Local Area

Kirkside Barn

Offering the ideal base to explore the delights of Dartmoor

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Explore The Delights of Dartmoor

The cottage enjoys a peaceful setting in a conservation area in the beautiful Tavy Valley, within the Dartmoor National Park and on the edge of the old moorland village of Mary Tavy.

Kirkside Barn is only a few minutes’ walk from the rushing River Tavy. Local walks offer beautiful countryside with many breathtaking views from the nearby tors and exciting routes for your dogs. 
If you like bird watching and nature spotting. The garden bird table attracts robins, thrushes, blackbirds, sparrows, blue tits, long-tailed tits, yellow hammers, chaffinches, woodpeckers, doves, nut hatches – and squirrels. Close by, you may also see bats, buzzards, herons and deer. 


Approximately four miles away from the holiday home is the pretty, award-winning market town of Tavistock. In days gone by, this was a stannary town where all the metal mined in the area, mainly tin and copper, was weighed, stamped and assessed for duty. Tavistock is now part of the Tamar Valley Mining District UNESCO World Heritage Site for its mining heritage from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Tavistock is now a shopper’s delight with a good range of traditional independent shops selling everything from local cheeses to jeans. There is also the pannier market, superb bi-weekly farmers’ market, restaurants, leisure pool and arts theatre/cinema, and the remains of Tavistock Abbey from the 13th century.

Enjoy swimming at Meadowlands leisure pool, tennis, golf or fishing.

Local Attractions

In or very near to Mary Tavy are several country inns, which serve excellent food and local ales. Jail Ale is brewed at the Princetown Brewery near Dartmoor Prison, and is served widely.

Wheal Betsy, just outside Mary Tavy, is the last remaining engine house on Dartmoor from the copper, lead, zinc and tin mines of the 18th to early 20th century. It is now a National Trust property illustrating the mining heritage of the area, as part of the World Heritage Site.

The Church of St. Michael de Rupe (St. Michael of the Rock), Brentor, is as its name suggests, a church on top of a tor. Services are held here, but it is also a wonderful place to visit just for the views. In clear weather you can see the expanse of Dartmoor to the east, Plymouth Sound and Whitsand Bay to the south, the Tamar Valley and Bodmin Moor to the west, and the heights of Exmoor just visible to the north. The church stands 1,110 feet above sea level on an ancient, extinct, volcanic cone.

There are many lovely places to visit and things to do within easy reach of Kirkside Barn, whether you like attractions and activities, stately homes, natural beauty, historic sites, shopping, or sea and sand.

Our holiday home is an ideal base from which to explore the delights of Dartmoor, with all its scenic beauty and varied wildlife, whether on foot, horseback, by car or bicycle. Borrow one of our Ordnance Survey maps and visit ancient stone circles and standing stones, which are free to clamber around.

Morwellham Quay, a preserved Victorian port on the River Tamar, has a historic copper mine and railway as well as period clothes for dressing up in. The TV series ‘Edwardian Farm’ was filmed here. 

Don’t forget to sample a Devon cream tea along the way from one (or more!) of the many tea rooms and hotels serving delicious scones, jam and clotted cream.

Places of Interest

Also just a short drive away are:
  • Buckland Abbey: home of Sir Francis Drake of Spanish Armada fame, who was born in Tavistock in 1542.
  • The Garden House: an internationally renowned garden with camellias and magnolias, acers and English meadow flowers, and the famous walled garden.
  • The breathtaking Lydford Gorge is a National Trust site on the edge of Dartmoor including a 1.5-mile scenic gorge, 30m waterfall, tranquil pools, woodland walks and abundant wildlife.
  • Okehampton Castle is one of the country’s most picturesque castle ruins. This English Heritage site was once the largest castle in Devon and is mentioned in the Domesday Book.
  • Film enthusiasts will enjoy seeing the area of Dartmoor where ‘War Horse’ was filmed. Stephen Spielberg said: “I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor….” You could also visit the War Horse Valley Country Farm Park which inspired Michael Morpurgo to write the book originally.
  • The film (starring Matt Damon) and book ‘We Bought a Zoo’ tells the story of Dartmoor Zoo at Sparkwell. The zoo is lovely, set in very natural surroundings, with lots of hands-on experiences and beautiful, well-cared-for animals. Ideal for children!

More Energetic Ideas

Ideas for enjoying this stunning region more energetically include:
  • Explore the West Devon Way, a recreational walking route from Okehampton to Plymouth (stages three and four include Mary Tavy).
  • Letterboxing on the moor: an exciting activity for children combining walking and treasure hunting.
  • Cycle along the National Cycle Network route 27, Devon coast to coast (that runs from Ilfracombe, on the North Devon Coast, to Plymouth in the south). This can be picked up outside the holiday cottage gate and includes the new Drake’s Trail with the dizzying Gem Bridge, the Granite Way, and further afield the Tarka Trail. See www.sustrans.org.uk for details.
  • Hire horses or bikes from the nearby centres.
  • Try a spot of gliding with Dartmoor Gliding Society near the neighbouring village of Brentor.
  • Paddle along the beautiful River Tamar in a traditional Canadian canoe to see stunning scenery and wildlife. Seewww.tamartrails.co.uk

Nearby Cities

The historic cities of Plymouth and Exeter, with their shopping malls, are within easy reach. 

The Plymouth Barbican is where Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh once weighed anchor, and the Pilgrim Fathers stood before they embarked on the Mayflower to set sail for the New World, but today you can find a bustling community of specialist shops, restaurants, cafés and world-class attractions, all in a picturesque harbour setting. Why not enjoy a tour and sample the renowned Plymouth Gin at their historic distillery, or maybe visit the National Marine Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Great Britain with an enormous fish tank incorporating a walk-through viewing tunnel.

Exeter is the county town of Devon and is also home to the magnificent Exeter Cathedral, which dates back to Norman times. Don’t miss the fascinating timbered buildings in Cathedral Close, or the historic Quay, River Exe and Exeter Ship Canal, as well as the medieval Underground Passages, originally built to bring fresh water to the city.

Devon / Cornwall

The sandy beaches and surf of the rugged North Devon/Cornwall coast are a little over an hour by car, and the mild South Devon coast, with its sandy coves, takes about the same time in the opposite direction.

There’s a host of wonderful days out in Devon. Take a steam train and boat trip in South Devon; visit the adorable donkeys at the world renowned Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth (free entry and parking); amble down the cobbled street in Clovelly to the harbour; or have fun at the Milky Way Adventure Park.

The unbelievable Eden Project in Cornwall boasts the world’s largest rainforest in captivity, with steamy jungles and waterfalls. This makes a thrilling day out for all ages. For TV fans, Poldark is filmed in many different locations in Cornwall, and Port Isaac is the village that doubles as Port Wenn for Doc Martin. Try to spot the doctor’s house or the school, then take a short drive to Padstow for lunch at one of Rick Stein’s 6 eateries, or a Cornish Pasty on the quay.’

There are many lovely and interesting places to visit from stately homes to theme parks, wildlife centres to steam railways, waterfalls to castles. 

There really is something for everyone! 

Two websites where you can find further information about the local area are Dartmoor National Park and Visit Dartmoor.


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