Becky Falls gives children a sense of being in the wilderness whilst actually having toilets, cafe and gift shop within reach. East Dartmoor – a place that seems quite different to the wide open spaces, shrub land and tors more commonly found in mid-Dartmoor – has ancient woodland and valleys, as well as bubbling water cascading over mossy boulders, otherwise known as Becky Falls.
On the second official day of Spring we bought a family ticket for our first visit. Although we’d read the brochure we didn’t really know what to expect. We’d already enjoyed the drive via Bovey Tracey where we’d stopped for a while after seeing some wild Dartmoor ponies by the side of the road. When we’d paid our entrance fee we stopped to look at the handful of animal enclosures. One of the Meerkats was being entertaining and warming himself under a lamp and then in the very next cage a Great Horned Owl was eating a small yellow chick. My children were surprised to see two contrasts of nature in such close proximity.
We picked up a leaflet to stamp as we made our way round the easier Blue trail. The stamps were easy to find and my three, six and eight year olds found the Blue trail interesting and easy to follow. At the end of the easier trail we challenged ourselves to do the harder red trail. I’m glad we did because the walk became more difficult but also hugely more exciting. I did have to carry the three year old for much of the red trail but we really enjoyed the large waterfall and the bouldering walk. We also enjoyed the rope bridges. But our very favourite things were off the beaten track.
My three year old found a ‘fairy’s house’ at the base of a tree. I don’t know if the staff had built it or an enterprising family had, but my children were completely convinced that a small fairy had made it. Our other highlight was a cave which we crawled into. After a bit more scrambling we made it back to the gift shop and handed in our completed treasure trail leaflets in exchange for lollipops. After some lunch we headed up to the theatre to do some children’s craft before settling down to an animal demonstration which they called ‘animal encounters of the scary kind'. All three of my children held a snake and learned about an animal I’d never heard of before called a Tegu.
On the day we went there were hardly any other people around which definitely added to both the animal encounter show and the sense of getting away from it all. I read on the leaflet that Becky Falls has been open to the public since 1903. A lot of small feet must have walked its trails in that time but my children really did feel like explorers discovering a strange and magical land for the first time.