In and around Exeter, there are several stunning places to visit. One of the places much featured in literature and films is Dartmoor. From Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 novel Hound of Baskerville featuring Sherlock Holmes to the 2012 film War Horse, this somewhat mysterious, sometimes spooky and all-time gorgeous place keeps inspiring people through the ages.
Dartmoor national park takes around an hour’s drive from Exeter. This 360 square miles moorland has lovely hills, archaeological sites, plenty of farms, lots of grazing animals, old quarries, rivers, forests and even a prison! Dartmoor has a rich history, from all the way back in the late Paleolithic (Stone) age. So, there are quite a lot of archaeological sites all over the moors. There are several tors, which are made of bits of granite rock sticking out of the grounds. So granite quarrying used to be done quite a lot. They even laid down a set of track like things for transporting the granite through trams. There used to be tin mining also done, and you can even see the grooves on the hill made from the mining, even today. There are many farms on Dartmoor, so its not surprising to see sheep and cattle munching away at the yummy moorland grass! And for a special treat, you may also come across the wild moorland ponies, roaming around happily!
I visited one of the most popular spots on the moors, called Haytor. The Haytor rocks are very impressive and after climbing to them, the view around is absolutely wonderful. I could see all the nearby towns (Not sure I knew which was named what!)! But in December, the biting cold wind was certainly distracting! Although the walk up to the granite rocks did warm me considerably!
Walking around the rocks, I came upon some very adorable wild ponies. And belying their name, they were so very tame! They even let passers- by pet them! There was an old granite quarry nearby and I saw blocks of granite stacked up near it. On the way down, I met a herd of cows, all stolidly ignoring my presence after giving me an uninterested glance! Much like the horses a little distance away!
It was a charming trip, walking around in the sunshine, hearing the streams gurgle (at least the ones that hadn’t turned to ice!) watching the animals and enjoying the view. It was quite different from the dreary image I had before the visit. Now, I think of the moors as a wonderful place full of life!