A short walk around the town - including views of stunning Dartmoor
LOOK UP - Wherever you are, looking up is a great way to see unusual features that tell the story of the area. Ashburton has a long and interesting past and some of this is revealed by the sights we see.
Exit the Information Centre, turn left and follow the road around past the Town Hall. Turn left and walk up North Street. Pass the Victoria Inn on the left. Notice the pavement disappears on the right so we advise you keep walking on the pavement on the left.
When an opening appears in the high stone wall on your right, signposted ‘Terrace Walk’ cross over the road, up the steps, through the kissing gate and into a very steep field known as The Terrace. It’s clearly marked. A well-trodden path follows up along the contours of the field, paralleling the many other smaller terraces (cattle walks) formed over the centuries by hoofs of cattle and sheep. Take advantage of the seats to view the splendidly wooded valley stretching up to the Dartmoor foothills.
Go through another kissing gate into a tree-lined path.
The footpath exits into a lane called Higher Roborough Lane. Turn right and walk downhill until you reach East Street.
LOOK UP - Across the road you will spot the Golden Lion which stands proud on top of the doorway.
Turn right at the bottom of the hill taking in the 18th-century water conduit on the corner.
This building is notorious for being the headquarters of the Monster Raving Loony Party - Alan Hope (“Howling Lord Hope”) the leader of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party is the longest-serving political leader in the UK and lived here until 1999.
A little further down, The Real Old Library on the left at 49 East Street used to be a private lending library in Victorian times.
LOOK UP - You will see a mural on the side of the house depicting Frederick Foot a local artist born in 1830 and an ancestor of the late Michael Foot. He is shown painting his famous painting of the old market house, which he did in 1849.
As you walk down East Street notice the aptly named fish-scale house with it slates on the facade of the house on your right.
Number 9 East St (currently a green grocer’s) has a fire insurance mark on the front of the building. These were placed at a height that was easy to see but out of the reach of thieves. This one was issued by the Royal Insurance Company which was formed in 1845. Early insurance companies also operated fire brigades that would put out fires in buildings insured with that company.
Turn left into St Lawrence Lane and walk until you see the steps on the left leading up to St Lawrence Chapel, one of Ashburton’s oldest and most interesting buildings dating back to 1300. It’s open from May until the end of September. Leave the church and turn left. Just before The Silent Whistle pub, follow the footpath on the right signposted Blogishay Lane.
LOOK UP - Above the windows of the Silent Whistle are a set of heads - some believe that they represent General Garibaldi, though they also look very similar to the sculpture of William Wills who crossed Australia on foot with Robert Burke in 1861 and who carved his name in his seat in St Lawrence Chapel - which was part of Ashburton Grammar School at the time. What do you think?
Cross the river and follow the path until it reaches the grounds to St Andrew’s Church which has its origins in a 12th century Norman church. It has a magnificent tower standing at 92ft. Turn right and follow the path to the entrance to the church. Step inside to admire the impressive stained glass windows and carved reredos.
LOOK UP - Above the church gates is the Ashburton town crest. It shows St Andrew’s Church and the St Andrew’s Cross, together with a teasel, the sun and the moon representing the wool, copper and tin industries.
Above the church gates is the Ashburton town crest. It shows St Andrew’s Church and the St Andrew’s Cross, together with a teasel, the sun and the moon representing the wool, copper and tin industries.
Turn left and here you will find St Gudula’s Cross and Well which for centuries has been a place of pilgrimage. The waters are said to be good for weak eyes. St Gudala is the ancient patroness for the blind. The cross is thought to be 14th-century. Head back up the hill, then right onto West Street and down into the town passing St Andrew’s
Church on the right.
You will pass the Exeter Inn on your left. The oldest pub in Ashburton, built in 1130 to house the workers of St Andrew’s Church and has remained an inn since that date. Behind the bar in what was the old fireplace can be seen the large original millstones. It is reputed that Sir Francis Drake was a regular drinker at the inn (then known as the Church House Inn) on his journeys to London, as was Sir Walter Raleigh who was arrested here in 1603 and imprisoned in the Tower of London accused of plotting against the king.
LOOK UP - On the side of the gable you can see a mural of Francis Drake on the wall of the house next to the Exeter Inn.
On your right, as you reach the centre you will find Ashburton Arts Centre which is now housed in the Methodist Church building. It’s now home to Ashburton’s growing arts scene and there are regular performances and events held there.
Further on is the Ashburton Museum which is open from May to September. Here you will find out more about local history. In addition to items of local interest, the museum houses a large collection of North American Indian artefacts. Turn left back into North Street.
Look out for the plaque at Church’s hardware shop on the right. Whilst pursuing royalist troops following their defeat at Bovey Tracey, General Fairfax stayed the night at the Mermaid Inn which is now Church’s.
Walk up towards the The Co-operative Food supermarket on the right.
LOOK UP - at the slates hanging on the walls of this small supermarket store and you should be able to pick out the suits of a pack of cards. The building was originally an old gambling den and later became the ‘Card House Cafe.
Your walk around Ashburton is now complete. You’ve now earned yourself a rest and the chance to experience something delicious from one of our cafe's, pubs or restaurants. Take a look our food & drink directory for some ideas.