Dartmoor Pubs and Wild Walks that go Hand in Hand
With its ancient granite tors, sweeping heathlands, mystical woods and rushing rivers, it’s hard to find a wilder place in the whole of the British Isles than Dartmoor. It’s no wonder that so many of our guests return year-on-year to these dramatic uplands to savour the stunning scenery and revel in its many myths and legends.
Of course, a moorland hike isn’t complete without a well-earned pub lunch. With this in mind, Mr Toad has picked out a selection of hearty hostelries for you to enjoy after your Dartmoor yomps…
Dartmoor Pub Walks
The Old Railway Walk, Princetown, West Dartmoor
Set out on a vigorous five mile walk along the remnants of the Princetown railway, enjoying magnificent views of the sweeping moorland along your way. Discover the abandoned quarries of Foggintor and Swell Tor – windows into Dartmoor’s industrious past – while relishing the open heathland known as Walkhampton Common – a site encompassing many fascinating prehistoric ruins. Follow the track towards the foothills of King’s Tor to climb this impressive summit and gaze upon neighbouring Vixen Tor and the flooded quarry at Merrivale.
Parking: Princetown. Public toilets & refreshments available.
Fascinating Fact: Past the ruins of the old blacksmith’s house at Swell Tor, you’ll see a scattering of sculpted stone, known as corbels; leftovers pieces from a batch destined for the Old London Bridge.
Pub Stop: The Plume of Feathers, Princetown; a handsome old inn serving real ales and hearty homecooked fayre.
Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Mid Dartmoor
Widecombe-in-the-Moor is one of Dartmoor’s most characterful settings, the name ‘Withy-combe’ meaning willow valley. It’s also famous as the location for one of Devon’s most cherished folk songs ‘Widecombe Fair’ and the immortal line: old uncle Tom Cobley n’all. Embark on a three-mile trek around the open moorland with breathtaking views across Hameldown Tor. Follow the steep incline to Wind Tor, a flattened outcrop where you can enjoy unrivalled views back towards the rooftops of Widecombe village and its beautiful late Gothic church, known as ‘the cathedral of the moor’. Explore the prehistoric cairn circle on Soussons Down before heading back down the valley for a well-earned pub lunch or traditional cream tea.
Parking: Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Public toilets and refreshments available.
Fascinating Fact: Widecombe-in-the-Moor was a location used during the filming of Steven Spielberg’s epic war drama War Horse.
Pub Stop: Converted into a tavern in 1832 and named in honour of a local logan stone, The Rugglestone Inn is the perfect journey’s end for a weary wayfarer. Sit by the open fire and enjoy some renowned Dartmoor hospitality.
Postbridge Waterfall, Mid Dartmoor
This six-mile circular walk takes in some of mid Dartmoor’s most iconic tors and captivating features. Set out from Postbridge, a picturesque hamlet in the heart of the moors, crossing the ancient clapper bridge to pick up the footpath past Hartland House, continuing up the hilly way to Hartland Tor where spectacular panoramic views await. Trek on towards the ‘sheepfold’ and follow the river past the old granite wall across the old shepherds’ pastures. From here, you can pick up the path shadowing the East Dart River until you reach a lovely scenic picnic spot near the rushing waterfall, a truly enchanting setting!
Parking: Dartmoor National Park Authority Carpark.
Fascinating Fact: Postbridge clapper bridge is believed to date back to the 13th century and is one of the oldest of its kind on Dartmoor. The origin of the word ‘clapper’ is believed to be found in the Anglo-Saxon word ‘cleac’ which means ‘stepping stone’.
Pub Stop: The Warren House Inn is one of Dartmoor’s most historic taverns offering up a delicious menu and a well-stocked bar in cosy surrounds.
The Old Railway Line Walk, Bovey Tracey, South Dartmoor
A lovely riverside loop on the outskirts of the ancient moorland town of Bovey Tracey which follows the old line rails and sleepers that once linked Newton Abbot to Moretonhampstead. Start from Hole Bridge and enjoy a stroll across the National Trust owned Parke Estate, with its wildflower meadows. Follow the gentle babble of the Bovey River, passing the old railway piers to cross Wilford Bridge. As you loop back from where you came, you’ll pick up trout tickler’s path through the beech wood, then on to Parke Bridge and home.
Parking: Bovey Tracey. Toilets and refreshments available.
Fascinating Fact: During the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell famously led a daring raid on Bovey Tracey, under the cover of darkness, to capture a cohort of Royalist officers who were playing cards in a local inn.
Pub Stop: The Cromwell Arms is an award-winning, family-run pub in the heart of Bovey Tracey.
Manaton & Lustleigh, East Dartmoor
The challenging inclines and steep descents are all worth the effort when you embark on one of Dartmoor’s most breathtaking routes. Set off from the charming village of Manaton and follow the muddy lanes and offbeat trails to Hunter’s Tor. Hunter’s Tor is one of the area’s great vantage points, boasting far-reaching views across the rugged and craggy landscape. Look out for the remains of an Iron Age hillfort that once stood upon a site where a hoard of Roman coins were unearthed. Head onward past the legendary logan stones on Rippon Tor, known locally as the ‘Nutcrackers’; which used to rock in perfect counterbalance. Other glorious natural features include the Horsham Steps; the mighty moss-covered boulders that form a natural crossing to abridge the banks of the River Bovey.
This breathtaking corner of Dartmoor inspired the following quote from director Steven Spielberg during the filming of his box office, smash hit film, War Horse: “I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor…’
Parking: Manaton Church Car Park
Fascinating Folklore: Just outside Manaton, you’ll find Jay’s Grave, a renowned landmark on Dartmoor and setting for several eerie ghost stories.
Pub Stops: If you’re in need of some refreshment after all that yomping, make a beeline for the Kestor Inn, a much-loved village pub with a warm and friendly atmosphere. The Cleave of Lustleigh, is a gorgeous thatched roofed inn with a lovely beer garden and stylish restaurant, offering wholesome pub grub and an á la carte menu.
Widgery Tor near Lydford, North Dartmoor
This popular three-miler takes in rolling hills, lofty tors, sweeping moorland and cascading rivers. Park at the Dartmoor Inn and follow the bridleway heading for the uplands: a grassy path will lead the way through low-lying gorse and ferny banks, travelling in a south easterly direction. Continuing down the valley, you’ll hear the sounds of the River Lyd. You might have to clamber as your negotiate the more feral haunts of this rocky river bank. At the base of the valley you’ll spot a large rocky outcrop with a plaque in memory of Captain Nigel Duncan Ratcliffe Hunter of the Royal Engineers, a local soldier killed in action during the Great War. The inscription includes a poem written by Ratcliffe (himself a distinguished poet) about Lydford, one of his most cherished escapes.
Cross the River Lyd via the stepping stones or wooden bridge and follow Doetor Brook uphill to its source. Soon, you’ll see the impressive sight of Widgery Cross. The granite cross was built by a well-known artist called William Widgery to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, and was unveiled in 1887. The cross stands at the top of Brat Tor, and if you’re feeling energetic enough, you can climb the four hundred plus metres to savour the views at its summit. For your homeward leg, retrace your steps and shadow the old dry-stone wall back towards the car park.
Car Park: Patrons car park at the Dartmoor Inn, Moorside.
Fascinating Folklore: During the 16th Century, Lydford was the lair of a notorious gang of sheep rustlers and outlaws led by a lovable rogue called Roger Rowle who was said to be the ‘Robin Hood of Dartmoor’.
Pub Stop: The multi award-winning Dartmoor Inn is the perfect place to rest and recharge after your wilderness adventures.
The Chagford Riverside & Moorland Walk, North Dartmoor
From the sweeping views of Nattadon Hill, to the leafy banks of the River Teign, this stunning walk around the ancient parish of Chagford will have you captivated at every waymark. Leave the rooftops of the old stannary town behind as you pick up the path to Nattadon Common and negotiate the steep slope of Nattadon Hill. When you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Teign Gorge and magnificent Castle Drogo. Follow the path towards the moorland hamlets of Great Weeke and Yellam to eventually find Adley Lane. Look out for the waymark signalling a field track that roams back to Chagford by way of Rushford Bridge and the Two Moors Way. The final leg of your journey is perhaps the most scenic as you follow the wending river. All in all, the walk embraces about four-and-a-half undulating miles.
Parking: Chagford. Public toilets and refreshments available.
Fascinating Folklore: One of Chagford’s most famous legends tells the story of Mary Whiddon, inspiration for the tragic character behind RD Blackmore’s well-known novel, Lorna Doone, who was shot by a jealous suitor on her wedding day as she left St Michael’s Church. A memorial to Mary can be seen in the church’s chancel, carved on a stone slab and ending with the poetic couplet: But dry thine eyes, why wilt thou weep, such damselles doe not die, but sleep.
Pub Stop: With four pubs in Chagford, there’s no shortage of places to refuel. The Globe Inn, a 16th Century coaching inn, overlooks the church and has huge fireplaces to warm up in front of.
Meldon Reservoir, North Dartmoor
The millpond waters of Meldon Reservoir provide a breathtaking focal point for ramblers exploring the countryside around this beautiful corner of West Devon. Here, amongst the sweeping heathlands, you’ll discover the scars left by Dartmoor’s fascinating industrial heritage and its prehistoric past. A myriad of tracks and trails surround the reservoir which provides the perfect backdrop for a hillside picnic.
Parking: Dartmoor National Park Authority car park, Meldon Reservoir.
Fascinating Fact: Meldon Reservoir is famed for its brown trout and remains one of the local anglers’ best kept secrets.
Pub Stop: The Bearslake Inn is a delightful thatched pub tucked away in the quiet moorland hamlet of Lake, the ideal place to relax and unwind after your invigorating walk.
Discover dramatic Dartmoor – one of Britain’s most cherished wild places – when you smuggle yourselves away with Toad Hall Cottages.