All About Widecombe


Widecombe-in-the-Moor is a large parish (by area) located within the heart of the Dartmoor National Park in Devon in the United Kingdom. The village of Widecombe lies within the beautiful valley of the East Webburn river (stream!). Its name is thought to derive from 'Withy-combe' which means Willow Valley.

The Widecombe ValleyThe parish population comprises approximately 196 households.

The village is world-famous for its fair, held annually in September, which gave rise to the well-known folk song 'Widecombe Fair' and the characters of Uncle Tom Cobley and All.

St Pancras ChurchFor such a small village it has a large and splendid church, known as 'The Cathedral of the Moor', has recently undergone some urgent restoration.

Widecombe-in-the-Moor is a well-known all-year-round tourist spot and the village population is more than doubled by the daily visitors. For some more information on What to Do, please click here. Visit What's On more more detailed information about local activities.

The Parish of Widecombe-in-the-Moor is still largely a farming community, although upland stock farming was never easy and it is particularly difficult at the moment. However, farmers are a resourceful lot and engage in a variety of activities to supplement the farming.

There is also much more to Widecombe Parish than Widecombe itself. See Around and About the Parish for some information on the other villages and hamlets in the area. For instance, Leusdon, with its Church and the Memorial Hall, where arts groups perform regularly, and Poundsgate, which both look down on the Dart River, itself worthy of its own web site and which forms a southern boundary of the Parish. And we must not forget Ponsworthy, nor the various individual manors which together make up the Parish.

What to do in Widecombe

Widecombe is a popular destination for coach trips and motor car tourers. There is a large car park and you can enjoy a stroll around this small village, a shop for a gift, tea and cakes at one of the cafes and a meal and a beer at one of the pubs. Please do explore the village and the surroundings. A Day Out in Widecombe provides some suggestions. More information on the surrounding areas is given below.

Many visitors arrive after or before a bracing walk or drive on the surrounding moorland. Dartmoor is perfect for walkers and there are many guided walks as well as individual groups to be seen out on the Moor in all weathers. Widecombe provides a peaceful sheltered spot after the exposed moors and is perfect for a cream tea or something stronger. Visit the Wayside Cafe or the Cafe on the Green for lunches and teas. For more substantial food and stronger drink it is hard to beat the Old Inn and a little further on, the Rugglestone Inn.

Pottering around the shops is also good fun. Visit the National Trust Shop in the Old Sexton's House for example.

Visitors can book the Tennis Courts for a small charge. Please reserve at the Post Office.

Pony trekking or horse riding are also favourite pastimes.

Around and About the Parish

Newbridge

Newbridge is located in the south-west corner of the Parish and is named after the bridge that crosses the River Dart at that point. Newbridge is in the manor of Spitchwick, parish of Widecombe.

This is a favourite tourist spot and provides some lovely walks and picnic spots along the River Dart in both directions.

It is also a favourite with canoeists who start from here on their white-water trip to Holne Bridge further downstream.

There is a National Park Information Centre here, well worth asking the helpers on duty and browsing for the various leaflets available.

Dartmeet

This lovely spot is where the East and West Dart Rivers meet to form the Dart (or ‘Double Dart’ as it is sometimes referred to locally). The Dart is of course the river that gives Dartmoor its name (or is it the other way round??).

There are the remains of an old clapper bridge over the Dart at this point (not as good as the one at Postbridge) and lots of boulders to hop across from one to the other. There are stepping stones near the Dart meeting point but these can only be crossed at certain times of the year.

Again there are good walks and picnic spots in both directions. The car park has good facilities (ice creams snacks etc) and Badgers Holt restaurant provides excellent refreshments and is very popular.

Poundsgate

A small village on the Ashburton to Princetown Road. It has a Post Office & General Stores as well as the famous Tavistock Inn, a popular watering hole. The Tavistock Inn is the Inn visited by the Devil in the Widecombe Church lightning strike story. Poundsgate is a good centre for walking along the Dart Valley between Newbridge and Dartmeet. The Dart forms a substantial gorge at this point and provides some spectacular views. Try out Dr Blackall's Drive, for example. Did you know Dr Blackall is buried in Leusdon Churchyard?

Leusdon & Lower Town

These are villages in the manor of Spitchwick and overlook the Webburn valley. The Webburn is a tributary of the Dart and flows into the Dart at Buckland Bridge which is easily reached from Newbridge.

Leusdon has a very interesting church (the ‘daughter’ of Widecombe Church) as well as numerous other monuments.

Ponsworthy

Attractive hamlet often photographed and well known for ‘The Splash’ (the open stream running down the road that must be forded by traffic going to Dartmeet) and the narrow bridge that keeps the area quiet (no coaches or large lorries can get through!!).

It also provides a good walk along the West Webburn towards Jordan (another Widecombe Manor) and beyond.

Dunstone

Small hamlet within sight of Widecombe Church, perhaps ¾ mile away. Ancient Saxon Settlement mentioned in the Domesday book. Please see our project information.

Hameldown

A beautiful high down. To get to a good starting point leave Widecombe on the road to Ponsworthy and take the first turning on the right past the school. This is Southcombe Hill. On the way up the hill you pass Southcombe Farm, where Samuel Hannaford was born. Proceed to the brow of the hill and you will see a car parking area on the right-hand side of the road. The walk along Hameldown proceeds north from here.

You can also get up there by taking the road opposite the Tennis Courts (on foot only). If you walk up here and keep to the road/track, you will eventually reach open moor. Follow the path up the hill and to the right and you will join the Hameldown walkway. We believe this route is the ancient church path, used by churchgoers from the western moor.

There are very few tors on this ‘down’, but plenty of barrows (ancient burial sites) and at the end you will encounter Grimspound, the remains of a substantial medieval settlement (just outside Widecombe Parish). The Widecombe parish boundary follows the barrows. You can see the boundary markers on some of them. Also see Beating the Bounds Walk 2 for more details of this.

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The information on this page was last modified on November 11 2014 17:45:12.


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