SOUTH DEVON’S BEST ATTRACTIONS
Stone Age hut circles, Norman castles, abbeys and museums - here’s our guide to South Devon’s best things to do.
One of the most complete examples of the moor’s prehistoric settlements, Grimspound is a stone enclosure littered with the leavings of 24 Bronze Age hut circles. First settled about 1300 BC, the village’s stone perimeter wall is thought to have stood at 1.7 metres high in places.
An impressive Norman stronghold laid waste by Henry VIII, and one of the largest castle ruins in the south west, Okehampton Castle is mentioned in the Doomsday book.
The Mad Axeman, Frank Mitchell and the Acid Bath Murderer were all inmates at gothic Dartmoor Prison in mist-wreathed Princetown. It has museum for the macabre-minded, featuring makeshift weapons and confiscated escape gear. including the time-honoured classic of knotted bed sheets.
Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this is a wildly romantic verdantly-gardened Eden. The hotel’s romantic Grade-1 listed gardens, with shell houses, grottos and hidden glades, are perfect for a romantic tête-à-tête.
Buckfast Abbey. Built by six monks between 1907-1938 on the foundations of the former abbey that was disbanded in 1538 on the orders of King Henry V111.
The last castle built in Britain, Lutyens-designed Castle Drogo, about a ten-minute drive from the cottage, is a quasi-mediaeval granite pile housing a remarkable collection of venerable artefacts, such as 17th-century tapestries. One of our favourite walks, through Fingle Gorge, starts here.
Agatha Christie’s holiday home on the River Dart, is much as it was when the crime writer stayed here seeking inspiration. The house has a beautiful setting on the River Dart and gardens: don’t miss the peach house, winery and fernery. The ferry up the River Dart is a romantic way to arrive.
One of the oldest family seats in Devon, Powderham Castle near Exeter belongs to the Earl of Devon and is set in its own deer park.
Museum of Dartmoor Life
Housed in a former granary, Okehampton's Museum of Dartmoor Life is a great starting point for history buffs. Fronted by a Victorian cobbled yard, it’s home to three floors of exhibits charting the social history of the moor from prehistoric times.