Today we headed off to Dartmoor, a large area in the center of Devon and one with a number of interesting historic sites. Our first destination was the visitor’s center in Princetown, near the heart of the moor.
I had always pictured Dartmoor as a wild and desolate place in my head, and indeed in many areas that is accurate, but the landscape is very varied and there are quite a number of villages in Dartmoor, most notably Princetown.
One of the claims to fame for Dartmoor is that this is where Arthur Conan Doyle set his famous novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles” after having staying here and walked extensively in the area. Indeed the old Duchy Hotel where he made his base of operations is now the visitor’s center in Princetown, which includes a small display and some information about this association. It includes a “dress up area” where you can put on a Deer Stalker hat and cape, but I am guessing that the items were designed for a younger crowd!)
Not quite the effect I was going for, although I think the sandals add a nice touch. BTW, the picture is of the back of the hotel as the front, which is much prettier, is currently covered with scaffolding.
Another famous connection to Dartmoor is the prison, which was started in 1806 to house Napoleonic War prisoners and shortly afterwards was used to also house American prisoners from the war of 1812. No, they didn’t transport them from America just to house them here, these would have been sailors captured at sea.
Today it is still a prison, grade C for less violent offenders and the prison itself is a listed building.
On our way out of the park, we stopped briefly at the small historic village of Widecombe in the Moor, which has a graveyard with some very old markers. The church was begun in the 14th Century and it is a in a small, pretty village. The church seems much larger than would be needed for the immediate area, so presumably attracts the faithful from across Dartmoor.
From the village it was a picturesque hour drive back to Torquay across wild and remote moorland, which reminded my brother and me of areas in Ireland such as the military road in the Wicklow Mountains.