Exploring Dartmoor in an Aston Martin DB11
- Credit: Archant
Dick Lovett Aston Martin Bristol is perfectly placed just up the M5 from Devon so you can easily take an incredible DB11 on a test drive through the beautiful scenery of Dartmoor
Wild ponies, windswept moorland and granite tors. It has to be Dartmoor.. There are picture-postcard villages and amazing pubs for a cream tea or light lunch. But what it also has are some of the most stunning roads in the West Country.
What better place to enjoy a timelessly elegant classic British sportscar, one that also comes with a very satisfying bark from both the V8 or V12 engine options. There’s also an eight-speed automatic gearbox, sculpted front and chiseled torso.
It’s the ultimate in luxury and prestige: the Aston Martin DB11. Such a car deserves a stunning backdrop and Dartmoor delivers this in spades.
And with Aston Martin Bristol literally just over an hour and a half away from the edge of Dartmoor it’s perfectly placed to take an incredible Aston Martin DB11 on a test drive to remember down the M5 and out across the wide open moors.
Aston Martin Bristol - your best bet to get an Aston Martin if you live in Devon - is just off the M5 at Cribbs Causeway, which makes Dartmoor the perfect destination for a test drive to remember: no traffic jams (unless you count having to wait for the free-roaming sheep and ponies out on the moors), only the odd traffic light in a handful of villages and definitely some of the best views in the South West.
Your first challenge will be deciding which Aston Martin DB11 to take. As well as the DB11 V12 and DB11 V8, the DB11 stable also includes the drop-top DB11 Volante. Available with a V8 engine, the Volante is perfect for the summer and benefits from all the fine detail and exquisite craftsmanship you would expect from Aston Martin.
The Aston Martin DB11 V12 is the most powerful DB11 yet, with the 5.2 litres engine delivering a heart-stopping 600 horsepower. This compares to the twin-turbocharged 4.0 litres Aston Martin DB11 V8’s equally exhilarating 503. Not a huge difference and the 0-60 times are also pretty close with the V12 engine covering the ground in 3.9 seconds, just 0.1 seconds faster than the V8.
Top speeds are also within a hair’s breadth of each other at 200 mph and 187 mph respectively. But losing four cylinders has made the V8 lighter and some drivers argue a little more nimble than it’s big V12 brother.
But without doubt the best way to decide is to take them for a spin. Aston Martin Bristol is just off the M5 so it’s literally a case of heading down the M5 to Junction 31 past Exeter and then out along the A38 on the Devon Expressway
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Follow the Expressway for just over 11 miles then take the exit for the B3344/B3193 signposted to Chudleigh Knighton, Kingsteignton and the Teign Valley. From there it’s a three-mile drive on the B3344 to Bovey Tracey.
The town lies right on the eastern edge of Dartmoor and from here it’s a short hop to the moor. Just follow the sign for ‘other routes’ when you get to the crossroads which takes you on to a roundabout where you go straight across to join the B3387 signposted to Haytor and Widecombe, or Widecombe in the Moor to give it its full title.
You’re now in pure Dartmoor, with its sweeping roads, breathtaking scenery and windswept moors. Just ten minutes from Bovey Tracey you’ll see the impressive granite outcrop of Haytor rising in front of you. It’s also home to a Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre.
You can’t miss the centre on the left-hand side of the road as you approach the tor and it’s well worth a stop to learn more about Haytor Rocks and stretch your legs with a stroll up the tor. At the top you can also admire the view - the beautiful DB11 set against a backdrop of beautiful moorland.
Getting back to the car, keep heading towards Widecombe in the Moor and take a left at Hemsworthy Gate. It’s just three miles from Haytor and is well worth another stop. There are cafes, a village church and a National Trust gift shop and information point.
The parish church of St Pancras is known locally as the Cathedral of the Moors due to its 120-foot tower but the village is probably best known for its annual fair which was immortalised for ever more in the folksong Widecombe Fair, famously featuring Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
Staying on the B3387, head for the B3557 and the popular beauty spot of Dartmeet right at the very heart of Dartmoor. It’s the meeting point of two major tributaries of the River Dart and alongside the road bridge there’s the remains of a medieval clapper bridge.
If you don’t fancy a walk by the river stay on the B3557 towards Two Bridges - Vivian Leigh once stayed at the famous Two Bridges Hotel - and from here it’s a left turn on to the B3212 towards Princetown, home to the imposing Dartmoor Prison.
The prison once hosted such high profile prisoners as the Kray twins and the exterior was used as the setting for the BBC comedy Porridge starring the legendary Ronnie Barker. Today there’s a museum dedicated to prison times past and present.
Princetown itself is the highest village on the moor and Dartmoor Brewery can also be found here.
Leaving Princetown behind, it’s a six-mile drive into Yelverton where you leave the moor’s winding roads behind and join the A386 back towards the Devon Expressway and Plymouth. Not that there will have been any moorland challenges that won’t have been taken in the stride of this best of British sportscar.
Skirting the maritime city of Plymouth, you head back towards Exeter and the M5 and then it’s a straight run back to Aston Martin Bristol at Junction 17.
This is one five hours driving experience you won’t forget in a hurry. Add in stops at Haytor and Widecombe, a pub lunch and a cream tea and you can stretch it to a full-day test drive - and who would blame you?
For more information on Aston Martin visit Aston Martin Bristol or call 0117 900 7007