by Alice Parry
Day Out Guides
If you’re asking yourself, is Chagford worth visiting? Or, what’s in Chagford? You’ve come to the right place!
Chagford is a market town located in the north-east corner of Dartmoor National Park in South Devon. It sits southeast of Okehampton and north of Widecombe in the Moor.
Here at Helpful Holidays, we LOVE Chagford, not only because it’s a beautiful and historic market town. But because it’s home to our local office!
We’ve put together a Chagford guide to help you find everything you want to know about this charming town.
Read on to get to know Chagford…
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People have inhabited Chagford for thousands of years. The name Chagford itself means gorse and ford or “the ford where the gorse grows”.
One of the original four stannary towns, Chagford was officially established in 1305. The other stannary towns included Ashburton, Tavistock and Plympton.
Tinners would bring their metal to a stannary town to be weighed, graded and traded.
Chagford was prosperous due to both tin mining and the wool trade in the medieval era. People would wash and purify the wool in the town, then dry it out on racks on the aptly named Rack Hill.
Chagford enjoys a delightful microclimate thanks to its north-eastern position on Dartmoor. It is usually drier and sunnier than the western moors.
The town is packed with old and historic buildings. The most notable is the octagonal ‘Market House’ built in 1862. Known locally as the pepper pot, this unusual building houses toilets and small shops. You can find it on The Square in the centre of Chagford.
The Chagford Inn was built in 1844 to cater to the increasing number of Victorian tourists that were pouring into Dartmoor at the time. There is also Endecott House dating from the 16th century and a scattering of quaint thatched houses too.
The local church, St Michael’s Parish Church dates from the 15th century. It was the site of the tragic demise of Mary Whiddon, who, on exiting the church newly married, was shot dead by a jealous suitor on the church steps.
Chagford has everything you need for a great self-catering break. You’ll find convenience stores, a pharmacy and lots of great local businesses.
We’ve listed some of Chagford’s shops below with links to their websites if they have them:
Bowdens – Hardware and Moorland Centre. This 150-year-old family business can equip you with everything you need when out on Dartmoor. Find footwear, camping equipment, walking poles, maps, Dartmoor books and more.
The Dartmoor Shepherd – Interior décor items and accessories made from sheepskin of the local, native Dartmoor sheep.
Spar – Convenience store and Post Office.
Jaded Palates – Wine shop with wines, beers and spirits.
Chagford Pharmacy – Pharmacy, prescription dispenser, toiletries and more.
Uptown – Part of Proper Job, Devon’s leading community re-use centre, Uptown is a boutique selling second-hand items. Find quality pre-loved items and upcycled clothing and accessories.
Rue des Fontenelles – French and European antiques, art and interior décor.
Artisan – A maker’s shop showcasing the craftsmanship of Devon.
Chagford is fortunate enough to boast a lovely selection of pubs, restaurants and cafés. You’ll have no trouble finding a delicious bite to eat during your stay.
Find below a list of places to eat in Chagford and links to their websites:
A summer holiday to Chagford just wouldn’t be the same without a dip in Chagford Swimming Pool!
The pool was opened back in 1933 after local residents dug out the pool by hand. It’s the largest open-air, freshwater pool in the South West fed by the River Teign.
The water is UV treated and filtered with a minimal amount of chlorine to keep it healthy and safe. It’s heated with air source heat pumps and PV solar panels.
There’s even a toddler pool complete with toy boats and ducks!
Chagford Swimming Pool is completely run by volunteers. Help the pool stay open and keep it running by visiting whenever you can!
Chagford Swimming Pool, Rushford, Chagford, Devon, TQ13 8DA
Castle Drogo is a spectacular and dramatic 20th century castle overlooking the Teign Gorge.
The National Trust castle was designed and built by Sir Edwin Lutyens, a 20th cenutry architect.
Both the castle and gardens are open daily for visitors, with dogs welcome in some of the outdoor areas too.
Castle Drogo’s pathways on the grounds lead onto some beautiful Teign Gorge walks. There’s also the Rhododendron Garden, Formal Garden, Orchard, and Chapel to explore too.
Drewsteignton, near Exeter, Devon, EX6 6PB
Fingle Bridge is a 17th century stone arch bridge over the River Teign. It rests near Drewsteignton and is a Grade II listed structure.
Offering a gateway into Fingle Woods and Castle Drogo, discover ancient trees and dramatic views from the top of the gorge.
Located near the bridge is Fingle Bridge Inn, a popular pub serving up delicious food and drinks. Perfect for a pit stop on a beautiful walk on Dartmoor.
Teign Gorge, near Drewsteignton, Exeter, Devon
Visit Fernworthy Reservoir for brilliant bird-watching, walks and wildlife.
There are two bird hides located at the western end of the reservoir; look out for the Black Tailed Godwit and other wader birds.
Grab a fly fishing permit and enjoy some brown trout fishing, with Fernworthy being a natural fishery.
Fernworthy is home to a host of archaeology too, including burial cairns, hut circles and old farm buildings.
Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ13 8EA
The Miniature Pony Centre is a great day out for families. Enjoy meeting miniature Shetlands, miniature pigs, miniature and mammoth donkeys and lots more.
The café serves up tasty lunches and snacks, and even Devon cream tea!
If you have a pony-crazed little one, they’ll love a Pony Care Day experience. Children get to groom a pony, feed them, do tack cleaning, muck out stables and lead them on a walk.
Wormhill Farm, Newton Abbot, TQ13 8RG
Stone Lane Gardens are open all year from 10am until dusk. Head here for some outdoor fun across 5 acres of woodland and water gardens.
The gardens are just over 3 miles north of Chagford. This year there is a sculpture exhibition displayed from 1st July to 31st October.
It’s a great day out for dogs too, with dogs on leads welcome in the gardens and tea room.
Stone Farm, Stone Lane, Chagford, TQ13 8JU
Make sure to pop into the lovely Three Hares Gallery in Chagford.
The gallery is home to Devon’s Nature in Art, a unique collection of artwork by well-known artist Eleanor Ludgate.
The exhibition is constantly changing and being added to so there’s always something new to see.
Why not complete the Three Hares Trail? Discover 17 churches across Devon with the Three Hares symbol carved in the roof bosses. Find a trail leaflet at the gallery and begin your adventure hunting the Three Hares.
20 The Square, Chagford, Newton Abbot TQ13 8AB
Discover several Iron Age ‘castles’ or hillforts in the Teign Gorge and Fingle Woods areas.
Cranbrook Castle, Prestonbury Castle and Wooston Castle each offer phenomenal views of the high moors.
They each consist of massive ramparts encircling large, open spaces, chosen for their strategic position.
Incorporate these castles into your walks and take in some amazing views of Dartmoor.
Cranbrook Castle: Grid ref SX738890
Prestonbury Castle: Grid ref SX746900
Wooston Castle: Grid ref SX764897
Chagford is a wonderful place to enjoy a UK staycation, whether a short break or a week long stay.
Pretty thatched cottages, countryside surroundings, and a friendly community atmosphere all await you.
We’ve picked out a few of our favourite Chagford cottages from the Helpful Holidays portfolio.
Take a look at just a few of our beautiful Chagford self-catering properties…
Sleeps 4 | Bedrooms 2 | Bathrooms 1
Easton Cottage makes the perfect bolthole for two. The master bedroom has a super king-size bed, and a woodburning stove is there to warm you on cool evenings in the sitting room.
Cosy up by the fire inside, or make use of the lovely covered outdoor seating in front of the chiminea.
Sleeps 6 | Bedrooms 3 | Bathrooms 3
Enjoy a family break at Northill Lodge. This spacious property sleeps up to 6 guests, has a large garden and a hot tub.
Take trips to Chagford’s open air swimming pool, and adventure across the moor with your brood.
Sleeps 8 | Bedrooms 4 | Bathrooms 4
Bring your nearest and dearest together. Higher Weddicott Barn sleeps up to 8 guests, ideal for couples’ breaks or a gathering of friends.
In the summer months sip drinks on the patio while the gas barbecue is fired up.
Browse all the Chagford cottages here!
Get yourself to one of Chagford’s upcoming events! This little market town plays host to a range of exciting events and even a festival.
Thurs 2 June – Sun 5 June
Head to Chagford Church over the bank holiday weekend and see some amazing flower displays.
Open from 10am to 5:30pm from Thursday to Sunday, find around twenty displays. Each one will depict an event or interest related to the queen.
The whole Chagford community is getting involved. From Chagford Primary School to local flower arrangers, organisations and businesses.
Fri 22 July – Sat 23 July
Chagstock is Chagford’s very own festival!
Originally Chagstock began as a private event for under a hundred people. It was a tradition between friends for 3 years before it became a public affair in 2007.
Now it’s a calendar staple for the community and welcomes 5,000 guests!
This year acts on the line-up include Ferocious Dog, The Undercover Hippy and Tom McGuire.
You can camp at Chagstock, bring your campervan, or just get a day ticket. It’s a very family friendly festival too, with lots of activities and fun stuff to keep your little ones happy and busy!
Thurs 18 August
An annual event set just outside the village, the Chagford Show is a celebration of traditional rural life.
It helps to raise money for several great causes, and offers a wonderful day out for young and old.
Open from 8:30am until late, you can admire livestock classes, browse local crafts and vendors, and enjoy a beverage or two!
“Paws for Thought” Dog Show will be at the show, showcasing the amazing talent of one of the top dog display teams in the country.
The Dartmoor Hawker will also be at the show. He specialises in horseback falconry and is a master of the Dartmoor Falcons.
Live music will play throughout the day too, with a climbing wall, pony field, vintage parade and plenty more!
Thurs 15 Sept – Sun 18 Sept
This new arts festival is all about showcasing world-class music in the heart of Devon.
The festival is hosted around the historic Whiddon Parishes of North Dartmoor.
Musical events taking place over the three day festival include vocal & chamber, solo song, and choral performances.
Events will take place across Chagford and the villages of Gidleigh, Throwleigh and Drewsteignton.
Mon 26 Sept – Sat 1 Oct
Described as “the best small film festival in the world” by Academy Award winner and producer of The King’s Speech, Gareth Ellis-Unwin.
Chagford Film Festival offers a line-up of eclectic films, special guests and workshops.
The festival takes place in the last week of September every year. The programme for this year’s festival will be available nearer the date of the event.
It’s a definite must for any budding film buffs or cinema enthusiasts!
Read our Guide to Devon Festivals and Events for more amazing events to add to your holiday itinerary. Chagford also features on our Top 7 Devon Walks with a Pub.
Book your next break to Chagford with Helpful Holidays!
Image credits: Sludge G – CC BY-SA 2.0; Alison Day – CC BY-ND 2.0; Lawrie Cate – CC BY 2.0; Alison Day – CC BY-ND 2.0.
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