7 National Trust places in South Devon you must visit
Are you a fan of woodland walks, wandering around formal gardens and exploring historic stately homes? National Trust places tick all the right boxes as well as guaranteeing a delicious slice of cake at the end (or beginning) of your visit.
This post rounds up where you can find the best National Trust days out in South Devon including places linked to the world’s best crime writer, famous seafarers and the family who founded the Savoy Theatre and Hotel.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in South Devon then take a look at our holiday cottages around the Dart Valley.
Here’s where you can visit with your National Trust membership during your stay:
1. Saltram in Plymouth
This large National Trust property on the edge of Plymouth has a beautiful house to explore, an orangery and woodland walks. For families there’s a den building area, a pump track and children’s trails.
Saltram has one of Britain’s best preserved Georgian houses. Inside you’ll find artwork by Joshua Reynolds and Angelica Kauffman. Don’t miss the Chippendale sofa in the Saloon and the Chinese wallpaper in the Chinese Dressing Room.
Find out more about visiting Saltram.
2. Buckland Abbey in Yelverton
Devon-born Sir Francis Drake bought Buckland Abbey after liberating the Spanish of a haul of booty. ‘El Draque’, as they called him, needed a home close to Plymouth from where he launch his expeditions. Buckland Abbey on the edge of Dartmoor fitted the bill.
In reality, Drake spent very little time at the Abbey but it stayed in his family until the 1930s. Some of the curiosities and relics from his travels are on display in the house’s Treasure Room.
Up in the attic there’s an exhibition about Tudor seafaring life and a dressing up box full of period costume. Don’t miss the countryside walks around the estate or the Great Barn, which is often used for temporary exhibitions.
Find out more about visiting Buckland Abbey.
3. Greenway at Galmpton
This fascinating house full of curious collectibles was once the holiday home of crime writer Agatha Christie. You can explore rooms where she would regale her family with plot ideas, wander through the scenic riverside gardens and knock about some balls in the tennis court behind the house.
Don’t miss the military mural in the library that was left by US Navy sailors stationed here during the Second World War.
Paths wind through the riverside gardens and down to a folly and boathouse from which you can enjoy wildlife spotting on the River Dart.
Find out more about visiting Greenway.
Extend your visit and explore nearby Dittisham.
4. Compton Castle in Compton
This small but deadly castle is still home to the ancestors of the Gilbert family who built it back in the 14th Century. They fortified it against French raids with a portcullis and murder holes through which hot oil could be poured on attackers. These were never used in anger.
Among Compton’s famous residents was Sir Humphrey Gilbert who colonised Newfoundland in the name of Queen Elizabeth I in 1583.
The castle is now a mix of ruins and restored wings with formal gardens and an orchard. Children will find Tudor games in the courtyard and on the castle lawn, as well as a dressing up box in the guard room. Keep an eye out for squirrels around the castle – it was in the family’s crest.
Compton Castle is open a selected few dates each year, so check before you visit. Find out more about visiting Compton Castle.
Find more castles in South Devon.
5. Overbecks at Salcombe
Visit Overbecks and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to a tropical paradise. Devon’s unique microclimate has allowed plants from all around the world to flourish here, making it an exciting place for budding horticulturalists to explore.
The house at Overbecks was built in 1913 and is now home to a collection of curiosities belonging to one of its former owners, Otto Overbeck. He was an eccentric inventor and collector.
Find out more about visiting Overbecks.
6. Coleton Fishacre at Brixham
Devon has always been a popular retreat from city life and was the favoured holiday spot of the D’Oyly Carte family who were famous for their connections to the world of opera. They founded the Savoy Theatre and Savoy Hotel in London thanks to the success of their collaborations with Gilbert and Sullivan.
Coleton Fishacre is unique among the National Trust’s places in South Devon as it was designed in 1920s Art Deco style. Much of the original furniture and fittings were sold but they have been recreated for visitors to enjoy today.
The gardens at Coleton Fishacre are set in a steep valley with excellent views of the coastline. There’s a den building area and regular spotter trails for children to enjoy.
Find out more about visiting Coleton Fishacre.
Why not also visit nearby Kingswear.
7. Walk Little Dartmouth
If a hike with sea views is more your thing then you can park in the National Trust car park at Little Dartmouth and enjoy the scenery from the South West Coast Path. Take a circular walk along the cliffs towards the mouth of the River Dart and Dartmouth Castle.
For more information about the route read our post about South Devon coast walks.
There’s also plenty to explore in Dartmouth.
Where to stay in South Devon
Looking for places to stay in South Devon while making the most of your National Trust membership? Find the perfect holiday cottage with us.
We know all of our properties first hand. Contact us for a chat.