Located in the centre of Devon, on the north edge of Dartmoor (just off the A30), Okehampton is an ideal base from which to explore Dartmoor and the North Devon area. The town has one hotel and a few guest houses, so prior booking is advisable during the main holiday periods as this area is very popular with tourists, cyclists and walkers. And for those who enjoy horse riding there several excellent riding stables in the vicinity.
Okehampton Main Street © TAB
There has been a settlement here since Neolithic times and the town occupies a strategic position along the main route from Exeter to Cornwall. However, the settlement has never really exceeded its boundaries and still remains as a fairly small market town to this day. The town's modern history started around the construction of the Norman Castle, by Sir Baldwin de Brionne, shortly after the Norman conquest (circa 1086). In its heyday the castle was one of the most powerful fortresses in the West Country and substantial ruins of the castle and its keep still survive.
There are many buildings of interest around the town, including the 14th-C Parish church with stained glass windows by Victorian artist William Morris, a fine 17th-C town hall and the White Hart, a most handsome Georgian coaching inn. Also along the main high street is a restored 19th-C mill, housing the Museum of Dartmoor Life, an ideal place to begin any exploration of the town.
The town also has a good selection of shops and an interesting Victorian arcade, reminiscent of the Burlington Arcade in London.
A farmer's market is held on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the Month, selling local produce from nearby farms, amongst other wares.
On the hillside above the town is the beautifully restored Victorian Okehampton Station, part of the Dartmoor Heritage Railway Line, which runs from Coleford Junction to Meldon Quarry in the Dartmoor National Park. Meldon is an ideal destination for walkers who wish to explore the northern reaches of Dartmoor.
Tourist Information Centre:
Museum of Dartmoor Life, 3 West Street,
Okehampton, Devon, EX20 1HQ
The high moors of the Dartmoor National Park stretch away for miles just to the south of the town, and contain Dartmoor's highest peaks, 'Yes Tor' and 'High Willhays' which rise to over 2000 feet (600 m). Read more about Dartmoor...
Social history museum covering three floors of an early 19th-c mill. This interesting little museum tells the story of the moorland and how it has shaped the lives of the local people. Also located in the central courtyard is the Tourist Information Centre, craft workshops, gift shop and tearoom.
Opening times: Easter to November,
Mon-Sat 10.30am to 4.30pm - Admission Charge to Museum
Location: 3 West St, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 1HO - Tel: 01837 52295 - Website
Facilities: refreshments, gift shop
Situated on the crest of a wooded hill to the west of the town are the crumbling remains of a once impressive Norman motte and bailey castle, regarded as the largest medieval castle in Devon. The picturesque ruins are still quite substantial, despite orders for its total destruction by Henry VIII after the owner, the Earl of Devon, was found guilty of high treason. Run by English Heritage
Opening times: April to Sept,
daily from 10am - Admission
Location: Castle Lane, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 1JB
Tel: 01837 52844 - Website
Facilities: parking, audio tour
The station opened in 1871 as part of the Devon and Cornwall Railway (and later part of the LSWR) but fell into disrepair when it closed to national network services in 1972. The station and line were refurbished and reopened as a heritage line in 1997. Today the station contains the headquarters of the Dartmoor Railway, with a goods yard, museum and buffet restaurant.
Opening times: vary see website
for details - Admission Charge
Location: Dartmoor Railway, Okehampton Station, Okehampton, EX20 1EJ - Tel: 01837 55164 - Website
Facilities: parking, ticket office, buffet, model shop, museum, toilets.
The great stretch of scrubland between Okehampton and Meldon was once Okehampton Park, the medieval hunting grounds of the Courtenay family, who once lived at Okehampton Castle. A small section of these grounds, (alongside the south bank of the West Okement River, adjacent to the castle), consisting of flora rich meadowland, grassland and woodlands has been designated as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and is open to the public.
Opening times: any reasonable
time - Free Access
Location: Castle Lane, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 1JB
Attractions & Theme Parks:
Crealys | Cobbaton | Combe Martin | Dartington Crystal | Diggerland | Milky Way | Paignton Steam Railway | Pecorama | Tuckers Maltings | Watermouth Castle | Woodlands Park | Country Life | Quaywest Waterpark
Castles, Museums & Heritage Sites:
Allhallows Museum | Bicton Park | Buckfast Abbey | Buckland Abbey | Castle Drogo | Compton Castle | Coldharbour Mill | Cookworthy Museum | Dartmoor Prison Museum | Finch Foundry | Morwellham Quay | Otterton Mill | Powderham Castle
Gardens & Historic Houses:
Arlington Court | Bradley Manor | Greenway Garden | Coleton Fishacre | Killerton House | Knightshays Court | Marwood Hill | Overbeck's | RHS Garden Rosemoor | Saltram
Nature, Wildlife & Scenic Sites:
Buckfast Butterfly Farm | Canonteign Falls | Dartmoor | Exmoor | Exmoor Zoo | Lydford Gorge | Quince Honey Farm