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Widecombe, in the heart of the Dartmoor National Park will probably be one place name you recognise from the famous song about Tom Pearse going to Widecombe Fair. The fair itself is rightly very famous, the first one was held in 1850 when it was decided that the village had a large enough green next to the churchyard to hold a free fair where “yeomen and gentlemen of the district” could bring their cattle and sheep. The first one recorded that 50 moorland ponies were also driven in as the Widecombe stock was highly prized.


'Withy-combe,' meaning Willow Valley, is still a respite from the harsh moorland terrain today and the village has probably not changed much over the years, though these days it’s the one location on the Two Moors Way that sees a reasonable share of tourists due to its pretty surroundings.


The village is still dominated by its church of St Pancras, better known as the Cathedral in the Moor due to its size and huge tower. The saint himself is said to have been a Roman convert to Christianity, martyred by beheading at the age of 14.


Inside the church, look for the huge granite pillars and a unique set of carved roof bosses.  Those on the trail of Sherlock Holmes's Hound of the Baskerville’s will find Henry Baskerville's grave outside – inevitably there is also a memorial here to Uncle Tom Cobley.


The Church itself was struck by lightning in the middle of a packed service in 1638 and you find several references to what then became national news. One local recalled that ‘a great fiery ball come in at the window and passe through the Church, accompanied by fire, smoke and a strong smell of brimstone'. Four worshippers died and 60 were injured before local legend took hold claiming the ‘Great Thunderstorm’ was caused by the village being visited by the Devil himself.


Widecombe's traditional triangular village green is a pleasant place to sit and rest weary legs on seats nailed to the trees whilst taking in the views of the Church and the dominating moors above. There is a range of small shops, a pottery and old forge as well as several eating places around the green.


Today, tourism is the main industry, and for the walker coming in from the heath there are tea rooms and 2 pubs, The Old Inn where the original beams are 700 years old and The Rugglestone Inn, a delightful inn converted from a cottage, both offering locally sourced food and drink. Accommodation in Widecombe is all in nearby B&B’s or farms and for anyone finding the Two Moors Way a bit tough by this point Widecombe is the centre for Dartmoor’s famous Trekking Llamas which we are told can be hired for carrying packs by walkers!


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