With its hidden waterfalls, tumbling tors and awe-inspiring scenery, Dartmoor National Park is a wonderful destination to visit at any time of year. But to experience the diverse landscape at its best – and revel in all it has to offer – keen day-trippers make a beeline for this glorious pocket of the country in summer.
In the first of a two part series, we asked Julie Leivers, owner of The Horn of Plenty country house hotel on the doorstep of Dartmoor, for her top five things to do this summer
1. Explore on foot
There are hundreds – if not thousands – of possible paths winding through the National Park. Whether the sun’s shining or there’s a touch of Dartmoor drizzle, a ramble around Burrator Reservoir is a must for its network of woodland trails and waterside stretches. Start at Nosworthy Bridge carpark at the reservoir’s eastern edge and pass Dartmoor ponies, watch keen walkers take on Sheeps Tor and discover cascading waterfalls carved into the ancient rock.
2. Discover Dartmoor’s rich history
From bronze age stone circles and medieval houses to Cistercian abbeys and Tudor gardens, Dartmoor has a rich history worn into its craggy moors.
National Trust-managed Buckland Abbey boasts sweeping vistas of the Tavy Valley from its 700-year-old estate. Within the museum section of the house you’ll find gems including Drake’s Drum, while outside there are orchards, meadows and woodlands to be explored.
Nestled in gorgeous gardens overlooking the River Tamar, nearby Cotehele is also worth a trip. Inside, the Tudor house is adorned with tapestries, paintings and bespoke oak furniture. Outside, the gardens bloom with wild flowers in spring and blankets of snowdrops in winter.
3. Take a turn around Tavistock Pannier Market
A turn around Tavistock’s ancient town centre wouldn’t be complete without a nose around its bustling Pannier Market. Recently renovated inside and out, traders flock to the historic market to sell everything from oil paintings and woodwork to jewellery and homemade cakes from Tuesday to Saturday.
4. Luxe out with a prosecco afternoon tea at The Horn of Plenty
Reward a day of Dartmoor adventures with an uber-luxe afternoon tea experience at The Horn of Plenty (pictured above). Toast the day’s successes with a glass of prosecco on the patio overlooking the Tamar Valley before indulging in delicate smoked salmon sandwiches, homemade cakes and fluffy scones laden with thick clotted cream and strawberry jam.
Better still, book a couple of nights at the sumptuous country house hotel and immerse yourself in the Devon countryside.
5. Explore Cotehele and Calstock by canoe
Explore west Dartmoor and its neighbouring market towns via the Tamar River. Take a scenic paddle from Cotehele’s historic quay up-river towards the village of Calstock and stop for a well-earned drink at one of the pubs.
Want to do Dartmoor in style? Nestled into the edge of National Park, The Horn of Plenty greets guests with the perfect country house scene: tall trees, well established gardens and a pretty water fountain. Find out more about the boutique hotel here.