By: Blonde Two
If you are looking for accommodation or where to stay on Dartmoor you might want to consider somewhere that is away from the hustle and bustle of the main hubs. Princetown is a really popular location for the outdoor community but it can sometimes seem a bit crowded (and you definitely need to book a table if you want to eat at the famous Plume of Feathers pub). The Forest Inn at Hexworthy is a traditional pub and hotel and set a short distance away from Princetown with access to some fantastic Dartmoor walks.
Our first night at the Forest Inn saw us eager to come back again for more. We had a really cosy twin rooms with views over the trees down towards the West Dart. Despite Storm Dennis howling around outside, the room was really peaceful and we slept well under warm duvets in comfortable beds that didn’t remind us at all that we were supposed to be wild camping that weekend.
A pint of Jail please
If you haven’t sampled Dartmoor Brewery’s Jail Ale then you really should when you next visit Dartmoor. You really can’t beat a good traditional pub dinner followed by a pint on a comfy sofa. Full-bodied, deep and golden (a bit like us) this pint has won prizes and slips down really easily. The Forest Inn is an independent pub, loved (and indeed saved from closure) by the locals. Hexworthy is a small but thriving village and it was great to see that this heart of the community was doing so well.
Dartmoor pub walks from the Forest Inn
Whether you are a keen or gentle walker, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to walks from the Forest Inn. With strolls down to the West Dart River or up to Combestone Tor, you won’t be short of gentle evening exercise. If you want to walk further afield then you can easily visit the village of Holne, Venford Reservoir, Combestone Tor, Dartmeet and Princetown by foot and have plenty to explore on the way.
River exploration on Dartmoor
One of the best things about Dartmoor’s Forest Inn is its position in relation to some of Dartmoor’s fantastic rivers. With easy access to routes that include the Swincombe, the West Dart, the East Dart, you will be spoilt for choice for river watching. You might also be spoilt for choice for river paddling if you don’t take enough notice of river crossings when planning your walks. If you look carefully at the footpaths you will see a fair few stepping stones crossings. These can add a lot of fun to a walk in good weather but be easily lost after heavy rainfall. If, like me, you don’t like balancing, I would avoid them but they can turn a walk into an adventure. The good news is that the walking routes around the Forest Inn also include some fantastic bridges, including the Clapper Bridge at Dartmeet, the Fairy Bridge over the Swincombe and Hexworthy’s tiny stone bridge (that Blonde One can get a minibus over in both directions!)
If you are a keen outdoor swimmer and the rivers aren’t in flood, you can also take a dip just above Hexworthy Bridge or enjoy a splash around at Dartmeet. If the rivers are in flood (or just about to flood) I would definitely advise staying out of them but, if you are really desperate, you won’t be short of puddles as the moor holds water really easily.
Forest Inn walking route (with stepping stones)
The route below does not include stepping stones but takes you close to two sets if you would like to try your hand (or foot) at them. If you were feeling really adventurous, the River Swincombe has a ford but the Fairy Bridge right next to it is far easier and gives you the opportunity to hunt for fairies (they are often to be found there). There is a fairly steep wall/stile negotiation down by Hexworthy Bridge but you can avoid this by taking the road down instead. You will need a map and compass for the open moorland section (it looks easy but we have seen lots of people go wrong here). At 6.7km and with only 193m height gain, this is one of those useful routes that you can do as quickly or as slowly as you like (depending on how much time you want to spend enjoying the Forest Inn and its fine ale).
OS Maps – Copyright Ordnance Survey 2020