7 best things to do in Lydford, Dartmoor in 2024

Nestled in Dartmoor National Park, there are a few lovely things to do in Lydford. We’ll take a look at them in this post!

Lyford is a small village on the northern side of Dartmoor, not too far from Okehampton. While it’s a tiny place, there are a few attractions in Lydford to enjoy. 

It’s worth popping in here while you’re exploring Dartmoor.

You can soak in the epic history, take a look at the Lyn River and enjoy the beautiful scenery in the area. 

I’m a Devon local, and visit Dartmoor frequently.

I’ve been to Lydford Gorge countless times both as an adult and when I was a child, but recently decided to stop in Lydord village and check out the town’s best attractions – and I was very impressed!

So, here’s your full Lydford travel guide!

Things to do in Lydford

The best things to do in Lydford include exploring the National Trust-owned Lydford Gorge, going back in time at Lydford Castle or the Norman Castle, exploring St Peter’s Church, learning about the Wheelwrights Stone and having a drink in one of the village’s pubs! Let’s go into them in more detail.

Lydford Gorge

Whitelady waterfall at Lydford gorge. Narrow waterfall is in the background and man in a blue top stands infront of it, facing the waterfall

Lydford Gorge is the deepest river gorge in South West England. 

Take in the epic Whitelady Waterfall and walk around this wonderful Dartmoor forest as you take in the circular trail. There are some steep sections where you might need to hold onto the railings, 

As well as being the deepest gorge in the area, Lydford Gorge is also a temperate rainforest. Enjoy moss-covered stones and trees as you take in the extraordinary sights and sounds of the forest. 

Man wearing a blue top walking along a path on the side of the river at Lydford Gorge

Lydford Gorge is National Trust-owned, and it costs £10.00 for adult entry. Of course, it’s free if you have a National Trust membership. 

Click here to see my National Trust membership review.

Lydford Castle

English Heritage run Lydford Castle, one of the best things to do in Lydford, Dartmoor. it sits on a small hill and is a small building dating back to the Medieval period.

Run by the English Heritage, Lydford Castle has an extensive history spanning back to the 13th century. 

Dating back to the Medieval period, it was an ancient prison and was infamous for harsh punishments. 

Dartmoor Prison was later moved to its current position in Princetown. Lydford Castle was then used for stannary purposes. 

Although it is run by the English Heritage, the castle is free to explore (it’s quite small and in ruins).

Girl looking up the stairs of lydford castle. She's about to walk up them. She's wearing blue jeans and a black top and is smiling.
Looking out over the courtyard of Lydford Castle, with a girl on a platform in the background.

If you’re a member, you won’t need to flash your membership card – but it’s worth becoming an English Heritage member anyway to access other historical properties around the country. 

It’s open at any reasonable time during daylight hours. 

Norman Castle 

A mound of earth, which was once a historic Norman Castle in Lydford, Dartmoor, England

There is another ancient castle in Lydford. 

This castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest. It has been excavated to reveal five buildings and was originally a ‘ringwork’, which was a roughly triangle-shaped enclosure.

Nowadays, just a small mound remains.

To reach it, just walk across the field from the Medieval castle. It’s not quite as interesting, but it’s well preserved. 

St Petroc’s Church

Beautiful historic church standing against a slightly cloudy sky. There's green grass in the foreground.

Next to the Medieval Castle is Lydford’s church

It’s dedicated to St Petroc, who travelled through the West Country preaching in the 6th century. 

The initial church was built down in 997, but it was rebuilt in the 13th century. Then, in the 15th century, two towers were added. 

There are also commonwealth war graves in the graveyard. 

If you like historic buildings and churches, it’s worth popping into St Petroc’s Church. 

A view of a church and churchyard, with a cloudy sky in the background and grass in the foreground.

Cycling Trails

There are some wonderful cycling trails around Dartmoor, especially through the Lydford forest. 

You can cycle to Brentor Church, Meldon Viaduct or Princetown. 

See all cycle routes on Komoot.

See the Wheelwrights Stone

Historic wheelwrights stone which was used to fit wheels onto carriages.

The Wheelwrights Stone is situated just in the gate of St Petroc’s Church.

It was used in the area until around 1920, and was originally for fitting metal tyres onto wooden wheels.

Drink at the Castle Inn

A view of the outside of a pub in Dartmoor, with the sign 'the castle inn' in the background. Drinking here is one of the best Lydford attractions.

The Castle Inn is a fantastic pub in the centre of Lydford.

They serve local drinks including Dartmoor Jail Ale, and food like crusty sourdough sandwiches and pub dinners with some vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. 

There’s also a wonderful beer garden, which is a lovely place to soak in a summer’s afternoon. 

You can see their menu here.

Where to park in Lydford

There’s a free car park opposite the Castle Inn, which is right next to Lydford Castle.

You can stay there for two hours without the need to pay – this should be enough time to enjoy all of the Lydford attractions.

If you’re dining at the pub, you might need a bit extra time – but there aren’t any restrictions after 6:00 pm. 

There are public toilets in the car park, which are open from May to October. 

It’s free to park at Lydford Gorge car park too, but as it’s a bit of a walk away from the town centre you’ll probably want to drive to the town.

Where to stay in Lydford

Wall of Lydford Castle view from the floor.

Lydford is a charming town to spend a few days in, with beautiful Dartmoor scenery from every hotel window. Here are the best places to stay: 

Lydonia Barn

Lydonia Barn is a one-bedroom house – a beautiful place for up to four people to stay. With charming features like rustic beams and exposed brickwork, it’s a lovely home away from home and has all the mod cons that you’ll need.

Heathergate Cottage B&B

The charming Heathergate Cottage B&B has cosy rooms and offers a slap-up breakfast each day. It also has beautiful gardens. 

The Dartmoor Inn

The Dartmoor Inn is a rustic, stylish pub with contemporary rooms upstairs. All rooms are decorated with beautiful furnishings and charming decorations. The pub serves delicious meals and local drinks. 

Holdstrong Farmhouse

Holdstrong Farmhouse is set a little way away from Lydford town centre and encompasses with cosy rooms and beautiful grounds.

You’ll love the experience of staying on the farm and enjoying a slice of nature! 

Places to visit near Lydford

Ruins of Okehampton Castle

There are lots of places to visit near Lydford. It’s halfway between Okehampton and Tavistock, so you can enjoy the attractions of both of these towns. 

Here are some of the best places to visit near Lydford: 

  • Okehampton Castle: This is one of my favourite castles in Devon dating back to the 11th century. You can see all of the best things to do in Okehampton here.
  • Brentor Church: This church sits on a beautiful tor with wonderful views over west Dartmoor. It’s a fascinating place, with a small chapel, and it’s a fun hike uphill. 
  • Buckland Abbey: This National Trust property was the historic home of Sir Francis Drake and has plenty of historical features and beautiful grounds. 
  • Tavistock: This charming town has pannier markets, a beautiful church and plenty of independent shops and restaurants.
  • Highwayman Inn: If you like quirky pubs, you’ve got to visit the Highwayman Inn! It’s decorated with a mishmash of objects that the owner collected over the years, and one of the dining rooms is made to look like a historic ship. 
  • Meldon Viaduct: This is a charming viaduct in north Dartmoor which is a great photo opportunity, and you can also do this hike around it.  

Are you ready to explore Lydford?

Lydford is a lovely town to visit in Dartmoor.

With plenty of attractions and in an advantageous position to reach other destinations on the moor, it’s well worth seeing this town while you’re exploring Devon!

Take a look at my other Devon posts while you’re here!

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