The River Dart journeys from its source high up on spellbinding Dartmoor towards the South Devon coastline. From Dartmeet,...
National Trust properties in South Devon offer a fascinating day out. That’s why we’ve created a local’s guide to our favourite four National Trust estate and gardens in this beautiful region – complete with historical interest, stunning views and fresh country air, all are well worth a visit!
From opulent dream homes to cultural properties and their wonderland gardens, these fabulous estates regularly hold seasonal family-friendly events and opportunities to learn about the local history. Here’s a little information about where to find our top National Trust properties in South Devon, what to expect and what we love the most about them…
Step back in time to the 1920s and explore the Art Deco former home of Rupert and Dorothy D’Oyly Carte. Built in 1926, this country retreat is a wonderful place to visit thanks to its splendid minimalist interiors, stunning valley views and fun interactive elements. You can try on clothing and hats from the 1920s and listen to jazz music from the era, immersing yourself in the glamorous lifestyles of the original residents.
There are beautiful gardens to explore, with seasonal walks organised by the National Trust staff to help you appreciate the colourful flora. There’s also inside and outside seating at the Coleton Café, and you’re welcome to bring your own picnic to the al fresco dining area. Dogs are welcome in the grounds (but not in the main house) and there are plenty of local walks to enjoy as part of your day out.
Head to the village of Churston (near Brixham) and follow the brown signs. Or, for the most leisurely option, take either the Greenway Ferry from Dartmouth or the Dartmouth Steam Railway from Kingswear to Greenway Halt. You can also make your way to Greenway from Kingswear on foot – take a look at our guide to the walk from Dartmouth to Greenway and Dittisham.
Visit the former home of Devon’s most famous daughter, Dame Agatha Christie, for a wonderfully evocative day on the banks of the River Dart.
Learn more about the ‘Queen of Crime’ from the lovingly maintained 1940s interior, not just about Dame Agatha’s writing but also her other passions, such as her archaeological expeditions to the Middle East.
Greenway gardens are well worth exploring in their own right, not least because the views from the estate are some of the most breathtaking in the region. Opportunities to take fantastic photos abound, whether you’re looking across to Dittisham from Greenway Quay or gazing out over the Dart Valley towards Dartmouth from the top of the hill.
Stop for a homemade snack or meal in the café or take the passenger ferry from Greenway Quay to the village of Dittisham. There you can enjoy a freshly prepared bite at the popular Anchorstone Café or pop into the Ferry Boat Inn, housed in an iconic pink building on the waterfront.
Follow the coastal road south from Salcombe to South Sands, and then continue up the narrow road to Overbeck’s. Alternatively, take the South Sands Ferry from Salcombe and walk three-quarters of a mile uphill following the signs.
In a commanding position above South Sands near Salcombe, Overbeck’s House is a treasure trove of interesting art and quirky artefacts, with a colourful garden renowned for its rare plant species from the tropics and around the world. Built in 1913, this unique property is the former home of scientist and inventor, Otto Overbeck, and was bequeathed to the National Trust following his death in 1937.
Overbeck’s House is the place to go to find out more about the accomplishments and eccentricities of the former owner himself, as well as a little of the estate’s history before he purchased it. Originally called Sharpitor House under the ownership of the Vereker family, the use of the building was donated rent-free for use as a voluntary aid hospital during the Second World War.
Why not explore the art and natural history collections, walk the garden trails, enjoy the magnificent views and then stop for a break in the tea room? Enjoy a homemade snack or drink, choosing from the inside and outside seating areas.
Saltram House is a beautiful country estate set on the outskirts of Plymouth. Visit the former home of the Parker family, who owned the property from 1743, and step back in time to the Georgian era. Marvel at original Chinese wallpaper, dress up in Regency costumes in Lord Morley’s bedroom and look at the impressive art collection by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
With over 500 acres of ground to explore, you can cycle, stroll or picnic around Saltram Park and enjoy the view of the water, with paths that are suitable for wheelchair users and for pushchairs. As you ponder around the estate you may recognise its famous setting, as Saltram House was a key filming location in the famous movie Sense and Sensibility (1995).
From Garden Tours to a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, illuminated gardens and a very special Storytime with Father Christmas, Saltram House host popular events all year round.
We hope you enjoyed reading about our favourite National Trust properties in South Devon. Looking for more ways to spend your time in the area? How about these 11 must-visit places in South Devon for 2020?
Our South Devon bucket list has some more ideas, and you can also check out our favourite free things to do in South Devon with children. There you’ll find suggestions of things to do for all ages and interests.