beautiful countryside  of Dartmoor National Park is only half an hour’s drive away from Cottage View.

Dartmoor National Park is some 365 square miles of stirring scenery, raw granite, barren bogland, grassland and heather-strewn open moorland, a challenge to walkers, a delight to bird watchers and a source of inspiration to writers like Sir Conan Doyle  – and it is only a half-hour drive away from Cottage View!

Find sheep, cattle and the hardy little Dartmoor ponies, all roaming freely. Travelling through Dartmoor is also like passing though the pages of history.  All around Dartmoor lies evidence of man’s attempt to tame this wild, open country, from the countless prehistoric hut circles and stone rows to the more recent remains of tin mining and quarrying.  

For many, the most appealing parts of Dartmoor are the isolated stretches of rugged uplands. These are mainly in the central and northern reaches and are characterized by tumbling streams and high tors chiselled by the elements. Walking the harsher northern tracts require more stamina and skill, while the gentler contours of the southern moor provide less strenuous rambles. No matter which part you choose, Dartmoor is a walker’s paradise. Find a wide range of books, walking guides and maps of Dartmoor in the bookshelves of Cottage View!  

But beware: a large portion of the northern moor, the area that contains some of Dartmoor’s highest tors and some of its most famous beauty spots is taken up by Ministry of Defense firing ranges, and free access may be limited. The ranges are marked by red-and-white posts. When firing is in progress, red flags or red lights signify that access is dangerous.

Dartmoor also has a lot to offer for tourists travelling by car. Running diagonally across the moor, the B 3212 and B3357 provide easy access to central Dartmoor and take in some of the region’s most impressive scenic spots. Visit Princetown , home to the National Park’s main information centre and HM Prison, still one of the country’s most unpopular penal institutions, Two Bridges from where you can venture forth into Wistman’s Wood, a hoary survival of the old forest that once covered much of the moor, Postbridge which holds one of Dartmoor’s picturesque clapper bridges and Dartmeet, where the East and West Dart Rivers combine.   

On the eastern and southeastern side of Dartmoor, visit Widecombe-in-the-Moor  whose granite church tower is set against a magnificent backdrop of high moorland, the wind-whittled rockpile of Haytor, Buckland-in-the-Moor, a pretty cluster of moorstone-and-thatch hamlets with the 14th century church of St. Peter’s. It features a painted rood screen, a Norman font and a clock on its castellated tower that has “My Dear Mother” replacing the numbers on its face, the Bronze-Age settlement of Grimspound and Buckfast Abbey, a Benedictine abbey rebuilt in the 20th century following the design of the Cistercian building razed in 1535. It is renowned for the monks’ proficiency in the art of stained-glass windows.  

Well worth visiting on the northern and northeastern moor is Castle Drogo which occupies a stupendous site above the Teign gorge and was built to a design by Sir Edwin Lutyens. It is one of the last English houses planned on a grand scale and is now owned by the National Trust. Chagford is a historic stannary town that enjoyed prosperity from the local wool industry.