Whenever we’ve been to Dartington in the past it’s been to go to the Shops at Dartington, and they’re still a popular spot for us. But on our last trip the sun was shining and so we decided to check out Dartington Hall and gardens instead.
Dartington Hall Estate
As you approach Dartington it’s clear what a diverse venue it is. We drove in past Camp Dartington, which is a new venture for 2018, offering tent camping on the estate. Beyond that we saw signs for the Barn Cinema, onsite pub the White Hart, and the main Hall and gardens, reflecting just how much there is to do here.
The hall and linked buildings sit at the end of a peaceful lawn. It has a very ‘English country garden’ feel to it, with creeping plants on the side of the stone buildings and neat bushes and shrubs all around. The main hall even resembles a church tower, with a flagpole and clock perching above the arched entrance.
We had a quick look inside the hall, which also doubles as a wedding venue. It’s a beautiful old building and the wooden beam ceiling is particularly impressive. Adjacent to the hall is the White Hart pub – we rarely pass up a pub stop, but having stopped for lunch enroute we decided we’d have to save the White Hart for another trip. It was either that or our afternoon walk was at severe risk of turning in to a pub crawl!
Surrounding the hall are the beautiful grounds of the estate, incorporating the Grade 2* listed gardens. It’d be easy to spend a few hours wandering around them and we were impressed that they were free to enter.
Trees, sculptures & beautiful views
As you walk around the formal gardens you’re rewarded with lovely views back to the hall and of the surrounding countryside. We have to confess to not being very green-fingered and the neglected (read barely alive) pot plants at home are a testimony to that. So we may not be the best judges of flowerbeds and floral arrangements, but what really appealed to us were the trees and sculptures around the gardens.
The gardens as a whole were very atmospheric, with hidden nooks and mossy paths, but the gnarled and sweeping trees were really impressive. There were also some great statues throughout the formal gardens, including Henry Moore’s The Reclining Figure and our personal favourite the donkey!
Walks from Dartington
There are plenty of walks both within the estate and to the surrounding area. Dartington provides a map of trails, which is also available from the Visitor Centre. On the northern end of the estate is a deer park with viewing areas, as well as clusters of picturesque wooded copses.
Dartington Hall to Totnes
We decided to walk from the hall to the nearby town of Totnes. It was about 2.5 – 3 miles each way, but with plenty of interest along the route. It’s downhill going, so a little steeper on the return.
Totnes is a really fun town with a distinctive character and great array of shops. In particular, the selection of delis and eateries is some of the best in Devon for the size of the town.
There’s also a motte and bailey castle and some beautiful historic buildings in the centre, including the famous Butterwalk.
If you don’t fancy the walk back to the hall there are taxi ranks at the railway station or town centre.
Find out more about Dartington Hall estate and the work of the trust.
For events across all Dartington venues see what’s on.
Access to the gardens is free, parking and entry to other parts of the estate may be charged.