Visit Moretonhampstead: Places to stay, things to do

Charlie Hoare enters the Gateway to Dartmoor to explore its plethora of pubs, wonderful walks, and much moor

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Why go there?

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With its location on the edge of the National Park, and being just a short drive from Exeter and Newton Abbot, it is no wonder that Moretonhampstead is referred to as the ‘Gateway to Dartmoor’.

However, it is not just a great base for exploring the moor, it also has plenty to offer within its small streets. With plenty of pubs and a collection of cafes you could while away a day moving seamlessly through a proper pub lunch, an afternoon cream tea (jam on top, of course) and a perfect pint of local ale.

Surrounded by farmland, there is rarely a shortage of seasonal fruit and vegetables in Moretonhampstead. Whether buying greens from the grocer or beef from the butcher you can be confident that they have not flown any of their food miles. In a proud tribute to the local producers, many of who could walk their wares to the village, there is the annual Moretonhampstead Festival of Food, Drink and Arts, taking place on Saturday 5th March.

If you need to work up an appetite before your next session of scones you can access a network of footpaths directly from Moretonhampstead. There are more walks than you can shake a stick at in the local area, but it is a good idea to take a stick with you, not for shaking, but for stability over the granite boulders and moorland bogs. Local rambler Gary Cox leads guided walks for those who like to learn about the local area and legends of ghosts and ghouls.

Dartmoor is famous for its tors, and the local ‘Ride & Ramble’ bus service will transport you to within walking distance of many of them. If you are after more than an afternoon stroll, you can pick up the Dartmoor Way from Moretonhampstead, a 90-mile circular cycle route around the National Park. There are many other activities available in the area, from adrenalin inducing to moderately mellow. Bouldering on granite outcrops and horse riding across the moor are two excellent ways to experience the essence of Dartmoor.

The essence of Dartmoor can also be captured from the confines of a cosy pub. Conjure up an image of a quintessentially quaint pub serving locally brewed beer and burning seasoned oak on an open fire, and you will find yourself inside a Dartmoor drinkery. What better way to end a walk on the moor than with a warm welcome and a jar of Jail Ale?

Where to stay?

With an impossibly pleasant address you will feel welcome in the Walled Garden before you even arrive at this beautiful B&B just 100 metres from the middle of Moretonhampstead. The on-site owners, Anne and Richard Short, offer en-suite accommodation with traditional English breakfast.

Where to eat?

TheWhite Horse and TheWhite Hart are nearly next to each other on the high street. You can easily walk into the wrong one but worry not, you will not be disappointed with either. Both, as you might expect, offer traditional English cuisine with locally sourced ingredients in a cosy environment.

A local secret?

Dartmoor has always been shrouded with tales of ghosts and ghouls, and Moretonhampstead is said to be the most haunted town on the moor. Its ancient history is full of local legends, including a friendly fiddler who is often heard on a quiet night by the Dancing Tree in the town.

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