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Things to do in Tavistock

tavistock abbey

Looking for things to do in Tavistock, the charming town nestled on the edge of Dartmoor National Park? This delightful spot offers a great mix of history, outdoor adventure, and local flavour. Whether you’re a keen explorer, a culture vulture, or simply seeking a relaxing escape, Tavistock has something for everyone.

Dive into its rich heritage at the Tavistock Abbey or explore the bustling Pannier Market, a local institution for over 900 years! For those seeking fresh air, Dartmoor’s wild beauty awaits, with endless opportunities for hiking, cycling, and soaking up the scenery. Stay tuned for our top picks for things to do in Tavistock!

We love going to the town of Tavistock, surrounded by Dartmoor and full of great things to do.

Unveiling History’s Layers at Tavistock Abbey

tavistock abbey

Travel back in time at Tavistock Abbey, a captivating window into Devon’s rich monastic history. Founded in the 10th century, the abbey flourished for over 500 years, becoming one of England’s most powerful religious institutions. While largely in ruins following Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the remaining structures evoke a sense of the abbey’s former grandeur.

Start your exploration by stepping beneath the impressive archway, a sturdy survivor whispering tales of monks and pilgrims. As you wander the atmospheric grounds, imagine the bustling activity that once filled these spaces. Informative displays scattered throughout the site bring the abbey’s story to life, detailing its rise to prominence and its eventual decline.

Venture further to discover the Tavistock Museum, housed within the abbey walls. Here, delve deeper into the town’s social and industrial heritage. Uncover fascinating archaeological finds, from everyday tools used by the monks to remnants of Tavistock’s once-thriving mining industry. Explore exhibits that illuminate life in centuries past, providing a captivating glimpse into the bygone era of the abbey. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about Tavistock’s roots, the abbey offers a captivating journey through time.

A Feast for the Senses: Exploring Tavistock Pannier Market

tavistock pannier market

Immerse yourself in the lively buzz of Tavistock Pannier Market, a delightful haven for all things local. This historic covered market, standing strong for over 900 years, pulsates with the energy of friendly vendors and the irresistible aroma of fresh produce.

Step inside and prepare to be dazzled by a kaleidoscope of colors and textures. Rows upon rows of stalls overflow with the bounty of Devon’s farms. Lush green vegetables gleam under the light, plump fruits beckon with their vibrant hues, and the intoxicating scent of freshly baked bread hangs heavy in the air.

Engage with the passionate stallholders, their enthusiasm for their products as contagious as their smiles. Sample a slice of ruby-red Devon Ruby cheese, savor the delicate sweetness of a just-picked strawberry, or perhaps indulge in a wedge of artisanal bread still warm from the oven.

The Pannier Market isn’t just a haven for foodies. Delve deeper and discover a treasure trove of handcrafted delights. Sparkling jewelry catches your eye, delicate pottery beckons to be touched, and colorful artwork adorns the walls. Unearth a unique gift for a loved one or a special keepsake to remember your Tavistock adventure. The market’s charm lies not just in its offerings, but in the sense of community it fosters. Here, locals and visitors mingle, sharing smiles and stories over steaming cups of tea or freshly brewed coffee. So, take a break from sightseeing, grab a bite to eat, and soak up the infectious energy of this historic marketplace.

“Tavistock: A History” by Gerry Woodcock offers a captivating exploration of Tavistock’s rich heritage, spanning from its ancient origins to modern times. With meticulous research and vivid storytelling, Woodcock delves into the town’s evolution, revealing its significance within Dartmoor’s landscape and the broader context of English history.

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tavistock a history

Unveiling the Mysteries of Merrivale Monuments


A short distance from Tavistock lies a captivating glimpse into prehistory: the Merrivale Monuments. This remarkable collection of standing stones, stone rows, and cairns (burial mounds) stands as a testament to the lives and beliefs of Bronze Age communities.

The most striking features are the two parallel stone rows, each stretching over 10 metres. Imagine lines of over stones, some reaching nearly a metre high, silently marking the landscape. Their purpose remains shrouded in mystery, but theories range from representing processional routes to serving as astronomical markers.

Dotted amongst the stone rows are several cairns, believed to be burial sites. One particularly intriguing cairn features a ring of stones, possibly marking the final resting place of a prominent individual.

The Merrivale complex also boasts a small stone circle and a pair of standing stones. Each element contributes to the enigmatic atmosphere of the site, sparking curiosity about the lives and rituals of those who built them.

While the whispers of the past remain elusive, a visit to Merrivale Monuments offers a powerful connection to a bygone era. Soak in the tranquility of the moorland setting, let your imagination wander, and ponder the lives of those who left behind this enduring legacy.

Journey Through Time at Morwellham Quay

Birds eye view of Morwellham Quay

Take a captivating step back in time at Morwellham Quay, a captivating testament to Devon’s rich industrial heritage. Nestled on the banks of the River Tamar, this historic port flourished during the Victorian era, serving as the lifeblood of the local mining industry. Today, Morwellham Quay stands transformed into an open-air museum, offering a glimpse into the bustling past and the harsh realities of minework.

Explore the meticulously restored quay, where once ships loaded with copper ore set sail for distant shores. Wander through the village, with its original cottages and workshops, now showcasing period displays and demonstrations of traditional crafts. Costumed interpreters bring the past to life, sharing stories of the miners and their families.

Embark on an underground adventure on the narrow-gauge mine railway. Delve deep beneath the earth’s surface and experience the challenging conditions endured by 19th-century miners. Explore the George & Charlotte Mine, venturing into tunnels lit by flickering lanterns and encountering realistic mannequins depicting miners at work.

Beyond the mines, Morwellham Quay offers a plethora of activities. Step aboard the restored wooden sailing ketch, the Garlandstone, and imagine life as a sailor. Learn the art of chocolate making, a sweet contrast to the mine’s harsh realities. Relax in the Ship Inn, a traditional pub with a welcoming atmosphere. Whether you’re fascinated by industrial history or simply seeking a unique family outing, Morwellham Quay offers an unforgettable experience.

Unveiling Tavistock’s Tapestry at the Tavistock Museum

tavistock museum

Nestled within the town lies the Tavistock Museum, a captivating treasure trove that unveils the town’s rich tapestry. Step inside and embark on a journey through time, exploring exhibits that illuminate Tavistock’s fascinating past, from its monastic beginnings to its vibrant present.

The museum’s heart lies in showcasing the legacy of Tavistock Abbey. Uncover archaeological finds unearthed from the abbey grounds, including remnants of intricate carvings and eloquent cloister arches. Interactive displays bring the abbey’s story to life, detailing its rise as a powerful religious center and its eventual dissolution.

Venture beyond the abbey’s walls and delve into Tavistock’s social and industrial evolution. Explore exhibits dedicated to the town’s bustling mining heritage. Examine weathered mining tools and reconstructed mine shafts, gaining a deeper appreciation for the backbreaking labor that fueled the local economy.

The museum doesn’t shy away from exploring Tavistock’s controversial figures. Learn about Sir Francis Drake, the town’s revered seafaring hero, and the complexities of his legacy. Thought-provoking displays encourage visitors to grapple with historical narratives and their interpretations.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the town’s character, the Tavistock Museum offers a captivating journey. Rotating exhibitions showcasing local artists and community initiatives add a touch of vibrancy, ensuring there’s always something new to discover. So, take a break from exploring and delve into the stories that make Tavistock the charming town it is today.

A Breath of Fresh Air: Riverside and Canal Walk in Tavistock

tavistock canal

Unwind and immerse yourself in nature with a delightful riverside and canal walk in Tavistock. This scenic route, perfect for walkers and cyclists of all abilities, offers a tranquil escape amidst the town’s charm.

Starting from the heart of Tavistock, follow the path alongside the River Tavy. Lush greenery lines the banks, offering a refreshing contrast to the town’s buildings. Watch ducks glide gracefully on the water, listen to the gentle murmur of the current, and breathe in the crisp Dartmoor air. The path leads you past the picturesque weir and historic bridges, remnants of Tavistock’s rich past.

As you leave the town centre, the path seamlessly transitions into the tranquil Tavistock Canal. Built in the early 19th century to transport copper from local mines, the canal today serves as a haven for wildlife and leisure seekers. The towpath offers a level and peaceful route, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a scenic cycle.

The verdant woodlands bordering the canal provide a welcome escape from the sun on warm days. Keep an eye out for colourful birds flitting through the branches, and listen for the soothing melody of trickling streams feeding into the canal. As you walk, imagine the bustling activity that once unfolded on the canal, with barges laden with cargo gliding silently through the water.

shillamill viaduct

The walk culminates at the impressive Shillamill Viaduct, a magnificent feat of engineering that carries the railway line high above the valley. Take a moment to marvel at its grandeur and capture breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Whether you seek a short stroll or a longer exploration, the riverside and canal walk offers a refreshing and scenic escape in the heart of Tavistock. So lace up your walking shoes, hop on your bike, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds this charming town.

Buckland Abbey: A Journey Through Monastic Grandeur and Seafaring Legacy

exterior buckland abbey

Buckland Abbey, a captivating blend of history and intrigue, awaits exploration near Tavistock. Originally a Cistercian monastery founded in the 13th century, it holds the distinction of being the last built in medieval England. Imagine cloistered monks tending vast estates and leading a life of devotion within these very walls.

The abbey’s imposing structure hints at its former glory. Explore the impressive remains of the church, its soaring arches and expansive layout whispering tales of prayer and ceremony. The Great Barn, a magnificent feat of medieval engineering, stands virtually unchanged, a testament to the abbey’s agricultural prowess.

However, history took a dramatic turn with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Buckland Abbey was transformed into a grand residence, first for Sir Richard Grenville the Younger, and later for the legendary explorer Sir Francis Drake.

Step inside the transformed house and embark on a voyage of discovery. Admire the grand rooms adorned with portraits, tapestries, and nautical treasures collected by Drake on his daring expeditions. Imagine him plotting his course across uncharted waters within these very walls.

Buckland Abbey offers more than just a glimpse into the past. Explore captivating exhibitions that delve deeper into the lives of its residents. Uncover the fascinating story of Lady Grenville and her embroidery masterpieces, or learn about the ingenious inventions used by Drake during his voyages.

Buckland Abbey beckons history buffs, nature lovers, and anyone seeking a unique day trip. Wander the tranquil gardens, explore the surrounding estate, and soak up the captivating atmosphere of this historic gem.

Where to eat in Tavistock

Having explored Tavistock’s rich history and natural beauty, it’s time to tantalize your taste buds! This charming town offers a delightful range of dining options, from cozy cafes serving up local delights to pubs brimming with atmosphere and restaurants showcasing culinary flair. Whether you crave a hearty post-adventure meal or a leisurely lunch break, Tavistock has something to satisfy every appetite.

For a Quick Bite and Local Buzz:

  • Bob’s East End Cafe: Start your day with a hearty breakfast or refuel after exploring with a satisfying lunch at Bob’s Cafe. This no-frills haven serves up classic British fare in a friendly atmosphere. Think bacon butties, sausage rolls, and freshly brewed coffee – perfect for a quick bite on the go. While they don’t have a website, you’re sure to find them tucked away in a corner of Tavistock.
  • Duke’s Coffee House: Craving a caffeine fix alongside a delicious treat? Look no further than Duke’s Coffee House. This inviting spot offers a tempting selection of coffees, teas, and hot chocolate, alongside a delectable array of pastries, cakes, and light lunches. Relax in their comfortable surroundings and soak up the local buzz.

For a Relaxed Lunch or Afternoon Tea:

  • Cafe Liaison: For a leisurely lunch or a quintessential afternoon tea experience, Cafe Liaison beckons. This charming cafe boasts a delightful menu featuring fresh salads, homemade sandwiches, and tempting cakes. Opt for a light and refreshing lunch or indulge in a traditional afternoon tea complete with scones, clotted cream, and finger sandwiches – a delightful way to spend a relaxing afternoon.

For a Hearty Meal and Local Charm:

  • Karen’s Restaurant: Nestled in the heart of Tavistock, Karen’s Restaurant offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere alongside a menu brimming with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Their menu features classic British dishes with a contemporary twist, alongside vegetarian and vegan options. Whether you’re seeking a comforting roast dinner or a lighter fish dish, Karen’s Restaurant is sure to satisfy.

For a Taste of History and Pub Culture:

  • Cornish Arms: Steeped in history and brimming with character, the Cornish Arms is a quintessential Tavistock pub. Dating back to the 17th century, this atmospheric pub offers a traditional setting to enjoy a hearty meal and a refreshing pint. Tuck into classic pub fare like bangers and mash, fish and chips, or a juicy steak, all prepared using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
  • Tavistock Inn: Another historic gem, the Tavistock Inn boasts a warm and inviting atmosphere perfect for a relaxed lunch or a lively evening meal. Their menu features a delicious selection of pub classics alongside more contemporary dishes. Enjoy a pint by the crackling fireplace in winter or soak up the sunshine in their charming beer garden during warmer months.
  • Queens Head: For a taste of traditional pub fare in a friendly setting, head to the Queens Head. This historic pub (now managed by Wetherspoons) offers a relaxed atmosphere and a menu featuring all your pub favorites. From hearty stews and pies to succulent burgers and fresh seafood dishes, there’s something to satisfy every craving.

A World of Flavors:

  • Tharik’s Tandoori Restaurant: Fancy a taste of India? Tharik’s Tandoori Restaurant tantalizes taste buds with authentic Indian cuisine. Their menu features a delicious array of curries, tandoori specialties, and fragrant rice dishes. Whether you’re a seasoned curry connoisseur or a curious newcomer, Tharik’s offers a delightful culinary adventure.
  • Birds Nest: Venture beyond traditional British fare and embark on a culinary journey to Southeast Asia at Birds Nest. This charming restaurant offers a delectable selection of Thai dishes, showcasing vibrant flavors and fresh ingredients. From fragrant curries and noodle dishes to stir-fries and pad thai, Birds Nest promises a delicious and authentic dining experience.

So, with this diverse array of dining options at your fingertips, Tavistock is sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you with lasting culinary memories. From hearty pub fare to international flavors, there’s something to satisfy every craving in this charming Devonshire town. Enjoy exploring

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