Top places to live in Devon Ashburton
Perfect for anyone who needs all perks of living in a town but wants to be able to make a fast getaway. Ashburton is just off the Devon Expressway, with two cities just half an hour away, but with brilliant shops, community and a buzzing community right there. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
Say hello to a mini-me Hampstead and the Gateway to the Dartmoor. The community in this ancient stannary town tends to be artistic and laid-back, with a mix of creatives, as well as surfers who’ve made it their base for the coast at Wembury. Gardens are on the small side in the town, so, if you’re green-fingered and if want to live the landed Devon dream, look to the villages in the surrounding countryside.
It’s bustling. Loads of excellent indie choice, including a brilliant deli, an artisan bakery, the veggie restaurant Rafikis (who have just moved to a zhuzhy new premises on West Street), Muddy Awards 2021 finalist, the wine bar and restaurant Coljan and The Old Library which has a faithful following for its popular brunches and locally-sourced menu.
And don’t miss out on the Muddy-reviewed Riverford Field Kitchen at nearby Buckfastleigh for local-grown sharing menu – and a gorgeous bucolic setting.
Everything you need food-wise is here and all local, it’s the sort of place you do a detour to just for the pleasure of shopping with them all. There’s Ella’s Artisan Baker making fresh bread and fabulous cakes (served from a hatch during lockdown), the excellent Fish Deli with its sustainably sourced fishies, the brilliant Ashburton Deli on North Street (amazing chick pea rolls), plus a great wine store Jaded Palates and a butchers for local provenance meat. Off the High Street, down Lawrence Lane is Creamo’s – for small batch, handcrafted ice cream in unique flavours – a local’s best kept secret, do not miss!
As for everything else – it’s indie heaven! For thoughtfully curated gifts, lovely bags, jewellery and wrapping paper, Muddy always pops into Tess Designs. For floaty linen pieces, bags and homeware, hello Muddy Awards 2021 Women’s Store winner My Fabulous Things and Quirky Bird Retro is exciting for eye-popping vintage pieces. For your home and garden, the town’s shops are always worth a rootle as there are so many excellent antiques stores and interiors options (Odds and Suds and Clinton House Interiors), plus an Antiques Trail so you don’t miss anything.
Thinking of building your dream home? Look no further than award-winning architects Woodford Architecture and should you be in need of an ace interior designer, get Ashton House Design on the blower – their contemporary country house styling is on point.
The River Dart Country Park is a great watery and zip-wire day out for kids, as is Buckfastleigh’s Otters & Butterflies – an unusual combo but it works! Muddy loves the shops and gardens at Dartington Hall (once a country estate but now HQ of a trust that focuses on the arts and sustainability) where they have shed-loads of interesting courses and workshops, as well as the brilliant Ways with Words literary festival and a Barn Cinema for a culture hit.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
£494k but more like £800k if you’re after a period townhouse close to the town centre. Good local estate agents include Howard Douglas and Sawdye Harris (their facebook is full of interesting local news and goss).
Ashburton Primary School is rated ‘Good’ and the co-ed day and boarding Stover School is eight miles away, from which many younger children go onto the girls and boys grammar at Torquay. There is a bus route organised by parents from Newton Abbot to Exeter School, while Devon’s oldest private school Blundells (43 miles away at Tiverton) runs a bus service from Heathfield near Newton Abbot.
BEST KEPT SECRET
The Last Leg and Taskmaster comedian, Josh Widdicombe, moved from London to Dartmoor when he was three years old having attended Ashburton’s South Dartmoor Community College. Ashburton was also the first town to elect a candidate of the Monster Raving Loony Party to public office (but don’t let that put you off.)
You’re right on the A38 Devon Expressway, and just over half an hour by car to either Exeter or Plymouth, and 16 miles to the M5 southbound. Or its 2hrs 41 minutes to London Paddington by train via your nearest station at either Totnes or Newton Abbot (about twenty minutes drive).
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