Lydford Castle (English Heritage), Lydford, Dartmoor National Park

Lydford Castle (English Heritage), Lydford, Dartmoor National Park

Lydford Castle is an English Heritage property at the heart of a beautiful and historically important village on the western border of Dartmoor National Park. According to English Heritage, 'Lydford Castle was probably built about 1195 to serve as a prison'. During the medieval period, conditions at the prison were notoriously bad.

There's a reasonably large car park across the road from the castle. You can also cycle or walk in on one of Dartmoor's many trails. If you have a choice, we'd recommend biking the Granite Way from Okehampton to visit Lydford Castle.

You'll see a square tower and steep sided banks of earth. Follow the path past the English Heritage board and walk up to the back of the tower. There, you'll see steps that enable you to explore the ruined building. From the tower, drop down to the grassy area that runs north west. There's an information board offering high quality information about the castle. This includes a drawing of the building as it would have appeared in its prime.

Once you've explored this English Heritage property, make sure you head around the back of the church to see the remains of the Norman Fort or Norman Castle. On your way, you'll pass Viking runes. These runes, carved in stone, make reference to a battle between the Vikings and Saxons that took place in 997 AD. This battle is also commemorated in the axe and shield monument across the road from the church. The Norman Fort or Norman Castle is now a mound but you'll find another information board telling you about the site.

Having seen Lydford Castle and the Norman Fort or Norman Castle, carry on to the National Trust's Lydford Gorge.

If castles are of interest, visit English Heritage's Okehampton Castle. A little further away, try the National Trust's Castle Drogo. You might want to see the neolithic enclosures and hill forts that fringe the moors.