It’s a marriage made in Heaven: The White Hart Hotel, at the hart of Dartmoor, and The National Trust, with it’s amazing array of attractions, houses and gardens nearby.
Dartmoor offers one of the most richly diverse selections of National Trust sites to visit in the country. At the heart of the Trust’s work is the aim to protect and grow the areas it looks after for the benefit of visitors, nature and wildlife.
At The White Hart we are fortunate to sit so close to many of these wonderful places, all of them unique in their own special way. Below are some of the key National Trust attractions that are a must visit when you stay at The White Hart on Dartmoor. For more information check out the National Trust website: click here
A dramatic castle overlooking the Teign Gorge
High above the ancient woodlands of the Teign Gorge stands Castle Drogo. Inspired by the rugged Dartmoor tors that surround it, the castle was designed and built by renowned 20th- century architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. The castle has recently undergone conservation work and has just reopened to the public and is a must to look around. Outside, the Lutyens designed garden is colourful in all seasons, and there are miles of pathways to explore in the Teign Gorge from along the bubbling river to Wooston hillfort, high above the gorge.
The Church House, Widecombe-in-the-Moor
A fine two-storey granite building dating from c.1537
Dartmoor has some of the most picturesque villages in the country. One of these is Widecombe- in-the-Moor where you will find a fine example of a 16th-century church house, originally used for parish festivities or ‘ales’. Today the Church House is still in use by the local community with various groups and clubs using it, as well as the monthly village market. It can be visited by National Trust members when not in use. You can become your own house guide – collect the key from the staff at the shop, which is adjacent to the Church House.
Fingle Bridge & Wooston Castle
A calm spot over the River Teign with unspoilt woods
Fingle Bridge is the gateway to Fingle Woods and Castle Drogo. There are miles of pathways to explore by the bubbling river or climb to the top of the gorge to look out over Dartmoor. Fingle Woods contains many ancient trees and the gorge is bursting with wildlife from butterflies to salmon. Close by is Wooston castle hill fort: Located at the top of the woods this Iron Age hill-fort has spectacular views over Fingle Woods. To get here you can park at Castle Drogo and wander down to Fingle Bridge, from there follow the white sign posts to the hill fort.
The deepest river gorge in the South West, with 30m high waterfall
The gorge is a great place for an adventure at any time of the year. There are a range of walks available to suit different abilities and time scales, however sturdy footwear is recommended for all trails. The full Lydford Gorge trail takes around 2.5 hours to complete and is a challenging circular walk with narrow slippery paths and steep drops. On this route you can see the 30m Whitelady Waterfall and go into the Devil’s Cauldron pothole on a platform suspended over the water. The Devil’s Cauldron trail is one of two shorter circular walks allowing you to experience the exciting features of the gorge. The Devil’s Cauldron trail is a moderate 45-minute walk which is also part of the one-way system as the paths are narrow and slippery in places, especially after heavy rain when the Devil’s Cauldron is at its most spectacular. Whitelady Waterfall can be reached on various routes as the paths here are two-way. The Waterfall trail is a moderate circular walk of about an hour. The flora in the gorge changes with the seasons. Wildflowers such as wild garlic and bluebells abound in spring, filling the gorge with colour and scent. Summer is dominated by the green leaves of the oak woodland which encloses the gorge making it feel more magical. In autumn the oak leaves turn to golden brown before falling and colourful fungi can pop up in unexpected places. In winter look out for views that are hidden in summer by the leaves, and on a frosty morning mists can veil the waterfall.
The last working water-powered forge in England
The doorway to Dartmoor’s industrial past. Enter Finch Foundry to experience the sights, sounds and smells of three thundering water wheels powering massive hammers, shears and sharpening stone. These fuelled one of the South West’s most successful edge tool factories which, at its peak, produced around 400 edge tools a day. Get an insight into the life of workers in the 19th century and learn about the enterprising Finch family.
Wheal Betsy, Mary Tavy
The last remaining mining engine house on Dartmoor
Wheal Betsey is an old mining engine house. The ancient silver-lead mine was reopened in 1806 and worked successfully for the next seventy years. All pumping, winding and crushing of ore was carried out by steam power. In 1967 the ruined engine house and stack were acquired and made safe by the Trust as a memorial to the Dartmoor mining industry. A wonderful walk across the Moor is rewarded by the view of this historic sight.
A peaceful retreat set within the beautiful Devon countryside
There’s something for everyone at Parke, found on the outskirts of the small market town of Bovey Tracey, gateway to mystical Dartmoor. You can walk from the town (about one mile) or stop off as you drive to the open moor, where the next stop is the rugged crag of Haytor.
This compact estate was once the home of a wealthy local family and probably enabled them to be self-sufficient for all their day-to-day needs with a vegetable garden, fruit garden and orchard, ice house, fish pond, grazing meadows for livestock and beehives for honey and gardens to wander in for spiritual refreshment. You can take a short stroll around the garden, or a longer more strenuous walk through the woodlands and along the river to the medieval weir. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for a myriad of wildlife and a host of wild flowers.
Tranquil moorland by the River Plym with pools
Take a walk in the woods, climb a tor or paddle in the Plym. If you just want to enjoy the stunning scenery, enjoy the river and play with the children, Cadover Bridge is the ideal place. There are lots of activities that children can do here, so they shouldn’t get bored. For example, they could dam a stream, search for geocaches, learn to use a map and compass, or climb a huge hill. On sunny days, a local ice cream van visits Cadover Bridge, so you might be able to treat yourselves as well.
Ancient oak woods and riverside walks
Pass through ancient oak woods and mossy boulders that cloak the Plym Valley and riverside walks that pass the atmospheric Dewerstone Rocks and industrial ruins. These beautiful woods, apparently so natural, owe their present appearance to man’s past activity in the area – ruined walls and other remains from a 19th century iron mine, brick kiln and evidence of charcoal burner’s activities can be seen.
Hembury & Holne Woods
Lichen-clad, ancient oak woodland valleys following the River Dart
Hembury and Holne contain two discrete woods on the south-eastern edge of Dartmoor National Park. Perched at the top of Hembury Woods with far reaching views over Dartmoor, the iron-age Hembury Hill Fort gives you a real sense of what it would have been like to live in a protected palisade. Holne Woods, meanwhile, offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of every-day living. Deep in the heart of the woods, at the base of dramatic rock covered cliffs strewn with windblown mature trees, lies a derelict Victorian pond.
There are so many wonderful National Trust places to visit from The White Hart Hotel – ask our staff at reception for more information and suggestions of what to see!