Widecombe in the Moor: A closer look at the UK's 'coolest village'

5 August 2022

No one was more surprised than the residents of Widecombe in the Moor when The Times newspaper included the village in its list of coolest places to move to in the UK.  Not that Widecombe isn’t cool, it really is. It’s just that, until the article, it was already doing fine.  Steven Spielberg filmed part of his ‘War Horse’ film there and the place is renowned as one of the prettiest villages on Dartmoor. It’s only reachable by car (buses are few and far between) but the journey is well worth it. 

The Old Inn

One of Widecombe’s two pubs, the central part of the Old Inn dates back to the 1500s and retains the building’s original thick stone walls, wooden timbers and the stable, which now forms part of the pub’s dining area. There are open, working fireplaces throughout, and service is brisk and friendly. Outside there’s a decent-sized, landscaped beer garden with views across the moors. As far as food goes, the pub serves decent, unfussy dishes – burgers, pies, pizzas, and salads, along with a few veggie options. Keep in mind that booking ahead is essential, especially on a Sunday. 

The Rugglestone Inn

The Times article recommended swinging by The Rugglestone, which is fair enough because it is an ace pub. The Rugglestone Inn is Widecombe’s other pub and if there was a competition between here and the Old Inn, it might just edge it because of the ducks. How many pubs can boast their own stream, complete with exotic species of ducks waddling about? Converted from a cottage into a pub in the 1850’s, The Rugglestone’s menu is huge and much like The Old Inn, they keep it simple, so there’s plenty of decent pub grub. Food is served Monday to Friday from 12PM until 2PM, then from 5.30PM until 8PM. Saturday and Sunday service is 12PM until 3PM, then from 5.30PM until 8PM.

The Café on the Green

The place to find walkers, cyclists, horse riders and Dartmoor visitors, the Café on the Green is a family-run place that has been cheerfully dealing with all manner of visitors (and their dogs) for almost a century. The menu has been put together by owner-chef Jamie Holliss and, as well as the ubiquitous Devon cream tea and pasties, includes outstanding breakfasts and vegetarians are well catered for. A lovely place to sit outside if weather permits, the café is open every day except Mondays from 10AM until 4.30PM (last food orders at 3PM). It’s worth nothing that it can get very busy in the summer.

Village Market

Taking place on the fourth Saturday of the month, Widecombe’s village market is everything you’d expect from a market that’s set in the middle of Dartmoor. The fact that it’s held in Widecombe’s rather handsome fifteenth-century Church House adds to the vibe, and there’s a lovely range of locally-made stuff for sale. So you’re likely to everything from handmade chocolates, Devon honey products and West Country cheeses to local cider, freshly baked bread, pasties and pies, seasonal vegetables, eggs, home-made jams and chutneys.


One of Dartmoor’s biggest tors (hill-type peaks typically topped with granite stone), Haytor sits near the main road into the village and it would be remiss to not at least admire its majesty on the way in. The views from Haytor are magnificent, and a walk to the summit means you’ll be able to gaze out over the rolling moors to the Teign Estuary and the sea beyond. There are a couple of free carparks around the base of Haytor and the nearby (free to enter) Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre hosts displays of local geology, flora, and fauna.

Widecombe Fair

Until The Times article, Widecombe was probably best known for the Widecombe Fair. It only takes place once a year (in September) but it’s an important part of what makes Widecombe so special. These days it’s a mixture of livestock sales, dog shows, craft stalls and old-school country fair entertainment, the Fair dates back to the nineteenth century when it was famed for its sheep and pony auctions. It’s a massive affair and people do genuinely come from miles around to spend the day there. It also gave rise to the ‘Widecombe Fair’ folk song that works as a kind of anthem for the village.    

Tinpickle and Rhum

Not strictly based in Widecombe central, the Tinpickle and Rhum restaurant is part of The Moorland Hotel, a five-minute drive away at the foot of Dartmoor’s Haytor. It’s a homely, casual place that’s well-suited to the dog walkers and ramblers that roam the moors, as well as families and friends looking for a decent meal. The quality and scope of the food on offer is exceptional (particularly on the dinner menu) so, along with pub-type standards, there are proper fish, meat and poultry dishes along with a couple of vegetarian alternatives. You can also pop in for coffee. Open seven days a week, from 8AM until 11PM.