Christmas wreath on Heron Lodge

Top things to do at Christmas in Devon

Wondering what to do this Christmas, why not spend Christmas in Devon? Perhaps you’re already booked a stay at one of the lodges at Roadford Lake Lodges over December or you’re still considering a Winter getaway around Christmas time. You may be surprised to discover just how much there is to do on the doorstep of Roadford Lake. We thought it might be helpful to point out some of what we consider the highlights of the Winter season!

Devon’s great outdoors on the doorstep

Firstly, if you love nature, walking or photography you are absolutely spoilt for choice with Roadford Lake a two-minute walk and magnificent Dartmoor a short drive away. Offering a peaceful haven for birds and wildlife and extraordinary landscapes, this area is stunning at all times of the year. Our lodges are the perfect base to get some exercise, enjoy a view, simply relax or pursue your photographic ambitions. We have got a number of walking books in our lodges for guests to borrow but if you’re looking for your own, the wonderful Roadford Lake Café has a great little shop with a good choice of local walking books.

Roadford Lake Café, walking books, interior and view

And whilst we’re talking about the café – we’d highly recommend stopping by and having some breakfast, a warming hot chocolate or a delicious lunch. Just two minutes from the lodges it’s cosy and welcoming and a great choice for refreshments and with the bonus of its spectacular view of Roadford Lake!

A visit to Strawberry Fields Farm Shop

There are many other nearby places to enjoy this winter. We must mention Strawberry Fields Farm shop at Lifton! Just 10 minutes’ drive down the A30 from our Roadford Lake Lodges. They’ve not only got a superb farm shop, gift shop, cafe and restaurant but have some exciting plans for families including Santa Clause joining them throughout December! They are advertising an on-site Winter Wonderland and a barn where their elves are working hard to make Christmas magical. You can visit their post office, elf magic show, meet Santa, make your own reindeer food and much more. Every person (adult or child) needs a ticket for the Christmas activities so make sure you book tickets in advance online.

A Christmas carousel ride

Also worth visiting is the very unusual Dingles Fairground museum just 5 minutes down the road. It’s a real giggle if you like fairs, with unusual displays of fairground art and memorabilia and a large selection of working vintage rides and stalls. It is all undercover so you can enjoy a visit whatever the weather, and a real treat for this time of year. Christmas Carousel

Historic Devon houses decked out for Christmas

Visit one of the three The National Trust properties we have just a short drive away which are perhaps at their most spectacular over the Christmas period – The National Trust really knows how to put on a festive display!

Father Christmas at Castle Drogo

Castle Drogo just under 40 minutes away is going to be stunning over Christmas. Every Friday, Saturday & Sunday from December 2 until 18, then daily from the 19 – 23 December you can see the Castle decorated for Christmas and experience how the Drewe family celebrated Christmas Eve in the glamourous 1920s. Throughout the Christmas period, they will also be having local musicians playing in the castle and everyone is invited in for a carol or to sit and enjoy the beautiful Drawing Room while it’s bought to life with music. And to top it all Father Christmas will be stopping at Castle Drogo this Christmas! In fact, he will be there every Saturday and Sunday in December (except 24, 25) as well as from 19-23rd December. Father Christmas sessions include a story with one of the elves, an audience with the man himself and a gift. It’s a magical experience in the beautiful Library at the castle. Do make sure you book ahead. There are also lots of beautiful winter walks around the grounds and a Winter Snowflake trail for the younger party members to enjoy. And don’t forget their lovely café and shop for all sorts of unusual festive goodies. Adding final touches to the Christmas Garland at Cotehele, Cornwall

©National Trust Images/Trevor Ray Visit the National Trust website

Cotehele’s Christmas Garland

Cotehele just under 45 minutes’ drive from the lodges is another spectacular place to visit at Christmas. It is a rambling Medieval manor house on the banks of the River Tamar. As well as the beautiful historic house and wonderful winter walks around the grounds, the house boasts a spectacular 60-foot garland made from thousands of dried flowers grown on the estate! There are also festive lights along the stream to Cotehele Mill which will be decorated in traditional Victorian style with lots laid on to help you discover how families celebrated Christmas in those times. With musical performances and hot chocolate to die for Cotehele is well worth a visit!

Whitelady waterfall at Lydford Gorge

If you’re looking for some more simple, outside adventure, the walks to Whitelady Waterfall and the bird hide at the Lydford Gorge are open during daylight hours and are quite spectacular. The waterfall tea room is open Friday to Sunday, 11 am-3 pm, until Sunday 18 December but please do check before travelling in case of any closures due to dangerous weather.

Christmas at the Eden Project

There are also plenty of other attractions that are accessible to visit whilst you’re staying – somewhere to suit everyone. We feel The Eden Project has to be mentioned. Less than an hour’s drive it is putting on a real spectacle this Christmas with an “all-new immersive music and light experience”. They have their annual ice skating rink up and running for the winter season from October through to February with family-focused skating sessions for parents with young children, parent and toddler sessions as well as sessions for skaters of all abilities. Father Christmas will also find time to visit Eden from 2nd – 24th December. Definitely worth visiting but make sure you book ahead as tickets will go fast!

Christmas train trips in Devon

Christmas Train of Lights

Christmas Train of lights runs from 25th November to 30th December. The multi-award-winning Christmas experience is a must-see event in Devon’s festive calendar. Starting at Paignton you journey through the magical forest to Dartmouth and back. Tickets sell out quickly so book early. Paignton is a little over an hour away from Roadford Lake.

South Devon Railway Polar Express

The most iconic feature of The Polar Express is its sleek black steam engine. It’s even inscribed with the ‘1225’ signage to identify it as Santa’s own train. Throughout the train ride, you’ll be entertained, meeting the Conductor and his crew. All the while the train steams towards the North Pole! Here you’ll meet Santa and one of his friendly elves. He will climb on board the train to meet you all. The Conductor will even clip your Polar Express tickets just like in the film. Tickets are available from 18th November to 23rd December. The Polar Express starts and ends at Buckfastleigh station, a little over an hour’s dive away.

The Heligan Night Garden

Visit the Heligan Night Garden in Cornwall and become immersed in an enchanting lantern experience, set amidst the atmospheric Lost Gardens, running from November into January.

Journey through the magical garden trail, exploring woodlands and gardens beautifully lit with installations and lanterns. Discover breathtaking displays of fauna and flora as we celebrate the characters of our community, all illuminated within Heligan’s much-loved and iconic locations. The route is suitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs, and alternative routes are provided where the pathways become more challenging. It is not recommended to bring dogs to this event. It takes just a little over an hour to reach the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Eating out in Devon during the Christmas Season

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat again we are also spoilt for choice. Our well-equipped kitchens make self-catering a dream and with the local Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets delivering to the lodges but also the wonderful Strawberry Fields farm shop offers a huge range of their own delicious ‘ready meals’,  it couldn’t be easier to cater in the comfort of your cosy lodge.

Christmas at Roadford Lake lodges

But we also know how nice it is to treat yourself to something other than home cooking when you’re on holiday, especially when everywhere is looking so festive and inviting. Some local pubs offering good food we’d like to mention are Bearslake Inn with their welcoming team who offer a wonderful, cosy atmospheric place to stop and relax. They’re nearby on the road to Tavistock at Lake. Do check out their festive opening times.

There’s also the Castle Inn (both the Castle Inn and Bearslake Inn are on the Granite Way cycle path if you’re thinking of combining a beautiful cycle with some good food), the Arundell Arms at Lifton and the nearest pub just two minutes from Roadford Lake Lodges The Clovelly Inn offering good simple fare. And don’t forget the Pump and Pedal for a more relaxed café style food option – they have a pizza night on Fridays too! Visit our page on eating and drinking for more information.

Get out on two wheels

And if you fancy a cycle in the crisp, fresh air this winter, the cycle paths around the lake or Dartmoor’s Granite Way are a great place to start – for cyclists of all levels. If you’re needing to hire take a look at the friendly and helpful Devon Cycle Hire just up the road at Sourton https://devoncyclehire.co.uk/ and the excellent cycle shop Okehampton Cycles http://www.okecycles.co.uk/ for a bike-related gift or purchase (or repair). Here’s a little more information for those cycling in the area.

Visit our local towns

We’d like also to mention the wonderful local towns of Tavistock, Launceston and Okehampton which are all on the doorstep. Great places to wander around out of peak season but also offer an excellent range of independent shops and a variety of places to eat, just a short drive away.

Tavistock

Tavistock is a straightforward 30-minute drive away, a great place to spend some time and do some shopping with its famous Pannier Market (indoor and open Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 4pm) and superb range of independent shops. With free after 3 pm parking every Thursday and Friday during December in all car parks throughout town (bar the Guildhall car park), it’s another reason to go and enjoy shopping under Tavistock’s beautiful Christmas lights.

And if you’re peckish the town has a huge choice of cafes and restaurants. If something quicker is required the pasty house in West Street is once again offering its Turkey, Stuffing & Cranberry Pasty – very yummy!

Tavistock also boasts The Wharf, a venue which offers some great performances over December in their comfortable theatre and cinema. Performances this month include a live broadcast of Peter Wright’s much-loved Nutcracker production for The Royal Ballet on Thursday 7th December and Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical throughout the month. ‘Joey The Lips’ is performing on Saturday 10th and there is plenty more going on. Check out the Tavistock Wharf schedule with plenty of easy parking why not book some tickets and go and enjoy their café and bar too?

Launceston

Launceston – Just inside the Cornish border and once the ancient capital of Cornwall, Launceston is a thriving town steeped in history and boasts an 11th-century castle – great to wander around when you’re not in a rush. Only 15 minutes drive it also offers a good choice of restaurants and shops.

Okehampton

Okehampton is another traditional market town just 20 minutes drive up the A30. It is an ideal place for the outdoor enthusiast but also there is a Victorian shopping arcade, a museum and the second-oldest Norman Castle in the county. And now, of course, Okehampton also boasts its Dartmoor Line railway line into Exeter! It too has a host of cafes, pubs and restaurants to enjoy.

Plymouth

Perhaps we shouldn’t forget the ocean city of Plymouth which is only just over an hour away if you fancied a trip to the National Marine Aquarium, its famous Barbican, their Theatre Royal or to enjoy their shops and Christmas market.

So there really is a huge variety of places to visit and things to enjoy at this time of year. Particularly perhaps, in our view, the great outdoors right on the lodges’ doorstep. And always the cosy lodge – a home from home with a hot tub – waiting for your return after a day out. Put your feet up, make a hot chocolate or have a glass of something warming in the spacious living area and just enjoy your break.

Table laid with nuts, candles and prosecco

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