Best Places to Visit in Dartmoor
Ancient and mysterious Dartmoor is home to many legends and local legends. Located in Devon, it is a true gem of South West England. In addition to its rich history and cuisine, the national park has many must-see attractions and activities to satisfy just about any interest. Here are the 20 best things to do in Dartmoor National Park (with some helpful and practical tips for visiting the national park):
When you think of the English countryside, images of green hills and lots of woolly sheep probably come to mind. However, you may not know that there are many national parks in the UK, some of which are wild and mysterious.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Dartmoor and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Dartmoor
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Dartmoor:
1. Hayne Down
If you look closely at Hayne Down, you will see the pale shape of a man carved from granite. Of course, while it was time and the last ice age that left their eerie stamp on the land, local legend says that this is what remains of Bowerman. In Dartmoor mythology, Bowerman was a fearless hunter who ran through the wilderness with a pack of dogs. One day he offended a group of witches casting spells.
In anger, the witches turned both Bowerman and their dog to stone. The larger rock is said to be Bowerman, while the smaller rocks scattering down are said to have dogs. Head to Bowerman’s Nose for amazing walks and picturesque views.
This Neolithic village of Grimspound is located on one of the highest points of the wilderness. Once upon a time, this now abandoned settlement was home to dozens of people and their animals. Today, it’s hard to imagine how people could make such a desolate land their home.
But thousands of years ago, the Dartmoor landscape was a very different place full of trees. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a difficult place to live! Now you can visit the ruins of the settlement and wander among the old houses, some of which have been partially reconstructed.
3. Hound Tor
At the bottom of the Hound Tor, you will find another abandoned village. In the Middle Ages, no one knows why the village was completely abandoned or what happened to all its inhabitants. Today you can visit the ruins of the house and imagine what life was like centuries ago. Renowned author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle set one of his Sherlock Holmes novels in Dartmoor and named it “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in homage to “Thor the Hound”.
4. Brentor Church
Of all the Dartmoor attractions on this list, Brento is probably the weirdest. st. Michael is located at the very top of the extinct volcano. The church, like many churches in the area, is dedicated to Archangel Michael. Other St Michael’s churches are located at St Michael’s Hill and Rame Head. There is no path to the chapel and you often hear stories of brides walking to church in Wellington boots!
If you love vintage shopping and food, one of the best things to do in Dartmoor National Park is to visit Ashburton. If you love shopping and antiques, Ashburton is full of interesting vintage shops and vintage boutiques worth a visit. This old tin town also happens to be one of the best places in Dartmoor to enjoy a cream tea.
Head to Ashburton to wander through the old market town, visit the shops, and sample a local specialty, cream tea. Be sure to spread the cream before adding the jam – it’s the Devon way, after all!
6. Haytor Tramway
At the bottom of Hightower Rock, you will find all the remains of the Hightower tram. In this wasteland, granite quarrying was once the largest industry, providing permanent jobs to hundreds of people. Haytor is one of the largest quarries in the wasteland. From there the granite is transported by car along with the granite slabs to nearby Bovey Tracey.
Today in Torquay you can stroll along with the remains of the Haytor Tram, with gorse and heather bushes and stunning sea views. You may also have the chance to see some Dartmoor ponies up close as they tend to hang out in this area.
7. Drogo Castle
Drogo Castle was the last castle built in England. It even has a working door (though never actually used)! The castle was built in the early 1900s and was commissioned by Julius Drew. Drew made a fortune in the tea trade and retired at age 33. It was designed by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens, who also designed the monument in London.
Filled with quirky cottages and thatched roofs, Lustleigh is often considered Dartmoor’s prettiest village. Head here if you like antique houses, woodland walks and Neolithic ruins. Speaking of the quaint village of Lustleigh, there is also a country bar and a quaint little tea room where you can enjoy a variety of homemade cakes and hot drinks in spring, summer and early autumn.
9. Lydford Gorge
Lydford has a long and rich history. So there is a lot to do in and around the village. You can see the remains of ‘Lidford Castle’, once inhabited by the Vikings, and today used as a prison in the Middle Ages. Go away, there are ruins of a Norman-era castle. Nearby you’ll also find the Lydford Gorge, a mysterious woodland filled with coves, streams, and even a few waterfalls.
The ancient tin town of Chagford dates back centuries to the Neolithic period (about 4,000 years to be exact!), the town hosted a weekly market and was designated a “tin town” by King Edward I in 1305. These towns would basically handle all the tin mining in the area, making them the most important towns in all of Devon at the time. If you love old buildings today, shop in independent boutiques, and enjoy eating local produce, then you should head to Chagford.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Dartmoor. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Dartmoor, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.