As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Dartmoor National Park, Paul Bloomfield picks out a selection of pubs, restaurants, and cafés to find the best local food and drink in this glorious National Park in south west England .
The food scene in Dartmoor needs little introduction. Farming still plays a dominant role in the region's ecomony – about 90% of the national park land is used for farming – and the national park is scattered with beef and sheep farms, organic veg growers, breweries, and even vineyards. Farming initiatives, such as Dartmoor Farmers have sprung up to promote and safeguard local produce.
We think that the food you eat on holiday is as important as where you pick to stay – wherever you chose to stay, you're guaranteed to be surrounded by good, local food. Whether it's eggs from the owners' hens for breakfast at a B&B, delicious aged Dartmoor steak at a pub with rooms, or a summer camping barbecue with ingredients sourced from the local farm shop, you can be sure you'll be supporting the local economy by putting money back into the pockets of growers, farmers and producers across the region.
The Dartmoor Inn
The unprepossessing exterior to this pub, just off the A386 between Tavistock and Okehampton, shouldn’t put you off. Famed for its fabulous food, incredibly friendly service and gorgeous interiors, this pub is always packed, so make sure you book ahead. Downstairs there are parquet floors, wonky settles and open fires; upstairs, three stunning bedrooms have French upholstered beds, paisley or toile fabrics, crystal-drop chandeliers, Roberts radios. The chef has worked up a fantastic reputation in the kitchen – expect dishes such as duck with spiced pear and star anise sauce, or pink roasted rump of Devon beef. Stay the night and be treated to a feast of local goodies the following morning. dartmoorinn.com
The Royal Oak Inn
Named after the 800-year-old oak standing proudly on the village green opposite, and with a history that goes back almost as far, this pub has original flagstone floors, open fires, church pews at knotty oak tables – little has changed over the years. Classic pub dishes, such as hand battered fish and chips, ham, egg and chips, and ploughman’s, are made with ingredients from local suppliers – their website lists the provenance of all their produce. Drinking is taken just as seriously – the list of local ales is extensive. The beautiful reservoir at Burrator is close by, and Drake’s Trail, a network of walking and cycling trails between Tavistock and Plymouth, is easily accessed from the pub. royaloakinn.org.uk
Warren House Inn
High and remote, surrounded by lonely moors and frequently cut off by snowdrifts in winter, the inn has been welcoming travellers into its warm embrace for centuries. Inside, it has all the beamy, open fire, low lit cosiness you long for after a bracing, windswept ramble on the moor. The food showcases the best of the local larder: steak and ale pies using Dartmoor beef are topped with the inn’s delicious short-crust pastry, hearty soups are packed with local ingredients, delicious Dartmoor lamb shanks are infused with rosemary. The ales have come similarly short distances to get here; guest beers, such as Teignworthy, make regular appearances behind the bar. warrenhouseinn.co.uk
Fox Tor Café
Everyone’s welcome here – families with their noisy brood, walkers with muddy dogs in tow, business men in search of free WiFi. It’s a cosy place to while away an hour or two in, with squishy sofas, a woodburner, a kids area to keep little ones amused. Everything is made on the premises from scratch, from the scones and chocolate and beetroot cake, to the chilli and stroganoff. The café has a licence so you can wash your lunch down with local Dartmoor Brewery ale. There’s also a bunkhouse onsite, sleeping twelve people in three rooms, which has space for bikes and a drying room for boots and wet gear. Princetown is bang in the middle of Dartmoor – and the views over the surrounding moor are fabulous. foxtorcafe.com
Home Farm Café
You know you’re going to eat well in a café run by the founder of the renowned Ashburton Cookery School. Stella also set up the UK’s first ever organic restaurant in the 80’s and has championed local, seasonal produce from the very beginning. She and her talented team serve up a menu which is 98% local, with an emphasis on rustic, slow-cooked dishes – tuck into chunky Devon game paté, followed by slow cooked ruby Devon beef and Teignworthy ale suet pudding, and round it all off with homemade organic ice creams. The café’s walls host an ever-changing exhibition of local art, too. Located in the lovely courtyard of the National Trust Parke Estate, there are lots of local walks nearby to work off all that indulgence. homefarmcafe.co.uk
For information on local food and drink, nearby visitor attractions and activities, see our