burgh island beach and sea on an overcast day

Newton Abbot

Nestled in the heart of South Devon lies the charming town of Newton Abbot. Newton Abbot serves as one of Devon’s best base points for exploring the region’s many treasures, including the crown jewel – the enchanting Burgh Island and the incredible Art Deco hotel that sits upon the island.


Where is Newton Abbot

Imagine a tapestry of rolling green hills punctuated by charming villages, all lapped by the turquoise waters of the English Channel. Newton Abbot sits right in the middle of this picturesque tapestry, offering easy access to both the vibrant Devon countryside and the coastline. While its proximity to the coast is a major draw, Newton Abbot has much more to offer than just sun-kissed sands. Explore the town’s rich history with a stroll through its quaint cobbled streets lined with traditional Devonshire houses and imposing Georgian architecture.

What’s more, Newton Abbot sits incredibly close to Torquey just a 20 minute drive away, Totnes a 15 minute drive away and Exeter just a half an hour drive away. As for the magical Burgh Island, the distance from Newton Abbot to Burgh Island depends on how you choose to travel. By car, the quickest route is roughly 27 miles and takes around 45 minutes, while a more scenic coastal route clocks in at approximately 29 miles and takes about an hour. But the most magical way to reach Burgh Island is via the tidal causeway – a truly unique experience that adds an extra layer of charm to your journey.

The history of Newton Abbot

Like the vast majority of the UK’s charming towns, their history is also impressive. While evidence suggests settlements in the area dating back to the Neolithic and Roman eras, Newton Abbot as we know it truly emerged in the 13th century. In 1220, the Abbot of nearby Torre Abbey was granted permission to hold a weekly market south of the River Lemon. This “New Town of the Abbots” eventually became known as Newton Abbot, its name hinting at its origins.

The 19th century brought significant changes. The arrival of the Great Western Railway in 1846 transformed Newton Abbot into a crucial transportation hub. The railway also fueled the growth of the town’s locomotive works, further boosting its economy. Today, Newton Abbot thrives as a bustling market town, a tourist destination, and a gateway to the stunning South Devon countryside and captivating coastline.

While exploring Newton Abbot, make sure you don’t miss these historical gems:

  • St. Mary Magdalene Church: A 13th-century marvel, showcasing the town’s rich architectural heritage.
  • The Clock Tower: Originally built as a chapel by the Abbots of Torre in the 13th century, it’s now a beloved town landmark.
  • Newton Abbot Museum: Immerse yourself in the town’s fascinating history through exhibits and artefacts.
  • Brunel Industrial Estate: Discover the remnants of Newton Abbot’s industrial past on the site of the former locomotive works.

What is Newton Abbot famous for?

Think of Newton Abbot as the friendly host at a grand party – the South Hams. This stunning region of Devon boasts rolling hills, charming villages, and dramatic coastlines, and Newton Abbot serves as the perfect basepoint to explore it all. Newton Abbot is also famous for its horseracing connections. Newton Abbot Racecourse is a legend in the world of horseracing. Established in 1877, it hosts over 30 race meetings annually, including the prestigious Haldon Gold Cup. Thrill-seekers and equestrian enthusiasts flock to experience the electric atmosphere and witness equine champions in action.

Additionally, Newton Abbot is also famous for its bustling market. Step into the lively Pannier Market housed in a Victorian building, and browse through stalls overflowing with fresh local produce, handmade crafts, and regional delicacies. The Market Square teems with independent shops and cafes, perfect for soaking up the town’s vibrant energy.

Additionally, while it doesn’t directly touch the coast, Newton Abbot grants easy access to stunning beaches. Take the short drive to Slapton Sands, a vast stretch of golden sand perfect for sunbathing and water sports. Or head to Teignmouth Beach, with its sheltered cove and bustling promenade, ideal for family outings or romantic strolls along the beach.

Plenty to do in Newton Abbot

Newton Abbot Races: Enjoy horse racing at Newton Abbot Racecourse, which hosts various racing events throughout the year. Flock here throughout the year to experience the electricity of a horse race!

Decoy Country Park: A beautiful park featuring woodland, lakes, nature trails, and a children’s play area, perfect for a leisurely walk or a picnic. This spot is ideal for family days out, or leisurely strolls with your dog and hand in hand with your partner.

Trago Mills: If you’d prefer a little bit of retail therapy, Trago Mills is a large shopping complex offering retail therapy, restaurants, a garden centre, and family-friendly activities.

Stover Country Park: Another fantastic opportunity to get out and about and explore nature trails, woodlands, and a lake while observing wildlife in a truly gorgeous and tranquil setting.

Newton Abbot Town Centre: Of course, while in Newton Abott, you’ll also have to wander around the charming town centre for shopping, cafes, and historic buildings like St. Leonard’s Clock Tower.

Teignmouth and Shaldon: These nearby coastal towns offer beaches, seaside walks, and various water activities, should you wish to explore more of the South while visiting lovely Newton Abbot.

Bradley Manor: Another striking area of exploration in Newton Abbot is a National Trust property with stunning gardens and a historic house to explore.

Hackney Marshes: Ideal for nature walks, birdwatching, and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

Railway History at Newton Abbot: Visit the historic railway station, known for its Victorian architecture and its significance in railway history.
South Devon Railway: Take a nostalgic steam train ride from Buckfastleigh to Totnes, passing through picturesque countryside.

Canonteign Falls: Not too far away, Canonteign Falls boasts the highest waterfall in England. Enjoy nature walks and stunning views.

Go Ape Haldon Forest Park: Located nearby, it offers adventurous activities like zip-lining and treetop adventures.

Dartmoor National Park: Newton Abbot is close to Dartmoor, so consider exploring the national park for hiking, cycling, and beautiful landscapes.

Local Markets: Check out local markets like Newton Abbot Indoor Market and the Farmers Market for fresh produce and unique finds.

Hotels near Newton Abbot

Another gem of the South is the iconic Burgh Island Hotel, a captivating neighbour to the charming Newton Abbot. Imagine stepping onto a tidal island, accessible only twice daily as the causeway disappears beneath the turquoise waves. Burgh Island is a world apart, offering a unique blend of Art Deco elegance, rugged coastal beauty, and a rich tapestry of history and literary fame, with a list of famous guests calling Burgh Island their escape over the last 100 years.

Built in 1929 and lovingly restored to its original glamour, it evokes the timeless elegance of Agatha Christie’s novels and also has ties to the famous writer. Agatha Christie stayed on the island, using a remote apartment known as her writer’s retreat, to sit back, relax and write til her heart’s content. Guests can still stay in the famous apartment today, overlooking the rugged cliffs and coastal beauty. However, as you step inside the hotel, prepare to be transported to a bygone era of polished wood panelling, glittering chandeliers, and sweeping sea views. Imagine sipping cocktails in the Palm Court, a sun-drenched haven overlooking the ocean, or indulging in a luxurious spa treatment.

What makes Burgh Island so incredibly special, however, is its remoteness. Step onto any balcony or terrace at Burgh Island Hotel and prepare to be mesmerised. Breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline unfold before you – endless stretches of golden sand, dramatic cliffs carved by the sea, and the endless horizon shimmering like a promise of adventure. Whether you’re an early riser to catch the sunrise painting the sky, or a romantic soul seeking moonlit walks on the beach, Burgh Island’s scenery steals the show. Of course, while the hotel is undoubtedly a draw, Burgh Island itself offers an abundance of activities for the explorer in you. Embark on a coastal walk along the rugged cliffs, discover hidden coves perfect for sunbathing, or explore the island’s fascinating history at the Pilchard Inn, once a smuggler’s haunt. You can even try your hand at tennis, croquet, or a dip in the Mermaid Pool, a unique heated seawater pool overlooking the bay.

As for dining, dining at Burgh Island is an experience in itself. Choose from three distinct restaurants, each with its own charm and culinary flair. The Nettlefold serves up classic British dining with delicious fresh seafood. The Grand Ballroom is the perfect location for romantic meals and special occasions, and for a truly immersive experience, step back in time at The Pilchard Inn, a traditional pub dating back to the 14th century, where hearty meals and local ales await.

Perfect for a romantic escape, a day trip for the famous Newton Abbot, or perhaps an enchanting island getaway, Burgh Island provides the perfect backdrop to step back in time and experience the magic of a bygone era, surrounded by gorgeous coastline.