Leisure and Tourism
There is an array of formal and informal leisure opportunities available in and around the town, and, of course, the vast wilderness of Dartmoor National Park and the tranquil South Hams countryside offer both families and the serious walker a plethora of inspiring routes.
For our latest Community Diary click here.
For our latest accommodation guide click here.
Endsleigh Garden & Leisure
Situated on the outskirts of Ivybridge, Endsleigh is a large garden centre offering a wide range of plants, garden and patio furniture, aquatic products, garden equipment and tools, clothing, pets and giftware. There is also a restaurant offering hot and cold food. For details telephone 01752 898989.
Ivybridge Leisure Centre
The Ivybridge Leisure Centre (operated by Fusion Lifestyle) in the heart of Ivybridge has an indoor swimming pool, a fully equipped gymnasium, squash courts and facilities for a variety of other sports. There is also a coffee shop/cafe. For further details telephone 01752 896999.
Lukesland is located a short drive from Ivybridge on the road to Harford. It has 24 acres of woodland gardens, with flowering shrubs, trees and a wealth of wild flowers.
It is in the beautiful setting of a small valley with a brook cascading from its source on Dartmoor through ponds and over waterfalls towards the River Erme. These spectacular gardens are open to the public on various occasions during the spring and autumn and there is also a tea room and children’s trail. For details telephone 01752 893390/691749.
South Devon Tennis Centre
This facility in Ivybridge offers 4 indoor carpet courts, 4 all weather floodlit courts, bar, lounge and patio and good quality food. Visitors are most welcome and coaching is available. For further details telephone 01752 893700.
Located at the heart of the town in Erme Court. Offering a comprehensive programme of entertainment for all ages and interests with regular cinema, live events, plus coffee shop, library and information centre. Visit The Watermark website by clicking here www.ivybridgewatermark.co.uk or telephone 01752 892220 for a "What's On Guide".
Dartington , Near Totnes
Dartington has a unique collection of shops, eating places, workshops and exhibitions set in a village atmosphere. There was a former cider making activity on the site, which ended 50 years ago. The Centre is part of the Dartington Hall Trust, which receives all the profits, which are used for educational and charitable purposes. Details from 01803 847500.
Dartmoor Zoo, Sparkwell, near Plympton
There are over 200 animals at Dartmoor Zoological Park: from tiny stick insects to Ben the Brown Bear or Solomon the Lion; all set in over 30 acres of beautiful parkland. As featured in the recent BBC2 documentary series "Ben's Zoo". Have fun spotting some of the animals featured in the programme. Open daily with new restaurant serving delicious, healthy food. Further details from 01752 837645.
Pennywell Farm, near Buckfastleigh
Pennywell Farm is a farm activity centre close to the A38 near Buckfastleigh. A number of shows and displays take place during the day, all included in the entrance fee. Features include an eagle and bird of prey centre, quad bikes, a willow maze, trampolines, an under-cover play centre, and a heated indoor pet’s area. For details telephone 01364 642023.
Plymouth Barbican, Hoe & National Marine Aquarium
Unlike much of Plymouth the Barbican area between the busy Sutton Harbour and the famous Hoe survived the bombs of the Second World War. It is a fascinating maze of little streets and old buildings housing unique and individual shops selling antiques, artworks and other goods. A particular landmark is the Mayflower Steps, from where the Pilgrim Fathers set off on their epic voyage to the New World. A short walk from the Steps will take you onto Plymouth Hoe, with its breathtaking views across Plymouth Sound.
Just another short walk over a bridge beside the Mayflower Steps brings you to the National Marine Aquarium, one of the UK’s largest aquariums, and the first to be built solely for the purpose of education, conservation and research. Visitors to the aquarium will enjoy the many fascinating and fun exhibits aimed at educating all ages about the conservation of marine life. With hundreds of marine species for visitors to see, a walk through an underwater tunnel and Europe’s deepest tank there is something to see and do for everyone.
Saltram House, Plympton
National Trust property Saltram House in Plympton is a fine Georgian country house with Adam interiors, landscaped gardens and riverside walks. A restaurant offers hot and cold food, and is available for private functions. Details available from 01752 333500.
South Dartmoor is visible from most parts of Ivybridge. Henlake Down and Western Beacon dominate the town and provide views down to the English Channel. Walkers can access the Moor from several points in and around Ivybridge, and Ivybridge is the starting point of the 102-mile Two Moors Way to Lynmouth and the Erme/Plym Valley trail to the coast at Wembury (15 miles) and thence to Plymouth. There are many historic remains on the Moor close to Ivybridge, some of them relics of mining activity over the centuries and others going back to Neolithic times. For further details contact the Watermark Information Centre on 01752 892220.
Wembury Marine Centre
In April 2006 the Marine Centre re-opened after a major refurbishment. It features a variety of displays and games highlighting the wildlife of Wembury’s coastline. It lies at the heart of the Wembury Marine Conservation Area, which is known for its seabirds, rocky shoreline and rock pools. Organised children’s “rock pool rambles” are a regular feature of its summer programme. Details available from 01752 862538.
Woodlands Leisure Park, Near Dartmouth
60 acres of fun activities indoors and out for all the family including the Empire of the Sea Dragon (5 floors of indoor frenzy), Trauma Tower, Toboggan Run, Commando Course, Toddlers’ Village, Animal Farm, Falconry Centre ….. and much more. Also home to an award winning camping and caravan park. For details telephone 01803 712598.
Ivybridge is ideally located for a variety of walks providing the opportunity to enjoy varied countryside, woodland and riverside scenery. For the hardened walker Ivybridge marks the start of long distance walks both north and south – the Two Moors way leads one to Lynton (102 miles away) and the Erme Valley trail continues southwards to Ermington (3 miles away); the latter trail then links with the Erme Plym Trail at Sequers Bridge, near Ermington, which continues to the coast at Wembury and then on to the centre of Plymouth; the leg from Ermington to Plymouth is 10 miles with a spur to Wembury.
A little friendlier for the casual walker are the following walks .....
The Ivy Bridge to Longtimber Woods
(Approximately 1 hour’s walking, medium difficulty)
Car parking: in one of the car parks near to the Town Hall.
Alongside the Harford Road short stay car park is the much-photographed old Ivy Bridge. With your back to London Court cross the bridge, turn right and walk up Station Road, which is a continuation of Erme Road. Not far up this road you will note the Mill emergency entrance to your right. Just above that is a footpath marked with a wooden finger post.
Enter the path and walk along this to experience some spectacular views with the River Erme tumbling through gorges on its way to the sea. The path soon enters Longtimber Woods by crossing a bridge over the leat. The path climbs steeply now and passes underneath both viaducts into the Woods proper. The derelict viaduct was designed and built by I K Brunel who lived locally whilst the line was being built -originally the line was designed for Brunel’s Atmospheric Railway. Turn right at the top. As you walk along this path you will soon see the remains of the “swimming pool”, converted from a former reservoir but now overgrown with vegetation, which was once extremely popular with local youngsters. Whilst the Americans were based in the town prior to D-Day they made use of this pool in their training exercises.
Continue until you reach the picnic area. Turn left at the wooden direction sign and climb up to the road exit. On your left-hand side you will see the “Kings Leat” which has been kindly renovated courtesy of the town’s Rotary Club. Its water, as with all the leats in Ivybridge, once provided the lifeblood for business in the town by powering the many mills, in addition to providing drinking water for the residents. Immediately across the road or as you proceed down the road there are further footpath signposts to your right - these paths lead across Henlake Down with glorious views across Ivybridge and Ermington and on a clear day right out to sea. A footpath leads from the gate at the bottom of the Down back into Ivybridge. There are many other walks in Longtimber and beyond, all requiring a fair amount of time. Should you decide not to venture further and return to Ivybridge, stay on the road, which is lined with ancient cart stopping stones, and descend gently back to the town.
Harford Gate Prehistoric Village, Black Pool & Harford Church
Car parking: hardy walkers can walk from the town centre car parks to Harford. For a relaxed walk drive to the Harford Moor Gate. Drive slowly through Harford village without taking the turning for Cornwood. Harford Gate has limited car parking spaces.
For Harford Gate Prehistoric Village
(Approximately 3/4 hour’s walking, medium difficulty)
Turn right and head towards the rise and look down towards the water crossing. You will note almost immediately the remains of a Neolithic village settlement. This is one of the most complete settlements on the Moor. The “threshold” and part of the “wind doors” can still be traced. Stone rows reveal the paths used by the residents into and around the settlement.
As you progress you will be able to pick out the outlook posts. The settlement bears gently to the right following the curvature of the small discreetly hidden reservoir. Here can be found the chieftain’s residence along with many others. Follow the curve of the reservoir and over some slightly boggy ground and you are now facing once again the direction for Harford Gate. However turn right and shortly you will see the River Erme. Walk towards the Erme and soon you will see a rise in the ground. Turn back towards Harford Gate and you will find a “kist vane” - a method of burial once used. These are sometimes merely called “kists”. A kist vane is open and shaped similarly to a small coffin. The size of the grave is about half the size of one we would dig today. This is because the warrior would have been folded with his knees underneath his chin when buried. Due to its position it is believed this grave was for the Chief or King of the settlement. Turn back to Harford Gate.
Another short walk is to “Black Pool”
(approximately 3/4 hour walking, easy/medium difficulty) which is an extremely attractive area.
To undertake this walk, having crossed the stream just after leaving Harford Gate turn right rather than left, climb slightly until you find the stream known as Addiscombe Brook. To your left there is now a cleft of rocks - the “Black Pool” is here. Sit and watch the dragonflies fight for territory over the pond. Return to Harford Gate and the car park or, if on foot, proceed down to Stowford Gate to return to the town.
For Harford Church - driving to or from Harford Gate, stop and visit the Church at Harford. Here you will find a lovely brass in memory of Thomas Williams, Speaker of the House of Commons (from 1562 to his death in 1566) who once resided in Stowford. Despite the long hazardous journey to London the Speaker to the House would return frequently to his beloved Harford and his carriage would frequently be seen regularly rushing up and down Harford Road. Enter the bell tower and note the dates and names on the wall. Graffiti then! Historic now!
Don’t forget to also try the Heritage Trail. If you are in need of further walking inspiration call into the Watermark Information Desk in Erme Court. Happy wandering!