Top places to live in Devon Tavistock
With historic bones and the scent of old farming money in the fresh moor air, Tavistock may not have a train station but it has everything else you could want in a town. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
A rare UNESCO World Heritage Site it may be but Tavi (as the locals call it) is no museum piece. Sitting pretty on the River Tavy, this stannary town’s high street and famous Pannier Market are vibrant and busy. If you like Harrogate, you’ll love Tavistock – and positively swoon over the abundance of Georgian architecture. *sigh*
It’s known as the Western Gateway to Dartmoor, but you might not want to leave as Tavistock has plentiful amenities, including a swimming pool, cinema and supermarkets. It’s old-fashioned but in a good way, with friendly locals and few tourists who are are more likely to be here for moor-walking than hell-raising (not that locals would allow it).
Those covetable Georgian townhouses are thanks to the seventh Duke of Bedford, whose statue looms large over the town square, and who ploughed the profits from his mining company into the medieval town in the mid 19th century. (With this intel, you’re practically a local already!)
Ask anyone in town and they will send you to either The Cornish Arms (it’s got a Michelin Bib Gourmand), or Taylors, for everything from a full English brekkie to a slap-up Sunday lunch. Tavistock lays claim to inventing the cream tea (sorry, Cornwall) so no surprise, it rocks a good cafe culture, with Church Lane nailing the al fresco courtyard vibe (and excellent pizza), and we love the The Kitchen Cafe with its fairy lit interior. The Lemon Grove does proper local ice cream, from The Dartmoor Ice Cream Company.
If you’re planning a recce, check out One Drake Road – this boutique stay is so stylish you’ll leave with loads of interior ideas (or ask to move in).
The beating heart of the town is the leafy square with its imposing parish church St Eustachius, a town hall and buzzing Tues-Sat Pannier Market. While there are a few chains dotted about – White Stuff and Fat Face to name a few – there’s a healthy indie scene, including the most instagrammed spot in town Odds & Buds Florist. We rate Inside Out Home for gifts and locally-sourced bits for your home, and the newly-opened Tillius, a Plum and Ashby-scented lifestyle store selling on-trend botanical prints, velvet cushions and quirky taxidermy.
There’s a Tesco and a Lidl but the Saturday morning queues around the market, and especially outside the Mediterranean deli, De la Torres (home-made pasta and tiramisu) and Country Cheeses, show Tavi isn’t slacking when it comes to excellent local produce, plus there’s Roots & Vines for groceries (and oodles of local gin), a butchers, and Eversfield Organic for your weekly veg box. And for the sweet-toothed we love the unique (gluten-free) flavours coming out of The Flapjackery.
Er, Dartmoor! The National Park bookends the town, a few minutes’ trot away, with its monumental granite tors, wild ponies, and opportunities for horse riding, walking (obvs), letterboxing and wild swimming. And if you can’t cope without a beach, the Cornwall border is but a 15-minute drive with Port Isaac, Padstow and Newquay all around 50 miles away.
Just down the road is the National Trust-owned Buckland Abbey (former home of Sir Francis Drake); The Garden House, a pretty 10-acre garden with an excellent cafe; Morwellham Quay one-time port for the local copper mines, and Lydford Gorge, the south-west’s deepest gorge with its stunning 30m waterfall.
For culture, you have Plymouth 25 minutes down the A386, with The Box, a newly revamped multi-million pound museum, gallery and archive, the Theatre Royal and Plymouth Pavillions for gigs and comedy, along with the indie quarter The Barbican for cool shops, bars and night life.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
Like most of Devon, prices are up on 2020, but only by 8% (compared to 20% for some parts) with detached houses going for £425,270 and terraces for an average of £230,724, with semi-detached properties fetching £267,936.
St Rumon’s Infants is rated Good by Ofsted, and the locals’ choice St Stephens Community Academy in Launceston 13 miles away is rated Outstanding. There’s also the private boarding and day co-ed for 3-18s at Mount Kelly, also a famous swim centre.
BEST KEPT SECRET
Victoria’s Secret and M&S model, Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley is a Devon maid, growing up on a farm in Tavistock.
The nearest station is over the Tamar in Cornwall at Gunnislake, not quite so bad as it sounds as it’s only five miles away. From here it’s 45 minutes to Plymouth or by car, Plymouth is 25 minutes and Exeter is an hour away via the A30. (Don’t hold your breath but Devon County Council are also currently bidding to reinstate the town’s own train service.)
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