Welcome back to my blog from my little cottage in the heart of Dartmoor National Park. After what seems like weeks and weeks of rain, we finally have brilliant blue skies over Dartmoor which is on the cusp of bouncing into spring! I am a great ambassador for a mini beak, but I was thinking about a blog post called ‘ What you must see on Dartmoor’ and realised that a mini break is just not enough time to even shake a stick at this amazing National Park. Here are my 10 reasons to stay longer.
1) Find Local Produce and Craft
Ok where to start? West Country produce is amazing and for me there is nothing quite like it. If your staying self catering, be sure not to miss a Farm Shop and stock up on some gorgeous local produce from milk, cheese, veg, eggs, wine, beer, whisky and meat. Here are a couple of my ‘fantastic finds’.
Strawberry Fields- Lifton- www.strawberryfieldslifton.co.uk
Ullacombe Farm Shop- Bovey Tracy- www.ullacombefarm.co.uk
The other thing to know about Dartmoor is that we have some incredible artists and crafts people. Don’t miss the craft fair open on a Thursday in Widecombe In The Moor every Thursday starting from late Spring.
2) Walk Free
No only does Dartmoor has a large expanse of open access land where you can walk without sticking to a path, but Dartmoor also has around 450 miles of rights of way, bridal ways and byways and importantly ‘Miles without styles’ for wheelchair users. With so many things to walk to, it can be difficult to fit everything in. When planning a hike, you will be spoilt for choice with easy short routes, steep routes, rotes along rivers, routes to waterfalls, routes round reservoirs, routes crossing Dartmoor and routes passing pubs to name only a few.
3) Make and Alpaca Friend
For me it’s a bit special to be able to say our neighbours are a dozen Alpaca’s! I love watching them walking past the kitchen window while out on a moorland walk. There is something so special about watching people not only enjoying the animals but also enjoying the great outdoors. It’s a fantastic experience and there are a couple of family businesses running these walks on Dartmoor and here they are listed below.
Dartmoor Llama Walks- www.dartmoorllamawalks.co.uk
Lydford Gorge Alpacas- www.lydfordgorgealpacas.com
4) Discover a Dartmoor Rain Forrest
Rainforests in Britain? Absolutely! And these forests on Dartmoor are show stoppers!!! We get a lot of rain up here on the moors which feeds the rivers, streams and the damp forest floor. Mossy rocks and ferns paint the edges of the paths in green, while the moss grows on the trees along with little ferns and fungi. For me a great rainy day is spent in a forest, it is simply put magical. Whistimans Woods is one of the oldest and highest of these Rain Forests. With poor soil quality the 100 year old plus oak trees here have grown low and small, their old and delicate and make the perfect place to explore to enjoy nature at its best.
5) Step back in time.
We have oodles of history on Dartmoor and one of the best things about our moorland is that you can walk out to Neolithic and Bronze age artifacts that still exist today. We have many stone rows and stone circles, cairns, cists and hut circles and enclosures which are in many cases easily accessible by a short walk. We also have a brilliant visitors centre in Postbridge with an excellent exhibition of the history of the moor and its free to go and have a look!
6) Swim In The Wild
Wild Swimming in Dartmoor’s crystal rivers has always been popular in the summer. So if you fancy driving to a known swimming spot or hike out with your swimming costume in your back pack, you can find some amazing spots to wild swim. Below is a link to a great little book to plan your adventures. ‘ Wild Swimming Walks Dartmoor and South Devon: 28 Lake, River and Beach Days Out in South West England’
7) Climb a Tor or More
Fancy a challenge? Or looking for some really fantastic views? We have over 160 Tors scattered across Dartmoor National Park in all shapes, sizes and heights. Some low, some high, some very easy to get to and others are a much further walk. Tors create fantastic walking routes and for those looking for a challenge how about some ‘Tor Bagging’? Here is another link to a useful book which I quite like for planning walks with tors.
8) Meet The Locals
A trip to Dartmoor would not be complete without seeing the iconic Dartmoor Ponies. These tough ponies were once used as working ponies on the moor. They live out on the moor all year round and are easy to find. We also have sheep and cattle grazing on the moor along with an abundance of wildlife such as birds of prey, deer and even otters.
9) Walk A Gorge
Lydford Gorge run by the National Trust is a must do adventure! As you walk down into the gorge, its as if you’ve walked to somewhere in Europe. The gorge is so hidden so you don’t expect to find this incredible adventure walk on the edges of sleepy Dartmoor. Good footwear is a must, and so is a cream tea in the café at ither end of the gorge walk!
10) Learn Something New
Did you know that you could learn how to Rock Climb on Dartmoor? Or how about learning how to Navigate? We have a number of providers where you can book yourself on a short course to learn new skills. We like Crag To Mountain for courses so check them out here: https://www.crag2mountain.co.uk/navigation-courses
To be honest, there’s not just 10 reasons, I will be writing to you with a ‘part 2’ ver soon!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog post, if your would like to book The Old Railway Cottage here in the open moorland of Dartmoor National Park, do ping me an email. Check out our new Special Offers page and we always give a direct booking discount. www.stayondartmoor.com
With love from Becky and Dartmoor National Park