Best for An intriguing mix of shifting landscapes and road styles, from narrow, crowded country lanes to wide-open moorland rivers of tarmac swept by wind and weather
Length 105 miles
Route Exeter to Moretonhampstead, Postbridge, Princetown, Burrator Reservoir, Ivybridge, Ashburton, Widecombe in the Moor, Haytor Vale
Roads B3212, B3387 and lots and lots of unclassified local roads
Love it because If you think a Big Ride with a blanket 40mph speed limit, such as that in place across Dartmoor’s gnarly old hills and rocky plateaus, would be a bit dull, then think again. It’s a busy ride, both in the sense there’s usually other road users pootling about but also because the loop ducks and dives from wide-open hillsides down to overgrown hedgerows and back-lane tree tunnels. The ride starts just outside Exeter and spirals down through Moretonhampstead, which sets the scene for the historical bent of the area with the granite loggia façade of its Almshouse cottages, built in 1637.
From there we ease into the National Park landscape of moors and hillsides, surrounded by even more ancient history; a 3000 year-old Bronze
Age settlement still standing at Grimspound, and local legends at Warren House Inn where the fire in the hearth is said to have burned, night and day, since 1845. Must get warm in the summer. HMP Dartmoor, a stark granite prison with a long history of notoriety, looms ominously at Princetown, in stark contrast to the bucolic tranquillity of the Tolkienesque woods and glades around Burrator Reservoir.
After a diversion around the south of Dartmoor, we head back onto the moor through Widecombe in the Moor (the clue is in the name), to finish the ride exploring the roads and granite outcrops around Haytor Rocks. Or stop and have an ice cream and just sit, and look.
Stop for a cuppa at The Old Police Station in Princetown — don’t stop at a drink though; go for the full fry-up breakfast!
‘Sets the scene for the historical bent of the area’