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The Magnificent 7; Beautiful places (with great pubs!) to visit on your South Devon holiday

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

When you come to stay at Mill Cross Retreats in Rattery or other South Devon holiday locations, you'll be spoilt for choice for wonderful beaches with rolling landscapes as backdrops, charming, picture postcard villages, winding country lanes with views through farm gates & of course Dartmoor.

You could spend every day on Dartmoor which has a huge amount of variety including dramatic tors with jaw-dropping views, ancient woodland, swimming spots on The Dart & the prettiest villages. Equally, you could spend every day at the coast on the beach or in pretty coastal towns & villages.

Our on-line guidebook for guests is worth perusing before you come on your short or longer break. We give lots of ideas, tips & our own inside knowledge of where to go, what to do & of course, where to eat- that is, if you choose to leave the peace & tranquillty of a a stay here.

If you'd like a guide to the best of them all in our round up of " The Magnificent 7", read on.

1. Buckland in the Moor

Buckland is not far from us in Rattery on the South side of Dartmoor. This is one of Devon's "dream villages" nestling on the edge of the Moor with a beautiful medieval church made up of stone quarried on the Moor. Look at the church tower clock & note its very unusual face. A cluster of thatched cottages overlooks the woodland of Holne Chase. There is a rocky pinnacle above the village & there are the 10 Commandments written on stone tablets in the Buckland Beacon- worth a walk.

For long walks in the woodland, take the Ashburton Road. Another must see nearby is Dartmeet - a well known Dartmoor beauty spot popular with tourists.

For the best nearby pubs, visit either The Rock Inn at Haytor Vale or The Rugglestone in Widecombe

2. Dartington Hall

Dartington Hall and its gardens have it all- breathtakingly lovely with really interesting history. Taken over in the 1930s by The Elmhursts & pioneering the artistic revival associated with Totnes, there is always something to see or do. The lovely gardens with terraced amphitheatre, Henry Moore & Barbara Hepworth sculptures & wonderful trees are really worth a visit & you can also walk around the ancient estate down to the River Dart.

There is a decent pub on the estate- The White Hart which sources local food & drink.

3. Widecombe in The Moor

Another really lovely Moorland Village that is worth a walk across Hameldown from Bone Hill Rocks to visit. Alternatively, drive up from Ashburton, admiring the lovely views & park in the village.

The biggest day in the calendar of this picturesque village is probably the most famous thing about Widecombe-the folk song “Widecombe Fair” immortalises the tale of Tom Pearce and the death of his horse at the famous fair. The annual fair, held on the second Tuesday in September, is a classic agricultural fair with horse jumping, rural crafts, a dog show & much more.

The Church of St Pancras, colloquially known as the Cathedral of the Moors in recognition of its 120-ft tower, stands over the village green — helps to make Widecombe one of the most beloved villages on Dartmoor.

Two brilliant pubs in Widecombe await- our favourite The Rugglestone which in itself is picturesque or The Old Inn We'd also highly recommend the brilliant Cafe on The Green which has a brilliant array of food & drink with wonderfully friendly service.

4. Lustleigh

Lustleigh is thought of by many as the most desirable of Dartmoor village to live in. It is really beautiful & one of our favourite walks from Parke at Bovey Tracey goes up through woodland & Lustleigh Cleave to arrive in Lustleigh itself before walking back to Parke.

There are so many beautiful thached cottages, a village cricket green, a lovely church, a tearoom, brilliant village shop & a pretty decent pub, The Cleave. Well worth a walk, a visit and a pub stop.

5. Burgh Island

We are often surprised when guests head for the more well known coastal tourist destinations like Torquay, Paignton & Brixham. Why? Because closer & far more beautiful, breathtaking even, are a selection of lovely beaches that will capture the beauty & romance of South Devon, including Bantham, South Milton, Mothecombe & our favourite Bigbury on Sea with lovely Burgh Island perched in the middle.

Burgh Island was a favourite haunt of Agatha Christie who visited the lovely hotel there. The hotel is Art Deco in style & well worth a visit for afternoon tea.

You might choose to walk along the estuary at low tide where it seems you could step across to Bantham (you can't!) or cross to the island by foot when the tide is out or on the famous sea tractor when the tide is in, or perhaps pick up the coast path heading West.

For pubs, try The Pilchard Inn on the island, if you can get a table!

6. Dittisham

Dittisham, or ‘Ditsum’ to locals, is a picturesque riverside village on the West bank of the River Dart, not far from Totnes. Surrounded by lovely countryside in the heart of South Devon’s AONB, Dittisham is 7well worth a trip (kayak or boat if you can). There's a lovely laid back feel to Dittisham that really appeals to visitors after a bit of R&R.

The quayside is the focus for your trip where you can watch the flow of river traffic before heading to one of the eateries or pubs. You can get a ferry to Dittisham from Dartmouth to add to the fun.

Try The Ferryboat Inn which is the lovely pink building you can see in the picture above. We also recommend The Anchorstone Cafe ,renowned for its seafood.

7. Bench Tor

Yes, there are so many lovely tors to visit in the 365 square miles of Dartmoor but if we had to choose just one, it would be Bench Tor. The Tor itself doesn't rise up dramatically as you drive across the moor like so many do so it can go unnoticed. Park at Venford Reservoir & walk up the gentle slop to your right & you'll be rewarded with a dramatic view where you can stand at any one of half a dozen or so points along this long tor & see (& hear!) the River Dart way below you, weaving through a wooded valley.

Dropping down through ancient woodland (in our view much better than Wistman's Wood) to the River, you can wander along or take a dip in one of the pools before heading up to the "Pipe Track" & back along to the reservoir.

Bench Tor is not far from the lovely South Dartmoor village of Holne where you can visit The Church House Inn (Holne)

Do check opening times as they can be limited but the food & drink are great.

There are many other suggestions in our other blogs & on Instagram or Facebook & of course in our guidebook when you stay with us for places to visit, eat or shop & things to do during your stay. Whatever you do, make it count & choose from the best of what this incredibly beautiful area has to offer.

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