Earlier this year I took the family to Austin, Texas which has to be one of the coolest places (in my admittedly limited experience) in the USA. Here are some of the things we enjoyed most when we were in Austin.
1. Swim in Barton Springs Pool
Just down the road from our holiday rental house through HomeAway was Barton Springs Pool, a stretch of river fed by natural springs, that had been dammed to make a fresh-water open-air swimming pool where you can swim all year round. At one end there are some shallows and in places it’s a bit weedy around the edge, but you can’t complain because that’s where the rare salamander live. There are changing rooms and grassy banks on both sides where you can sit and sunbathe. The kids loved jumping in with a squeal off the bouncy diving board and I enjoyed a few languorous lengths which took a rather long time since the lake is quite big, followed by a few chapters of a good book sitting on the grassy banks. At the end you can peer over the dam wall to the shallow river areas where families have paddled their kayaks up from the main river and are stopping for a picnic.
2. Shopped for Vintage and Cowboy boots on South Congress
We stopped off on South Congress Avenue in the SoCo neighbourhood for trendy and vintage shopping, where you may even find the odd bargain in between designer gear and $500 embroidered cowboy boots. My husband took the boys to nose around the second hand book shops while my daughter and I looked around the outdoor market and bought some colourful Mexican stone bead necklaces to give as presents. There place is awash with Vintage shops, the best known and most stylish of which is Uncommon Objects, and we also enjoyed looking at the colourful Mexican home-ware and jewellery in Tesoros Trading Company and tried on a few pairs of $500 embroidered cowboy boots at Allens Boots. South Congress Avenue is a place to park your car and wander, as it has much more of a European shopping feel than many places in the US, with some equally cool and trendy eateries to hang out.
3. Dinosaurs and roses at Zilker Botanical Gardens
After church on Easter Sunday we drove into Zilker Park, passing groups of families and friends setting out their picnic tables for a BBQ lunch. We parked at the Zilker Botanical Garden and walked down through the gardens past the wooden settler village where you could peer into the windows of the old forge and schoolhouse to learn a bit about the first German and Swedish settlers to populate this part of Texas. Lower down the rose garden was blooming and there was a pretty summerhouse, leading through to the Japanese garden with small bridges and stepping stones in the stream that children would enjoy hopping over. The prehistoric garden at the bottom of the hill was filled with lush ferns, pools and waterfalls with a dinosaur figure on the look-out in the centre of the pool.
4. Listened to Live music in the Live Music Capital of the World
There’s a good reason why Austin is known as the “Live music capital of the world” and every bar, cafe, restaurant and coffee house seems to have something musical going on, not to mention the aspiring country music stars busking on the sidewalk. We found a few places to try with the teenagers in tow and caught the end of the live music set while we had our dinner at Threadgills, although we realised that we should have arrived earlier than 9pm as the kitchen was just about closing, unlike in Europe where the party would just be starting.
At Flipnotics, in the treehouse-like bar built into the side of the hill on Barton Springs Road, we noticed that one of our favourite performers, Devon Sproule was playing, so we went to hear her perform that evening. We first saw Devon perform at our local church hall in Bristol, which doubles as a country music club and discovered when we chatted to her afterwards that she and her husband, Paul Curreri, had just moved to Austin.
Our only disappointment was when we turned up at The Broken Spoke Dance Hall, which was a short walk from our rental house, and found that is was closed on Mondays. This Honky Tonk Dance Hall has a big reputation and we were looking forward to a little shuffle around the floor, even if we didn’t have any cowboy boots or hats to look the part.
5. Waited for the South Congress Bridge bats who never came
We spent the evening under South Congress Bridge hoping to see something of the bat colony that live on the underside of the bridge as they are known to fly out in a great swirling crowd at dusk when they go to feed. We joined the hundreds of expectant visitors, seated on the grass with cameras poised, some in kayaks and tour boats on the river. Sadly it got darker and darker but the bats didn’t oblige with any major display and we could only see a few flitting in and out of their nests on the underside of the bridge. The event was something of an anti-climax and the kids delighted in pointing out that their crazy Mum had dragged them along to see a few black bats in the dark! Read more about the Austin bats in my husband’s article.
6. Shot an AK47 in a Texas Gun range
The highlight of the trip for my 19 year old son was to be able to shoot an AK47 Kalashnikov rifle, in one of those “Only in America” moments.We did a quick Google search and located Reds Indoor Range on the outskirts of Austin, on a shopping mall beside a busy main road. My husband and the boys filled out a form, gave in their photo ID, bought some ammo and hired the gun of their choice to try out on the gun range. Although it was all done quickly and easily, we were impressed by the staff’s strict safety drills and professionalism.
There was a range warden on duty behind the firing point, but as he was primarily there for safety rather than instruction, you would need to be experienced and confident in the handling of guns, or alternatively book some time with an instructor. My daughter and I retired to eat tacos in a nearby Mexican diner and my youngest son found it all a bit ear-splitting, but for dad and eldest son it was definitely one for a bit of bragging on Facebook. Read more about our Texas Gun Range experience
7. Lived like locals in the Barton Hills neighbourhood
The best things about staying in our HomeAway Vacation Rental was that we relaxed into the laid back Austin vibe, living in the neighbourhood like a local. We could drive down the road to pick up groceries at Sprouts Farmer’s Market store and chill out with a local beer on the deck, while the steaks were sizzling on the barbecue, the wind-chimes tinkling and the dog was barking next door.
The kids loved having plenty of space to spread out and Jay, the owner of our three bedroom Westrock House, arrived on our first day to give us lots of local recommendations as well as bag of local beer and nibbles.
We also had a walk through the wooded trails in the green-belt area near our house that’s upstream from the Barton Springs Pool, finding the kind of secret swimming spots that only a local would normally know about, so long as you don’t mind a bit of clambering over rocks and undergrowth.
I definitely recommend renting a house in Austin rather than staying in a hotel – the city has a chilled out feel where the cool things are going on in the local neighbourhoods and you can be part of it.
8. Visited the Texas Capitol Building
In the Downtown area, the Texas Capitol Building is one of the key things to see in Austin and has a convenient car park beside it. First we looked around the Visitor’s centre that has video presentations and interactive media, before we went into the State Capitol itself and took the free guided tour to learn all about the history of government in the state of Texas. Unfortunately the children disappeared to the cafe for breakfast, while I was hearing all about legislative practices in the Senate Chamber and gazing up at the enormous dome. Outside there are nicely landscaped garden areas with statues commemorating different aspects of Texan history.
9. Got a taste for Tacos and other Trailer Park food
Austin is also known for its food trailers that have become a big trend in the city. In between shopping on South Congress Avenue we stopped for lunch at the food trailer park just across the road, where we could choose between Pitta or Tex-Mex or Bratwurst finished off with a slice of pie or a cup-cake while being serenaded by the Country & Western street performers. We enjoyed the food experience so much that we stopped the next day at similar food trailer park on South 1st Street and became addicted to cake balls and tacos.
Visitor Information for Austin, Texas
- We booked our hire car that took us from Houston to San Antonio to Austin and back to Houston through Argus car Hire
- Our Westrock Vacation Rental in the Barton Hills neighbourhood was booked through HomeAway
- For more information about food trailers around the city visit the Food Trailers Austin website
- More information about the Bats under South Congress Bridge
- Zilker Botanical Gardens website
- Texas State Capitol Building and Capitol Visitor’s Centre
- We enjoyed live music from Devon Sproule at Flipnotics on Barton Springs Rd, Threadgills on West Riverside Drive and just missed out on The Broken Spoke on South Lamar Boulevard as it was closed on Mondays
- We went shooting at Red’s Gun Range in Austin
- More visitor information at the Austin Texas, tourism website
- Check for the best hotel prices in Texas and book here
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Most people who arrive at Girona airport seem to head straight in the opposite direction for its bigger and better known sister Barcelona, but they’re missing out on a gem of a city that’s perfect for a short break. Clearly the Costa Brava Tourism board, who were sponsoring the TBEX conference that I attended, had the same thought in mind in bringing a flight of travel bloggers here and keeping them as long as possible to discover all corners of the region from the Pyrenees to the beautiful coastline. Personally I really enjoy the less discovered cities of Europe like Girona, where you get a local and authentic flavour, rather than the tourist hot-spots where you have to compete with the crowds to see the top attractions.
The walk from the bus station to my apartment near the cathedral, booked through Wimdu, should have taken 20 minutes, but by the time I’d meandered past small squares with children’s playgrounds and down cobbled streets where I window-shopped for everything from clothes to delicious pastries, an hour must have passed.
I hope you enjoy my travel video of Girona below
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I reached the river that runs through the heart of Girona and stopped a while to enjoy the view of the pastel painted houses that face the river, that are the icon of Girona, just as the Clifton Suspension bridge is for Bristol or the Eiffel tower for Paris. And talking of Monsieur Gustave Eiffel there’s even a bridge designed by him of over-sized meccano that crosses the river, giving you a view of those painted houses framed in the red latticework, with the perfect ice cream shop at one end.
Having crossed the river I found myself in the heart of old Girona, walking along a narrow street with the wheels of my carry-on case bumping along the cobble stones. Here were restaurants and small individual shops lining the roads that lead me towards the cathedral. I caught glimpses of steps and winding passageways in the old Jewish quarter, finding the Cathedral in an enclosed square with steps leading steeply up to it. I never got to look inside the Cathedral while I was in Girona and I was never quite sure whether the many buildings, doorways and flights of steps were all to the same cathedral or whether there were several different churches bunched together.
I reached the office of Giro Rooms, who manage the apartment that we were to stay in, only to find that it would be another couple of hours before we could get in to our apartment, so I left my bag in the office and set off to explore a bit more of what Girona had to offer. At the end of the street I could see the Cathedral high up on the hill and finding some steps marking the John Lennon gardens I was intrigued and followed them up. They led me to a walkway in the sky, on top of the old city walls which had been restored with a path running all the way along the top. They ended abruptly with a view of the cathedral, but I learned later from the map that there were several stretches of these old walls in Girona where you could get a view over the city.
From up here, I could look down on all the terracotta roofs and roof terraces, nosing into other peoples’ lives and playing a game of “Which house would I like to live in?” The afternoon passed and and finally I returned and was let into our Wimdu apartment which was housed in an old building that had been renovated.
I met up with the other travel bloggers who were my flatmates for the weekend, my old online friend Barbara from Hole in the Donut who I was meeting in person for the first time and new friends Laurel from Monkeys and Mountains and Isabel from Diario de a Bordo. It was clear that the old building layout didn’t quite match the new apartments that had been fitted into it, as here and there was a supporting pillar in the wrong place or a wall where one would never have been. The three bedroom apartment was all new and modern, pleasantly furnished in that style of well designed but inexpensive furniture and we quickly made ourselves at home. As bloggers one of our first checks of the apartment was the strength of the wifi signal, which was passable but not exactly fast -as the lady in the office explained, the thick walls of the old building didn’t help.
The couch went down to be a sofa bed and each of the bedrooms had a colourful throw for a bedspreads. The kitchen was small and modern but had most of what we needed considering we were not planning a lot of eating in – and why would you when the best bars and restaurants of Girona were on your doorstep? The apartment was ideally located on the edge of the old town area, a little away from the hustle and bustle but only a 5 minute walk from the cathedral. It was also an easy 20 minute walk to the Girona Gonference Centre, but I much preferred staying in the old town where most of our blogging friends congregated at the end of the day for drinks and pinxtos.
Just down the street were a number of small fruit and grocery shops where we could buy everything we needed to keep us going between the conference and eating out. Another big benefit was that the cost of the apartment, shared between the four of us, was well below the cost of a hotel room, making this a really affordable option for a group of friends. I loved the way that being in an apartment together allowed us to have so many discussions that went well beyond the normal chit chat at blogging get togethers. If all the exciting plans and possibilities that we discussed come to fruition, our lives and our blogs will be thriving many years from now.
Because of the various parties laid on for TBEX, it was only on the final night that I got to explore some of the restaurants in Girona where you could find anything from slices of freshly cooked pizza, to colourful Pinxtos in the bars, to pretty tables set outside the restaurants in the open air . I loved tasting all those pinxtos, and one evening when I needed a late night snack I asked in one bar if they could do me a takeaway and they found a little cardboard box to take back to the apartment.
What I’ll remember of Girona is the golden light on the stone of the old quarter, those pretty ice cream houses by the river and the great company in our little Wimdu apartment. Oh, and of course I kissed the lion’s bottom so I’ll return again to Girona.
More things to see and do around Girona
What Barbara wrote about staying in Girona
What Laurel wrote about living like a local in Girona
What Barbara wrote about Vall de Nuria, Catalonia, Sanctuary in the Pyrenees, then and now
What Laurel wrote about Hiking the Vall de Nuria, Pyrenees
Visitor Information for Girona
We booked our apartment in Girona through Wimdu.com who have Holiday Apartments and Bed and Breakfasts that allow you to live like a local and have a more authentic travel experience. You can follow Wimdu on Twitter @Wimdu and Facebook. The apartment that we booked was managed by Giro Rooms who have a number of apartments in Girona. An apartment like ours with 3 bedrooms in Girona typically costs from €100 a night. My thanks to Wimdu and Giro Rooms for hosting our stay.
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey
It was the end of the summer as we drove down to Devon, stopping at Okehampton station for lunch in the station buffet that could have been a film set for that post-war classic, Brief Encounter. The station has been restored to its full 1950s glory, with old fashioned locomotives to take you on a day trip on the Dartmoor Railway that runs at weekends to Meldon, where you can walk on the viaduct or up onto the moor. It’s a lovely place to stop for lunch and you can sit at a table on the platform among the hanging baskets and piles of leather suitcases, recalling Celia Johnson’s very British clipped tones, as you tuck into your home-made Victoria Sponge with a pot of tea.
Gorge Scrambling with Adventure Okehampton
Since we had three teenage boys to entertain that weekend, who were looking for a bit more adventure than a bacon buttie, we booked in with Adventure Okehampton who operate cycle hire and outdoor activities on Dartmoor from the Okehampton YHA hostel on the other side of the railway bridge. My son and his two friends met up with their group in the hostel, were kitted out with wetsuits and helmets and whisked off in a mini-bus with us in hot pursuit in the car. As they gathered outside the makeshift changing rooms in a shed on the moor, the fit looking instructors, John and Amy laid down a few rules. “Don’t jump in unless one of the instructors tells you it’s safe and follow the path – if you’re told to go a certain way, it’s for a good reason”.
I hope you enjoy the video below about our weekend on Dartmoor with Woodovis Park
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They helmets were double checked, the life jackets fastened and the group was off, scrambling down the bank and into the river. There were several families there, but Guy and I opted to watch from the bank, as the group waded up the river, jumping and splashing in the pools which became progressively deeper as they climbed higher. The boys bobbed around like seals and it really looked like such fun that I was almost tempted to join them, but I’m afraid it takes tropical heat to convince me to jump into an icy mountain stream, even with a wetsuit on. After a couple of hours of exhausting good fun, the boys were returned to us and we warmed them up with a hot drink and a few chocolate bars, then headed on to Woodovis Park, near Tavistock, where we were spending the weekend.
We had chosen to stay in a mobile home for the holiday weekend, as although my husband Guy loves nothing better than a night under canvas, I prefer the certainty of a roof over my head in the unpredictable English summer weather. We received a warm welcome from wardens, Julie and Leigh who were on duty in the shop and reception. Leigh walked us down the path to give us the full guided tour of our mobile home, pointing out all the features that previous damp weekends under canvas in England had made me come to value; a hot shower (no trips in the dark to the shower block), a well equipped kitchen and heaters in both the bedrooms. Even if the weather turned against us, there was no way we would be anything but snug and cosy. The table was laid out ready for tea, with a box of West Country clotted cream fudge that didn’t last long once the boys arrived and soon we had the kettle whistling on the gas stove for a nice cuppa.
Our “Super Finch” two bedroom mobile home was surprisingly roomy, with a double bedroom next to the shower room, which with the connecting door could just about count as “en suite”. Next door was the second bedroom with twin singles and as we had three boys with us, they took it in turns for one of them to sleep on the sofa bed in the sitting area. With a wardrobe in both rooms as well as cupboards over the bed, there was a surprising amount of storage and we had a TV and DVD player, gas fire and well equiped kitchen with full size oven and microwave.
The boys settled down to a competitive board game of Risk, a board game of world domination, spending the rest of the weekend plotting strategies and trying to annex each other’s countries with a ruthlessness that would have put Stalin to shame. My husband had visited Woodovis a couple of years before when he brought my daughter and a few of her friends down for some Dartmoor adventures and the good reports they came back with prompted me to book it again. A large proportion of the visitors are regulars who come back year after year, and with the safe and tranquil setting and incredibly friendly staff, we could see why this 5 star holiday park is so popular.
The owners, John and Dorothy told us how the season starts with the mobile homes filling up from March onwards and by Easter the family tents start arriving. They nearly always have a new baby camping for the first time with its parents in the springtime, and then from May onwards, the park is busy with mobile homes, caravans and larger tents. For those looking for camping without all the gear, there is a camping pod (a sort of wooden tent) or a tipi with a central stove, both of which are popular with newly-weds, especially for couples where he is trying to persuade her that camping can really be quite cosy and romantic. With hot croissants for breakfast on sale at the shop and the Copper Penny pub a brisk walk down the road, you really only need to bring your lilo and sleeping bag.
Woodovis Park has a friendly, family feel where children can wander around safely. The park is hidden down a long drive and becomes a compact, self-contained world in which the little ones can enjoy their independence with a trip to the shop to collect the fresh bread in the morning or spend their pocket money on an ice cream (just licking!). There’s a children’s playground and a games room with a pool table, air hockey and pinball machines, as well as a large map of Dartmoor on the wall and information leaflets to help you plan your days out and about. Another big attraction of Woodovis Park is the indoor swimming pool which features a jacuzzi at one end and the infra-red heat cabin where I spent most of my time warming my back on the heaters, which if you believed the signs would make me thinner as well as improving my circulation. There is wifi throughout the park for a moderate charge, and my only complaint was that it was frustratingly slow during our stay.
The Tamar Valley
The holiday park is close to the Tamar Valley, where there are a number of walking trails that take you past the old mine chimneys and other signs of mining heritage of this area. During the nineteenth century, the mines were the largest producers of copper in Europe and the ore was shipped from the quaysides that dotted the banks of the Tamar River. The Copper Penny Inn, just down the road from Woodovis Park was once known as the Chip Shop, where the local miners were paid in chips which they had to spend at the company owned Chip Shop. Just down the road is the Horn of Plenty, which was once the mine manager’s house, but is now a small luxury hotel with a gourmet reputation. Beside the Tamar Valley car park is the Tree Surfing which the boys hoped to try on our last day, but was closed due to high winds, as well as offering canoe trips along the Tamar River. We heard a tall fishing tale about one of the guests who took a Tamar canoe trip and was surprised to find a salmon leaping into his canoe; with swift thinking he knocked it over the head with his thermos flask and brought it home to eat for supper.
Walking on Dartmoor above Peter Tavy
The next day we made the most of the good weather with a walk on the moor, meeting up with some friends in the church car park at the village of Peter Tavy. The path took us up gently up the hillside, passing one of the granite tors on our left. As we neared the high ground, out of nowhere a quad bike appeared, startling us as it veered across our path. I assumed that it was another outdoor activity but soon realised that it was a farmer at work on the moor. From one direction came a flock of sheep with their fleeces stained in luminous colours, while from the other a herd of cattle was being rounded up by three agile sheep dogs and two quad bikes.
We continued along the ridge, playing hop-scotch on the stones over a rushing stream and descended a little until we reached a viewpoint where we could see down into the valley with the church spire of Peter Tavy in the distance. We stood for while with the wind in our hair, feeling on top of the world and then set a steady pace downhill across the turf dotted with yellow dandelions. Further down the path led us through waist high ferns with brambles that plucked at our clothes, then entered a wood of bent oaks, where the stream came rushing down the valley. “We won’t get lost?” asked the boys anxiously, but with our lunch at stake there was little chance of that. All the best walks on Dartmoor end with a good pub lunch and before long we were down by the church again and stepping into the Peter Tavy Inn.
Lunch at Peter Tavy Inn
It was the holiday weekend, but fortunately our friends had booked a table, as when as we walked in the place was absolutely packed. The inn was just what you might hope for in a country pub, with open fires, flagstone floors, good ale and smoke-blackened beams to knock your head on. The menu was chalked up on a blackboard featuring plenty of reasonably priced good pub grub. After a hearty roast lunch we were almost too full for puddings but were tempted by the plate of six Devon cheeses with names like Ticklemore Goat and Sharpham Brie, with little flags to tell you which farm they had come from.
The wet weather programme on Dartmoor
The next day, the changeable Dartmoor weather had set in with high winds and showers. We started the morning slowly, hoping that the rain would blow over, but then set forth from Woodovis Park, determined to find something that we could fit into our wet weather programme. Plan A was to try to the Tree Surfers down the road, where we hoped that the tree canopy would shield us from rain and the rope courses would keep our boys entertained, but when we got there we found it closed due to high winds. Undeterred we moved on to Plan B and drove on to the climbing barn at Milton Abbott which looked like fun, but the wait was rather long for an instructor to work with the boys who were all beginners. On to Place C then and with the boys kitted out with their waterproofs we drove past Princetown to Combestone Tor, one of the few where you can park very close to the tor. We skipped out of the car, with the wind whistling in our ears and the rain pouring down, for a quick run around the tor and scramble up on top, while peering into the mist in hope of a view.
Safely back in the car with the windows steaming up, we spotted a group of wet and miserable teenage walkers from a West Country school who were clearly doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award, in which they hike and camp in groups across Dartmoor. It prompted Guy to tell us stories of the Ten Tors exercise in 2007 when he was part of the army team looking after the safety of the event that is an outdoor challenge for schools in the West of England. For the first time ever, the weather was so bad and the rivers so swollen that 2400 teenagers had to be evacuated from the moor on foot and by helicopter and fortunately all were recovered safely. “Was the weather just like this?” I asked, watching the rain lash down on the windscreen – ” No, it was nowhere near as nice as this” Guy replied. After that, there was no Plan D except to return to our cosy mobile home at Woodovis to continue the empire building with the game of Risk.
The Dartmoor Tors and the letter boxes
On our last morning, we were headed back to Bristol, but the weather had brightened and we were determined to get up to another of the granite tors We stopped en route across the moor and walked up towards Great Staple Tor. Scrambling up on the granite tors we got a real sense of the wildness of Dartmoor and we even found a “letter box” - not the kind that you actually post letters into but the Dartmoor variety. These are a small plastic box or metal container that are hidden on the moor in the nooks and crannies of the tors, for letter box hunters to seek out and find. When you discover one, you normally find it contains a small book to write your name and a rubber stamp which you can stamp a book of your own to prove you were there, bringing out the collector in you. Our walk completed and a couple of hours later and we were back in Bristol which all seemed rather tame compared to our wet and wild weekend on Dartmoor.
Visitor Information for Dartmoor
Woodovis Park – Our base for our adventures on Dartmoor. Check their Facebook Page. This 5 star holiday park has won many awards and you’ll find mobile homes, camping pod and tipi to hire, or pitches for your tent, caravan or motor home. We highly recommend Woodovis Park as a green and tranquil base to explore Dartmoor National Park or head for the beaches of north and south Devon. The small size and friendly atmosphere makes the park especially suitable for families and those who want a quiet, rural break. A two bedroom “Super Finch” mobile home like ours would cost from £269 per week in low season to £659 per week in high season and is also available for short breaks. Our thanks to Woodovis Park for hosting our stay at a reduced rate.
Dartmoor Railway – operate a Heritage train service at weekends from Meldon via Okehampton to Sampford Courtnay. There is parking at the station and the station buffet is open to everyone for snacks, lights meals and teatime cakes. There’s also a small railway museum.
Adventure Okehampton – Offer adventure activities and holidays on Dartmoor. They are based at the YHA hostel Okehampton, beside Okehampton station and offer cycle hire as well as a wide range of outdoor activities such as kayaking, abseiling, raft building. The Gorge Scrambling that the boys tried cost £30 per person for a 2-3 hour session including transport, equipment and instruction.
Tamar Valley - Offers the Tamar walking trails beside the Tamar river where you can still see the old mining chimneys and buildings – this is where copper and arsenic were mined in the nineteenth century.
The Barn Indoor Climbing Wall at Milton Abbot – An indoor climbing barn with a range of different climbing courses where you can hire equipment and get instruction
Peter Tavy Inn – an old country inn in the village of Peter Tavy on the edge of Dartmoor with excellent pub food and real ales
Dartmoor Letter Boxes – more information about the activity of letterboxing on Dartmoor
Dartmoor Tourism website – Official visitor information site for Dartmoor with all the things to see and do
More fun in Devon and Cornwall
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey