Asked to describe the ‘ideal’ English countryside, many people would conjure up a landscape of green rolling hills, of bright, fresh streams tumbling through wooded valleys, of white thatched cottages clustering around a venerable church, with a picturesque inn nestling beside it. Devon, of course, but only part of it. The whole of the Dartmoor National Park lies within its boundaries, a huge area of dome-shaped granite where the most frequently seen living creatures are the famous Dartmoor ponies that have roamed here since at least the 10th century.
The moor is notorious for its abundant rainfall – an annual average of 60 inches, twice as much as falls on Torbay, a few miles to the east. In some of the more exposed westerly fringes, an annual rainfall of 100 inches is common. In prehistoric times the climate was much drier and warmer. The moor then was dotted with settlements and this Bronze Age population left behind them a rich legacy of stone circles, menhirs, burial chambers and single, double or even triple rows of stones.
Then there’s the busy port of Plymouth with its proud maritime history and associations with Sir Francis Drake and the Pilgrim Fathers. The rugged coastline to the north contrasts with the almost Mediterranean character of Torbay – the English Riviera. There are hundreds of picture postcard villages, of which Clovelly and Inner Hope are perhaps the most famous, and scores of delightful small towns such as Salcombe, Totnes and Dartmouth
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