Our Favourite South Devon Historical Landmarks

There are some truly stunning historical landmarks dotted throughout the South Devon countryside. From impressive bridges and secret underground caves to domineering forts and castles overlooking the rolling landscape and out to sea. We’ve chosen a select few landmarks that we think our visitors will enjoy and appreciate for their magnificent views and architectural beauty.

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Explore These Culturally Important South Devon Landmarks

Exeter Old Bridge

15 miles (Approximately 30 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Set in a beautiful conservation park in the heart of Exeter is Exeter Old Bridge, the oldest medieval stone bridge in England and a Grade-II listed structure. The bridge was designed with economic benefits in mind. Up until its construction in 1238, several crossings were sporadically used since the Roman times. The bridge aimed to create a permanent, long-term crossing which would boost traffic and trade in the area.

The most notable feature of the bridge was the two chapels at each end. The east chapel was dedicated to St Edmund and the west chapel to St Thomas, giving travellers and merchants a chance to pray as they went about their business. 

Today, visitors can see the impressive structure and eight of the 17 arches remain intact, in excellent condition considering their age along with the chapel dedicated to St. Edmund.

Exeter Underground Passages

15 miles (Approximately 35 minutes by car)  from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Narrow. Dark. Gloomy. And a truly unique feature of the city of Exeter. The Exeter Underground Passages are one of a kind. Exeter is the only city in the UK to have such tunnels snaking their way underneath the busy streets above.

The medieval passages were originally designed to carry fresh water to Exeter via lead pipes but now have a long history of war, sieges and secrets that you can discover on guided tours. Not suitable for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia!

Fingle Bridge

25 miles (Approximately 45 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Set deep in the base of the Teign Gorge, this Grade-II listed bridge was originally built in the 17th Century as an important transport link for packhorses transporting corn and wood products across the gorge. 

The bridge is set in some truly tranquil scenery with plenty of rambling walking routes and other points of interest nearby. Today, the bridge connects points of interest such as Castle Drogo with Fingle Woods. This is a popular route for visitors who want a breath of that crisp South Devon air and to learn more about the history of the area. Other points of interest close by include the ancient hill fort of Prestonbury Castle to the North and Cranbrook Castle to the South.

Both of these Iron Age forts sit high above on separate hilltops offering amazing views of the Teign Valley and beyond. 

If you do take a walk over Fingle Bridge, make sure to stop off at Fingle Bridge Inn next to the bridge itself. The wonderful riverside pub garden is a great place to relax, sip a beer and enjoy the sound of the babbling waters before you move on.

Dartmeet Clapper Bridge

30 miles (Approximately 55 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

An iconic part of the Dartmoor landscape but also relatively rare to see these days, are the ancient “clapper” bridges that can be found along many of Dartmoor’s waterways. These bridges are a simple construction built by laying large, flat stones on piles of large boulders. Many historians struggle to come up with an exact date of when these were built. Estimates range from the Bronze Age to the Medieval period but no one really knows for sure.

The Dartmeet Clapper Bridge is one of the easiest to access and sits on a convergence point of the East and West Dart rivers (hence the name Dartmeet) there is parking near the road bridge which means you can easily stop off and have an explore of the area.

Don’t forget to also pay a visit to Huccaby Cleave which is a short distance from the Dartmeet Clapper Bridge and provides excellent views of the rolling Dartmoor countryside.

Bayards Cove Fort

33 miles (Approximately one hour and 15 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Still standing tall after hundreds of years and overlooking the town of Dartmouth is Bayards Cove Fort. Bayards Cove Fort was built in the 16th century as part of a network of coastal defences constructed during the reign of Elizabeth I to protect the country from invasion by the Spanish Armada. Situated right on the waterfront, the Fort features a circular stone tower with battlements and a lighthouse. Today, the Fort is a Scheduled Monument and is open to the public as a heritage attraction, offering splendid views of the River Dart and the town of Dartmouth itself. 

Bayards Cove Fort is open all year round during daylight hours.

Denham Bridge

45 miles (Approximately one hour and 10 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Denham Bridge is a magnificent medieval bridge that spans the River Tavy in the village of Buckland Monachorum. The bridge is believed to have been built in the 14th century and has been in use as a crossing point over the river for centuries ever since.

This grade II* listed building is considered to be one of the most important historical structures in the area and is also considered a fine example of medieval masonry. Made of local granite and with three impressive arches, it’s a well-known local landmark and a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. 

The bridge is also a popular spot for fishing as the river Tavy is known for its salmon and sea trout. For the avid walkers among you, the bridge and the surrounding area are also popular spots for rambling and bird-watching.