The national park is remote, often brooding and severe but with gorgeous valleys and top-of-the-world viewpoints. Dartmoor also feels lived in. If you stay a while, you’ll become beguiled by a very different way of living, where self-sufficiency and blacksmiths, shoemakers, and weavers are commonplace.
’s Pannier Market dates back more than 900 years and is currently housed in a magnificent Victorian market hall. It’s crammed with an eclectic mix of booksellers, soapsellers, chocolatiers and artists. There’s also a mouth-watering farmers’ market, selling Dartmoor beef, West Country fish and artisan bread, which is held outside on Bedford Square every other Saturday.
Where to eat
The Rugglestone Inn
, tucked away down a hill in Widecombe-in-the-Moor, ticks pretty much all the boxes for a great pub: open fire, local ales, fine wines, decent and well-priced menu, plus a friendly mix of locals and visitors.
Where to stay
Perched on the southern flanks of Dartmoor, the Moorland Hotel
at Wotter offers a cosy respite after a day on the moors. Its restaurant serves excellent beef and kangaroo steaks.
Wistman’s Wood — a haunting leftover of dwarf oaks from the Stone Age forest that once covered Dartmoor. Whatever time of year you visit, the trees seem to bubble with a bioluminescent green concocted from ancient lichens and ferns. It takes 45 minutes or so to walk there from the hamlet of Two Bridges. Afterwards, pop into the eponymous pub for tea by the roaring fire.
What to do
Hike up one of the high tors, such as High Willhays, for magnificent views. Or explore the hamlet of Postbridge with its delightful clapper bridge over the East Dart River. When it comes to culture, food and drink, Dartmoor was doing localism long before it became trendy. Follow the Artisan Trail to get a flavour of what the moors have to offer.
Published in the March 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)