Dartmoor Area in England


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Short description of Dartmoor

The heart of Dartmoor with its many swift brooks and high bizarre rocky hilltops, over which Mother Nature worked like a chisel, is the Dartmoor Forest, which has been the property of the Dukes of Cornwall since 1307. Despite this, access to these places is practically unlimited, it is only necessary to observe some simple rules: for example, it is allowed to park for the night only in places strictly reserved for this purpose, it is forbidden to leave the road for a distance of more than 15 yards. Camping is possible only outside the visibility of buildings and away from roads. Making bonfires is strictly prohibited. Here, perhaps, is the whole list of rules.

Despite the large number of signposts and boulders on which arrows are painted with paint, the ability to read a map even when walking short distances is an important and necessary prerequisite. For trips over considerable distances, sufficient practical experience is also required — the search for stray tourists by special search groups — a phenomenon not so rare in these places. A list of walks that can be accompanied by experienced guides lasting from 2 to 6 hours is published in the local newspaper “Dartmoor Visitor”, which can be purchased at tourist information centers located both in the largest cities and small towns, and even small villages.

The same newspaper publishes information on accommodation options, camping sites, events, facilities for servicing people with disabilities, shooting schedules at military training grounds located in this area, and so on. Princetown is located in the very center of Dartmoor. It houses the main information center of the National Park, and also has a good selection of shops, pubs, small hotels and guest houses. Several small towns, such as Postbridge and Widecombe, also have shops and guest houses, but the choice is poor. If you want to stay in more comfortable conditions, it is recommended to get to any town or village that are located along the perimeter of Dartmoor.

The best places to stay are Tavistock, Lydford and Okehampton. If you decide to choose the city of Exeter or Plymouth as the base for your trips to Dartmoor, you will not experience any difficulties or inconvenience, since you can get to them from the town of Two Bridges within one hour. It is conveniently located at the intersection of two highways B-3212 and B-3357, from here, by the way, using local roads, you can get to the most remote places of Dartmoor. Plan your trips in advance and book rooms in hotels or pensions along the route in high season in advance.

To the great displeasure of locals and visitors, the UK Department of Defense acquired a significant portion of the land in North Dartmoor, which has the highest rocky peaks and some of the most beautiful and famous local attractions in England. The boundaries of landfills belonging to the Ministry of Defense are indicated by red and white bars. During shooting, special red flags are hung out or small semaphores work in red mode, which warn that entry or entry into the zone is prohibited. According to the established rule, if until 9 o’clock in the morning from April to September, and from October to March - until 10 o’clock in the morning, there are no red flags, this means that there will be no firing on the firing range on that day.

Getting around Dartmoor by public transport

In summer, special express buses No. 82 run through Dartmoor, departing from Exeter to Plymouth with stops in the towns of Tu Bridges and Princetown - the rest of the year they work only on weekends. Between the end of May and the end of September, they follow this route at least 3 times a day. From Exeter to Castle Drogo and the neighboring town of Chagford, in the northeast of Dartmoor, bus number 173 runs (except Sunday). National Express buses calling Cornwall - Exeter, as well as buses No. X-9 and No. X-10, running on the route Bud - Boscastle - Exeter, as well as bus No. 171 from Exeter (except Sunday) call in Oakhampton.

By bus number 86, which connects Plymouth with Barnstagsh, you can get to Tavistock and Lidford. Bus number 118 (a classic double-decker red bus operating on the route only on Sundays) runs between Plymouth, Tavistock, Lidford and Oakhampton. Bus number 98 runs between Princeton and Tavistock at least 5-6 times a day from Monday to Saturday, buses from Tavistock to Plymouth leave approximately every two hours. In addition to these routes, approximately no more than once a week, buses go to remote villages.

You can use two local railway lines. One runs along the former branch, which was used only for freight trains between Oakhampton and Exeter via Crediton, operates only on Sundays in summer (travel time is approximately 40 minutes), and the second branch, called Tamar River Line, laid in the Tamar River Valley, connects Plymouth with the town of Hannislake, which is located 5 miles southeast of Tavistock, on the Cornwall River Tamar.

The guide, entitled “Discovery Guide to Dartmoor by the Bus and Train” (available in Dartmoor by bus and train), available for free at bus stations and at some travel agencies, contains public transport timetables and provides specific recommendations on how to It is best to combine walking with bus and train rides on specific routes. You can also call Devon Bus for specific information. The special Sunday single Rover ticket, the cost of which is £ 6, allows you to use any public transport, including trains on two local branches, all day without restrictions.

Princetown and central Dartmoor

The city of Princetown owes its appearance to the Dartmoor Prison, a high security prison that was built to hold prisoners of war captured by British troops during the Napoleonic Wars. The proximity of the prison is felt everywhere in the city, this is manifested in a somewhat depressing harsh atmosphere and in houses painted in strict gray, some of them, such as the St. Michael’s Methodist Church, were built by French and American prisoners. The unpresentable view of the town is completely compensated by the surrounding nature, the most attractive places are located north of the town.

You can get any information on Dartmoor in the main information center of the national park, which is located on the main street (daily March-October 10.00-17.00, November-March 10.00-16.00). One of the best places in the city is the Duchy House Hotel, located about two hundred yards from the city center on Tavistock Road (not working in November), which has rooms both with en-suite bathrooms and with separate. You can also stop at two pubs in the central city square: Railway Inn and Plume of Feathers, which claims to be the oldest building in the city. It has two outbuildings with shared dormitories and a convenient camping site, there is a bar with a standard set of dishes.

Northeast of Princeton and 2 miles north of the intersection of highways in the town of Tu Bridges, surrounded by moss and boulders deprived of boulders, between which wild fern grows, stunted oaks of the Wistman’s Wood grow. They are just a pale shadow and miserable remains of what used to be called the Dartmoor Forest. Locals claim that old trees with insect-bitten bark were a gathering of Druids, ancient pagans who worshiped the forces of nature. This statement, not confirmed by real facts, nevertheless sounds quite plausible given the privacy of this place.

3 miles northeast of Tu Bridges, in the village of Postbridge above the East Dart River, is the largest and best preserved casement bridge in Dartmoor. Used by miners working in tin mines and by local peasants since medieval times, it is a simple structure consisting of large granite slabs that rest on thick supports made of the same material. A bridge made of similar material of more complex construction can be seen in the town of Tu Bridges.

The village itself is a tiny settlement, which, incidentally, has a very useful tourist office located in the car park near the bridge (March-October 10.00-17.00, November and December Saturday-Sunday 10.00-16.00), where you can get detailed information about local walking routes. If you are not comfortable with walking up or down the river, then you should decide and make the southward transition through the Bellever Forest (Believer Forest) to go out into the open area, above which the Believer Tor rocky ridge (443 meters) rises. It offers stunning views of the surroundings.

At the edge of the forest, about 2 miles south of the village of Postbridge on the banks of the East Dart River, one of three hostels is located (closed November-February, £ 10.25) - it is located on the local road from Postbridge. You can get here from Tavistock by city bus number 98 from Plymouth, which makes a stop there, or on foot from Postbridge. From here to the base is just a mile. Another campsite with sleeping quarters is located near the Bellever Forest on Runnage Farm. There is also a convenient site for camping with all the necessary amenities. Bike rental is available.

It is recommended to pre-book places in these establishments, especially on weekends. With great comfort and even some luxury you can stay at the Lydgate House Hotel, which is located not far from the river bank, just off the main road a mile southwest of Postbridge. Signs are available. From here it is a stone's throw to the Bellever Forest and to the wasteland (they do not populate children under 12 years old, smoking is prohibited). 2 miles northeast of Postbridge in a secluded place amid the vast expanses of desolate swampy plains, the Warren House Inn is located where you can always warm up with well-heated fireplaces and enjoy delicious, home-cooked food.

East of Route B-3212, turning right onto Waidcomb in Mur, you can reach the ancient Bronze Age settlement Grimspound, which is located under the rocky top of Hameldown Tor, a mile from the highway. It was inhabited by people about three millennia ago, when the climate in these places was much warmer, and dense forests extended around it, it is an example of a prehistoric settlement, the most complete and best preserved to this day in Dartmoor, which consisted of 24 round stone huts scattered on 4 acres of fenced territory.

A stone wall almost 3 meters thick surrounded residential buildings, in some even now you can see primitive bedrooms. The issue of water supply was also solved quite simply, the stream was blocked by a stone wall in a suitable place, and water began to flow in the right direction. This ancient settlement is believed to have served as the model for the author of The Baskervilles Dogs when describing the place where Sherlock Holmes was hiding, conducting his secret observations. A rocky peak called Hound Tor (Hound Tor), formed as a result of the emergence of granite rocks on the surface, which is located 3 miles southeast of the prehistoric settlement, inspired the famous author to take up writing his literary work.

According to legend, it was here that the locals saw how they rushed through the wastes of a pack of huge hounds of ghost dogs to pounce on the tombstone of the hated local landowner-landowner immediately after his death in 1677. Near this place is a small two-story camping Great Houndtor, sleeping quarters which are located on the second floor. There are also showers and a self-catering kitchen.

Buckland Moore and Southeast Dartmoor

4 miles from the curb of highways in the town of Tu Bridges in the town of Dartmeet, the two East Dart and West Dart rivers that have passed a long and winding path from their sources merge. Crowds of tourists stop in this wonderful place, but the river valley is rich in various attractions, and you do not need to go far from the parking lot and ice cream van, everything is almost at hand. The river Dart after the confluence of its tributaries now smoothly carries its waters through the valley further towards the sea. Just downstream, next to the pretty village of Buckland-Moor, another river flows into it - Webbourne.

This is one of the whole scattering of charming villages with pretty granite houses and pressed straw roofs located in the southeastern part of Dartmoor. 4 miles to the north is another candidate for the title of the most popular and most visited village in the area - Widecombe-Moor. It lies in a valley above the rocky ridges. The local church of Saint Pancras serves as an excellent landmark in these places, its tall pointed tower, next to which the building of the church itself looks low and squat, is clearly visible for many miles around.

The interior also boasts a beautifully painted altar screen. Look over the confectionery booth for the one-eared rabbits carved from stone on the ceiling - a rather interesting sight. The neighboring guest house at the church was built in the 15th century for believers who traveled to the church on foot from distant places. Later it was rebuilt into a shelter for the poor parishioners. Another reason that allows the village to maintain a reputation as a tourist attraction is the holding of a traditional fair, which in recent years, having lost its true purpose, has turned into a real profitable show for tourists, here you can sell visitors not only souvenirs, but also all kinds of fakes for rarity. It opens annually on the second Tuesday of September.

In Widcombe you can stay at the elegant Old Rectory guesthouse (credit cards not accepted), located opposite the post office in a charming garden, or at the Manor Cottage guesthouse (credit cards not accepted) located next to the same post office.It has its own garden, and the dining room has a cozy fireplace, around which you can comfortably sit. For lunch, you can always get cold snacks and hot dishes. Half a mile from the village is another guesthouse called Higher Venton Farm - a long guest house with a thatched roof, a quiet place, next to which is a couple of decent pubs (credit cards are not accepted).

You can pitch a tent or spend the night in a dormitory at the Cockingford farm camping site, which is located 1.5 miles south of Waidcombe (closed mid-November to mid-March). At a distance of a mile from the village in Shilstone Rocks there is a wonderful equestrian center, from there you can go on an exciting excursion on horseback on a pony, and if necessary, take a short course in horse riding. South of Buckland lies another rural idyll in a picturesque place - the village of Holne, surrounded on three sides by forested, cozy valleys.

In the house of the local parish priest, Charles Kingsley was born, a novelist, champion of the ideas of “Christian socialism”, the author of the famous children's fairy tale in the fantasy style “The Water Babies” and the novel “Westward No” about the life and struggle of the British for the territory in Western India, the main whose hero managed to take part in the Crimean War. In the local church there is a window named after him, and on the grave of the local rich man Edward Collins, until 1780 he owned the hotel and pub Church House Inn located in the neighborhood of the church, a very original and even eccentric epitaph was knocked out.

The pub, built three centuries before this date, was later rebuilt in such a way as to accommodate guest rooms on the second floor. Great dishes are always served here, and you can also settle down if you wish. It is said that Oliver Cromwell himself stayed at this establishment. On the outskirts of the village, next to the famous Two Moors Way hiking trail, Stone Barn is a small campsite with all amenities, in the courtyard of which there is a small area where you can pitch a tent if you wish.

A couple of miles east of the Dart River, curving, flows through a wooded green valley past the territory of the Buckfast Abbey (daily May-October 9.00-17.30, November-April 10.00-16.00, free admission) - a modern monastery complex built on the site of an old a monastery founded in the 11th century by the Danish king Knut. 200 years later, he was forgotten, after some time it was recreated again, until, finally, it was destroyed by order of King Henry VIII. The modern monastery buildings were rebuilt by a group of French Benedictine monks, who in 1932 consecrated the building of the monastery church, work on the construction of other monastery buildings was completed recently.

The temple itself was built in the classical Anglo-Norman style in accordance with the original design of the church building demolished in 1535, which belonged to the monastic order of the Cistercians. The interior decoration of the buildings testifies to the skill of the monks in the manufacture of stained glass stained glass, which, along with the sale of honey, products of various crafts and tonic wine, serve as sources for replenishing the monastery treasury. The exposition presented in the monastery tells about its complex history and demonstrates the values ​​and relics stored in it.

Northeastern Dartmoor

The trading town of Moretonhampstead, which is heavily unaffected by modern urbanization, lies on the northeastern outskirts of the wasteland and serves as an attractive gate through which you enter Dartmoor. Incidentally, he shares with Woolfardisworthy (near Bydford) the first place in the list of the longest geographical names (in one word) in England. Mortonhampstead has historically rivaled neighboring Chagford, an important tin trading center, which has also been a thriving center for the timber industry. He stands on a hill above the River Thein. On the edge of it is a beautiful church of the 19th century.

The city has enough attractive places to keep afloat numerous pubs and hotels. Overlooking the church, the historic Three Crowns Hotel has one of the nicest pubs. You can settle there, if you are not afraid of the ringing of church hours. A calmer alternative is the 16th century Cyprian’s Cot Hotel (47 New Street, credit cards not allowed, no smoking), where you can warm your bones by the fireplace. The city also has a modern and very expensive non-smoking restaurant, 22 Mill Street (closed on Sundays and during lunch on Monday and Thursday). It is very expensive, but the kitchen is really modern and of the highest quality. Only for customers there are two rooms with amenities.

In the immediate vicinity you can take many walks, for example, to the Fernworthy Reservoir (4 miles to the south-west according to the signs) or down the Thane, to the castle of the 20th century (Castle Drogo) (April-October Monday and Wednesday Sunday 11.00-17.30, the territory daily from 10.30 until dark, £ 5.90, only the territory of £ 3), which occupies a vast territory with a view of the mouth of the Thane. After retiring at the age of 33, grocery tycoon Julius Drew unearthed documents that indicate his descent from the Norman baron, and ordered the construction of a castle that befits his ancestry.

The construction project of Sir Edwin Lutyens, begun in 1910, was completed only in 1930, but the result was an unsurpassed synthesis of medieval and modern elements. You can play croquet on the lawn. The paths lead from Drogo east to Fingle Bridge, one of Dartmoor's most famous places, where trout can be found in shady green ponds, and sometimes you can catch salmon. The Fingle Bridge Inn is located here, and with it a restaurant.