The Bumper Crew Guide to
and our 5 favourite spots!
Dartmoor is our local stomping ground which we've spent a lot more time on thanks to Lockdown and the unstable world of travel which we find ourselves in right now. Dartmoor was one of the first National Parks designated in Britain and has over 10000 ancient sites within its 400 square miles. Because of the sheer size of Dartmoor, there are too many places to talk about, so we've brought you a list of our favourite places to go, with a focus on where we go in Bumper. It's a pretty big place which dominates almost a fifth of the county it sits in - Devon.
Dartmoor is packed with places to go and things to do, especially if you like the outdoors. Thankfully, we live really close so get the best of it all year round but if you are planning a visit from further afield, give yourself plenty of time to get around and really soak up the best of what Dartmoor has to offer. Within about 15 minutes of leaving our front door we can be on the southern edge of Dartmoor. Or, if we're feeling a little more physical, can head down on to the cycle trail at the bottom of the hill and get on to Dartmoor via Drake's Trail, which runs all the way from Plymouth to Tavistock on a disused railway line.
Besides the outdoorsy stuff Dartmoor has to offer, one of the other things about Dartmoor which is an absolute joy is simply enjoying the drive. You can drive for ages without having to stop at a set of traffic lights (although you might have to slow down for the odd wandering pony!) and because the roads are restricted in most parts to 40 mph, to protect the wildlife, you get to slow down and enjoy the views. Take the road from Ashburton to Princetown and then towards Plymouth for amazing vistas, rivers, streams, historic prisons and the famous Dartmoor ponies. You may even catch sight of a Highland cow.
What we love
Relaxing by the river
If you want to see the highland cows of Dartmoor, here is a good spot. There's a farm up the hill which I can only assume is a cattle farm. Whether the highland cows are owned by the farm or they just like to hang out with their cow cronies, I don't know, but it's possible you might spot one if you visit here during quieter times. Head towards to Trowlesworthy Car Park and then head north. It gets pretty busy during the summer months so best to visit when it's a little colder...or wetter! But Cadover offers more than just the ability to see these majestic animals. You can sit and relax by the river with a picnic or you can head south into the woodland and down towards Shaugh Prior if you'd like a bit more of a challenging day out. If you want somewhere fairly lively, this is the place to be during the summer. You'll find plenty of other people playing in the river and enjoying their picnics.
What we love
The gentle walk
The unusual and eerie woodland
Parking can be a bit of a nightmare here, so either arrive early or be prepared to walk a little further. There's a layby on the left as you leave the junction from Princetown that often has space if the main car park is busy.
Wistman's Wood is an ancient oak woodland, one of only three on Dartmoor. It's quite possible the wood still exists because it's in accessible by the roaming Dartmoor wildlife such as the ponies and cattle which might otherwise graze here and destroy it. It's a bit of a mix between a fairy tale landscape and somewhere quite eerie with its moss-covered rocks and ancient oak trees. The walk is fairly easy, and it's only just over a mile from the car park without too much of a gradient to walk. Make sure you have some grippy shoes to get over the slippery stones! It's a pleasure to visit any time of year and you might even find you have the place to yourself on a dull winter day!
Pork Hill and Tavistock
What we love
Good selection of walks
The relaxed feel
Tavistock is a World Heritage Site
Lots of independent retail
Pork Hill is our usual go-to spot. It's accessible, has a couple of decent walks, great views and is a great place to get Bumper's doors open, get the coffees on and simply relax. From here you can see all the way down into the Plymouth Sound and right over onto Bodmin Moor. The views are quite spectacular. The carpark is often busy, probably because it's so easy to access and it's just up the road from Tavistock, so consider getting there earlier on a sunny day! One of the more interesting places to venture to from Pork Hill is Windy Post Cross. Follow the tracks away from the car park and as you go over the brow of the hill, you should be able to see it in the dip. There's usually some wildlife around here too, plenty of cows, sheep and ponies. The water is also a drinking water supply, if you are a bit parched and fancy a drink alongside the Dartmoor ponies! If you want to gain a bit more height, head out of the car park the opposite way to Windy Cross Post, cross the road and head up the hill towards Cox Tor. From there you can do a nice loop to Roos Tor and back via Great Staple Tor and finish off with a Mr Whippy in the car park...the ice cream van is usually knocking around.
If you haven't been to Tavistock, it's well worth a visit. Tavistock isn't a huge town, but it is interesting and was awarded World Heritage Site status in July 2006 due to the heritage of the Cornwall and West Devon mining landscape. There's some really cool architecture, a viaduct, loads of independent retailers and a Wetherspoons that has an etiquette where queueing is the norm (under non-Covid circumstances, of course)! There's a shop called 'insideout' which sells loads of quirky stuff we love. And if you like a gastro pub, visit the Cornish Arms (ranked 16th in the Top 50 Gastropubs) for some decent grub! Tavistock also has a cool little market - Tavistock Pannier Market. It's not open every day, so to check opening times click HERE. Just outside the market, on the high street, there are two other places you should visit if you want to support independent retailers and want a taste of the area. Palmer's of Tavistock is a butcher which featured on Channel 5's Walking Britain's Lost Railways with Rob Bell and sell the most delicious pies to cook at home. Tavistock was once famous for the export of rabbit, so if you visit Palmer's at the right time, you will be able to get yourself a rabbit pie. And if you are partial to a tipple, try Carters Deli next door, they sell a selection of local food and drink, including beers from small breweries around west Devon and Cornwall.
Tavistock Town Hall
Windy Cross Post
Great Staple Tor
Pork Hill views towards Cornwall
What we love
The climb up the rocks
Haytor is the daddy tor of Dartmoor and the most popular of all the tors on Dartmoor. It's easy to see why - it's massive, loads of fun to climb up, offers incredible views and even has its own quarry. As it happens, the quarry is quite well hidden and if you don't know it's there, like we didn't the first time we visited, it's really easy to miss! But don't miss the opportunity to walk around it. It's only small and leads you around the far side of Haytor, avoiding the steep hill if you walk from the bottom carpark and don't mind a longer walk!
There's a pay and display car park near Haytor but if you're willing to walk a bit further there are other options to park for free. But you're doing a good thing if you pay for parking by helping keep this amazing place alive for people to come and visit. Under normal circumstances, Dartmoor National Park Authority also hold volunteer days here where you can help with the conservation of Haytor. You can find out more about that HERE.
There are usually cows and Dartmoor ponies knocking around here too. The last time we visited, one of the ponies was partial to a 99 with Flake from the ice cream van! You are also likely to see some Highland cows around here. We've seen a couple of herds each time we've visited.
The daddy tor, Haytor
What we love
I expect Burrator Reservoir is one of the most popular places to visit in south Dartmoor. It's easy to access and popular among walkers, cyclists and runners. It's a pretty picturesque part of Dartmoor, which contrasts heavily with the open moor and rugged tors that are peppered all over Dartmoor. Lots of Dartmoor is pretty bleak, like a lot of moorland often is, but the reservoir is surrounded by woodland and even has its own arboretum which is full of weird and wonderful trees. Burrator Reservoir has a road all the way around it. It's about 3.5 miles round and fairly flat, if you want to walk, cycle or run it. But if you fancy something a little harder, park on the north east edge of the reservoir at Norsworthy Bridge car park, and head towards the old Leather Tor packhorse bridge. Cross it and head towards Leather Tor. It's a fun scramble up the side, but it is totally worth it once you're at the top - it offers the best views of Burrator Reservoir and views beyond to Plymouth Sound.
Despite the close proximity to home, we camp on Dartmoor and we always end up at the same campsite. It was one we first went to with Stacey's dad and we loved it so we went back with a slightly bigger group. Wild camping in Bumper (and any motorhome) is prohibited on Dartmoor under National Park Byelaws, so we opt to stay at Langstone Manor which you can find more about HERE. I don't really know why camping in your motorhome is prohibited on Dartmoor, but I expect it's because most of Dartmoor is private land. Despite not being able to camp on Dartmoor in a motorhome, you can still wild camp on Dartmoor, so get the tent out and get exploring!
Cadover Bridge Carpark
Car Park for Wistman's Wood
Pork Hill car park
Windy Post Granite Cross
Palmer's Of Tavistock Ltd
Buckland Abbey (National Trust)
Badgers Holt Weddings, Events and Restaurant
Widecombe in the Moor
Postbridge Clapper Bridge
Bellever car park
Castle Drogo (National Trust)
Finch Foundry (National Trust)