Outdoor Space

Wild Beauty: The South West Moors

Many think that true wilderness is hard to come by these days, but those who believe that have obviously never spent a night on the moors. 

Famed for their wind-scoured landscapes and dramatic beauty that has inspired so many tales, the South West’s Moors are a thing of real romance, mystery and adventure.

Exmoor

A variegated sprawl of 267 square miles, Exmoor National Park is home to an amazing mix of landscapes including unsheathed cliffs, ancient wooded valleys, fast-flowing streams and, of course, open moorland. Calling to all those with a taste for adventure, both experienced walkers and leisurely plodders can enjoy a wild escape, breathing in the drama of the moor. With nearly 400 miles of footpaths and bridleways, you can take trails at your own pace and reconnect with a place that has beckoned wanderers since the Mesolithic times. Just be sure to keep to the paths, and check in with the nearest National Park Centre to your boutique retreat. Oh, and if you fancy a night-time sojourn to star watch, Exmoor is the place to do it, having been granted the status as Europe’s first Dark Sky Reserve.

Dartmoor

The largest of the South West’s moorland parks, Dartmoor’s 386 square miles provides an unparalleled playground for all, no matter how young at heart or young in years. Located in southern Devon, its rich and distinct mosaic of landscapes is peppered with castle ruins, roaring waterfalls, craggy tors and glassy pools. Hike the highest tors, cycle up the steepest hills, hack over the barren moor, kayak down a churning river or simply stop, find a pretty spot and take in the views with a picnic. Home to beautiful residents, including magical Dartmoor ponies who emerge from the distance and enigmatic Moors otters who gambol in the rivers, you may find you’re not the only one enjoying the moment! (Although we’re happy to report the Hound of the Baskervilles is not among the list). 

Bodmin

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Cornwall, Bodmin Moor is both rich in history and abundant in beauty. Once densely populated in the Bronze Age, it still bears the remnants of its past on its heather-strewn sleeves. For those seeking to retrace the steps of time, Bronze Age cairns can be found on the slopes of Brown Gelly, the remains of over 50 Neolithic hut circles can be seen at Leskernick Hill and the impressive Trethevy Quoit can be visited near the village of Minions. Meanwhile, for those looking for adventure on the moor, to the north of the A30 lie Cornwall's two highest peaks, Rough Tor and Brown Willy, and to the south Siblyback Lake and Dozmary Pool – where King Arthur's Excalibur is said to rest. Of course, it’s also said that Bodmin Moor abounds with legends, pirates and ghosts … and while we’re not so sure about that, we always like to return to our luxury cottage nice and early, lest the Beast of Bodmin appears!

Fancy a wild escape? Take a look through some of luxury retreats here.

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