29th May, 2022

10 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.

Cornwall

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

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.

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.

© 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.

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.

Top tip - check opening times when planning your visit, as not open every day.

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.

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.

Devon

Explore the remains of the largest castle in Devon, on a wooded spur above the rushing River Okement.

Begun soon after the Norman Conquest as a motte and bailey castle with a stone keep, it was converted into a sumptuous residence in the 14th century by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon.

There is a riverside picnic area and beautiful woodland walks.

© 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.

Powderham Castle enjoys a picturesque setting within an ancient deer park beside the Exe estuary, just south of Exeter. Over 600 years of history can be discovered within the walls of one of Devon's oldest family homes.

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.