Nestled among the hills of Dartmoor, you’ll find Chagford, a charming Stannary Town that dates back to the Saxon era. Known as the friendliest place on Dartmoor, Chagford is full of fascinating local history, delightful food and drink and an active social calendar, plus by basing yourself here, you have the whole of the moor open to you to explore.
With traditional thatched roofs, friendly pubs, its own open air swimming pool, beautiful scenery and a host of things to see and do, Chagford is a small town, with plenty to shout about.
Dartmoor on the doorstep
Chagford can be found within the Dartmoor National Park, one of the largest national parks in the south west of England. The moor features over 200 square miles of wild moorland and fascinating historical sites, including stone circles, tors, the famous ponies and lots of stunning scenery.
Because of the easy access to the moor, Chagford is a haven to anyone who loves the great outdoors, there is a whole host of walking trails and cycle paths surrounding the town, offering varying challenging terrains and lots of diversity.
Walk, cycle, fish, swim, eat…
There is no end to the things you can do while visiting Chagford. As well as the incredible walking and cycling opportunities in the surrounding moorland, there is also great fishing in the River Teign, which runs through the town, and at Fernworthy Reservoir, which is nearby. If fishing isn’t your thing, why not try swimming? Chagford features the largest open air, fresh water swimming pool in the south west! A number of other sports are available in the town too, particularly on the popular sports field where football and cricket regularly take place and at the town’s tennis courts and bowling green.
If you’re someone who prefers to exercise their credit card than play sports, you’re in luck! when it comes to shopping, Chagford has a wonderful mixture of unique independent shops all within easy walking distance of the main market square. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll soon find it here. Dotted around the town are also a host of fabulous eateries, pubs, restaurants and cafes catering for everything from a hearty Full English Breakfast to a speedy sandwich to a dinner for a special occasion. All the eateries in this area pride themselves on menus full of locally sourced, home cooked food – something you would expect from a town located on one of the most diverse landscapes in the region!
Fascinating local history
Another thing you would expect from a town hidden away on Dartmoor is fascinating local history and Chagford doesn’t disappoint. The town has been inhabited for thousands of years and it dates back to the Saxon times. During the 1300s, it became a Stannary town, one of only four in the whole county, miners from the local tin mine, would bring their wares to the town for weighing and valueing at the old Stannery Court, which once stood in the centre of the town. The Stannery Court is now the Market House, an eight sided building right in the centre of town, literally, the town surrounds it! The area’s last tin mine closed in 1904, but the region’s history and connection to this practise is still evident today.
Many of the buildings you can see in Chagford can be dated back to the 16th century, including several of the traditional looking thatched buildings which are mostly made of granite.
It isn’t just ancient history you’ll find here either, Chagford is home to Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England. It is now under the management of the National Trust and sees hundreds of visitors every year.
Another site of historical interest is the town’s church, the St Michael’s Parish Church, which was dedicated in the 1200s. Aside from being a wonderful example of architecture from days past, the church has a unique roof, full of carvings including the Tinners Rabbits, which is made up of three hares chasing each other in a circle. It’s a symbol you’ll see a lot while in Chagford and dates back to the former mining history.
Not only that, but once you step inside the church there is another local story to explore. Inside the church you’ll find the tomb of Mary Whiddon – the story goes that she was shot in the church on her wedding day by a spurned lover – the incident is thought to have inspired Devon based author R D Blackmore, who used similar events in his epic moor based romance, Lorna Doone.
The calendar is all booked
Speaking of books, Chagford is particularly well known for its busy social calendar which features the Chagword Literary Festival among other annual events. Many of its regular events and festivals are famous across the UK, including Chagstock Music Festival, the Chagford Film Festival and the Chagford Show.
Chagford is a real gem of a town and is perfect for those of you wanting to compromise. Not only do you have somewhere to escape the hustle and bustle, somewhere you can lose yourself in the peaceful tranquility of the moor, but it doesn’t compromise on attractions, activities and events, giving you plenty to see and do without the noise and crowds of Devon’s bigger towns.