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10 books to bring on a trip to Dartmoor

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When you visit a place like Dartmoor, you’re probably looking to “get away from it all.” It’s a sprawling, beautiful area built for relaxation. And though we have addressed the idea of finding WiFi in the area, there’s still some appeal to unplugging and keeping yourself busy in other ways.

One way to do it is by bringing a book (or a whole stack of books) to read during your stay. While you’ll certainly want to spend some time walking around and enjoying the nature – even if it’s cold outside – there’s a great deal of appeal to curling up in a cozy cottage or even in a tent at a campsite, and diving into a new book. Really, anything you’re interested in would suffice. But just in case you’re looking for ideas, here are 10 books that might be ideal for a trip to Dartmoor.


1. The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This is probably the perfect book for a Dartmoor getaway. In part, this is because it’s simply a wonderful mystery, and just the kind of story that can ignite your imagination during a long night in the country or park. Genearlly, it’s mentioned among the best Sherlock Holmes stories, and it’s many people’s pick as the very best of the bunch. More importantly though, the book is actually set in Dartmoor – though that may wind up spooking you a little bit!

2. Prehistoric Dartmoor by Paul Pettit

This title speaks for itself. But if you enjoy history and you really want to learn more about one of the more beautiful areas in England, it’s a great read for the occasion. This historical account covers findings and changes in the area from the Paleolithic period to the Iron Age.

3. The Fellowship Of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship Of The Ring doesn’t actually have anything to do with Dartmoor. Tolkien was supposedly inspired by other parts of the UK to create his legendary fantasy world. Nevertheless, by this point the tales of the Lord of the Rings are closely tied to rural England in general, which makes this a lovely setting in which to dive into the trilogy. Particularly if you’ve never read it before, this should be packed in your bag.

4. Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman

If you ever watched the American comedy Parks & Recreation, chances are you became a fan of the character Ron Swanson. Even if not, Nick Offerman – the actor behind the character – is full of a humorous, off-brand kind of wisdom that anyone can enjoy. This book is part camping manual, part philosophical guide to living, and part miscellaneous instruction packet, and it’s an ideal read for a camping trip.

5. The Book Of Bluffs by Matt Lessinger

This is another non-fiction read that’s an interesting pick for a trip to Dartmoor. It’s not a general poker guide, as it may appear to be at a glance, but rather one in which Lessinger eases his readers into the world of bluffing. This, as Lessinger clearly believes, is the foundation of competitive poker, and it actually makes for an intriguing psychological exploration. It stands out as a good read for a vacation like this because poker itself (and other card games) makes for a great camping activity.

6. A River Runs Through It by Norman McLean

This is a semi-autobiographical book by one Norman Maclean, and though it’s set in the American Rocky Mountains, it’s about as good a modern ode to nature as we can think of. Plus if you’ve ever seen the film – arguably one of Brad Pitt’s finest performances – you may want to read it anyway.

7. When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris

This isn’t a prototypical nature or travel book by any means. But as one more general list of books to read while travelling pointed out, it’s great for a long trip because it’s a series of essays that you have the luxury of picking and choosing from. Sedaris is a wonderful comedic voice, straightforward but not without complexity, and perfect to pick up for short bursts of reading.

8. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill by William Manchester & Paul Reid

It’s always worthwhile to read about one of the great politicians in British history. To do so in one of England’s most treasured natural expanses, and when a film about Churchill during the war (Darkest Hour) is coming out, feels extra special.

9. The Once And Future King by T.H. White

We don’t know the extent to which Arthurian legend may be based on fact. Many believe that a Roman commander inspired the legends, even if there never was a “King Arthur” in the traditional sense. Either way, this is perhaps the definitive novel about the legendary figure, and one that’s delightful to read on vacation in Britain. It’s not difficult to imagine some of the novel’s stories playing out in Dartmoor, in fact.

10. Origin by Dan Brown

Lastly, we’ll point to the latest Dan Brown novel, which really has nothing to do with Dartmoor and little to do with nature. But there’s still something to be said for a good, page-turning thriller, and that’s what Brown always delivers. If you’re just looking for a fun new book, this should be one of the year’s most engaging.