Things To Do On Our Doorstep

Easdon Tor (photo: Will Lamerton)

Easdon Tor (photo: Will Lamerton)

THINGS TO DO ON OUR DOORSTEP


Only got time for a short break? You won’t want to do much driving then. Here are the best places to visit that are within a 20-minute drive of Moorland View Cottage.


EATING & DRINKING

The Ring of Bells, North Bovey

Our 13th century thatched pub has been rebuilt after being ravaged by fire in 2016. Restored by specialist heritage builders, every nook and cranny is just as it was, with salvaged beams weaved in with new and medieval features uncovered during the rebuild reinstated. There’s a cosy wood-beamed bar where friendly villagers swap stories, as well two restaurants - one with a wood-burner and original bread oven. Outside is a terrace and pretty garden, where sheep-shearing competitions are battled out during the village’s eccentric summer fair. There are regular pub quizzes and music nights with local bands. 

Our village pub: the Ring of Bells

Our village pub: the Ring of Bells

The Horse, Moretonhampstead

Heralded as a ‘genuine slice of foodie heaven’ by the Michelin guide, The Horse is one of our best local restaurants. Brixham crab, lobster, scallops and wild Cornish sea bass are favourites, as is Moreton lamb, Devon Ruby beef and locally-reared rare-breed pork. The pizzas are the best we’ve ever tasted. It’s all served up in a lovely contemporary setting, with a pretty walled courtyard for dining al fresco on summer evenings. 

Bovey Castle, North Bovey

The silver-service Great Western restaurant at Bovey Castle is dazzlingly glamorous – think glittery flock wallpaper, chandeliers and swirly carpets. The food wows, too: estate venison, seat trout, duck – all beautifully presented, with well thought out accompaniments. As a guest of Moorland View, you have complimentary membership, with 15% off food and drink. For low-key dining, their casual brasserie has a sunny terrace and stunning views. Our favourite spot for a cream tea is by the enormous log fire in the Cathedral Room lounge, while the bar is a romantic spot for a romantic evening cocktail. Take your members’ card for 15% off. The castle is a beautiful 15-minute through along the river from North Bovey, or a three-minute drive.

Gidleigh Park, Chagford

Gidleigh Park is a grand Tudor-style country manor hotel, set in 107 acres of Dartmoor woodland outside Chagford. Creative menus are delivered with pin sharp accuracy, and there’s a 50-page wine list to choose from. Well worth the £100+ price tag. Work up an appetite with a walk around the grounds.

Gidleigh Park

Gidleigh Park

The Old Inn, Drewsteignton

At the unassuming Old Inn, in the pretty village of Drewsteignton, you’ll find pitch-perfect food in a relaxed, elbows-on-the-table style. It's not over-elaborated, it's just smart, technically brilliant cookery, exercised in the interests of lovely ingredients. Chef Duncan Walker is a Geordie who cooked for years with Shaun Hill at the Michelin two-star Gidleigh Park Hotel at Chagford. They are open for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday, but will take bookings at other times for tables of six or more. Don’t let the awful website photos put you off - it is all-round lovely.

The Birdcage, Chagford

One of our local favourites, this cheery and stylish bird-themed cafe on Chagford’s main square serves delicious all-day brunches and healthy lunches in a cosy and friendly setting. The Birdcage’s brunch options include a full English, bacon and egg muffin and smoked salmon with poached egg and avocado salsa. Bag the table outside for a spot in the morning sun. Closed Wednesdays.

The Old Forge, Chagford

Set in central Chagford, the friendly Old Forge serves all day breakfasts (think French toast with streaky bacon) and delicious lunches.


WALKS

Easdon Tor, North Bovey

For a heady shot of invigorating country air and instant perspective on your surroundings, take the 2.5-hour walk up Easdon Tor, the hill you see from the main bedroom window in the cottage. From the top you’ll see 360-degree views of Dartmoor and be kept company by wild Dartmoor ponies who come here to graze. There’s a takeaway route in the cottage.

Fingle Gorge

Taking in a fairytale castle, oak-lined gorge, ancient stone bridge and traditional pub, this two-hour walk along the Teign River is classic Dartmoor. Hunter’s Path runs higher up the valley, while Fisherman’s Path traces the spectacular wooded riverbank path, where kingfishers and woodpeckers dart between shaded pools, and trout, salmon and otters frolic in deep, clear waters. The small rocky beaches are perfect places for picnics and toe-dipping. Look out for glimpses of Prestonbury Castle Iron Age hill fort on the other side of the valley. At the bottom of the gorge is the age-old Fingle bridge, which has recessed buttresses for packhorses to pass. Behind it is Fingle Bridge Inn, which serves a mean cream tea and has a pretty terrace overlooking the river. In spring, the woodlands here are carpeted with bluebells and daffodils. Park at Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, or by the Mill End Hotel and walk from the other direction. 

Fingle Gorge

Fingle Gorge

North Bovey to Lustleigh Cleave

Everywhere you turn in the little village of Lustleigh you’re offered a postcard perfect view, from the ancient church to thatched cottages to the rolling hills of the surrounding Wrey Valley. You can walk there from the cottage if you’re feeling energetic, a hike of about an hour and a half. Afternoon tea at the Primrose tea rooms offers all the scones, cream and loose-leaf tea your heart could desire. From Lustleigh you can make a wonderful circular walk up into Lustleigh Cleave, a deep cleft of trees, tors and tumbled boulders. Reward yourself afterwards with a drink under the oak beams of the 15th-century Cleave Inn.

Hound Tor

The jumble of boulders that make up Hound Tor, on the road to Widecombe, provides one of the most easily accessible and expansive viewpoints in Dartmoor. The inspiration for Conan Doyle’s moorland classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles, the tor is a gentle, half-mile walk from the car park along grassy paths and dells. Look out for ‘letterboxes’ – Tupperware boxes hidden by grown-up treasure trailers – hidden between the crevices. At the top, you can see the rocky peaks of several other tors, as well as Widecombe-in-the-Moor and Bowerman's Nose. Just southeast of the tor, are the remains of a medieval village.

Grimspound

One of the most complete examples of the moor’s prehistoric settlements, Grimspound is a stone enclosure littered with 24 Bronze Age hut circles. First settled about 1300 BC, the village’s stone perimeter wall is thought to have stood at 1.7 metres high in places. The roundhouses were made from double granite walls with a rubble infill - a technique still used in dry-stone walling. The eerie setting was the model for the prehistoric hut inwhich Sherlock Holmes spent the night in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Free, and open all year round.

Haytor

Haytor is one of Devon’s most famous views: on a clear day you can see the coast, the Teign estuary, the moors and rolling countryside in between. The Rock Inn in Haytor Vale is a good option for food afterwards. 

Guided walk, North Bovey

Qualified Dartmoor guide and North Bovey resident, Debbie Jenkins, offers private hikes along old pack-horse tracks to ancient remains, stone circles, tin mines and tors. She’ll give you a history of Dartmoor as you go and point out hard-to-spot wildlife. Cost: £12 per hour (minimum two hours); £45 for a half-day, £80 a day. Details: 01647 440053. 

FOOD SHOPPING

Chagford

The pretty stannary town of Chagford is crammed with cafes, tea rooms, farm shops and delis. Check out Blacks Deli for local produce, Jaded Palates for fantastic wines and West Country gins and Artisan for locally-made leather goods and crafts. The town has half-day closing on Wednesday afternoons.

Ullacombe Farm Shop, Haytor

Ullacombe Farm Shop, on the way to Haytor, sells plenty of locally made produce, from chilli chocolate to cheeses. There’s also a teashop selling superb farmhouse cakes. 


EXPERIENCES

Bovey Castle spa and country club, North Bovey

It’s not actually a castle, but what Bovey Castle lacks in heritage, it makes up for with quantity of facilities and sweeping views. Set on a private sporting estate just up the river from North Bovey, this luxury hotel has an 18-hole championship golf course, indoor swimming pool, tennis courts, fly-fishing lake, croquet lawn and archery arena. Huge stone fireplaces, soaring ceilings, ornate panelling, squishy sofas and terraces with epic views make it one of the grandest places on Dartmoor to whirl away a lazy afternoon. As a guest of Moorland View, you have complimentary membership, with up to 25% off spa treatments, food and drink. The 20-minute walk along the river, across old stone bridges and through woodlands, is beautiful.

Bovey Castle

Bovey Castle

Try artisanal Dartmoor skills, Moretonhampstead

The Dartmoor Artisan Trail is a new arts and craft trail that takes in the moor’s finest artisans, including blacksmiths, shoemakers and cider makers, and many of them work in our next village, Moretonhampstead. Watch them work, or have a go yourself on one of their mini courses. 

Hawking display, Bovey Castle

Bovey Castle has a free hawking display every morning at 10am - well worth getting out of bed for. If you've always fancied yourself as a falconer, Dartmoor Hawking's Experience Day provides the chance to handle these powerful birds. Their Owl Experience is a tamer, hands-on introduction to birds of prey.

Swim in a stream-fed pool, Chagford

Just a ten-minute drive from North Bovey, Chagford Pool can't be far from heaven. Swallows nest in the changing rooms and dive-bomb the swimmers, and with the sound of the river Teign running past stepping stones, it's as relaxed as a swimming pool gets. It’s river fed, so is chilly. 

Stargaze, Hound Tor

With clear, dark nights, Dartmoor is a fantastic place to view the night sky, with the Milky Way often clearly visible.  Grab a picnic rug (there’s one in the cottage), torch, blanket and bottle of wine and head to the top of Hound Tor, one of the most atmospheric and easily accessible spots to stargaze.

Stargazing on Hound Tor

Stargazing on Hound Tor

ATTRACTIONS

Becky Falls, Haytor

One of the most picturesque of the area’s waterfalls, Becky Falls are wide and gentle rather than tumultuous. There’s a woodland café, and a little zoo provides furry friend encounters with meerkats and goats.


Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton

Lutyens-designed Castle Drogo is a quasi-mediaeval granite castle that was the last to be built in Britain. Inside is Drewe's remarkable collection of venerable artefacts, such as 17th-century tapestries. The views of the Teign Gorge and Dartmoor are magnificent, and there’s a stunning walk along Fingle Gorge from the grounds. It’s currently undergoing restoration – please check their website for latest progress.  

 

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