Mention Dartmoor National Park to certain people and they'll tell you it's bleak and it's all moors, but you shouldn't take any notice of them because what Dartmoor really is is a diverse landscape of friendly market towns, quiet villages, deep river valleys and high rocky tors with views that go on forever. Yes, there are the moors, of course there are the moors and yes, they can be bleak in the winter, but they're a huge part of the National Park and what's not lacking are things to do. If you want a wilderness and tranquility, then get your boots on and head out across the moors; go and see the ancient moss covered twisty trees at Wistman's Wood, like something from Lord of The Rings, walk up to the church at the top of Brent Tor, see the Bronze Age hut circles at Grimspound, the Ten Commandments Stone at Buckland Beacon. It's up to you whether you go exploring on foot, on horseback, or on mountain bikes; you won't have to go far to discover stone circles and Neolithic burial cairns, dense woodlands and impressive gorges rich with wildlife; fast flowing rivers to canoe, and granite rocks to climb.
You also won't need to go far to find some brilliant family attractions and places to visit, which is why Dartmoor gets busy in the holiday season; for days out check out Buckfast Abbey, Castle Drogo, Dartmoor Zoological Park, Becky Falls Ancient Woodland Park, House of Marbles, and Buckfast Butterflies & Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary - and that's just for starters! There's even a Motor Museum at Moretonhampstead, and at The Museum of Dartmoor Life at Okehampton you can find out what it's like to live and work on the moors through the ages; see the highest waterfall in England at Canonteign Falls, stop off for a souvenir at Pixieland at Princetown.
Pack a picnic to have by the river at Postbridge or book a table for lunch at one of the old country pubs, like the Oxenham Arms at South Zeal, the Old Inn at Widecombe-in-the-Moor, and The Warren House Inn high up on the moor near Tavistock. If cafes and tea rooms are more your style, well, there's plenty of them about, and one place you really ought to try, especially if you like local and organic, is Riverford Field Kitchen at Buckfastleigh.
Get your exploring hats on, go and have a jolly good day out; those vast and wild open spaces certainly have their beauty but there's a lot 'moor' to Dartmoor. Seek and you shall find it.