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Dartmoor – boots on for valleys and tors

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Dartmoor is a protected National Park in Devon, in the South West of England. Nearly 400 square miles of beautiful moorland to explore and experience. The landscape is covered in hill after hill (called tors) with their granite poking out on top bringing a super platform to look out and admire all the wonder around you.

Just driving along the few roads that criss-cross the park is an experience in any weather. Ups, downs, parking bays galore, viewing platforms scattered in great places plus you do not have to go far to see the herds of semi-feral pony herds running or grazing across the open countryside.

Being a hiker it was impossible not to want to get out every couple of miles and take the tracks up to the top of the nearest tor and beyond. So many choices and wonderful ones at that! When you do get out on foot you have the freedom to wander and wander and not feel lost. The openness makes you feel free and so far away from stress and bustle, escapism at its best.

History is everywhere you look. You lose count of how many small ancient stone circles you come across. There is the clapper bridge from the 12th/14th century at Postbridge,

or the gorgeous Church of St Michael dating from the 13th century, perched right on top of a tor, right at the edge of the park. Surreal, and little wonder why people come to sit and gaze out for hours, time after time.

However it is not all open moor and hilltop. Magical beauty also awaits in the valley bottoms. For instance you can take in Lydford Gorge, the deepest gorge in South west England. A perfect circular family walk awaits you here, the path takes you high above the trees and gorge and also down and within. Lost in a sea of trees and only the sound of rushing water and birds. A perfect walk for the dogs too! Hidden at the half way point is a magnificent sight. The 90 feet White Lady waterfall.

Not just I have been inspired by visits here, Conan Doyle was inspired to base Sherlock Holmes’ Hound of The Baskervilles here after one of his many visits. For right in the middle of the moor is a gem of a place to rest or stay, Prince Hall Hotel offers the perfect setting for a lunch, a romantic weekend or a walking holiday. Set perfectly overlooking the River Dart, with amazing views of its own the Dartmoor experience is complete.

On the edge of the park is also a wonderful base. The historic town of Tavistock. Old and quaint architecture greets you as you pass through or within, surrounded by the moors and field after field of glorious countryside. For those that love a camping base like me too should take a look at the setting of Woodovis Park, Caravans of all standard, perfect pitching areas for tents, pods facing the sunset. All quietly nestled within pristine fields and treelines. A hidden gem.

I will have to just let you find out for yourself, Dartmoor has many more miles left for my own boots to wander, go see, feel for yourself!


If You would like to see more of Paul Steele’s ramblings both in Britain and around the world you can follow him on Twitter @paul_steele, his Blog BaldHiker, Huffington Post and more VisitBritain posts

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