Chagford is a charming market town located on the edge of Dartmoor National Park in Devon. The name Chagford means ‘the ford where the gorse grows’. Chagford became a Stannary town in 1305 – one of only four in Devon – where miners bought their tin for weighing and valuing.
While it’s a relatively small town, there are several interesting places you can visit in and around Chagford, as well as plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some things to do near Chagford.
When visiting Chagford, there are plenty of things to see within the town itself.
Image Credit: Nilfanion under CC-BY-SA-4.0
The town itself is well worth exploring with its quaint streets, independent shops, and historic buildings. There are old thatched granite buildings dating back to the 16th century, which you’ll see as you wander through the town. A notable place to visit is the St Michael the Archangel’s Church, which was dedicated in the 13th century. The church has some fantastic details, with carved bosses on the roof, including the famous ‘Tinners Rabbits’ – a symbol of three hares in a circle, connected by their ears.
The octagonal Market House, which was built in 1862, is another iconic site in Chagford. The eight-sided building sits on the site of the old Stannary Court. The listed building is known locally as ‘the pepperpot’ due to its interesting shape. It can be found in the heart of the town, in the middle of the square.
Chagford has a selection of independent shops, art galleries, and craft stores. You can spend some time exploring these and perhaps find unique souvenirs or gifts. The shops are all within walking distance of the market square, so it is easy to browse the boutiques for clothes, crafts and gifts. The Three Hares Gallery, owned by artist Eleanor Ludgate, offers a range of artworks by Westcountry artists, and you can find plenty of pieces celebrating the local wildlife and scenery.
Chagford is home to the largest fresh water open air swimming pool in the South West, so this is a fantastic place for people who want to experience ‘wild swimming’ in calmer water than the local rivers. The pool was opened in 1934, after being dug by hand by local residents. The water comes from the mill leat, a stream off the river, and it is filtered, with a minimal amount of chlorine added to make it safe for swimming. Open May to September, the pool is kept warm through the use of solar covers, so it is better to visit in the afternoon once the sun has warmed the pool.
Chagford hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including the Chagford Film Festival and the Chagford Show. Check local listings to see if there are any events happening during your visit.
Things to do on Dartmoor around the Chagford area.
Chagford is located within Dartmoor, a vast and stunning national park with dramatic landscapes, granite tors, and scenic trails. You can go hiking, cycling, or simply enjoy a leisurely walk in the park.
Chagford makes the perfect base from which to explore the moors, so if you’re seeking a place to stay in Dartmoor National Park, then Mill End Hotel in Chagford makes an ideal rest stop – whether you want to spend a week or just refuel with a hearty meal.
The Three Hares trail takes you on a journey to the 17 churches in the area that feature a carving of the ancient ‘tinner’s rabbit’ symbol in their roof bosses. The church in Chagford has two examples of this to see, as well as many occurrences of the design throughout the town on local shops and pubs.
The River Teign runs through Chagford, providing opportunities for fishing and enjoying the riverside scenery. You can fish for brown trout, sea trout and salmon in the river, the quiet meadow stream around Chagford and nearby reservoirs. You can acquire a fishing license and permits from Mill End Hotel for fishing in this area.
Discover more about fishing on Dartmoor:
Letterboxing actually originated from Chagford during the 19th century. The treasure hunt-like hobby, which combines orienteering and puzzle solving, was started by James Perrott, a guide from Chagford, who started the concept of letterboxing at Cranmere Pool on Dartmoor. James Perrott is buried in St Michael’s churchyard in Chagford.
Letterboxing is a fun way to explore Dartmoor as you seek out the hidden boxes that typically contain a unique rubber stamp and a visitor book. You might need to look in crevices or under bushes to find your treasure! When you find a box, you can use the stamp on your own record book and leave your own mark in the visitor book.
There are plenty of places near Chagford to visit for a fun day out or nice place to walk.
Image Credit: Mr Eugene Birchall under CC BY-SA 2.0
A National Trust property located a short drive away from Chagford, Castle Drogo is a fascinating early 20th-century castle with stunning gardens and panoramic views of Dartmoor. From Mill End Hotel, you can even follow a walking path to reach the Castle on foot.
There are even more walks you can enjoy from Mill End Hotel to explore:
Stone Lane Gardens is a 5-acre woodland and water garden on the edge of Dartmoor. It is home to a National Collection of Birch and Alder trees. This RHS Partner Garden hosts an annual sculpture exhibition throughout the gardens each summer, featuring works by local artists. Stone Lane Gardens is around a 10-minute drive from us at Mill End Hotel.
A couple of miles from Chagford is the Fernworthy Reservoir, where you can enjoy a beautiful circular walk from the car park. Pack a picnic and head out for a lovely day strolling around the reservoir and spotting some local wildlife. Bird watchers will love this area, as there are two bird hides and a Special Protection Zone managed by the Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society, as you can spot many interesting birds here.
The reservoir is also a fantastic spot for fly fishing and trout angling, with day permits for fishing available at a self-service kiosk.
Remember that the availability of some activities and attractions might depend on the season and local events, so it’s always a good idea to check ahead before planning your visit. For more things to do or to book any local activities, speak to us at the front desk, and we can help arrange things, including fishing trips near Chagford.