9 Things to Do in Buckfastleigh

Dartmoor Buckfastleigh Walk

Top Attractions in Buckfastleigh, South Devon

Buckfastleigh is a town with a rich history. Dating back to the Saxon era, there are many historic landmarks and attractions for the whole family to explore.

In this guide, we’ve rounded up the best things to do in Buckfastleigh, so you don’t have to!

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, a foodie, or just looking for a fun day out, this town has something for everyone. 

Where is Buckfastleigh?

Buckfastleigh is located in South Devon, England, near the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park. 

It is situated approximately 20 miles northeast of Plymouth and about 25 miles southwest of Exeter.

History of Buckfastleigh

Buckfastleigh flourished in the 11th Century when King Canute (known for his unsuccessful attempt to command the sea) established the Benedictine Abbey in 1018. 

The town underwent a significant transformation during the Industrial Revolution, evolving from a tranquil market town frequented by pilgrims to a bustling hub of activity driven by woollen, paper, and corn mills. 

The original medieval layout of the old town still echoes through the streets today.

Things to Do in Buckfastleigh

1. Visit Buckfast Abbey

Dedicated to Saint Mary and established in 1018, Buckfast Abbey was under the Cistercian order from 1147 until it faced destruction during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1882, monks returned, and it now thrives as a Benedictine Community. 

Located on the outskirts of Dartmoor in the village of Buckfast, the Abbey, its charming grounds, restaurant, and gift and book shops form one of Devon’s most popular attractions.

It’s also free to enter.

Buckfast Abbey in Buckfastleigh

2. Ride the South Devon Railway

For those looking for a unique experience, a visit to Buckfastleigh station to board the South Devon Steam Railway is a must. 

The steam train chugs through the picturesque countryside on a journey to Totnes, offering a completely different perspective of this corner of Devon.

3. Pennywell Farm

While many visitors flock to the Abbey and its renowned Tonic Wine, families with young children interact with animals at Pennywell Farm, a highly popular attraction. 

Here, you can cuddle miniature piglets and kids can encounter a range of adorable animals. 

4. Explore Dartmoor National Park

Positioned on the fringes of Dartmoor National Park, the countryside surrounding Buckfastleigh offers numerous scenic walks, including the serene River Dart with secluded spots ideal for a leisurely picnic or a refreshing dip. 

Hike, spot the wildlife, and immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the moors.

5. Buckfast Butterflies and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary

Admire a stunning array of butterflies and learn about otter conservation efforts in the region.

The Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary is located just south of Dartmoor National Park, between Exeter and Plymouth, and is conveniently accessible from the A38 Devon Expressway at the Dart Bridge junction to Buckfastleigh. 

This attraction is an engaging and informative experience, showcasing butterflies in a tropical habitat and otters swimming in specially designed glass enclosures. 

6. River Dart Country Park

River Dart Country Park in Devon is a campsite offering an array of activities suitable for all ages, such as clay pigeon shooting, pony rides, and scenic walking trails. 

The park also hosts an Adventure Day, providing campers with the opportunity to partake in activities like caving, rock climbing, and white-water rafting.

7. Valiant Soldier

The Valiant Soldier pub in Buckfastleigh ceased operations in the 1960s and has since been converted into a museum, meticulously conserving its original decor and even retaining the money left in the till. 

This museum has preserved everything precisely as it was when the establishment closed its doors for the final time.

8. Totnes Castle

The expansive and impeccably maintained castle in Totnes is a wonderful place to visit, offering panoramic views of the town. 

This Norman motte-and-bailey stronghold is situated on a substantial earthwork mound and, along with the curtain wall, was constructed in the 14th century.

9. Visit the Nearby Towns

The South of Devon and the coastal towns surrounding Buckfastleigh are some of the most beautiful places in the UK. 

There’s so much to see and do from sight-seeing and visiting the local towns to enjoying the beautiful beaches and local food.

If you’re staying in Buckfastleigh, spend time exploring Cockington, Brixham and Torquay in Torbay.

Take a look at some of our guides on things to do and where to visit in South Devon:

Buckfast Abbey


Is Buckfastleigh worth visiting?

Absolutely! Buckfastleigh offers a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and diverse attractions, making it a great destination for visitors. From the iconic Buckfast Abbey to the enchanting countryside and family-friendly activities, there’s plenty to see and do.

Do you have to pay to visit Buckfast Abbey?

Admission to visit Buckfast Abbey is free although small donations are welcome if visitors would like to. Dogs on leads are also welcome.

How long is the train journey from Totnes to Buckfastleigh?

The train journey from Totnes to Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway typically takes around 30 minutes. 

Other Local Areas to Explore:

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