Here at nomadiclifeguide.com we are no strangers to the national parks of Great Britain. Recently though, we took our first trip to Dartmoor and were blown away by the sheer unbelievable beauty, tranquillity and magnificence of the place.
I mean seriously, who would have thought this tiny little not so well know national park would be so special? I certainly didn’t. Maybe then, that may be the key as to why it is so special. We spent four days there over a bank holiday weekend, there was nowhere in Devon you could go that wasn’t swamped by people. We saw almost nobody up there. We walked many miles over those four days, we saw some incredible landscapes, huge panoramic views, some really interesting history and fabulous wildlife. We even had a skinny dip in the West Dart river! We are really happy that we discovered this place and wanted other people to share in it so we put together a little article of interesting things to do on Dartmoor.
Dartmoor has a very rich history and has the largest concentration of bronze age remain in Britain. The acid soil has ensured that no organic remains have survived but the extremely hard granite has meant that the stone structures have survived well. There are an estimated 5000 hut circles on Dartmoor, these are the remains of bronze age houses and some of the best examples can be seen in Grimspound ancient village.
Myth and legend is strong on Dartmoor, some ancient, some traditional and some truly bizarre. Headless horsemen, pixies, the beast and ‘hairy hands’ that allegedly attack motorists on the B3212 near Two bridges are just some of the stories that are told!
Warren house inn. Gorgeous little pub sat right in the middle of Dartmoor. The third highest pub in great Britain. In the sixties it was cut off by heavy snow for 12 weeks and had to have supplies air dropped to the residents. Famous for its fire, which has been burning non stop since 1845.
The moor otters trail. 100 arty otters have been positioned over the moors for you to find. Leaflets are available so that you can tick off the sculptures that you find. Each piece has a code on the base, if you can find 20, note the numbers and locations then you can collect your otter spotter badge from one of the visitor centres at Haytor, Postbridge, or Princetown. http://www.moorotters.co.uk
I have wanted to see one of these things since I was in school. They are geological formations made by the weathering of granite and they are quite unbelievable. If I didn’t know better I would swear they were man-made, and I was totally unprepared for the scale of them. There are many across the moor.
There is an array of wildlife on the moor, rabbits, foxes, otters, badgers, grey squirrels, weasels, stoats, hares and deer are the expected inhabitants but rumours abound of some type of big cat roaming the moor too. The rivers support a variety of fish species, and can be seen clearly just by looking through the crystal waters from the bank. Dartmoor has a list of bird species that would get any Ornithologist exited and reptiles include grass snakes, adders, slow worms and common lizards. While Amphibians include the common frog and toad. There are a few different breeds of sheep and cattle, when we were there we saw some very cute ‘highland’ calf’s.
Of course the moor is also home to the famous Dartmoor ponies. There are large numbers of them and seem to congregate around car parks where I assume people feed them although this is discouraged by park authorities. When we were visiting, it must have been a very good breeding year because there were many very cute foals around. Idiots try to stroke these wild horses, there stupidity is of course deserving of getting kicked by them.
The park’s main visitor centre is located in Princetown and features exhibits about Dartmoor’s history, culture and wildlife, as well as changing displays of local art. The visitor centres located in Postbridge and Haytor feature information, maps, guidebooks and items for exploring the area.