On the north west edge of vast and sprawling Dartmoor sits a black and white Tudor-style building in the shape of a shoe on one side. Around the corner, you enter through the bright pink doors of a stagecoach where you can sit in the red leather seats on either side before exiting into the pub. Welcome to The Highwayman Inn.
The name comes from the horse-riding robbers like Dick Turpin from past centuries who would steal from travelers – often holding up stagecoaches. They would shout “Stand and deliver – your money or your life!” Like Robin Hood, these men were once treated as heroes but later many of them ended up on the gallows. Inside the pub, there are giant wheels from ships that are covered with glass and used as tables. They were under tablecloths this time, but on past visits over the years, you could see the loot that’s spread out around the spokes.
And it’s haunted, by the way – one of the most haunted pubs in Britain by some accounts. There are several ghosts who hang out here including Sam – a man dressed in green with a feather in his hat, a woman in a mop cap, a guy called Joseph who props himself up at the bar and a sea captain you can call Grenville. Unfortunately none of these apparitions made an appearance when we stopped in for a coffee on our drive across the Moors, but maybe you’ll have better luck, especially if you stay the night.
There’s been an inn on the site since 1282, so plenty of history here. It’s been family-run for generations now in its current state and the owners – Sally and Bruce – work hard to maintain the kooky atmosphere that earned it its title as Britain’s most unusual pub. They also have a certificate for Pub of the Year 1978 hanging on one of the walls and more recent praise from TripAdvisor.
The décor is nothing short of eccentric, curios covering every surface, all sorts of nooks and crannies and hidden rooms to explore. There are parts from old ships, piles of dusty records that probably haven’t been played in decades, Frida Kahlo cushions, horse brass, candlesticks and a resident dog who dances (no joke) behind the bar.
There are Venetian masks, a giant bull at the end of a tunnel where the lights swirl across the walls and change colour, art deco lamps and worn red velvet benches. There are catholic icon cards, stained glass windows, intricate lighting fixtures and plenty of stories to be heard if you manage to have a chat with the owners.
It’s well worth a visit before a long walk or drive across Dartmoor if you’re ever down in Devon!
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