LOCAL (all walking distance, or within a 15-minute drive)


1. Walk to Bovey Castle

Ok, so it’s not actually a castle, but what Bovey Castle lacks in heritage, it makes up for with sheer quantity of facilities and sweeping views. Set on a private sporting estate 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 and squishy sofas make it one of the most comfortable places in Dartmoor to whirl away a lazy afternoon. As a guest of  Moorland View, you have complimentary membership, with 10% off what you spend. Don’t bother having dinner there; our guests say the Ring of Bells is much better value. The cream teas, though, are fabulous. The 20-minute walk, along the river, across old stone bridges and through woodlands, is beautiful. See details on how to walk there from the cottage in the back of this folder. To drive, take the second left on the road to Moretonhampstead, turn left at the top, then left again into the grand entrance. 
Location: Off the Moretonhampstead-Princetown road, TQ13 8RE
Details: 01647 445000,

 

2. Climb a Dartmoor tor

For a heady shot of invigorating country air and instant perspective on your surroundings, take a brisk 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. Details on how to walk from the cottage are in the back of this folder.
Location: North Bovey.

 

3. Have a picnic

With idyllic views of North Bovey and the surrounding countryside, our top field makes a great picnic spot in spring and summer, when the fields brim with wildflowers. The surrounding land belongs to our neighbour, Sue, who trains racehorses so you may see her stallions in the fields. A picnic rug and hamper is in the living room cupboard. See details on how to walk from the cottage in the back of this folder. 

Location: North Bovey.

 

4. Shoot clay pigeons

Local farmer Chris Conley runs private clay pigeon shoots all year round, with game shoots from November to January. If Chris is booked, try Ashcombe Adventure Centre on 01626 866766, ashcombeadventure.co.uk. 

Location: North Bovey

Details: 01647 221349, www.dartmoorshooting.co.uk.

 

5. Go hawking

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.

Location: North Bovey

Details: 01647 433640, www.dartmoorhawking.co.uk.

 

6. Take a guided walk

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.

 

7. Follow in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes

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. Supposedly 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.

Location: Off the Moreton-Widecombe road
Coordinates:
50.5962° N, 3.7788° W
Details: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/hound-tor-deserted-medieval-village/

 

8. Dine at a two Michelin-starred restaurant

Just one of a handful of restaurants in England to have two Michelin stars, Gidleigh Park is a grand Tudor-style country manor hotel, set in 107 acres of Dartmoor woodland outside Chagford. Headed by Michael Caines (of culinary, not cinematic, fame), 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. You can walk from the cottage if you’re feeling fit.

Location: Near Chagford, TQ13 8HH

Details: 01647 432367; www.gidleigh.com

 

9. Stock up in Chagford

This pretty stannary town is crammed with cafes, tea rooms, farm shops and delis. Check out Blacks for great light lunches and local farm produce, Moorland Dairy for delicious local ice-cream and Best Cellars for a small, but perfectly formed wine selection. The town has half-day closing on Wednesday afternoons. Worth trying for dinner is 22 Mill Street (01647 432 244, www.22millst.com).

 

10. Take a road trip

There’s no better way to blow away the cobwebs than with a drive across the high moor. The circuit to Widecombe, Buckland and around to Ashburton takes in 14th century churches, clusters of granite and thatched cottages, gurgling brooks and ancient bridges.

11. Drink Dartmoor ale straight from the cask

With flagstone floors, open fires and Dartmoor and Butcombe Best Bitter poured straight from the barrel, the Rugglestone, a Grade-II building in remote Widecombe, is the moor-dwellers’ choice. The rudimentary bar is tiny, providing plenty of opportunity to join in on the old boys’ conversations. The two restaurants - one of which has an open log fire – are more spacious, and outside, over a small bridge, is a large sheltered garden with picnic tables and fabulous views.

Location: Widecombe-in-the-Moor, TQ13 7TF

Details: 01364 621327; www.rugglestoneinn.co.uk

 

12. Visit a Bronze Age village

One of the most complete examples of the moor’s prehistoric settlements, Grimspound is a stone enclosure littered with the leavings of 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 in which Sherlock Holmes spent the night in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Free, and open all year round.

Location: 6 miles SW of Moretonhampstead, off the B3212.

Details: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/grimspound/

 

13. Take a tour of Britain’s last castle

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 (see below).

Location: Drewsteignton, EX6 6PB

Details: 01647 433306; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-castledrogo.

 

14. Walk a Dartmoor gorge

A fairytale castle, oak-lined gorge, ancient stone bridge and traditional pub, this two-hour round trip 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.

Location: Park at Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, EX6 6PB

Details: 01647 433306; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-castledrogo.

01647 281287; www.finglebridgeinn.com

 

15. Take in a view

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.

Location: just outside Haytor Vale

Details: 01364 661305; www.rock-inn.co.uk

 

16. Buy local produce at a farm shop

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.

Location: en route to Haytor

Details: 01364 661341, www.ullacombefarm.co.uk.

 

17. Visit a picture-perfect thatched village

North Bovey is our favourite Dartmoor village for obvious reasons, but thatched Lustleigh, tucked away in a wooden cleave, comes a close second. It’s a rural idyll, completed by a 13th century church, cricket pitch, communal apple orchard, tea room, village shop and a friendly pub, The Cleave. The three-hour walk there from the cottage is one of our favourites (see no 19).

 

18. Walk to Lustleigh

Strike out for the beautiful two-hour walk from North Bovey to Lustleigh, taking in gorgeous views, a Roman fort and the magical woodland glen of Lustleigh Cleave, with its two-story high boulders. To top things off there’s a pub at the end, The Cleave (check ahead for opening times). Set off down the road that passes the pub via Barnecourt, and then either walk via Foxworthy or over Hunter’s Tor.  Don’t forget to take the Ordnance Survey map. Book a taxi back if you’re not up to the return walk (book ahead).

 

19. Dine at the White Horse, Moretonhampstead

Heralded as a ‘genuine slice of foodie heaven’ by the Michelin guide, the White 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. and their summer brunches, served from 10am in the summer, are to die for, with classics such as Eggs Florentine, and Churros, Mediterrean Frittatas. It’s all served up in a lovely contemporary setting, and there’s a pretty walled courtyard for dining al fresco on long summer evenings.

Location: Moretonhampstead

Details: 01647 440242, www.whitehorsedevon.co.uk

 

 

20. Buy local pottery

The Devon Guild of Craftsmen is the largest contemporary crafts centre in the South West, displaying beautiful pieces in an idyllic riverside setting.

Location: Newton Abbot, TQ13 9AF

Details: 01626 832223, www.crafts.org.uk.

 

21. Stargaze

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 cupboard in the living room), 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.

Location: Off the Moreton-Widecombe road
Coordinates:
50.5962° N, 3.7788° W
Details: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/hound-tor-deserted-medieval-village/

 

22. Go butterfly spotting

A two-mile stretch of woodland that runs along the River Teign from Clifford Bridge to Steps Bridge, Dunsford Nature Reserve has 20 species of butterfly including the rare pearl-bordered, high-brown and silver-washed fritillaries. Look out for woodland birds, as well as wagtails and dippers and the occasional kingfisher. The river walk is also wonderful for spring flowers.

Location: nearest postcode is EX6 7EG. The Steps Bridge entrance to Dunsford is on the B3212 Exeter to Moretonhampstead road about 3 miles) from Moretonhampstead. Park in the Dartmoor National Park car park.  The reserve entrance near Steps Bridge itself, on the Exeter side of the bridge.

Details: www.devonwildlifetrust.org/reserve/Dunsford

 

23. Horse ride across the moor

Shilstone Rocks Stables, in Widecombe in the Moor, is the most safety conscious stable around, and offers hacks in small groups tailored to experience. Also very good, and slightly cheaper, is Babeny stables, who do two-hour hacks for £30.

Details: (01364 621281, www.dartmoorstables.com); 01364 631 296, www.babenystables.co.uk.

 

24. Swim in a stream-fed pool (15 mins away)

Just a ten-minute drive from North Bovey, this 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.

Location: Rushford, Chagford TQ13 8DA

Details: 01647 432929 , www.chagfordpool.co.uk

 

25. Fish for your supper

Dartmoor is renowned for its sparkling clean rivers teeming wild brown trout, sea trout and salmon. If you have a licence, stretches of the East and West Dart Rivers may be fished on the purchase of a Duchy of Cornwall permit, available at the post office at Postbridge. Fingle Bridge is another beautiful spot; the Fingle Bridge Inn sells daily permits (01647 281287, www.finglebridgeinn.com). Dartmoor also hosts stunning lakes and reservoirs surrounded by towering tors. Information is available from the South West Lakes Trust on 01837 871565. www.swlakestrust.org.uk. Bovey Castle runs private fishing lessons.

 

25. Have lunch at the Birdcage restaurant in Chagford
This pretty little rafe on Chagford’s main square serves delicious lunches, as well as great cooked breakfasts.
Location: Chagford, TQ13 8AA

Details: 01647 433883; http://thebirdcagechagford.co.uk

 

26. Drink at the Nobody Inn

An entire wall of this traditional 17th century is given over to its collection of 240 whiskies and spirits, while another room houses the 250-strong wine collection. ‘Nuff said.

Location: Doddiscombsleigh EX6 7PS

Details: 01647 252 394; www.nobodyinn.co.uk