Travel to the heart of Devon and discover a magical, ancient landscape of stunning views, awe inspiring granite tors, deep wooded valleys with fast flowing rivers, and rugged, wide open spaces. This is Dartmoor, protected by National Park status as the Dartmoor National Park. A place where you can truly escape to find peace, quiet and extreme beauty. Fr.om rare birds and butterflies, Neolithic monuments and ancient woodland, to tradition, folklore and farming on horseback, Dartmoor has it all. Leading the way for the arts, all things organic, a haven for literary greats and explorers, you will be walking in some awesome footsteps.
Dartmoor has a very gentle side. Safe, quiet areas where you can picnic with the family, easy to follow trails for strolling, walking and cycling, many lovely open spaces where the children can run to their heart’s content and a huge number of child friendly and dog friendly places to stay, to eat and attractions to visit.
Dartmoor has the largest number of archaeological remains in Europe. So if it is stone circles, menhirs, stone crosses and ancient villages that get you excited, Dartmoor is the place to be. In fact, it is where Time Team were, unearthing all manner of interesting artefacts.
If you want picture postcard Dartmoor villages with thatched cottages and rambling lanes, try Lustleigh or Moretonhampstead. Or historic market towns with traditional stores, tearooms and crafts, head to Tavistock, Bovey Tracey, Chagford or Okehampton. For something a bit different, a little bit quirky, it's got to be Widecombe-in-the-Moor. For folklore and Dartmoor myths and legends, Princetown is the place to be.
Dartmoor Ponies are an iconic sight, living as semi-wild herds all over the moor. Nothing beats the wonderful sight of wild pony foals playing together against a backdrop of one of the most stunningly beautiful areas in the UK. After a history that stretches back to the ice age, the ponies are under threat. In the Fifties there were 30,000 on the moor; now that figure has sunk to approximately 1,000.
Each is owned by a farmer who, every year between September and October in an age-old ritual known as a “drift”, sweeps the moor for ponies for counting and health checks, ready to be either returned to rough grazing or sold at market. Most have not been handled so you should not approach them too closely. The ponies are very hardy and actually thrive on Dartmoor despite the harsh weather and poor vegetation. In fact, by grazing the moorland they play a vital role in maintaining a variety of habitats and supporting wildlife.
Because of their calm temperament, strength and surefootedness, the ponies have been used for many varying purposes, and this has led to the breeding and development of the different types that are seen on the moor today.
Over the years they have been used as pit ponies, for shepherding, or taking the family to market and on occasion even carrying the postman to deliver the mail.