Famous Dartmoor: Why This Wild Space Captured The Hearts of Brits
Dartmoor’s unique landscape has captured the hearts of many and the imagination of famous writers and poets. It’s little wonder, the wild undulating land and granite tors of Dartmoor are hard to forget once you’ve laid eyes on their striking beauty.
Dartmoor has been a site of human activity since the dawn of time. Long before it was designated a national park in 1951, it was the site of many bronze age settlements, home to hopeful prospectors and the subject of romantic poems, all have played a role in pushing the area to the fame it enjoys today.
Sherlock Holmes solved one of his most famous mysteries on Dartmoor and the national park is also home to unique fauna and flora. The famous poet, Sylvia Plath, had a hand in bringing a little fame to the area with her poem ‘New Year on Dartmoor’ while Rudyard Kipling mentions Dartmoor in his verse ‘The Broken Men’.
Why is Dartmoor a national park?
In Saxon times, Dartmoor was a royal forest. In 1337, the area became part of the royal duchy of Cornwall, although the moor sits in the southern part of Devon.
Thanks to the unique plant and animal life found on Dartmoor, the area was designated a national park in the early 50s. One insect found only on Dartmoor is the blue ground beetle. This is one of the largest and rarest beetles found in the UK. These beetles feed on slugs. Fortunately for them, the world’s largest ground slugs are also found on Dartmoor.
Larger animals found on Dartmoor include the cuckoo and otters. Cuckoos are roughly the same size as a dove and get their name from their call. Only two of the world’s cuckoos live in Europe. The type found on Dartmoor spend their winters in the Congolese rainforests of central Africa.
Otters live under tree roots or in cavities dug into riverbanks. These shy creatures are territorial and can maintain as much as 20km of river habitat, patrolling and hunting mainly at night. These nocturnal creatures are difficult to spot but their presence indicates the good health of the rivers they live near.
Even without the poems, stories and rich history that the area holds, Dartmoor would likely have won its place in Brit’s hearts. The wild beauty, open spaces and unique nature of the natural world are hard to ignore in this superb corner of England.