Dartmoor & SW Devon Tourist Information
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The truth of that old saying about variety being the spice of life is clearly evident in this part of the West Country where mountains, moors, rocky crags and sun-blessed seaside resorts merge to create a unique travel experience.
On South Devon’s highest ground
stands one of England’s few remaining wild places,
the vast granite-based expanse of the rain-soaked
Dartmoor National Park with its isolated villages,
dense woodlands and soaring summits.
In stark contrast, the area that surrounds this stunning 368 square miles of protected landscape has one of the country’s mildest climates and includes many picture-postcard villages, as well as the ‘Riviera’ of southern England at Torbay.
When the pieces of this geographic jig-saw are added together they form one of Britain’s most enchanting and unusual terrains. Dartmoor is fashioned from upland moors topped by exposed granite hilltops or tors.
|The highest point is High Willhays at more than 2,000 feet above sea level.
The region has inspired many writers and artists, most notably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle whose famous detective, Sherlock Holmes had to confront the ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ amid the peat bogs and teeming rivers of this special landscape.
The Dartmoor National Park is the largest tract of open country left in southern England and is most famous as the dramatic location of Dartmoor Prison near Princetown. The original jail was built in the 19th Century by French captives during the Napoleonic Wars.
Many prehistoric fragments lie on the moors, including hill forts, standing stones, barrows and hut circles, the latter being the remains of Bronze Age houses. Most of these monuments date to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age.
Although there is an obvious lack of industry here, the area was a haven for miners seeking tin, lead and copper during the medieval period and the men established their own ‘Stannary’ courts at Tavistock, Chagford, Ashburton and Plumpton.
Walking has become a major pastime and the Park boasts more than 400 miles of footpaths and bridleways while the annual Ten Tors Challenge involves the most intrepid ramblers trekking over steep-sided hills.
South Hams is a low-lying region of rural splendour that partly surrounds Dartmoor.
Based on agriculture, farming and tourism, it has five main rivers – the Plym, Yealm, Erme, Avon and Dart – and a wealth of picturesque towns and villages. Many of these date back to the Middle Ages and boast thatched cottages and ancient taverns.
The adventurer Sir Francis Drake began his circumnavigation of the globe from here in the 16th century. His lead was followed in 1620 by the Pilgrim Fathers and in 1772 by Captain Cook. Fifty-nine years later the folk of Plymouth watched Charles Darwin embark for the Galapagos Islands.
Modern industry is largely confined to the sprawling conurbation of Plymouth, a naval city with an illustrious history.
South Devon’s natural wonders include Canonteign Falls – the highest waterfall in England - and Kents Cavern, site of the discovery of a 45,000-year human bone. Other finds have included fossils of sabre-toothed cat, bear, mammoth and wooly rhinoceros.
Railway enthusiasts should not miss a trip on the South Devon Railway that runs between Buckfastleigh and Totnes alongside the River Dart. Built in the late 19th century, the line has a number of steam locos as well as historic rolling stock and privately owned diesels.
Among the must-visit buildings of special interest are magnificent Buckfast Abbey, which dates to the 11th century, medieval Powderham Castle and Plant World Gardens boasting the only 14-acre garden planted as a giant map of the world.
Tourist Information Centres
Information Centre, Town Hall, North St, Ashburton, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ13 7QH
Tel: 01364 653426
Lower Car Park, Station Rd, Bovey Tracey, Devon, TQ13 9AW
Tel: 01626 832047
DARTMOOR HIGH MOORLAND VISITOR CENTRE
Duchy Building, Tavistock Road, Princetown, Devon, PL20 6QF
Tel: 01822 890414
IVYBRIDGE & SOUTH DARTMOOR
Leonards Road, Ivybridge, Devon, PL21 0SL
Tel: 01752 897035 Fax: 01752 690660
Tourist Information Centre, The Quay, Kingsbridge, Devon, TQ7 1HS
Tel: 01548 853195 Fax: 01548 854185
Tourist Information Centre, 4 Modbury Court, Church Street, Modbury, Devon, PL21 0QR
Tel: 01548 830159 Fax: 01548 831371
Tourist Information Centre, 11 The Square, Moretonhampstead, Devon, TQ13 8NF
Tel: 01647 440043
Tourist Information Centre, 3 West St, Okehampton, Devon, EX29 1HQ
Tel: 01837 53020
Tourist Information Centre, Island House, 9 The Barbican, Plymouth, PL1 2LS
Tel: 01752 304849
Tourist Information Centre, Plymouth Discovery Centre, Crabtree, Plymouth, PL3 6RN
Tel: 01752 266030 / 266031
Tourist Information Centre, Council Hall, Market Street, Salcombe, Devon, TQ8 8DE
Tel: 01548 843927 Fax: 01548 842736
Tourist Information Centre, Town Hall, Bedford Square, Tavistock, PL19 0AE
Tel: 01822 612938
TIP, Little Chef, Whiddon Down, Devon, EX20 2QT
Tel: 01647 231375
www.mayflowersteps.co.uk - Information about Plymouth, past and
present - with a strong focus on the Mayflower and Pilgrim Fathers, as
well as Plymouth today.