The loneliest wilderness in England. This has been said more often of Dartmoor than any other part of our country. Traditionally in the world of fiction as well as that of fact, Dartmoor has been renowned as a vast empty moorland area, the property of nature rather than of man. It has always been the public’s idea of a lonely place. Not many generations ago it was regarded with a certain amount of awe. Nowadays it is one of our most important centres of recreation and an island of upland England of abundant interest to the naturalist. In 1951 it was nominated a National Park, one of the first of several places that have been so designated in Great Britain.
This moorland-covered island of granite, once regarded as forbidding, now, to most of us, romantic, rises in the midst of a rolling sea of red Devon farmland.
Geologists seek the true origin of the valuable pockets of china clay, or even of granite itself. Botanists delve into the relationship between the present vegetation and the relict fragments of native woodland which grow higher than any other woods in Britain. In contrast with the world of stranger isolation in the heart of Dartmoor, where the ponies roam and the black-faced sheep graze, is a fringe of lively villages like Widdicombe, whose very name spells romance.
L. A. Harvey, a skilled and widely experienced naturalist, Professor in the University College of the South-west at Exeter, has collaborated with the learned D. St Leger-Gordon to make Dartmoor a balanced and consistent book, full of new syntheses and original ideas. The ideal natural history book is that which shows not only wild nature, but man’s place in it. By this token, and many others, Dartmoor is such a book.
‘An eminently authoritative book. As a work of reference for naturalists it should prove invaluable.’ Country Life
‘Every aspect of the Moor is described, from bird-life and tin mines to woodlands and moorfolk. The style is lovely, and the chapters on Dartmoor people are especially mellow. This is certainly the best modern guide to Southern England’s greatest National Park.’ Daily Telegraph