My love of Dartmoor goes back decades. We would drive up to the moors from the seaside town that I grew up in most Sundays with my friends parents for walks. I remember many of them being blustery and cold. Climbing to the top of numerous Tors feeling invincible, then being frightened of climbing down! Another memory was letterboxing. A small box (the letterbox) containing a stamp and a visitors’ book is hidden on the moor somewhere. You hunt them down and use the clue inside the box to find the next one. As a child it felt like such an adventure. Almost like stepping out of a Famous Five story.
A few weeks ago my two girlfriends and I headed up to Haytor to begin our Dartmoor adventure. Firstly we stomped up to the top of the Tor to build up an appetite for the next phase of our day out. Not before delighting in the scenery though. The weather couldn’t have been better for us. The sky was the brightest blue and there was still a little warmth in the autumn sun. When the weather is like this there really are few other places I would rather be. We sat and took in the view for a while before making our way back to the car to take the short drive towards Bovey Tracey and The Edgemoor Hotel.
The Edgemoor Hotel is an independently owned, dog friendly hotel nestled between Bovey Tracey and Haytor. We were booked in for afternoon tea. I bet you didn’t know that The Edgemoor Hotel used to be a boys school and the bar used to be the gymnasium, hence the tall ceilings and climbing ladder in the corner!? I love the little snippets of history you find around the place. The restaurant used to be the library, the tea rooms the chemistry lab and room 1 used to be the headmasters office! Simon & Heather, the owners, have celebrated the building’s history and carried it through to be very much part of the hotel today through the decor and styling. For example, all around the hotel I noticed old school photos hung up on the walls.
The venue is an ideal setting for weddings, naming ceremonies, birthdays, weddings and wakes. The beautiful gardens enable you to move your party outside or if just like us you fancy a spot of tea and cake. The owners hold a number of events throughout the year including their famous murder mystery nights!
From our delicious afternoon tea and The Edgemoor Hotel we got back in the car and headed into the centre of Bovey Tracey itself. Our next port of call was the newly established Dartmoor Whisky Distillery that has recently taken over the old Bovey Tracey Town Hall. A fabulous hall that has been transformed into a beautiful bar and jazz music venue with an open plan still that produces the only whisky distilled here in the South West.
What I find particularly exciting about Dartmoor Whisky Distillery is that all raw materials are sourced and all processes happen within a 15 mile radius. This makes this whisky very special. After the Barley has been harvested in Drewsteignton, it is then transferred to one of the oldest maltsters in the country, Tuckers Maltings in Newton Abbot, which is 6 miles from the distillery. Tuckers Maltings is one of only four malthouses still malting using the traditional floor method.
Once the barley has been quality checked by Greg, Simon and their master distiller Frank McHardy, it is then sent to Dartmoor Brewery in Princetown, approximately 15 miles away from the distillery, for the beer wash to be brewed. It is then transported back to the distillery to be distilled. It is then cut with Dartmoor spring water.
The only foreign element of the process is the still itself. Named Mariannick, it previously made cognac in France for decades.
If you are interested in taking a look for yourselves then email [email protected] to organise a tour. If you are interested in buying a bottle it is available to pre-order on their website.
A short walk down the hill in Bovey Tracey you will find Wildmoor Fine Food and Wine. Owned and run by Jeremy; Canadian born with a history in wine making this man knows his stuff and now the proud owner of Wildmoor. This shop has a fabulous selection of cheeses and cold meats plus a well stocked larder full of jams, chutneys, tinned and packaged goods. On top of all of this the wine, beer and cider selection is second to none.
On arrival we were greeted with a smile and a cheery “hello” by Jeremy himself. We were then shown to their covered courtyard where the wine, cheese tastings and pairings take place as well as it being part of their daily cafe. With over 50 wines, guest ales, ciders and their extensive lunch menu, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Their menu is inspired by the products they sell in the deli and from other locally sourced ingredients. Rain or shine, you can relax in the covered courtyard, whilst watching the world go by. They even have outdoor heating to help warm you up in the colder months. Not only that, they are dog and bicycle friendly too.
From April until October they are open every Friday evening until 8:30pm. Whether it’s enjoying drinks with friends, nibbles, or sharing one of the wonderful deli boards, you should start your weekend in style at Wildmoor. Sarah, Chloe and I had such a great time sampling cider, wine, cheeses and chutney all personally recommended by Jeremy. Taking inspiration from his signature wine and cheese boxes that are available to purchase in store or via the website.
The first pairing was not wine and cheese but cider and cheese. Taking inspiration from the Somerset Dreamin’ box. Delicious Montgomery clothbound cheddar from Somerset and Pilton cider. A naturally sweet sparkling cider using the age old keeving method. This delicious pairing certainly got me thinking of warm summer evenings with friends. Such a wonderful combination of sweetness from the cider and slight saltiness from the cheddar.
The second pairing was loosely based around the Indulgence Box. A wonderful un-oaked Chardonnay from De Wetshof that could quite easily become a new favourite (non English) wine for me. I have to say that I did leave with a bottle in hand! We sampled this with an oozing Brie, a goats cheese and a blue to see how wines work with different flavours. For me, the Brie was the winner.
The girls and I had a great time hanging out with each other in a relaxed and informal setting soaking up all the knowledge that Jeremy sent our way. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend an evening. If you would like to book a table phone 01626 832253 or for more check out the website.
So, as you can see Bovey Tracey has so much to offer for all you foodies out there. We really did fill our day with lots of fun and laughter. This town might easily be overlooked as you drive through heading for the moors that sit just a short drive up the hill, but can I ask you to stop!? Park up and explore. Have fun!
Disclaimer: I was asked by Abby Millar Marketing to create a blogpost featuring Wildmoor, Dartmoor Whisky Distillery and The Edgemoor Hotel. I was not paid for my post and as always, all views are my own.
Photographs by Sarah Hale with additional photos from Abby Millar Marketing.