Tavistock, Dartmoor National Park

Tavistock, Dartmoor National Park
  • Part of a rare UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tavistock is located on the western border of Dartmoor National Park and the eastern border of the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It's an amazing area that relatively few people know about
  • Discover the town's fascinating past. Explore abbey ruins and learn why the area was so important to the international mining industry. Spend some time in Tavistock Museum
  • Walk the wild western flank of Dartmoor which has some of the most stunning tors in the National Park. Cycle Drake's Trail to Plymouth
  • Relax in the town's many pubs, restaurants and cafes. Shop in Tavistock Pannier Market
  • Visit local tourist attractions including Lydford Gorge (National Trust) and Buckland Abbey (National Trust), Morwellham Quay and the brilliant Tamar Trails Centre
  • Main photo: Tavistock Town Hall in the centre of Tavistock


Where is Tavistock in Dartmoor National Park?

Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tavistock sits between Dartmoor National Park and the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Plymouth is to the south and both the South Devon and East Cornwall coastlines are easily accessible.


Directions to Tavistock

The A386 runs below the western flank of Dartmoor between Okehampton and Plymouth. Tavistock sits between the two.

If you're approaching Tavistock from the high moor, follow the B3357 from the Princetown area through Merrivale to the large car park at the top of Pork Hill. The B3357 then descends to Tavistock.

If you're coming from the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Cornwall, drive the A390 to Gunnislake, Gulworthy and then Tavistock.

Tavistock is a major Westcountry destination so there are plenty of skinnier roads leading to town.

We've positioned Tavistock on Google maps. Zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see its location.


Parking at Tavistock

The main car park is in the centre of Tavistock off the A386 Plymouth Road by Tavistock Wharf and Meadowlands Leisure Centre.

There's limited parking by Tavistock Museum and Tavistock Town Hall as well.


Why holiday or weekend break in Tavistock?

To help you choose Tavistock, we've listed some of the local attractions below.


Tavistock part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tavistock is part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO World Heritage Sites are rare and internationally important places. 

The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site is split into sections. Tavistock sits within the Tamar Valley Mining District with Tavistock section. See our Tamar Valley & Tavistock UNESCO World Heritage Site listing for more information.

Visit Tavistock Museum and nearby Morwellham Quay UNESCO World Heritage Site to discover more.

Wander around town to see the streets, canal quays, public buildings, houses and schools built from the profits of the mining boom. Look out for the bronze statue of the 7th Duke of Bedford whose family directed the life of Tavistock from the 16th century after the demise of Tavistock Abbey during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Enjoy the Tavistock Canal Walk to Morwellham Quay UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Tavistock Abbey

Mining shaped modern Tavistock. Moving back in time, Tavistock Abbey once dominated the town. Whilst the abbey was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, you can explore the remains of Tavistock Abbey (Ruin) in the centre of town.

Again, visit Tavistock Museum to learn more. There's an excellent model of the abbey that will help you visualise its size.

Note that Tavistock Abbey was one of many abbeys and priories in the local area. Visit Buckland Abbey (National Trust) in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Beauty just west of Dartmoor and Buckfast Abbey on the eastern border of Dartmoor National Park. There's also the brilliant Torre Abbey in Torquay in The English Riviera in South Devon.

If you're a keen walker, follow the Abbot's Way across Dartmoor!


Tavistock and the Vikings

Tavistock Abbey was sacked by the Vikings in 997 AD as recorded in the 'The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'. A Viking army sailed up the River Tamar 'until they came to Lydford, and burned and killed everything that they met, and burned down Ordwulf's monastery at Tavistock, and brought indescribable war-booty with them to the ships'. 

Head up to Lydford to see the Lydford Viking Rune Stone and the Battle of Lydford Memorial.


Tavistock and Sir Francis Drake

Look out for Tavistock's Sir Francis Drake statue. Drake is said to have been born at Crowndale Farm on the outskirts of Tavistock by Tavistock Canal.

A bronze statue of Sir Francis Drake stands at the south western end of the A386 Plymouth Road. Cast in 1883 by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-90), there's another statue of Drake at Plymouth Hoe. The studio model can be seen up close at the National Trust's Buckland Abbey.


Tavistock St Eustachius' Church

If art and culture are of interest, pop into St Eustachius' Church to see the stained glass window by William Morris.


Tavistock shopping

We'd recommend a trip to Tavistock Pannier Market in the centre of town.


Tavistock food and drink

There are plenty of restaurants, pubs and cafes in and around Tavistock. Like most of the towns and villages on this site, Tavistock is a small place so we'd recommend wandering around town and taking your pick of places to eat and drink. That said, our favourites are The Original Pasty House and The Cornish Arms which are both on West Street near St Eustachius' Church.


National Trust properties near Tavistock

Visit the National Trust's Buckland Abbey (National Trust) which was once home to Sir Francis Drake.

Other National Trust properties in the area include Saltram House, Lydford Gorge (National Trust), Cotehele House and Antony House.

Finch Foundry (National Trust) and Castle Drogo (National Trust) are further away.

Also visit English Heritage's Lydford Castle (English Heritage) and Okehampton Castle (English Heritage).


Tavistock cycling, horse riding and walking

Cycle Drake's Trail between Tavistock and Plymouth and the Granite Way between Lydford and Okehampton.

Mountain bike the Granite and Gears Princetown Railway Cycling Routes up at Princetown.

Go horse riding on the moors from Cholwell Farm Riding Stables.

Complete the Tavistock Canal Walk.


Dartmoor tors near Tavistock

Follow the B3357 up onto the moors and walk to some of the National Park's most dramatic tors. Great Staple Tor and Great Mis Tor Tor are magnificent.

If you are an experienced walker, head for Fur Tor which is the most remote place in southern England.

Walkers should also summit Yes Tor and High Willhays which are the only two mountains in southern England.


Burrator Reservoir near Tavistock

Picnic at Burrator Reservoir. It's a stunning place.

If you're feeling energetic, you can cycle or walk around the water. Try the Burrator Reservoir Circular Walk.

Note that Burrator is fringed by some beautiful tors with big views.


Dartmoor's rich prehistory near Tavistock

English Heritage's Merrivale (English Heritage) is one of the National Park's most impressive sites and is near Tavistock.

To learn more about Dartmoor's prehistory, spend some time in Princetown National Park Visitor Centre and Postbridge National Park Visitor Centre. There's good information in Okehampton's Museum of Dartmoor Life as well.


Brentor near Tavistock

Take in the views from Brentor and Brentor St Michael de Rupe Church. On a clear day, these are among the best views available in the Park.


Tavistock and the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Visit the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area west and south west of Dartmoor isn't particularly well known but it's an exceptional place.

Highlights include Lopwell Dam, Buckland Abbey (National Trust), The Garden House, Morwellham Quay UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For outdoor activities, head for the Tamar Trails Centre. Mountain bike, treesurf and canoe the River Tamar.


Plymouth, South Devon and East Cornwall from Tavistock

Day trip to Plymouth.

If you're planning a longer holiday, we'd also recommend exploring the South Devon and East Cornwall coastlines.

In South Devon, Wembury and Bigbury-on-Sea/Bantham are superb. On sunny days, Salcombe and Dartmouth are up there with the best coastal destinations in the UK.

In East Cornwall, Whitsand Bay is sublime. You can also take a ferry from Plymouth to Cawsand on the East Cornwall coast.


Local towns and villages near Tavistock

To the north try Lydford and Okehampton.

To the east we'd suggest you visit Princetown.