15th September, 2020

9 great castles and National Trust properties to visit without your car

St Michael's Mount

Devon and Cornwall are home to some fantastic castles and National Trust properties. You can visit many of them by public transport. Here are some of our favourites.


© Caroline Ingram (Creative Commons)

Tucked away in the Tamar Valley, Cotehele Estate is home to a beautiful Tudor manor house, working mill, historic quay and lots of lovely estate walks.

In the 19th century the area boomed, and Cotehele Quay was a hive of activity with boats and paddle steamers loading and unloading cargo. The restored sailing barge Shamrock is moored down on the quay.

The estate can be reached by train and on foot via a pleasant river and woodland walk.

Please note - Cotehele garden, quay and estate is open. House and mill are closed. To avoid disappointment please book your visit to the garden in advance, especially at busier times such as weekends. Without booking admission cannot be guaranteed.

© Tony Hisgett (Creative Commons)

This beautiful estate has everything you could need for a day out, from stunning formal gardens and woodland walks to the impressive late Victorian house.

The house was remodelled after a fire in 1881 which led to some fascinating ‘mod cons’ such as central heating systems and state-of-the-art ovens.

The gardens, woodland and Park Cafe are open but tickets must be booked in advance.

This fascinating estate has one of the most important 16th century gardens in Europe and is also home to a beautiful Grade 1 listed Tudor mansion.

As well as the gardens there are plenty of woodland walks and remnants of the Cornish Mining era to explore and tea rooms to enjoy.

The gardens, estate and tea rooms are open, but you must book in advance.

This iconic island with its working village and castle is a magical place to visit.

The castle was once a priory and fort but has been the home of the St Aubyn family since the 17th century and has memories and mementos at every turn.

Separate tickets must be booked in advance for the gardens and/or the castle.

One of the most fascinating castles in England, Restormel was built in the 13th century and used as a luxurious retreat by its medieval owners.

The castle is in ruins, but you can walk around the inside of the keep and climb the stairs from the courtyard to take in the fabulous views of the area.

The castle is open Weds-Sun currently and timed tickets must be booked in advance.

One of King Henry VIII’s finest coastal fortresses, Pendennis sits high on a rocky headland overlooking the river, beaches and town of Falmouth below.

The castle has plenty to see during a visit, from the Tudor keep to the historic collection of guns and canons.

The castle and grounds are open but timed tickets must be booked in advance.

St Mawes is the sister castle to Pendennis and is one of the best preserved and most elaborately decorated of all the coastal forts.

The best way to visit the castle is to arrive by ferry from Falmouth as you can enjoy some stunning views as you travel over the river and approach the castle.

The castle is closed at this time but the grounds and shop remain open. Timed tickets must be booked in advance.


© Alison Day (Creative Commons)

Killerton is a fine 18th century mansion set in wonderful parkland and grounds.

There are plenty of walks with lots to discover, including a bear hut and old icehouse.

The house, gardens, tea rooms and shop are open. Timed tickets must be booked in advance.

Totnes is a classic motte and bailey castle and was built just after the Norman conquest.

Visitors can climb to the top of the keep and enjoy views of the town and River Dart or walk around the perimeter of the castle in the old moat.

The castle is open for guided tours. Timed tickets must be booked in advance though.