River Beach at Parke
‘Peaceful, sheltered retreat on the edge of the Moor’, this National Trust estate offers the perfect mélange of river, woodland and paths for a day when it is just, dare I even say it, a little too hot. Sun shimmering off the shallow water, shade to retreat to, stones to throw and a log to balance along – Parke’s river beaches (of which there are many scattered along the ‘purple path’) are a fantastic place to spend a few hours. Seemingly secret and private. Dogs are happy, children are happy, mums are happy! Note: in the woodland dogs are often off the lead and may well come and say hello! Picnic pinchers alert! On the very edge of Dartmoor, Parke is easy to get to and just a short distance from the A38.
How to get there
Near Bovey Tracey, TQ13 9JQ.
From the car park (where you can pick up a map from the nice chap in the national trust van), follow the path down the hill past the Home Farm Café (genuinely great food and ice creams – Silver South West Tourism Excellence Award winner 2016 – 2017) over two little stone bridges. Say hello to the cows or sheep, and head left following the purple route. After the clearing, wander through the woodland, jumping over roots, and then over the wooden boardwalk that allows you to follow the river. Within minutes, you should spot the river beaches. The whole journey should take around 15 mins from the car park and in dry weather is all terrain buggyable, although a sling might be easier. There are many other river beaches and a large clearing at Park if you follow the purple path for the whole route.
Need to know
Loos & Baby changing?
Yes. Open all year round behind Parke House. This is about 10 mins from the river beach so worth encouraging the little ones to go on the way. From the café, it’s either down a couple of steps or around the loop if you have a pram. Baby changing is a pull-down plastic jobby in the corridor between the male and female loos – no excuses here for the dads.
Estate and walks: Dawn to dusk
Café: Open daily.
Easter to end October 10:00 – 17:00
November – Easter 10:00 – 16:00
Evening meals from 7pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Car parking £2
Free for NT members (although do remember to scan your membership card as the NT gets funding for each visitor)
Anything else to do?
- Great walks of varying lengths. The black route is the most buggy accessible, red and purple will require slings for little ones or for older children to be good walkers as hills are involved. Fantastic views and a great way to tire out older children! Check out the map here.
- Spot the fairy house in the woods – a great way to keep tired legs going.
- A well-deserved lunch or ice cream at Home Farm Café on the way back to the car park.
- Walled garden to spot what is growing, admire and discuss where different food comes from (if closed, there are adult and child height peekaboo holes).
- Cycling trials along the old railway track.
- Orienteering. Maps can be downloaded here.
- Tick off loads of your 50 things to do before you’re 11¾. View the full list here.
If the mood takes you, return for a Parkrun on Saturday mornings.