If you hadn’t already guessed from the various walk and accommodation reviews, we have just come back from Dartmoor. A wet weekend on Dartmoor at that, with plenty of April showers. The main reason for our visit was to make use of a complimentary stay we had been offered at the luxurious Bovey Castle following our honeymoon there back in December and to make the most of a relaxing adults-only weekend away but that didn’t get in the way of a bit of walking.
Eager to keep out of the heavy rain, we headed to Castle Drogo on the Saturday. This was a fascinating if unfortunate choice for a rainy day – Castle Drogo is fighting a serious problem with leaks which threatens to turn it into ruins without the hard work and money raised by the National Trust to save it. It was a completely new experience in terms of National Trust properties though, offering a rare glimpse of restoration work in progress in addition to the fine views and gardens this twentieth century castle has to offer.
Having made the mistake of indulging in a delicious lunch at the National Trust cafe at Castle Drogo, we were far too sleepy to set off on an afternoon hike and so instead lazily retreated to enjoy the pool and spa facilities at Bovey Castle. A far cry from the tent and boil-in-bag dinner of our first camping trip together as a couple years ago, Bovey Castle is a five-star country house haven for those in need of a little pampering. If you are looking for an indulgent hotel break in Dartmoor or just a spa day or fancy evening meal, Bovey is definitely worth considering and is very family friendly. Be prepared though for a price-tag to match.
Fully rested and restored and having made the most of a lazy morning at Bovey, we returned to Castle Drogo the following day and set off on the Castle Drogo to Fingle Bridge circuit. Although the weather was a little better, we still suffered the occasional shower. Then again, what more can you expect when walking across the aptly named Piddledown Common (no, I didn’t make that up)?! With fabulous views, lazy riverside wandering and two great refreshment options during the course of the walk, this is a lovely family walk, better suited to older children. Parents with babies in backpacks will need to be fit to get back up the steep uphill return route and those with pushchairs would be better to enjoy a meander starting instead from Fingle Bridge Inn.
So it was a short and damp break amidst the countryside of South England’s only real wilderness but enough to spark the imagination for future family visits.