Brimming with history and lively with atmosphere, Buckfastleigh is a vibrant town that sits on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. A grand Abbey, pre-historic caves and a medieval high-street make up this wonderful town. Plus, the dramatic and picturesque moorland behind provides plenty of great things to see and do outside of the area. 

Gentle ramblers and heart-pumping striders love this town because of its abundance of dynamic walks and trails you can take; all through luscious green countryside and along the mighty River Dart. You may have a penchant for history, be a complete foodie, or an avid nature-spotter, either way there will certainly be something to pique your interest here.  

Read on to discover our favourite countryside walks in and around Buckfastleigh.  

Town Trail 

Explore Buckfastleigh’s quaint town via the Town Trail. Meander down Medieval Fore Street and Church Hill before ambling to the South Devon Railway Station to watch the trains embark on their journey to Totnes. This is a short walk but gives you a great insight into the history of the town. 

Along the high street in Buckfastleigh; you’ll find shops, cafés and a museum here. En-route you’ll walk past the scenic Orchard Millenium Green, a great place to stop for a picnic with plenty of wildlife to spot along the river, including kingfishers and dippers. You can then carry onto Church Hill and witness the magic of the Holy Trinity Church ruins.  

Then cross over the Dart Bridge Road and head for the South Devon Railway, a historic steam railway, the Buckfast Butterfly Farm and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary and a looping signposted riverside walk.  

Welcome to Dartmoor – Buckfastleigh Route 

To extend the above walk you follow the Welcome to Dartmoor – Buckfastleigh route. It passes through most of the same points of interest as the town trail but also covers the village of Buckfast and the Abbey.  

Buckfast Abbey forms part of a Benedictine monastery and is one of the top attractions in the South West. It lies within a beautiful estate and stunning garden, which is certainly a mesmerising walk within itself. Buckfast Abbey is also home to the famous Buckfast Tonic Wine, a unique-tasting caffeinated red wine which is certainly worth a try! You can find out more about Buckfast Abbey here.  

After a short stroll through Buckfast, the trail will take you over the river and onto Buckfastleigh’s Higher Town which possesses some of the defining features of Buckfastleigh’s industrial past; such as the Tannery, which was the last working tannery in the UK and further down on Chaple Street are a row of Grade II listed weavers cottages. 

Abbots Way: Buckfast Abbey to Tavistock Abbey 

Connecting two of Devon’s Abbeys, Abbots Way is a twenty-mile trail through Dartmoor National Park which exposes you to the beautiful moorland scenery featuring rocky tours, picturesque rivers and quaint villages.  

Starting at Buckfast Abbey, you’ll head west through Hockmoor, Lambsdown and Deans Moor before reaching Avon Dam Reservoir, another notable landmark.  

You can stop for a bite to eat in Princetown as it boasts a number of great cafés and pubs. It’s also home to Dartmoor Prison and the visitor centre is where famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once stayed so there’s lot to explore here too. From here you can carry on the walk to Merrivale where Bronze Age megalithic monuments stand and through Whitchurch Common before crossing the River Tavy to finish your walk at the ruins of Tavistock Abbey. 

Hembury and Holne Woods 

Whether you’re looking for a gentle walk or something slightly more strenuous, there are a variety of trails and paths to follow in Hembury and Holne Woods. Access to the woodland is very easy from Buckfast and Buckfastleigh, just follow the road until you reach the woodland opening, and if you’re driving there’s plenty of parking spaces nearby.   

There’s lots to see here; stroll along the river and see if you can spot any dippers or grey wagtails. Or perhaps visit the Iron Age hillfort and Norman motte and baily castle, Hembury Castle, if you’re a keen historian. There’s also a picnic area to stop and refuel whilst basking in the woodland atmosphere.  

Dartmoor Way 

The Dartmoor Way is a waymarked 108-mile circular route that skirts around the edge of Dartmoor National Park. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to walk this route in an entire day so it’s split into 10 sections which are all a comfortable day's walking distance. There’s also an additional 2 sections which make up the High Moor Link. 

From Buckfastleigh you can walk in three different directions. The first is towards Ashburton, another wonderful Dartmoor town filled with great pubs, cafés and shops. The second option is to head to Shipley Bridge which is part of South Brent. In fact, the entire section of the walk is from Shipley Bridge to Ashburton and passes through Buckfastleigh so you could head to either area and walk the entire 10-mile trail.  

The third option is part of the High Moor Link which connects Buckfast to Hexworthy. You’ll walk through Holne, and past a number of astonishing granite tors. You can also continue this walk onto Tavistock once you reach Hexworthy.  

Buckfastleigh to Totnes 

Following quiet lanes, public footpaths and bridleways, you can reach Totnes from Buckfastleigh, another bustling Devonshire town with plenty to see and do.  

Along the way you’ll trek through the lively village of Staverton which sits picturesquely on the Dart with the South Devon Railway line running through it.  

Just a short distance from Totnes, you’ll pass through Dartington a wonderfully unique village with a beautiful stately home and the Cider Press, an eclectic shopping village that has a huge emphasis on arts and crafts, as well as sourcing locally made produce. Alongside the shops, it’s also home to Bayards Kitchen and the Devon Gin School. We’d highly recommend a stop off here to peruse the goods! 

Alongside these walks there’s a number of great attractions you can visit; Pennywell Farm is great for animal-loving children (and grown-ups!), whilst the South Devon Railway is the perfect activity for locomotive-lovers. River Dart Country Park is great for families looking to run wild across the 90-acre parkland, complete with wild-swimming spots, assault courses and mountain bike tracks. And let’s not forget all the tors, reservoirs and pre-historic settlements that can be found all around Dartmoor. Discover more things to do in and around Buckfastleigh here

If we’ve tempted you to take a trip to Buckfastleigh be sure to share your experience with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram buy tagging @VisitSouthDevon in your photos or using the hashtag #VisitSouthDevon. You can also give us a follow on those accounts to stay up to date with our latest blog posts, competitions, offers and more! 


Market Town
Buckfastleigh, Fore Street
Dartmoor National Park
National Park
Family looking into the distance

Dartmoor National Park is one of the last great wildernesses in the UK with an inspirational landscape of heatherclad moors and rugged tors.



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