5 National Trust locations to visit in Devon
17th March 2022
Whether you are based in Devon or are visiting from further abroad, the county in the South West of England has so much to offer, with beautiful countryside, lovely seaside locations, and plenty of great attractions. Some of the best attractions in Devon take the form of National Trust locations, providing plenty of fun and interesting days out. From beautiful old country houses to castles and pretty gardens, there’s much to look forward to, combining a dive into history with great outdoor experiences. In this guide, you will discover just some of the gems Devon has to offer courtesy of the National Trust, along with some top-line accessibility information that users of stairlifts might find useful.
Arlington Court is actually two wonderful attractions in one, featuring not only the family estate owned by the Chichester family for 500 years but also the National Trust Carriage Museum. Situated on the edge of the beautiful Exmoor national park, the house itself was built in the Neoclassical style in 1820, and also features Grade II listed gardens. There are 20 miles of footpaths to explore, a Victorian garden and conservatory, lots of wildlife, and the house itself boasts a collection of treasures such as model ships and shells. The carriage museum features historic coaches, including a gilded carriage on loan from the Houses of Parliament.
Emma, from the blog Bubba Blue & Me, has been to Arlington Court herself and shared what she enjoyed about visiting: “What we enjoyed most when visiting Arlington Court was seeing the National Carriage Museum. There's something for every age, making it a great place for all the family. From the history and education of the old carriages to the interactive areas that keep children of all ages engaged. You may even get lucky and see the staff moving some of the carriages in and out of the courtyard.”
Emma has also offered a tip for those interested in experiencing the attraction for themselves: “Arlington Court car park and cafe do get very busy so our advice would be to arrive early and think about taking a picnic if you don't want to get caught in the lunchtime rush.”
In terms of accessibility, there are trampers available to hire and adapted toilets, with level access to the ground floor of the house and carriage museum, as well as the gardens, pleasure grounds, reception, shop, and café.
You can find the full access statement for Arlington Court here.
Buckland Abbey, located near Yelverton, is a grand 700-year-old house that is famed for its historic connection to Sir Richard Grenville the Younger and Sir Francis Drake. The abbey was built for Cistercian monks in 1278, with the monks also farming the estate. It later fell into the hands of the famous explorer Sir Francis Drake, and today visitors can explore this history, with the abbey being part museum and house. With a virtually untouched medieval Great Barn, meadows, orchards, and woodlands to also explore, there’s plenty to see and do.
Claire, from the travel blog, Tin Box Traveller, has been to Buckland Abbey, and shared this insight into exploring this fantastic property: “The best thing about visiting Buckland Abbey is knowing you are stepping inside the home of Sir Francis Drake. As a global explorer of questionable motives, he wasn't here much. But there's plenty of relics from his adventures at sea. If you're visiting the Abbey, don't miss stepping inside the Great Barn. As well as being an impressive building in its own right, there is often touring art installations exhibited here. It's also dressed beautifully for Christmas.”
At Buckland Abbey, you can find peace and relaxation, especially in the tranquil cider garden, as well as a café, and those with limited mobility will find wheelchair-accessible paths, ramps into the house, a buggy service, trampers, and adapted toilets.
You can find the full access statement for Buckland Abbey here.
Castle Drogo is part country house, part castle, located in Drewsteignton and constructed as recently as 1911. Its later date of construction makes it the last castle to be built in England, designed in the mixed-revivalist style. Overlooking the Teign Gorge woodlands, Castle Drogo’s dramatic architecture is the perfect companion to the drama of the surrounding scenery, making this a truly unique family home. Visitors can look forward to exploring the grounds of Castle Drogo, including the colourful Lutyens designed garden and miles of pathways in Teign Gorge itself.
Sophie, from the lifestyle and travel blog, Solo Sophie, has been to Castle Drogo and enjoyed her visit: “The last castle built in England boasts a wide variety of things to do, meaning that there is something to interest anyone, of any age. From the intricate details of Lutyen’s architectural masterpiece to playing croquet in the gardens to visiting stunning landscaped gardens, Castle Drogo has plenty to do and even more to see.”
Castle Drogo is the perfect place to stretch your legs, enjoy the outdoors, and even treat your dog to a scenic walk in the woodlands. There is also a café to grab a refreshment once you are done exploring. There is step-free access at Castle Drogo for the entrance hall and library, as well as mobility parking, and an accessible toilet. There are steps in the garden, however, and steps to access the upper floors of the castle.
You can find the full access statement for Castle Drogo here.
Image credit: Becks
Yet another treasure of Devon’s National Trust properties is Coleton Fishacre in Kingswear near Dartmouth. This 1920s country retreat by the sea was made in the Arts & Crafts style and visitors will find a property replete with Art Deco flourishes that transports those who enter back to the Jazz Age. Home of the D'Oyly Carte family, who had connections with famed musical theatre duo Gilbert and Sullivan, Coleton Fishacre is a peaceful location, where you can spend time exploring the wonderful saloon and servants’ rooms and enjoying the RHS garden with its wonderful sea views and tranquil paths.
There are also coastal walks to enjoy and a café selling hot and cold drinks as well as light snacks. There is wheelchair hire available at Coleton Fishacre, accessible parking, and there is ramped access to the main house, with wheelchair users having access to the ground floor.
You can find the full access statement for Coleton Fishacre here.
Located near Tiverton, Knightshayes is a Victorian country house and court, described as an “eloquent expression of High Victorian ideals”. Packed full of character and quirky touches, this William Burges designed property includes a glorious garden and park to go along with the Gothic revival house. Its formal and woodland garden won’t fail to delight, boasting over 1200 species of plant that are unique to Knightshayes. The parkland features fantastic woodland walks and farmland to enjoy, and the house itself has plenty of rooms ripe for exploration, including an impressive library, filled with rare books.
Steph, from the blog Little Observationist, has been to Knightsayes and has shared what she enjoyed about the experience: “My nan lived near Knightshayes and loved exploring the sprawling grounds of the property. I went with her once. I most enjoyed the colours of the season; the rhododendrons were blooming in striking oranges, pinks and golds in the 19th-century parkland, long wisteria vines decorated the old walls of the house, and the kitchen garden was lush with new growth. I'd recommend a morning there, to surround yourself with plants and flowers, take in the history, breathe the fresh air, and relax with a cup of tea in the cafe.”
There is ramped access to the house and the ground floor is fully accessible to wheelchair users. Outside, there are some steep slopes and cobbled floors to be aware of. Knightshayes does offer wheelchair loans, accessible toilets, and mobility parking.
You can find the full access statement for Knightshayes here.
National Trust locations to visit in Devon
- Arlington Court
- Buckland Abbey
- Castle Drogo
- Coleton Fishacre
As you can see, there are a number of wonderful National Trust locations to visit in Devon. These attractions will provide plenty of interest for those seeking a day out in the county, combining fascinating history with gorgeous outdoor spaces to enjoy.
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