Hike almost four miles (6.4 km) north of Tavistock in West Devon, United Kingdom, and you’ll discover something quite unique: the quaint village of Brentor. At first glance, it may seem much like any other village in Dartmoor National Park. However, look again. Close by is a high volcanic tor, Brent Tor, which rises 1,100 feet (335 m) above sea level in Dartmoor. Furthermore, the tor supports the village church of St. Michael de Rupe.
About The Church & Surrounding Area
Dating from the 13th to 14th century, Brentor Church is tiny. As England’s 4th smallest parish, the church is 37 feet (11 m) long, 15 feet (4.6 m) wide, with a tower just 40 feet (12.2 m) high. But what it lacks in size- it seats around 40 people-, it makes up for with the view. In the church, you can catch a dramatic 360-degree sweep of Dartmoor and its surroundings.
On any point of the compass, the scenery is spectacular. You’ll see Bodmin Moor and the Tamar valley, Whitsand Bay and Plymouth Sound, and if the weather permits, Exmoor. Additionally, the weather can play a critical part in the overall experience. On a clear autumn day, you feel at one with nature. On a day where you are standing high above the cloud line, it becomes spiritual.
Read More: Exmoor National Park In Winter
The outcrop of the tor is a spectacular, weathered volcanic plug dating back to Carboniferous times, which sets it apart from other Devon tors. Earthworks dating from the Iron Age are scattered around its base, along with the remains of a hill fort. It is believed that the church was once used as an early warning system for approaching invaders at sea. The church still features 5 bells, which is another gorgeous feature of the church.
Brent Tor church is not only surrounded by incredible scenery but, historically, is bountiful in myth and legend. Originally planned to be built at the base of the tor, the story goes that the devil would move it nightly to the top. Despite this continual interruption, the locals carried on with its construction. Some say out of sheer defiance.
Possibly the most famous story about the church on the tor’s beginnings is centred around an almost shipwrecked merchant, who promised the church would be built after being spared from a watery grave. Fortunately for historians and tourists alike, his wish was granted. And the climb to Brent tor’s summit is so worth it.
Exploring The Village Of Brentor In Dartmoor
After exploring Brent Tor, the small village of Brentor on Dartmoor’s northwest edge is an ideal spot to explore the surrounding country. Close to historic Lydford – famous for its gorge – and Mary Tavy, it lies near an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Even though the southwest of England has a marine climate, Brentor and Dartmoor can have its share of snow-filled days as well. Due to the higher elevation, you can catch views of Brent Tor church with snow for an average of 20 days each winter. In fact, on rare occasions, Dartmoor has experience blizzard conditions, leaving more than 55 cm (22 in) of snow on the ground 1. The aftermath of these conditions can genuinely be a snowshoer’s playground. Thus, when visiting Brent Tor, prepare for cooler temperatures (average 8C or 46F), wind, and rain/snow.
Attractions Near Brentor
In addition to Brent Tor, there are numerous ways to explore the outdoors and historical areas near the village of Brentor in Dartmoor.
While in the Brentor area, add Crofters Barn on your list to visit. This converted stone-built barn has a secluded garden and paddock. Adjacent to open moorland, it is an ideal location for wildlife enthusiasts and those keen on the great outdoors. Pets – on leash – are welcome, and the property has off-road parking facilities.
A little over 2 miles (3.2 km) from Brentor lies the famed Lydford Gorge. Known to be the deepest in the southwest of England, the gorge is perfect for walkers and ramblers alike. Wildlife is plentiful no matter the season. Plus, for those interested in local myths and legends, the impressive White Lady waterfall – with its 30-metre drop – and the Devil’s Cauldron are well worth exploring.
The surrounding landscape of Lydford Gorge is steep and rugged. Therefore, the walks are better suited to those more-able. Nonetheless, one of Devon’s long-distance walking routes, the West Devon Way, is nearby. Though a long walk of around 5 miles (8 km), there are no stiles and only one climb near the end. Linking Plymouth with Oakhampton, there are amenities on the route. An information pack is available from tourist information centres.
Coombe Trenchard House & Garden
Just over 3 miles (4.8 km) from Brent Tor lies Coombe Trenchard House and Garden. This beautiful brick and timber-framed Edwardian house was built in 1906, and it sits in an equally beautiful 8-acre garden.
For those keen on discovering what life was like in Edwardian times, the house is a must-see. The gardens feature terraces and woodland, and though they became overgrown, they have since been restored to their Edwardian splendour. The gardens are open regularly for visitors, and the house opens for pre-booked groups.
The village of Mary Tavy lies just 2.4 miles (3.9 km) from Brentor. Small and quaint, with a population of around 600, it is another ideal base from which you can explore the surroundings. The village is dated from the 1800s and was once part of the region’s mining community. Its beautiful parish church – St. Mary’s – dates from the 13th century.
Only 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the village of Mary Tavy, you’ll find Wheal Betsy, the remains of a lead and copper mine engine house. Among many claims to fame is its chimney, which appears to defy gravity. The exact date when the mine opened is uncertain, though many believe it dates from the early 1700s. Despite this, the building – now owned and restored by the National Trust – is testament to withstanding the harshest of Dartmoor’s elements.
A short distance away from Mary Tavy lies Peter Tavy. This 3-mile (4.8 km) village is famed for its medieval church, inn, and scenic walks along the river. It’s an ideal spot to kick back and switch off.
Accommodation Near Brentor In Dartmoor
While exploring the area, there is a range of accommodation available.
Accommodation is welcoming and quiet in Brentor. The Smithy, formerly a wheelwright’s workshop, is on a peaceful country lane. This delightful detached cottage will sleep 2-3 people, accommodates pets, and is open year-round. There are plenty of scenic walks close by as well. Additionally, for more energetic guests, cycle route 27 isn’t far off.
For a welcome typical of the southwest, head to the Mary Tavy Inn. If the idea of spending time in a traditional free house serving great food and real ale appeals, give it a try. With a good-sized car park, beer garden, and entertainment, the inn offers bed and breakfast accommodation.
In Peter Tavy, accommodation will suit most tastes with B&Bs, guesthouses, and self-catering options available. The scenic wilds of Dartmoor are right on the doorstep, along with award-winning Hartford Bridge Holiday Park.
If you are looking for a fantastic choice of holiday accommodation, Hartford Bridge is the place to visit. Whether it’s caravans, motor homes, camping, or lodges, the spacious site caters to all. A delightful variation on their camping theme is the Shepherd’s Hut, where a cozy, rustic experience on wheels awaits. A unique way to spend your holiday, the hut sleeps 1-2 people and is pet-free.
However, for other rentals, Hartford Bridge offers a large dog exercise area. Furthermore, with a recreation green and the river Tavy on its perimeter, Hartford Bridge is in a perfect position to experience life in Devon’s great outdoors.
Visit Brent Tor In Dartmoor
Brent Tor, outside of the community of Brentor in Dartmoor, is not to be missed! Experience the history and mystery surrounded in the church and the surrounding area at any time of the year. Then, explore the beautiful surrounding area for a taste of southwest England that will leave you wanting more!
Have you ever been to Brent Tor church or have visited the area? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!
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