Skip to content

Okehampton Castle

okehampton castle

Step Back in Time at Okehampton Castle

Sat perched upon a wooded hilltop above the West Okement River, the medieval ruins of Okehampton Castle present a striking sight on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. Once a thriving Norman motte and bailey castle, today it forms a picturesque relic with panoramic views over Devon’s iconic moorland.

Climbing to the ramparts and keep of this atmospheric castle ruin lets you immerse yourself in nine centuries of history overlooking dramatic Dartmoor scenery. If you’re looking for an evocative castle experience in Devon, Okehampton fits the bill perfectly.

okehampton castle

Getting There

By Car

Okehampton Castle sits on the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park, around 28 miles west of Exeter. Look for the castle signs just off the A30 and A386 near Okehampton town centre. There is free parking adjacent to the castle.

By public transport

Buses run regularly between Exeter and Okehampton stopping in the town centre, leaving a short uphill walk to reach the castle.

Dartmoor Railway Station is half a mile walk away. Note that trains only run here during the summer months.

Opening Times and Prices

Okehampton Castle is open daily from 10am – 5pm between April and the end of September. For the rest of the year it is only open weekends and bank holidays from 10am – 4pm. It’s closed entirely in January and February. The castle is managed by English Heritage.

Admission prices are:

  • Adults £6.50
  • Children £3.50
  • Concessions £5.50
  • Family £16.00
  • English Heritage members free

Don’t forget, entry for kids under 5 is free.

cshow

Exploring the Castle Ruins

Once a mighty Norman fortress, today Okehampton Castle stands as an evocative ruin open to the elements. Though roofless, the thick granite walls spanning over 5 acres still impress. Walking the ruins really conjures images of its past inhabitants.

Highlights include:

  • The Keep – Climb stone steps to the top for panoramic views over lush countryside.
  • Turret Rooms – Peer into diamond-shaped chambers in the medieval battlements .
  • Great Hall – Visualise grand feasts in this banqueting hall.
  • Chapel – The ruins retain ornate architectural details.
  • Sally Port – Enter via the small side passageway once used by soldiers.

Informative displays tell the castle’s story through different eras and inhabitants, from medieval barons to Tudor gentlemen.

okehampton castle outside

The Grounds and Views

The extensive castle grounds allow you to appreciate the fortification from all angles and take in scenic outlooks:

  • Woodland trails – Follow pathways through shady oak forests.
  • River path – Walk beside the rushing West Okement waters.
  • Moorland views – Gaze across open Dartmoor’s heathers and tors.
  • Radial walls – Admire the ingenious network of outer fortifying walls.
  • Saxon church – See St Michael’s historic 12th century church adjoining the site.

Pack a picnic to fully soak up the atmosphere in this photogenic spot surrounded by the best of Devon’s landscapes.

Museum and Gift Shop

Within the castle gatehouse, the small museum has artefacts uncovered onsite and interactive displays. The gift shop sells souvenirs from guidebooks to jewellery.

Family Fun

Kids especially will love scrambling over ruins, admiring winding staircases and gazing from the ramparts. Some added highlights include:

  • Knight’s lookout – Peer from the castle’s high vantage point.
  • Dragon quest – Spot fire-breathing beasts around the ruins on an interactive trail.
  • Costume dress-up – Try on chainmail and medieval garb for photo fun.
  • Crafting – Make wax seals or decorate shields in regular kids’ workshops.

With magical ruins to ignite their imagination and outdoor space to run free, Okehampton Castle makes history exciting for kids.

Making a Day of It

Allow around 1.5-2 hours to explore Okehampton Castle itself and the immediate surroundings. Nearby, Okehampton town has riverside walks, cafes and an interactive museum extending your day out. Or head deeper into Dartmoor’s wilderness from the castle’s doorstep to immerse yourself in evocative moorland landscapes.

The History of the Castle

  1. Norman Origins (11th Century)
    Okehampton Castle was founded shortly after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It was built by Baldwin FitzGilbert, a Norman nobleman, to assert control over the region and guard the route through the West Country.
  2. Medieval Expansion (12th-14th Centuries)
    The castle was continually expanded and modified during the medieval period. It became a significant feudal stronghold and played a role in various regional conflicts. Over the centuries, it passed through the hands of different noble families.
  3. Civil War and Decline (17th Century)
    Okehampton Castle experienced its fair share of turmoil during the English Civil War (1642-1651). It was a Royalist stronghold and was besieged twice. After the war, the castle was slighted (partially demolished) to prevent further military use.
  4. Decay and Preservation (18th-19th Centuries)
    Over the centuries, the castle fell into disrepair and became a romantic ruin, inspiring artists and writers. In the 19th century, it was partially restored and underwent preservation efforts.
  5. Modern Times
    Today, Okehampton Castle is a popular tourist attraction managed by English Heritage.
okehampton castle

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Okehampton Castle wheelchair accessible? It is partially wheelchair-accessible, but it’s important to note that the historic nature of the site includes uneven terrain and steps. There may be limitations in terms of access to certain areas.

Who lived in Okehampton Castle? – Hugh Courtenhay, the Earl of Devon, turned the castle into a magnificant home in the 14th Century.

Are dogs allowed? Yes, dogs are allowed all around the castle, but they ask for them to be kept on leads.

Nearby Attractions

  • Castle Drogo: Just a short drive from Okehampton, Castle Drogo is a 20th-century masterpiece designed by renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. This imposing granite structure stands as the last castle built in England and offers a fascinating blend of medieval and modern architectural styles. Wander through the castle’s rooms, gardens, and enjoy panoramic views of the Teign Gorge.
  • Finch Foundry: Step back in time at Finch Foundry, a unique 19th-century water-powered forge nestled in the picturesque village of Sticklepath. Marvel at the working waterwheel, experience the sights and sounds of the blacksmith’s workshop, and gain insight into the region’s industrial heritage. The foundry provides an immersive experience, showcasing the craftsmanship and innovation of the past.
  • Tiverton Castle: Venture to Tiverton Castle, a historic gem with origins dating back to the medieval period. Explore the well-preserved castle rooms, including the Great Hall and the stunning Long Gallery. The castle’s grounds and gardens offer a tranquil setting for a leisurely stroll, providing visitors with a glimpse into the region’s architectural and horticultural history.
  • Lydford Gorge: A short drive away and a stunning natural spectacle. Managed by the National Trust, the gorge boasts a series of waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, and lush woodlands. Follow the scenic trails, cross the famous Devil’s Cauldron, and take in the beauty of one of Dartmoor’s most impressive landscapes.
  • Museum of Dartmoor Life: Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Dartmoor at the Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton. The museum showcases artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that highlight the unique heritage of the region, making it an ideal complement to your exploration of Okehampton Castle and its surroundings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *