Dartmoor National Park: Into the Wild Landscape of Devon

A man with his riding crop sat astride a horse that trotted down the country roads and in his wake, a stream of cars crawled, waiting for the traffic in the opposite direction to ease before they could contemplate taking the jump and overtake the horse. Such are the sights that are common on the winding lanes and roads in the English countryside. It is remarkable by the very absence of any tooting of horns. You might waggle your head here, and remark in an offhand manner, tut, but it is the British politeness at work here. Or, it could be the rigorous driving tests that have felled many an able driver. Who knows, but there we were pootling along the roads that led from the Dartmoor Zoo into the national park within which it sits.

The Dartmoor National Park, at the very heart of the county of Devon, is sprawled over 368 sq. miles. Picture tracts of vast moorlands, honey gold in parts and russet with peat in others. Upon it, incongruously enough, a batch of evergreens show up, like they were planted overnight upon the moors for some purpose which escapes you. And then ancient woodlands, round-backed bridges, country lanes that are flanked by tall hedges  and roll into gentle hills criss-crossed by pastures and thickets of trees stripped off their leaves. An inescapable part of the scenery in the park are strange granite outcrops known as tors. They look primeval, and from far away, they put you in mind of the nuraghe, stone structures that show up in the wilds of Sardinia.

The entire length of the drive was a reel, a reel of gentle shots that built upon each other, till you felt that the heart would burst with the beauty around you. First off, there is this Pantone green hue to Devon’s countryside. A fresh neon shade that seems to reflect off the landscape.

Then there are those familiar sights. Narrow B-roads, boxed in by meadows that are surprisingly lush in winter, meandered through tiny villages. Roads that threw up comforting sights. Square towers of medieval stone churches, chocolate-box cottages with their thatched roofs and pleasantly pastel personalities, dense networks of bare branches smothered with moss and lichen that reached across the roads to link their digits and made natural arches. The wild moor ponies, the sheep bundled up cosily in their winter wool, fingerposts that pointed their fingers at villages like Princetown known for its forbidding 19th-century prison and literary heritage — Arthur Conan Doyle had conceived the Hound of the Baskervilles around its boggy moorlands.


























It is so damn easy to fall under this spell of the countryside in Britain, is it not? And echo Kazuo Ishiguro in The Remains of the Day as he notes: “…it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it out.”

Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

65 thoughts on “Dartmoor National Park: Into the Wild Landscape of Devon

      1. The Maritimes are something else too. Must be charming. Thank you for reminding me of them 🙂 xx


    1. Thank you Amelia. Walks there would be great, and oh yeah, we spotted some tents pitched too outside one of the villages. We always wanted to go back and camp but somehow did not happen. xx


  1. Amazing pictures and landscapes Dippy, just looking at them refreshes me 🙂 You are right when you say ” the heart would burst with the beauty around you.”


  2. Your descriptions of colors are so lovely – “honey gold” “russet in peat”, “fresh neon shade”, “pastel personalities” and “Pantone green hues”. They give a sense not only of color but mood and ambience. The photos of the landscape prove its accuracy. You really do have a way with words! – Neek


  3. I have been to London so many times, yet haven’t ventured into the English countryside. Seeing this post gives me major FOMO. I’ll have to rectify this blunder on my very next trip. Great post!


    1. It is tough to choose, so I hear ya. But once you manage to get out there, it is a different world out there, Lynn. And thanks 🙂 xx


  4. You weave your own spell with your well-crafted words …. I find myself drifting off in my mind to the West Country where the moors have my heart, the shores my soul and the cream-teas my undying devotion! Xx


    1. Thank you Osyth 🙂 And now I find myself craving cream tea in a small tearoom with old biddies, gents and dogs sitting underfoot. xx


  5. You bet! We have had the best time of our lives living in the UK for 2 years, which gave us a chance to travel to so many quaint little corners of England. Memories of those short breaks are still very close to our hearts. Devon looks and sounds lovely! Would love to travel there someday! xx


    1. It is, my love. But see, you are in the midst of such great beauty yourself — and it is all just a few heartbeats away 🙂 So many places to see, so many wonderful experiences waiting for us, ah this life! xx


      1. ?. I even heard “never use a horn on a country lane in case there’s a horse within earshot!” That or queue jumping would risk becoming a social pariah. It’s important for travellers to know these things ?


      2. Because who wants a horse going mental on ya. The importance of learning the dangers associated with jumping queues before you swing into the country, right ho! #spreadthemessage


  6. Love that final quotation, Dippy-Dotty Girl! : “…it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it out.” … what time of year was this? winter, maybe? Lovely photos as always.

    And, I’m excited to see you’ve added your own image into your heading photo. Looks great! 🙂 Personalizes our connection with you. xxoo


    1. Thank you Theresa 🙂 It was at the beginning of spring. Also I appreciate the feedback about the header image. I wanted something different. It is a new season after all 🙂 xx


    1. Hey thanks 🙂 It is good, we are looking forward to some spring fun in Seattle at my sister-in-law’s. Hope you are doing well. xx


      1. Yes, I’m good, thank you 🙂 have a great time in Seattle- I’ve never been there. Me and my husband drove for a few days last year from Los Angeles to San Francisco and we loved West Coast 🙂 I guess we have to revisit again 🙂


      2. Enjoy spring 🙂 We have just got over a spell of rain and loving the blue skies. The West Coast is rather pretty and Seattle is blessed with dormant volcanoes like Mount Rainier and Mount Baker which give it enough natural beauty.
        I have not been to either LA or San Francisco. I bet your drive is a wonderful memory. xx


  7. Superb. The countryside in England is very similar to Normandy where I spent all my summers as a child. Same trees. Same green everywhere. Woods. Only the houses differ in style. (I loved the queue of cars following the rider)
    Take care


    1. Thank you Brianji. What happened is that this comment had sneakily gone and hidden in the spam folder. I apologise for that.
      The countryside, ah for the countryside there. Your childhood would have been blissful 🙂 As for that photo, it is no great shakes but I just loved the way the subject showed up.


  8. I was going to say, it looks like where I love, Wiltshire but that’s not quite true (apart from the massively tall hedges on either side of you down a country lane!). I love the bleakness of Dartmoor; it has a true beauty about it doesn’t it? My son has geeked with friends into the heart of Dartmoor and says it’s beauty goes on and on. A truly wild place in the south if England. Thank you for the pictures. X


    1. Hahaha it is cool if he has geeked in the heart of Dartmouth too 😉 I envy him for camping there. We kept thinking about returning for a camping trip but it is yet to be. Thank you for the kind words, Sophie. xx


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