Farming On The Moor
Despite Dartmoor's reputation as a wilderness about 90% of the land within the National Park is in fact farmland, and has been for about 5,000 years. I too was surprised to discover this, even after I'd lived on the moor for a couple of years and had gotten to know many of the farmers.
The land is mostly used for grazing by sheep, cattle and ponies, and the breeds are necessarily the hardier ones.
The Dartmoor Pony
There are roughly 3000 hardy wild ponies on Dartmoor, all owned by someone and are left to roam the moors as they please. There have been ponies on Dartmoor since at least the 10th century with evidence they may have been there even as early as 2000 BC. Many used for working in the old tin miles, granite railway & even for the Dartmoor Prison wardens to ride on in the 1800 - 1900s.
Every year there is a pony market when many are sold off for their meat and also many people buy then as pets. They are ridiculously cheap to buy, some years less than £10.00 each!
Never feed the ponys, it can make them ill & too dependent on humans, most are very friendly & will let you approach them.
- Family Travel
- National/State Park
These wonderful Monastic crosses are dotted across Dartmoor. They were put here to guide the monks across the moor to and from the Abbys at Buckfast, Tavistock & Buckland, also travellers used them in the absence of paths, you could always see one cross from the last. Today it is a popular trail for walkers too.
These crosses vary greatly in age from as little a 100 years old to some being over 1000 years. You will see them in many different stages of decay from a granite stump to a full blown cross as in the photo.
This is Hawsons Cross near Holne, one of the arms was was broken off by a wagon wheel but was restored in 1952.
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel
Fox hunting is native to England not really just to Dartmoor, but this is where we came across this hunt. Those of you who know me will know I am obviously very against fox hunting, they way the exhausted fox dies being ripped apart by a pack of dogs is just awful. Why these people are not content with drag hunting (a scent is laid for the hounds instead) is beyond me. This is a very controversial subject here in England at the moment with many clashes both vocal & violent between the pro & anti hunt lobbiers.
All that said, 30 to 40 people on horseback cantering at you down the road in hunt dress, with as many dogs with the hunting horn blowing is a sight to see.
- Adventure Travel
- National/State Park
- Horse Riding