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Review: Dartmoor


United Kingdom

Walking on Dartmoor

  • By SilverTraveller Rowsie

    119 reviews

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  • Sep 2013
  • Solo

42 people found this review helpful

It is always nice to get away for a weekend break and even though my reasons for going to Dartmoor were not the usual, it was great to get away from London for a while. I travelled by National Express to Newton Abbot (a mere £19.60 for a return if you have a Seniors card). A lady on the coach asked me what I was planning on doing in Devon and I replied that I was visiting a friend. Not quite the truth, but not a lie either. My trip to Dartmoor was to visit the place where, a decade ago, I had scattered my best friends ashes. Katy had loved Dartmoor and even though she ended up living in America she came back each year to visit Widecombe In The Moor and to indulge her passion of horse riding across the moors. So when she died ten years ago it was where she wanted to be scattered and her sisters and I carried out her wishes. Being the 10th anniversary of her death I was indeed heading down to Devon to visit my friend, albeit not in the conventional way.

The coach, which was very comfortable, passed from Victoria Coach Station to Heathrow, then Bridgewater, Taunton, Exeter and my stop Newton Abbot. I had tried to get accommodation in Widicombe but none was available so I booked into a hotel in Bovey Tracey.

When we arrived at Newton Abbot I had a look round the town (lots of charity shops, nice to browse in but a sad indication of a run down high street) and I found a tourist information centre. I was shown a map which featured The Templar Way, a walking route, part of which runs from Newton Abbot to Bovey Tracey so I decided to walk to my hotel. It is about 6 miles and the walk meanders along canals, through Jetty Marsh (a county wildlife site and local nature reserve), through Stover Country Park and along old granite tram rails through the forest called The Great Plantation. Lots of different birds and fauna to see en route.

Upon arrival in Bovey Tracey I was pleasantly surprised by my hotel, The Riverside Inn in Fore Street. From the outside the Inn looked slightly run down but my room was spacious, beautifully decorated and with a big bay window. It was very comfortable, something I needed after my 6 mile hike! The bar served good food and the village itself is small but pretty with numerous beautiful hanging baskets and window boxes.

Next day I set off for Widecombe. Another 6 mile hike but I had forgotten how wild and beautiful Dartmoor is. I passed cows and Dartmoor ponies loose on the road and after 3 miles I arrived at Haytor. The towering granite rocks here are well worth a visit. On a clear day the views from the tops of the rocks seems endless. Another 3 miles and I arrived in Widecombe In The Moor. As you walk down Widecombe Hill the view of the village and the church with what looks like patchwork fields all around them is stunning. I headed through the village and up to Bone Hill (a craggy rock formation overlooking the village). This is where we had scattered Katy's ashes. I picnicked on the rocks and raised a small glass of wine to her.

Later back in Widecombe I had a pub meal (which was tasty and enormous) in The Old Inn. There is also another really good pub/restaurant in Widecombe, The Rugglestone Inn but this is a short walk out of the village (if you go at night time take a torch, walking back on the unlit lanes is treacherous!) I then had to sample some Devon ice cream at the Café on The Green before getting a bus back to Bovey Tracey. This was nothing like the London buses I am used to, The locals all chat to each other and the driver points out interesting places en route! You wouldn't get that on the No. 53 to Whitehall! There are so many walks to do on Dartmoor. You can even get Ranger led walks which must be incredibly informative. The scenery is stunning. If you aren't a walker there is a local bus service to all the villages (just make sure you check the times of the buses as there may be only 3 a day!)

Dartmoor really is very special and I would recommend it highly. I have certainly promised myself that it won't be ten years until I go back again!

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Other Members' Thoughts - 1 Comment(s)

  • Su
    about 7 years ago
    Yes Dartmoor is indeed wonderful. We live about an hour away and love the river Dart area. Steps Bridge is stunning in the Springtime when the bluebells cover the woodland around.