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1st March 2023 -    We are now fully booked on our coast path routes until the end of May but please send quote requests in for June onwards as there is availability for the rest of the year.  If you do plan to walk between now and June then our inland routes, Coleridge Way, Mendip Way, Saints Way  Dartmoor Way and Two Moors Way still have availability for most dates so please get in touch.

The Dartmoor Way Walking Holiday

Overnight Stops on The Dartmoor Way


The Ivy Bridge at Ivybridge Devon 2 Moors Way Walking HolidayIvybridge marks the official start and end of the Dartmoor Way for most walkers due to the fact that it there is, the train station here lying right on the London to Cornwall line making this the easiest and quickest location on the route for arriving and departing. Ivybridge is the walker’s entrance to the mighty Dartmoor National Park, The Dartmoor Way and the Two Moors Way.
Although the nearby manor of Stowford is documented in the Domesday Book, first mention of Ivybridge was in the 13th century when the small granite packhorse “Ivy Bridge” was the only means of crossing the River Erme. Still in use today it was immortalised in paint by non-other than Turner in 1813. You can still see the iron stave in the bridge wall which was lit at night to illuminate this vital crossing.
Ivybridge subsequently became an important staging post for carriages between Exeter and Plymouth for the next five hundred years until 1819 when other routes across the river became possible. This coincided with the Industrial Revolution, a growth of wool, corn and paper mills which together with the arrival of the railway brought jobs and expansion into the small town it is today.
Ivybridge Devon overnight stop before Dartmoor on The Two Moors WayIvybridge’s position on the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park marks the beginning and connection for a number of walking trails, most importantly the start of the Dartmoor Way and the Two Moors Way but also the link with the Erme Plym Valley Trail to Wembury and the South West Coast Path in South Devon
There are a few B&B’s in the town and one large Inn, one or two more upmarket country house hotels are found in the nearby villages. The main shopping area of Fore Street has a number of independent businesses and evening meals can be found at any one of the six pubs or alternatively at a choice of restaurants from Indian and Greek to fish and chips.

South Brent 

South BrentA pleasant town, population 2,800, that sits at the foot of the Moor with a resonable range of facilities to make it a good overnight stop for those who want to split the long day between Ivybridge and Buckfastleigh. To reach it there is a gentle half mile walk off the Dartmoor Way route at Lydia Bridge following the peaceful river Avon into the town through the broadleaf trees to emerge at the impressive 12th Century Norman Church of St Petroc's
In the town itself well appointed cottages mix with pretty displays of flowers and a handful of shops, cafes - including The Station House  and a couple of pubs the best known being the Pack Horse Inn,  so you have everything you need for a restful night in the lowlands!


Buckfastleigh Abbey The Dartmoor Way Devon UkBased in the lush valley surroundings of the lower Dart River and holding a good selection of accommodation and plenty of attractions Buckfastleigh serves its arriving and departing visitors well.
Most famous for its Benedictine Abbey at Buckfast, which was founded in 1018 by King Canute, and mentioned in the Domesday Book before becoming a place of peace for the monks of a Cistercian Monastary in 1148. That peace ended when it was "dissolved" by Henry VIII in the Reformation.  Set just outside the town, the present buildings are well worth visiting set in stunning location on the River Dart - a favourite spot for the forest deer.  The modern parts were constructed by a handful of French Benedictine monks in 1932 and Buckfastleigh Abbey now funds itself by the production of stained glass, honey and their own recipe of tonic wine. The gardens are well worth exploring and are based on a Medieval design that includes purple lavender gardens and a sensory water garden intended to stimulate the senses of sight, smell, hearing and touch.

It's location, at the convergence of two streams on the River Dart, was ideal for the development of industry due to the running water, and the town grew during Middle Ages. At one time it was the principal wool manufacturing town in Devon, with over 7 mills, as well as being a major staging post between Plymouth and Exeter.

The Dartmoor Way route notes give details about the fascinating and eerie remains of its Church and Chapel on the hill above the town, which sits above a network of prehistoric caves and forms part of the first days walk.
Buckfastleigh Village Dartmoor Way Devon UKToday the Town provides a range of accommodation options for the walker from small B&B's to welcoming Inns including The Abbey Inn, which has easy access for visiting the Abbey as well as a pleasant terrace beside the river if the weather is good enough to eat outside. The town with its narrow streets and tiny areas of park is a pleasing place to wander through with a reasonable set of shops including cafe's, tea shops, a chemist and three pubs. Don't get confused by The Valiant Soldier however if you do need a drink - this was a pub which closed in the 1960s and the place has now been frozen in time for the visitor, untouched (even down to the change in the till and a jar of pickled eggs on the bar) and left as a museum of that era, its old pub games, furniture and decor a fine record of a time now gone. The Tourist Information point is here and it's well worth a quick visit before heading off for the Moor.
For more leisurely pursuits there is an excellent outdoor lido and heated public swimming pool beside picturesque Victoria Park that is popular with residents and visitors alike during the summer season. If you missed seeing any wild otters on the Dartmoor Way then you can make up for it at the Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary right beside the Steam Railway - here you can get a close view of the otters swimming underwater in specially built glass enclosures.
If you have a rest day here you can travel on fully restored steam trains alongside the pretty River Dart to Totnes a pleasant place of independent shops and cafes.  Trains leave from Buckfastleigh Station, a fascinating time capsule in its own right with its preserved ticket offices and platforms straight out of the last Century. There is a small Museum here and interesting displays along with a railway cafe that serves the moorland walker well.  For more details see South Devon Steam Railway who run a regular service several times a day from Buckfastleigh to Totnes


Ashburton on Day 1 of the Dartmoor Way Walking Holiday A thoroughly attractive town Ashburton sits just below Dartmoor as the Southern Gateway to Dartmoor National Park and is the largest town within its boundaries. Originally a Saxon village, recorded in the Domesday Book, and from 1285 one of the designated stannary towns of Dartmoor (along with Chagford and Tavistock)  Nearly half of all the tin mined in Devon passed through the town from the middle ages onwards.
Its early prosperity still shows today, attractive tall merchants houses from the 15th Century with overhanging slate frontages now house antique shops, cafes and a range of quirky independent stores. The Dartmoor Way walker is well served for refreshments as Ashburton has established a reputation for being a “foodie” haven.  Cafes, restaurants and several pubs abound to suit all budgets and tastes, and there are 2 delicatessens a bakers and a daily market selling organic veg and other produce farmed locally. The Tourist Information Centre run by enthusiastic volunteers is well worth visiting with an excellent selection of books and leaflets covering the National Park.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, described Ashburton as “the most heathen town he had ever visited”  but things clearly improved and as the Dartmoor Way passes the Parish Church you can reflect on the wealth the town must have enjoyed. It's an impressive structure with a 92ft tower and intricately carved roof.  There is a small museum in the centre worth visiting, although not open every day. Bizarrely for a small town on the edge of Dartmoor it holds an internationally renowned collection of North American Native items!
Most people start and end The Dartmoor Way from Buckfastleigh. However, with an excellent bus service to the nearby mainline train station at Newton Abbot, walkers can, if they prefer, look to start and finish the Dartmoor Way here from the larger town of Ashburton – just ask for info on accommodation options.

Haytor - View to Haytor

If you can work your itinerary to stay here for the night then we recommend you do it.  The tiny hamlet of Haytor is high on the moor at around 450m and its the last habitation for some miles.  Dominated by the two huge granite HayTor rocks,  these are only a short wander from the accommodation so if you stay up here you can head out to look at the stars from their base after a fine meal in the Moorland Hotel.  With the Granite Tramway remains, mysterious flooded quarries, standing stones and open moor views, it is a place for those who want to be up high and able to wander to things during their overnight stop. One of the National Park visitor centres is here with displays and information on Dartmoor and you can also expect to see some of the Dartmoor Ponies grazing in the area of the tors. Views extend far into the interior of the National Park in one direction and then out to the sea on the Devon Coastline in the other. A wonderful open and expansive spot.

Bovey Tracey

Bovey Tracey gateway to Dartmoor National Park Devon UKAnother self-proclaimed gateway town to Dartmoor, this time the eastern entrance, Bovey Tracey sits in a wide valley below some of Dartmoor National Parks most iconic Tors at Haytor and Hounds Tor, and is therefore a very walker friendly place.
Its major historical events surround the Civil War, with Oliver Cromwell surprising the Royalist troops here who were supposed to be guarding the town, but were too busy drinking in the Riverside Inn. 
The Royalists were playing cards and only escaped by hurling the money out of the window and making good their getaway whilst the Roundheads scrabbled around for the loot.  It may have been an inspired move but it failed to help them much as Cromwell slaughtered them the next day at the Battle of Bovey Heath.  
The towns more modern industrial roots lie in its Mills on the powerful River Bovey and the potteries which flourished because the local clay deposits made raw materials immediately accessible. The bottle kilns are still here and are now listed buildings. The Church is also an indication of the wealth Bovey once enjoyed with fine carvings. although it was, in fact, built as a penance by the local knight, Sir William de Tracey. In 1170 he was one of the infamous four who hacked to death Archbishop Thomas a Beckett on the High Altar of Canterbury Cathedral on King Henry II’s command - one of the most notorious acts in English History. However the locals of Bovey did not feel much shame at this terrible crime and they added the name of “de Tracey” to that of Bovey, where it has remained ever since.
There are a handful of teashops (including The Flying Pig Coffee Shop) along with several Inns and Hotels serving food and Royal Gurka Spice a very popular Indian restaurant. 
Bridge over the river Bovey at Bovey Tracey Devon
For other needs the town has a chemist, deli with an impressive selection of West Country cheeses,  cash machines and a small walking equipment shop . For those who want a refreshing dip at the end of the walk here then right on the Dartmoor Way as you arrive there is the excellent Bovey Tracey Open Air Swimming Pool where you can take a plunge in the heated waters whilst looking up to the heights of Dartmoor above.
Well worth visiting as you cross the old bridge into town on the Dartmoor Way is Make Southwest - formally the Guild of Craftsmen, the largest contemporary craft centre in the South West. Housed in a former mill, there are regular exhibitions as well as products from around 250 South West based artists and craft makers. The Terrace Cafe here has rooftop seating with good views across the town and also offers meals cooked with local ingredients including farm cider.

North Bovey

Thatched Houses at North Bovey on The Dartmoor Way Walking Holiday Situated on the Dartmoor Way close to the larger town of Moretonhampstead  (see below), walkers on a more relaxed itinerary will choose one or the other for an overnight stay in this area. 
North Bovey is the one for those who want a night right below the moors in an stunning and unspoilt time capsule village with nothing but a stroll over the medieval village green for entertainment. Those seeking a wider range of facilities should walk the few miles on to Mortetonhampstead.
North Bovey is everyone’s idea of a Devon village, with a handful of cottages with thatched roofs around a rough village green with its stone cross and water pump. Its other appeal for the resting walker lies in the excellent 15th Century Ring of Bells Inn. With bags of atmosphere, good wine and hearty meals for those coming in from The Dartmoor Way  - currently for sale (2022) but we expect it to be open again very soon as it will be sorely missed.
The villages wealth came from the nearby moorland tin mining with both open cast and shaft workings, and the fine Wagon Roofed Church of St John the Baptist was built with the tithes from the mining.
The decline in tin mining left the village struggling, but in the late 19th century the land was bought by W H Smith from the former Earl of Devon and Frederick Smith, his son, inherited the estate and built one of Devon’s finest manor houses for himself. 
Bovey Castle Hotel smarter walkers accommodation on The Dartmoor Way
After various incarnations as a convalescent home during the First World War and a military hospital for the duration of the Second this impressive building is now the luxury Bovey Castle Hotel. Those wanting a night of luxury can stay here and indulge in the spa at Dartmoors most famous hotel set in stupendous surroundings – ask for prices and options.
Today, the population of North Bovey is now less than half what it was a hundred years ago but perhaps in part because of this it retains a unique charm for the overnight visitor.



Alms House at Moretonhampstead on The Dartmoor Way Walking FootpathYet another inspiring and energising Dartmoor Town many walkers comment on how Moretonhampstead is one of the friendliest and most welcoming overnight locations on the Dartmoor Way - perhaps due to its rather isolated location set at the North East corner of the moor.
The name comes from a Saxon word “Mortun” meaning  ‘enclosed piece of land near the moor’ whilst the Hampstead is from one of the many Lords of the Manor. 
Moretonhampstead’s  location is almost exactly in the centre of the county of Devon and it has always been an important stop for travellers at the crossroads of the two roads which cross the moor. This would no doubt account for the incredible 18 public houses listed as open here in the 18th century. Then it was a busy town supporting paper, tannery and tallow works as well as the cloth mills.
A great fire in 1845 destroyed all but a few of the buildings but did leave the impressive 15th Century church of St Andrews  which stands proudly against the moor at one end of the village. There is a set of unusual almshouses, two-storey granite buildings now owned by the National Trust. Both are well worth a wander to from the centre of town.
Today, Moretonhampstead has become a bit of a centre for craftsmen and artists and because of this there are many fine sculptures of local moorland wildlife around the town to spot including sheep and Dartmoor ponies 'grazing' in Pound Street and mice and owls decorating the town's railings.
Moretonhampstead high street Devon UK Walking Holidays
From a wall in the town square you will see a flying sculpture of what has become the towns emblem, the sparrowhawk, which represents the time when King John granted the town its charter in the thirteenth century and set the rent at one sparrowhawk per year. 
There are a several good inns here providing accommodation and food for walkers as well as some excellent B&B’s.  
The town is justifiably proud of its refurbished Green Hill Arts Gallery which is in the old Victorian Schoolhouse and holds contemporary art and heritage displays. As with all these East Dartmoor Towns there is also a welcome outdoor swimming pool, heated this time by solar power and open to all....including dusty walkers arriving from North Bovey.
The helpful Tourist Information Centre is situated right on The Dartmoor Way, with a comprehensive range of books, maps and guides. There are a choice of “moorland” tea shops and cafes and generally the towns amenities, including a chemist and supermarket can provide whatever else may be needed by the passing walker.




Okehampton is the second largest town on the Dartmoor Way, sitting on the northern fringes of Dartmoor National Park and dominated by the imposing peaks of High Willhays and Yes Tor which are the moor’s highest points a few miles south of here.  
Okehampton Arcade Dartmoor National Park Tarka Trail and Dartmoor Way
Its origins are as a place of freedom, recorded in AD980 as the crossroads where slaves were released to “choose their own destiny”.
Indeed its location on a safer lowland route past the moor has been key to its development throughout history and it was for this reason that it’s most famous building, Okehampton Castle, was built by its first Norman Sheriff Baldwin de Brion who wanted to protect this vital route to Cornwall.  Over the next few centuries it became the largest castle in Devon and certainly its most impressive, set in a stunning setting on a wooded spur above the churning River Okement. 
In 1539 as an act of revenge, Henry VIII dismantled not only the castle but also its owner – at that time one Henry Courtenay who was beheaded for his alleged treason.  The castle slowly crumbled into the atmospheric and ivy clad ruin that remains today though its enchanting location and impressive remains are still well worth visiting as you leave the town on the Dartmoor Way.
For today’s walker Okehampton is a pleasant enough overnight stop.  With a pretty laid back atmosphere, its large parks and wide streets give a much more roomy feel than the compact towns and tiny villages you have encountered so far.
The glass-roofed Victorian arcade houses an interesting mix of independent shops and along with Red Lion Yard, these include an organic bakery and greengrocers selling local produce.  There is also a farmers market is held in the chapel square
Waterwheel on the Dartmoor Way route at Okehampton Devon
As a reflection of the town’s past as a staging post from Exeter to Cornwall,  there are a number of former coaching inns offering accommodation as well as a good handful of walker friendly B&B’s.  There are several eating options in the town, from Italian to an American Diner (?!) and for those who want to explore further you will find the town has several antique and jewellery shops, art galleries and boutiques as well as a useful walking equipment retailer and the usual banks and chemists.
For those with the time, one place not to miss is The Museum of Dartmoor Life.  The Dartmoor Way is actually routed to and from the Museum, an indication of its relevance.  Concentrating on a social history of the areas you are walking through rather than the usual legends and wildlife themes, this is a very useful overview of habitation on the moor since earliest times that will enlighten and inform those that are walking through the National Park on foot.    
Laid out over three floors with interactive exhibits, you will find out about the Civil War battle of Sourton Down (an area you will be walking over tomorrow), about the main Dartmoor industries, the military presence, the infamous prisons and the moorlands transport history as well as get your questions answered about the old-fashioned farming methods, tin mining and quarrying.  Set just off the main street in an old courtyard that holds an impressively huge water wheel there is a handy cafe on site as well as the Tourist Information Centre.


Lydford Castle English Heritage on the Dartmoor Way Walking HolidayDon’t be fooled by the unassuming appearance of this pretty little village which sits on the remote western flank of Dartmoor – today it may only hold a handful of houses and a pub (population less than 500) but its place in Dartmoor History is one of huge significance.
This was one of Alfred the Great’s four principal settlements in Devon, built for defence against both the Cornish and the Vikings, who came this far inland to destroy the early Saxon castle in 997. A runic stone carved from local granite and sited in the field next to the castle commemorates the 1,000th anniversary of this Viking attack. Earthworks from the Saxon fortification are still visible and the ramparts within which the village still sits must have been huge.  No wonder, as Lydford was once the administrative centre of the whole moor and royal coins of King Aethelred were minted here, known as the “silver pennies of Lydford”.  The coins were used throughout the Kingdom of Wessex, and each silver penny represented one days work for a Saxon peasant.
Two castles were built on this site after the Norman Conquest, the first of which was the first castle to be built by William the Conqueror. Today what remains and is referred to as Lydford Castle,  is the later Norman Keep built in 1195 as a prison and used throughout the centuries to incarcerate petty criminals and those who broke the local stannary and forest Laws. According to the local poet in the 17th century, this it was in fact little more than a centre for Injustice and corruption.
The Castle Inn Lydford Devon overnight accommodation on The Dartmoor Way
“I oft have heard of Lydford Law, How in the morn they hang and draw.....And sit in judgement after”
Indeed even by the official accounts this was a particularly horrible place to end up - an order of Parliament in Henry VIII’s time describes the prison as: “one of the most hanious, contagious and detestable places in the realm”. The court of law based here was used in the Civil War, its head being the notorious Judge Jeffreys, known as the “hanging judge”, and the prison was used to keep all military prisoners before being executed for High Treason.  The Dartmoor Way runs right past the ruins, which are open for all to enter and you can still see down to the dreary windowless dungeon where the hapless prisoners were held – the only access being a wooden ladder that was whipped back out as soon as the prisoners stepped off the bottom rung.
Lydford Chuch start of The Lych Way, Corpse Trail or Trail of the Dead DartmoorToday’s accommodation options are far improved – The 16th Century Castle Inn is the main place to stay here with views over the Castle and Church  though there are also a couple of B&B options or the more upmarket Dartmoor Inn a former coaching Inn on the main Tavistock road.  
Next to the castle the Church is an impressive and pleasing 13th century building dedicated to St Petroc the Cornish Saint - look for the famous set of wood carvings that form the ends of the pews. Each one is unique and shows a saint surrounded by animals and plants that include frogs, goats, rabbits and sea creatures.  The Churchyard is the end of the rather spooky Lych Way or Corpse Trail also referred to as “The Way of the Dead”.  An ancient path worn by those living on the remote high moor who were required to carry the coffins of any deceased persons up to 17 miles over the high moor passing the likes of “Coffin Wood” on a sombre journey to Lydford Castle to report the death and then the church next door for burial.
So far so grim for Lydford – however today it is a peaceful and interesting overnight stop and for Dartmoor Way walkers the main interest is that it allows access to the superb forested ravine at Lydford Gorge, managed by The National Trust and entered on the south of the village.  CLICK HERE to read about the 3 mile circular walk past whirlpools and 100ft waterfalls – it is not to be missed and is easy to build into the itineraries of those staying at Lydford.

Mary Tavy and Peter Tavy

Wheal Friendship Mine Dartmoor National Park on the Dartmoor WayThose on a standard itinerary from Okehampton will stay in one or other of these neighbouring villages.  Both are small and relatively remote places with only one or two accommodation options but are set in a sheltered and lush green valley that sits on the rushing River Tavy just below the edge of the moorland. 
The two villages grew separately, although both were named after their respective churches and the river which passed through these small agricultural settlements with their scattered farms and cottages.  The two churches are located a mile apart from each other and at Mary Tavy church you can still see the village stocks in the porch, whilst St Peters Church  has medieval rood screen remnants and Tudor wood carvings worth taking a look at. 
Mary Tavy Church in Devon South West England The Dartmoor Way WalkThe geology here gave Mary Tavy the upper hand in its fortunes, as rich veins of copper, tin and silver were all discovered here.  Wheal Friendship the local mine to the north of the village, was at one point the largest copper mine in the world and employed over 1000 men and women in its heyday.  The huge overgrown engine house remains clinging to the moor today are one of Dartmoor’s most Iconic and lonely sights and it can be visited on an evening stroll from the village.
At Mary Tavy you can stay in the local Inn whilst at Peter Tavy there are no Inn rooms but one or two B&B’s for walkers - however just as Peter Tavy retains its own church ....so it has its own pub and the 15th Century Peter Tavy Inn has roaring log fires in the winter and a beer garden with views of the moor in summer as well as a reputation for good food and the holder of several real ale pub awards.


Abbey Bridge Tavistock - The Dartmoor Way Trekking Holiday UKOn a week long walking holiday there is always one place that the weary walker can look forward to reaching as the best location on the route for facilities, accommodation and fine foods and on The Dartmoor Way this would be Tavistock. 
A vibrant and lively place Tavistock is Devon’s Premier Market Town with a population of around 11,000 and as such offers numerous good eating choices including delis, cafes, hotels and fine dining restaurants.  
Winner of awards for the UK’s “Best Market Town” and in Devon as the “Best Food Town” it is a time to indulge for those arriving for some rest and relaxation from the high moor and the single inn overnight villages.  With plenty of luxury B&B’s and guest houses, inns and smart hotels there is something to suit everyones needs in Tavistock.
Tavistock Church Dartmoor Way and West Devon Way walking routesThe location in a wide green bowl at the point where the Tavy river leaves the moor is also fittingly attractive and has long been a draw for those who have held or sought the West Countries wealth and privilege. 
The important Tavistock Abbey was founded in the 10th century by the Earl of Devon though it had an inauspicious start being burnt to the ground within 20 years when the Danes sailed up the river Tamar to make off with the riches inside.  It was quickly rebuilt however and became very wealthy very quickly with a Royal Charter granted in 1105 that included the legal rights to create the town including a weekly pannier market and 3-day long fair once a year. Both rights are still exercised 1000 years later with the Goose Fair in October still going strong and the daily Pannier market the major feature of the Town.
Tavistock Pannier Market Devon South West England Walking breaks
The towns Market used to be held in Bank Square but was moved in 1860 to the impressive stone-built covered Pannier Market and it has bustled with stalls, good food and the plain unexpected ever since.  Don’t miss a wander around this unique venue - whatever your fancy,  be it - old books, antiques, model aeroplanes or smart jeans - there is enormous variety and choice.  Outside the market there are plenty of art and craft galleries to wander around, both in the town and at The Wharf Arts Centre where you will often find live music, cinema, theatre and art exhibitions. The towns central point is the wide and airy Bedford Square built in 1859, with has the 15th Century  Parish Church of St Eustachius (the Roman Officer who was martyred), sitting on one side and the Town Hall and other impressive administrative buildings on the other.  
The square has quite a European feel to it and the market often spills out here in rows of stalls outside the Town Hall.
Franci Drake Statue in Tavistock The West Devon Way and Dartmoor Walk
You will also find the excellent Town Museum which houses displays on local history, mining and of course Sir Francis Drake, the most famous of Tavistock’s sons whose exploits and achievements are well documented here.
Sadly for the Abbey and its monks the good days ended with the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII and most of it was destroyed. However ruined sections remain atmospherically dotted around Bedford Square and The Churchyard, a Court Gate, a ruined gatehouse and a section of cloister wall and tiled pavement – all adding to the sense of history and importance of the town. 
Some of the outer wall of the Abbey and the monks Stillhouse “ where medicines were distilled “ can also be found on the pleasant Abbey Walk river path which makes a great pre evening meal  wander along the gentle banks of the River Tavy. 
Last but not least if you are going to have one Devon Cream Tea on the Dartmoor Way then we think it should be here in its spiritual home - 11th century manuscripts record that the monks at Tavistock Abbey fed travellers with bread, clotted cream and preserves – and in doing so invented the West Countries biggest ever industry and export - one that has outlived all the mines and the quarries!
Enjoy Tavistock and do refuel and stock up particularly if you are heading into the High Moorland Alternative route at Princetown tomorrow

Yelverton - 

Yelverton SIgnOne of the gateways to the Moor and the closest to the city of Plymouth. Yelverton sits on the last of the flat ground before the steep ascent of the main moor. As such enjoys great views of the vast green and brown landscape sitting above it. There has been habitation in this area since prehistoric times and  standing stones, stone circles, burial chambers and hut circles are all to be found in this area.

There is a pleasant area of open grassland on the edge of the village known as Roborough Down to wander through and you can easily find the well known Roborough Rock a prominent mass of stone which had to have a warning light placed upon it during the Second World War to stop planes hitting it as this area became a wartime airport. 

Known as RAF Harrowbeer it was quickly constructed on the down to defend the dockyards of nearby Plymouth as well as launch attacks on the French coast. There is still plenty of evidence of the former airfield, indeed Abagails Cafe operates out of former airfield buildings if you want a closer look !  There are several options for eating for those staying overnight including Chinese and Indian food but most people will head for the extensive 3 bars of the  Rock Inn in the centre of the village - as a port of call for Dartmoor explorers for over 100 years it only seems right to eat here !

Shaugh Prior -   

White Thorn Inn Shaug Prior A tiny, leafy off the track hamlet with a population of only 700 around half a mile above the Dartmoor Way route at Shaugh Bridge.
There is a good B&B option here and the White Thorn Inn for evening meals. The village and land here were originally part of the extensive estate of Plympton Priory and the villages St Edward Church is well worth a look. Grade 1 listed and dating back to the 11th Century it has a magnificent tower and plenty to see inside. Other than that there is little to do here except rest up in a peaceful place and pay a visit to the White Thorn !
If there is no availability here walkers will continue on the Dartmoor Way to the moor at Cadover Bridge, diverting over the moor to the village of Wotter, where you will find the Moorland Hotel with its Brasserie restaurant right on the edge of the moor.


Princetown Prison on Dartmoor - The Dartmoor Way Walking HolidayAn eerie, isolated place, high on the moor this is Dartmoor’s highest town and exposed to the full force of weather from the north and east, Princetown is a harsh but unique place dominated by the UK's answer to Alcatraz, the notorious Dartmoor Prison. 
The settlement was the grand idea of Thomas Tyrwhitt who was secretary to The Prince of Wales and leased the desolate Moorland for his attempts to “Civilise the interior”.
In an unashamed attempt to curry favour with his boss he called his new project Princetown.  When it became clear that his plans for a rich agricultural settlement were doomed due to the inhospitable nature of the location, he decided perhaps wisely that the location best lent itself to a prison. 
Church built by prisoners at Princetown on the Dartmoor Way Walking HolidayThe logic was the natural barrier of the moor itself – if prisoners managed to escape, they would either perish from hypothermia on the open moor, or be easily tracked by dogs through a landscape with no shelter and few places to hide. The structure was built originally in 1808 by French and American Prisoners of War who had been held in the hulls of large, decommissioned ships along the south coast and at one time there were over 11,000 incarcerated here. 
The stark church remains only one in the UK built by convicts. Thousands died of disease and exhaustion here and were buried in mass graves recognised today by simple memorials in the Prison grounds.
In the 20th Century the prison became infamous in the UK housing not only its most feared criminals but conscientious objectors in World War 1 and IRA prisoners in the early 1921 risings.
Princetown Prison Dartmoor National Park
Today around 800 prisoners are still held in this wildest of spots with nothing but open moorland to gaze over from their cell windows.  The “modern” prison revamped by the Victorians is as scary a place to look at as you can get, dark uncompromising and stark sitting in the middle of miles of desolate moorland it is truly a shuddering sight. Crime has paid in one sense at Princetown as the town you see today grew around the Prison to house the officers and families who were sent here. Whilst on the face of it Princetown is not a pretty place it does provide a fascinating overnight stop and an important contrast to the picture postcards and cream tea’s of the thatched villages on the Eastern Moor. In that sense a vital and utterly unique place for those who really want to explore and understand Dartmoor in its entirety.
This is the most deprived ward in Devon and to understand how the high moor still makes an isolated and harsh environment to live in you should be stopping here.
Princetown Devon UK walking holiday centreOn a positive note for the arriving Dartmoor Way walker, all the facilities here are geared towards those heading into the great outdoors and walkers are more welcome here than anywhere.  The place has several Bunk houses, walkers’ tea shops and welcoming inns offering good B&B and serving hearty meals - are all reliant on the trade from walkers alone to survive.
Right in the middle of town, The High Moorland Visitor Centre is the Dartmoor National Parks flagship location for visitors to Dartmoor.  It is an impressive tour featuring state of the Dartmoor art displays and National Park information, very different to the Prison Museum but equally informative.  
Dartmoor National Park Moorland Visitor Centre Princetown The building housing the exhibitions used to be the Duchy Hotel, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stayed while writing The Hound of the Baskervilles – the deadly Grimpen Mire that features throughout the book was in fact The Fox Tor Mire to the South of the Town.
Highly recommended, you should make time to visit the Dartmoor Prison Museum just north of the Town, set in one of the grim outlying prison buildings.  Run by the some of the wardens this place is superb, no modern 'hands on' displays here just the fascinating history of the prison, the riots and rebellions by its prisoners, its most famous inhabitants and their usually doomed attempts at escape.
There is a wealth of items which have been steadily added to by the wardens including early straitjackets,manacles, and various items from Victorian prisoners’ dress to displays of lethal looking home-made weapons confiscated by warders found in the cells as well as the usual gadgets fashioned to try and make an escape over or under the walls. You can see a mock up cell, buy items made today for sale by the prison workers and, in what is perhaps the most informative part watch a video of today’s prisoners telling their stories,  talking openly and frankly about the prison, why they ended up there and how being incarcerated here has affected them and their hopes for the future.
Jail Ale brewed in Princetown on The Dartmoor Way route Devon Uk
Princetown is also home to the Dartmoor Brewery, now housed by the old railway line and it produces its award winning “Jail Ale” here –
Our advice? - Get holed up round the fire in one of Princetowns pubs with the locals and count your blessings that you are staying here and not in a cell down the road.  Have a few pints of real Ale and a hearty walkers dinner and Princetown may well end up your most relaxing stop on the Dartmoor Way.



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