Dartmoor National ParkGranite tor's, ancient woodlands and the wild open moor....
Dartmoor national park, in the south western county of Devon covers 368 square miles, an area approximately the same size as London, but without the traffic or pollution. The magnificent terrain is home to a wide variety of habitats and wildlife, where nature and man have lived side by side for thousands of years.
There are many ways to get active and experience all that Dartmoor has to offer, some more strenuous than others. Explore the highest tors on foot, cycle up the legendary hills, ride across the moor on horseback, or go wild swimming in a disused quarry. Kayaking on the beautiful rivers and rock climbing is also an option, or you can always enjoy a quiet days fishing or just relax and enjoy the stunning views and scenery.
A wonderful and exhilarating place, Dartmoor is dotted with villages including Princetown, the highest settlement on Dartmoor (1465ft above sea level) and home to the austere and foreboding Dartmoor Prison. Originally Built in 1809 to house French prisoners during the Napoleonic War, it is an iconic structure on the landscape, complete with visitors museum. Its also the inspiration for Jail Ale, brewed in Princetown by Dartmoor Brewery – the highest brewery in England. When it comes to sampling their award-winning ales, Dartmoor is home to many picturesque pubs and inns offering refreshing drinks and home cooked food – a welcome break whilst out exploring, or a well earnt reward after a day out on the moors. Princetown also houses the National Park Visitor Centre, located in what used to be the Duchy Hotel. This is where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stayed and started writing his famous Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles, inspired by the surrounding landscape.
Other villages and towns on Dartmoor worth exploring include Ashburton, Chagford and Widecombe in the Moor – the picture-perfect setting for a traditional Devonshire cream tea. The ancient UNESCO World Heritage town of Tavistock is only seven miles away, and several National Trust properties are nearby including Saltram House, Buckland Abbey, Cotehele House and Lydford Gorge. The historic port city of Plymouth lies fifteen miles to the south west and there are also three moorland golf courses within a twenty-minute drive. Slightly further afield, but still within easy reach, is the Roman city of Exeter, the Eden Project and the beautiful coast and beaches of north and south Devon.
It should be noted that to the north of the moor, the military has three ranges which are used for live firing practice – Okehampton, Merrivale and Willsworthy. The public has access to these moorland areas and the boundaries are marked on the ground by a series of red and white posts. If you see a red flag flying by day or red lamps at night, do not enter the area as this means live firing is taking place.