13-15 August: Making it onto Dartmoor

Author: Mrs A

Location: Tavistock, Devon, UK

Our fabulous 66km ride out to Okehampton and back left us curious to tour more of this stunning area, in particular to explore Dartmoor National Park. It is the largest area of open space in the south of England, and has been shaped by centuries of human activity.

First though, we got some unexpected news. I had emailed an old work colleague from Australia, who, I recalled in the depths of my memories, had moved to Devon from Sydney several years ago. We weren’t sure where in Devon she was living, but given we are here until the end of the month, we thought it might be possible for us to pay her a visit and learn more about her new life on this side of the world. Her response was just as surprised as ours – she had moved to none other than Tavistock!

We jumped on our bikes and cycled over to her house via the Tavistock Viaduct. The viaduct is pretty much all that remains from the old railway which ran through here and closed in the 1960s – now turned into a short 2km walking and cycleway through a cool leafy reserve and offering fabulous views over the town.

Lovely and cool in the reserve, with its waterfalls and stream running alongide the path
Refreshing waterfalls on the 2km long Viaduct Walk (and cycleway) in Tavistock
The characteristic white and grey slate of the houses in Tavistock
Looking over town, with the tall tower of Tavistock Parish Church in the centre
The River Tavy goes through the middle of town, and alongside The Meadows (Tavistock Park)

We joined Mary for cold drinks in the garden and proceeded to ask her lots of questions. It was a lovely afternoon and helped us understand more about the decisions behind a big and brave move back around the world after more than 20 years living in Australia.

Old friends in new places – Mary and Catherine used to work together in research – Mary is now a yoga teacher

Thunder storms rumbled around us but we remained dry, with the rain fortunately holding off until we were back holed up in Truffy.

Mary had given us some advice on where to start a walk, and despite continuing wet weather forecast, we were keen to get out on the moors. We drove a short way out of Tavistock and parked up behind a pub, The Dartmoor Inn. We decided to book in for lunch after our walk.

First though, we had to work up that appetite. A lane beside the pub led us directly onto Dartmoor, a completely different scenery to the bright green fields and farmland we have been used to. We decided to take a walk up to Widgery’s Cross up on Brat tor. This was erected in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, and is the tallest of all the crosses on Dartmoor, made from slabs of granite. A tor is the name given to peaks topped with rock, most frequently granite. Dartmoor National Park has more than 160 tors.

Look carefully in the distance you can just about see the cross on top of Brat tor
Heading off to conquer our first tor
Enjoying our first taster of the moors
Hill ponies are one of the many hardy types of horse found on Dartmoor – this pair were clearly used to seeing people walking past
A very young Hill Pony foal is clearly not used to people yet…we chuckle at his tail which is more like a dog’s than a horse’s at this young age
Giving the calf muscles a workout on this steep uphill climb

As we climbed up the hill, the ‘Devon sunshine’ descended around us, with swirling cloud obscuring the views and settling thick around us. We clambered up the rocky tor, and sat at the base of the cross enjoying a cup of tea.

Widgery’s Cross
Where’s our view?
A break in the cloud gives us a glimpse of another tor across the way
The vibrant shades of yellow and magenta in the gorse and heather

At just over 5.5km (Strava link), this was not a long walk, but a great taster of what’s potentially on offer for us on Dartmoor. We are certainly hungry to see more in the future.

Our lunch at the Dartmoor Inn was a wonderful surprise. The new owners have only been there 12 months, but in that time spent several thousand pounds renovating the interior and bringing the menu up to date. We opted for two entrees each – crab salad and scallops for myself and a roasted tomato soup for Mark, followed by scallops as well. Absolutely delicious and accompanied by some fabulous wine options – just one glass for myself and half a beer for Mr A.

Head chef and co-owner Jay Barker-Jones popped out to chat as we finished our meal – explaining his food philosophy and dreams for the pub. We wished them every success – the food quality is definitely in line with Jay’s training in Michelin starred restaurants around the UK. We would say this meal has been the most outstanding of our visit to the UK so far.

Bonus fact for travelling folks like us – they welcome motorhomes to come and park up for the night, as long as they’re dining there that evening. If you’re travelling this way, I would definitely take up that offer and enjoy more than just one glass of wine!

The Dartmoor Inn

2 Replies to “13-15 August: Making it onto Dartmoor”

  1. You have no idea how wonderful all of that lush greenness looks to those of us in the midst of So Cal brush fire season. And that fog! To die for!

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