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Happy Birthday Dartmoor! 70 years ago, Dartmoor was designated as one of the the UK’s first National Parks, on 30 October 1951! In the same year, the Peak District, Lake District and Snowdonia were also awarded the designation. Dartmoor is a beautiful, wild, and incredible place to visit and explore, why not visit for yourself and find out why we love it here so much.

To celebrate Dartmoor’s 70th Birthday we have come up with the top 7 things to do on Dartmoor in 2021 (there’s so much to do here it was hard choosing just 7), keep reading to find out more…

Dartmoor’s Ancestors and their history

The rich history of Dartmoor dates back to around 10,000 years ago, where people were visiting Dartmoor to hunt for food and then, from about 4,500 years ago people who were known as the Bronze Age Farmers began to settle down and farm the land. In medieval England, roughly 1,000 years ago the improving climate and increasing population brought many new settlers on Dartmoor. And even today you can still see the medieval landscape the same as it would have looked 700 years ago.

When visiting why not explore the old manor houses, churches, and medieval fields. You can take a short trip from Bovey Castle to the iconic Hound Tor Medieval Village which is a deserted village from the Bronze Age, consisting of a cluster of 13th century stone longhouses or why not visit the restored longhouse in Higher Uppacott?

The history continues with the Victorians, who brought different industries and lots of wealthy people to change the Dartmoor landscape, inviting steam trains to be built with a train line running over the Wray Valley which can still be visited and explored today!

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Dartmoor ‘Time for Nature’ Challenge

Did you know? Dartmoor was covered in tropical forests for millions of years! Today, Dartmoor is an important reserve for rare species including different varieties of plants and animals, it also has one of the main concentrations of oak woods in the UK.

Visit Dartmoor are celebrating the 70th Birthday of Dartmoor with their ‘Time for Nature Challenge’. Come and test yourself with this interactive nature challenge which was created to help visitors not only explore the wildlife make new discoveries about the world around us. It’s important to recognise how the small changes we can make as individuals have a great impact on protecting the wildlife around us for future generations. Discover how to get involved with the ‘Time for Nature Challenge’ on their website click here.

The Infamous Dartmoor Ponies

There’s so much wildlife to enjoy and the Dartmoor Ponies are a species that are iconic to Dartmoor. So iconic that the pony was chosen as the National Park’s logo in 1951. They are an integral part of the moorland landscape and one of the main attractions for visitors to the area, contributing to Dartmoor’s unique character. There are lots of different types of ponies who reside on Dartmoor today, they have been used for many different jobs including pit ponies, shepherding, taking the family to the market and even sometimes carrying the postman to deliver the mail! The smaller ponies are called Shetlands and were originally used in the mining industry. Click here to read more about the Dartmoor Ponies and how to keep yourself and the ponies safe when visiting.

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Dartmoor’s Myths and Legends

If you want to spook yourself out, discover the many legends and folk lore’s that reside on Dartmoor! These stories are passed on by word of mouth down the generations and are based on true tales. Discover the stories of the past giants, witches, pixies, and evil ones who have inhabited Dartmoor over the years. Learn about ghost stories of Dartmoor too. Click here to discover myths and legends on Dartmoor and learn about all the strange phenomena’s that have prevailed over the years. Delve deep into your imagination and picture the wicked Vixana peering over the top of Vixen Tor or imagine the body of poor Childe the Hunter lying next to the cross which marks where his body was found.

Moor Otters Arts Trail

Moor Otters is a feel-good public arts project that attracts young and old for an amazing journey of discovery and making memories. The Moor Otters Arts Trail consists of 81 stunning sculptures of otters with cubs, all designed by local and national artists creating a total of four arts trails. This fun and interactive arts trail encourages visitors to spot the otters on the moor. Ending on Sunday 19th September 2021, where the otters will then be rounded up ready for auction and be available for collectors to purchase their favourite piece. The funds raised are put towards vital conservation projects for the National Park. Find out more about the Moor Otters Arts Trail here.

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Dartmoor’s Geology

The granite that belongs to Dartmoor was produced over 300 million years ago and over the past 10,000 years humankind from the Middle Stone Age have shaped the landscape into a beautiful place to live. People have been living on the moor for thousands of years, explore the moors and you can discover traces of past lives etched into the land itself! Together, Mother Nature and Humankind have joint forces to create a stunning landscape full of varied for beautiful nature and wildlife to inhabit. If you’re into rocks and geology, why not visit the top 10 archaeological sites on Dartmoor, discover more by clicking here.

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Dartmoor’s Little Five

Rivalling Africa’s infamous ‘Big Five’ wildlife (the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros), Dartmoor’s ‘Little Five’ are infamous on the moorlands and are rare, secretive and fascinating…

First up, the blue ground beetle. The ancient oak woodlands contain moss-covered boulders and tree trunks where this fierce predator hides. The blue ground beetle is one of the largest and rarest beetles in the UK it grows to a whopping one and a half inches and has long metallic blue legs. Next, the cuckoo bird. The cuckoo is a dove sized bird with grey colouring. They spend summer on Dartmoor and migrate 10,000 miles to the Congolese tropical rainforests in winter. The marsh fritillary butterfly is a rare, medium sized butterfly which can be spotted from May to June in the wet grassland on Dartmoor. Otters are infamous to Dartmoor with a medium-dark brown colouring and grow up to a metre in length. Otters are mainly nocturnal and travel large distances of up to 20km of river habitat. And finally, the ash black slug which is renowned as the world’s largest slug and can exceed 20cm! Another nocturnal animal, it can be found in the woodlands on Dartmoor and will feed on fungi and algae along the tree stumps. Did you know? Slugs are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs. Find out more about Dartmoor’s ‘Little Five’ wildlife and how to find it by clicking here.

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Sound like fun? If you need more time to ‘Explore More on the Moor’ why not enjoy a fabulous private lodge break with our exclusive offer. Get either five nights for the price of four or seven nights for the price of five! Discover our fabulous lodge offer and book now by clicking here.

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If you’re planning a visit to Bovey Castle, then you will know we have the best range of activities for one of the best adventure holidays in Devon this year. From exhilarating off road driving tracks to peaceful visits to our Deer Park we have something for everyone. You will have so much fun at Bovey Castle, why not come and find out for yourself?

We couldn’t run our activities department without our fantastic team, and we are so grateful to have our very own female Bear Grylls right here at Bovey Castle, meet our Activities Manager, Hannah! We asked Hannah a few questions so you could get to know her before visiting, if you’re interested, please keep reading…

Growing up, what did you want to be when you were older?

A dentist or a dancer which I still do.

How did you get into the activities role you are in now?

I had worked here previously in activities from 2008 for 3 years. I had other jobs in between but was looking for an outdoors activity job again years later and the timing was right as they were hiring again. Have been back about 4 years now.

What season is your favourite at Bovey for activities?

Spring because the flowers are just stunning here.

You are a qualified 4×4 driving instructor, tell us about how you got your qualification?

Other instructors and I go to train up at Honiton with Land Rover Experience on their tracks there. I am BORDA British off-road Driving qualified and passed the ‘higher standard’.

What do you do in your spare time? Any interesting hobbies?

I love dance and performing, horse riding and clay shooting. I am a trainee horse trick rider and our team perform in jousting and trick shows up and down the country.

Favourite animal spotting on the estate?

Little baby stoats playing. I love ferrets so it’s a wild version of that.

If you were a Disney character, which one would you be?

Merida from Brave, as she is a strong character and can handle a bow and arrow!

If you could have dinner with one famous person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Dawn French because she’s really funny and likes chocolate a lot!

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What are two items on your bucket list?

Long horse-riding holidays and an aeroplane wing walk.

What would be your dream holiday?

Horse riding across Canada staying in ranches as I go.

If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?

To stop time, as there’s never enough hours in the day!

If you could time travel, where would you go?  

VE day on 8 May 1945. There were lots of celebrations and street parties to mark the end of the war, everyone would have been in such good spirits.

If you had a magic lamp, what would your three wishes be?

To have massages every day. Never get old. It not to rain.

Now you know more about Hannah, why not come down and meet her? We have so much to do here and Hannah is very excited to meet you! Discover adventure holidays at Bovey Caslte… Plan your stay here or book your activities here.

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Introducing our guest blog from Mette at Cotswold Concierge, from when she visited Bovey Castle this Summer with her family. See what she had to say about her memorable stay… Why not visit Devon and see what all the fuss is about?

I love nothing more than going away with my kids. From planning a trip, talking about where we’re going and what we’re going to experience, to the trip, the pit stops on the way and then arriving at our destination, full of excitement about what’s ahead. Whether we’re going on a long holiday, visiting a local attraction for a few hours, off on a day trip somewhere or, indeed, on a luxurious 24-hour stay at a 5-star hotel in Devon Dartmoor National Park, nothing make me happier than spending quality time and making lovely memories with the kids. So when we arranged our stay at Bovey Castle this summer, we did our homework and as we arrived, we already knew to expect an incredibly beautiful, vast and impressive building, a luxurious setting and 5-star service. But even with these sky-high expectations, we weren’t prepared for exactly how fantastic our 24 hours at Bovey Castle were going to be.

Incredibly friendly atmosphere

Greeted by the friendly reception team and the concierges by the door, we were whisked in and shown our room first of all. Well, I say room, it was a suite, it was sweet and there were sweets! When you travel, dine out or stay overnight anywhere with kids, there’s always the question of whether a place is as child-friendly as they say they are. Most places say they are, but the level of how welcome children truly are, varies greatly, of this I’m sure many parents will agree. Bovey Castle really is incredibly child-friendly. From the warm welcome, treatment and fuss-making by every single member of staff we came into contact with and the sweets, fruit and child-sized bath accessories in the room, to the daily falconry display, the super-fun children’s survival class the kids were invited on and the child-friendly dinnertime in the brasserie… there was no limit to how welcome Matthew and Noelle were made to feel at Bovey Castle, and this meant I was relaxed and happy and enjoying our stay at Bovey Castle even more.

Delicious lunch in the bar

Well settled in the room, it was time for a bit of lunch before we did anything else, as we had driven for a while and were all hungry. We went to the bar and ordered our lunch, the obligatory burger (we love a good burger!), a nice wrap and a specially created vegetarian option for Noelle who was happy to find that no request was too big for the chefs in the kitchen, and they made her a delicious egg sandwich and salad. The wrap was great and the burger was among the best Matthew and I have ever had – complete with chunky chips and an incredible onion relish, absolutely spot on and just what we had hoped for. During our lunch the General Manager of the hotel, Francisco, came by for a chat. He was lovely, great fun and extended his warm welcome to us all, making an extra fuss of the kids, something any mum loves, of course, and we left the bar full and happy and excited about our stay at this incredible hotel.

Relaxation in the Elan Spa

The lovely spa at Bovey Castle is a wonderful and relaxing place to enjoy a little ‘me-time’. I went with my mum for a relaxation-session while the kids were trying to survive and make a fire outside (more of that in a bit) and it was perfect. When the kids came back in from the outside (they survived, yay!), it was time for a couple of hours of lounging by, and splashing in, the pool. And what a lovely pool it is, with the added bonus of overlooking the beautiful terrace, park and golf course outside. For the children there is no limit to the amount of time that can be spent in a swimming pool, but for my mum and me, 3 times 10 minutes over the course of 2 hours is about the limit, so when we were out of the pool, we were happily relaxing on the loungers, chatting and enjoying the stunning views on one side and the kids playing on the other. The perfect afternoon, no less.

Yay, the kids survived

One of the activities created for the children staying at the hotel, was a 2-hour survival course with Bovey Castle’s ‘Manager of Fun’. His official title is ‘Activities Manager’, but when your job is creating fun experiences for kids, corporate groups and anyone in between, surely you need a title change. Matthew and Noelle joined Mark and 3 other children who were staying with their families in the hotel, and off they went for 2 hours or den building, play with ferrets, bonfire making, marshmallows and sweet bread on sticks and much, much more. They came back so happy, full of great stories of how to survive in the wilderness, they had absolutely loved their time with Mark and were already asking when we could go back so they could go out with him again.

A lovely dining experience

Dining at Bovey Castle can take two different shapes as you have the choice of Smith’s Brasserie at one end of the building, with the more relaxed atmosphere and menu, and The Great Western at the other end which offers fine dining and 3 AA Rosettes. Being with the kids, we chose the brasserie as the nuances of fine dining is often lost on them and what we were in the mood for, was the relaxed dining experience. However, with the quality of the food and the flavours at play on our plates, we could easily have been enjoying the culinary delights of fine dining, so delicious was our evening meal. The children enjoyed the food from the kids’ menu and we had a wonderful dinner overlooking the stunning views of the golf course. Another perfect moment at Bovey Castle.

Bath, Bubbly, Bed

Night time was upon us and we retired to our perfect suite. The kids had a bath in the luxurious free standing bathtub in the enormous bathroom (“Mummy, it’s bigger than the room”, which it nearly was), we sat back in our beds, enjoyed a bit of TV, a glass of bubbly and fell asleep (slept like babies) happy about the fantastic day we had just enjoyed at Bovey Castle.

The perfect hotel breakfast

Now, it’s no secret, I absolutely LOVE a hotel breakfast, a love I share with my daughter. The abundance, the luxurious set-up and the delicious culinary delights. And as with all the other aspects of our stay at Bovey Castle, the breakfast more than exceeded our expectations with even more abundance, luxury and culinary delights than we could ever hope for. The breakfast at Bovey Castle is served in the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, The Great Western, and it was just the perfect ending to a perfect 24 hours at Bovey Castle

Why not discover more about our wonderful Dartmoor hotel Bovey Castle?

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Eden Hotel Collection is part of Rigby Group (RG) plc.
Bovey Castle Property Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with Company Number 09552863.
Registered office address: c/o Eden Hotel Collection, Bridgeway House, Bridgeway, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6YX
VAT Number: 806641241

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