Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – England chapter Bath and Southwest England has to say about Dartmoor National Park:
“Dartmoor is Devon’s wild heart. Covering 368 sq miles, this vast national park feels like it’s tumbled straight out of a Tolkien tome, with its honey-coloured heaths, moss- smothered boulders, tinkling streams and eerie granite hills (known locally as tors).
On sunny days, Dartmoor is idyllic: ponies wander at will and sheep graze beside the road, making for a cinematic location used to memorable effect in Steven Spielberg’s WWI epic War Horse. But Dartmoor is also the setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, and in sleeting rain and swirling mists you’ll understand why; the moor morphs into a bleak wilderness where tales of a phantom hound can seem very real indeed.
It’s a haven for outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, riding, climbing and white-water kayaking, and there are plenty of rustic pubs and country-house hotels to hunker down in when the fog rolls in.
Dartmoor Prison Museum
In the early 1800s Princetown’s jail was home to French and American prisoners of war, becoming a convict jail in 1850. Just up from the looming gates, this museum provides a chilling glimpse of life inside. Look out for straitjackets, manacles, escape stories and the makeshift knives made by modern prisoners.
You can also book a guided walk that skirts the prison perimeter and heads into otherwise out- of-bounds French and American cemeteries. The prison itself is still in use: it’s currently home to around 640 inmates.
Perhaps the definitive historic moorland hotel: polished wood panels, huge inglenook fireplaces, and a guest list that includes Wallis Simpson, Winston Churchill and Vivien Leigh. The Premier and Historic rooms look positively museum worthy, with massive wooden four-poster beds and antique furniture aplenty; cheaper rooms are heavy on the florals.
The quaint hamlet of Postbridge owes its popularity, and its name, to its medieval stone slab or clapper bridge; a 13th-century structure with four, 3m-long slabs propped up on sturdy columns of stacked stones. Walking over takes you across the rushing East Dart River; a picturesque spot to whip off your boots and plunge your feet into water that’s quite possibly never felt so cold.
Chagford & Moretonhampstead
With its wonky thatches and cream- and white-fronted buildings, Chagford clusters on the edge of Dartmoor around a picturesque square. But this apparently timeless moorland scene is also now home to some supremely stylish places to eat and sleep.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD