Dartmoor National Park, Devon
Dartmoor National Park in Devon is a vast expanse of heather-clad moorland, high rugged tors, dense forests and ancient market towns; some say it's bleak, and like any moorland it can be in the winter, but even then, it still has its beauty. Go in the summer and you'll find that parts of it are positively heaving with tourists, huge modern coaches flashing across the moors. Well, you can't blame them, when the sun is shining and the sky is blue it's so pretty and there's so much to see pootling about the narrow roads; the moors alone are jaw-dropping and then you suddenly spot a huge rock or an old church on a rugged hilltop and the curiousity starts to pull you in.
So where's good to visit in Dartmoor National Park? Well, popular spots are Moretonhampstead where you can go to the Motor Museum and the Miniature Pony Centre, Widecombe-in-the-Moor, made famous for the annual Widecombe Fair and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, and Princetown, which carries the accolade of being the highest town on Dartmoor and is well-known for its prison, originally built for prisoners from the Napolenic Wars. It's also where Conan Doyle was inspired to write Hound of the Baskervilles, in what is now the Visitor Centre.
Other highlights for visitors are Buckfast Abbey, Castle Drogo, Lydford Gorge, Postbridge where there's a medieval clapper bridge over the East Dart, and Ashburton with it's old cottages and antique shops. Pixieland is a popular spot, as is House of Marbles in Bovey Tracey, and Becky Falls Woodland Park where you can discover the trails and see the animals.
If though, your idea of exploring is to get off the beaten track and into the wilds, your best bet is to get a map and wander where you will, though be careful because Dartmoor is known for its treacherous bogs. Hence most walker's choose to take the more well know routes to places like Haytor Rocks, the Ten Commandments Stone on Buckland Beacon, and to see the knarly moss-covered trees at Wistman's Wood.
When the old hunger pangs start kicking in you've got several choices; one is to find a nice spot for a picnic, and there are plenty, like beside the River Dart at Bellever Forest, or in the sun dappled shade of Fingle Woods. If you opt for a pub lunch you might have a tough time deciding which to go to, but you won't go wrong with the Tors Inn in the moorland village of Belstone, the Fingle Bridge Inn right on the river, or Warren House Inn, which is the highest and most remote pub in the whole of Southern England. It doesn't half blow a hoolie up there and you get drenched just walking from your car to the door, but goodness, it's invigorating. It makes you feel glad to be alive.
All information correct at the time of writing