Exploring Buckland Abbey With Kids 

Buckland Abbey is just a few minutes drive from the Moorland Garden Hotel and very close to Yelverton, so it’s a perfect family day out if you are visiting Devon.  As you may remember from our review of the hotel, we had to postpone our visit to Buckland Abbey due to the rain.  After spending a day relaxing after all our adventures, we were certainly ready to get started again and were very much looking forward to seeing which moor otter we were going to meet.

Otterman Buckland Abbey

When we arrived we found the gorgeous Otterman in the courtyard.  My daughter and I agreed that he was a beautiful otter, and spent a few moments getting some photos and writing his details in our otter spotting guide.  It was lovely to see other children equally as excited at the otter they found join us during their moor otter trail.  Otter spotting became quite a social activity for us as we went around the area.  It was nice hearing other people’s experiences, how many otter’s they had found, and where they were heading to next.

child by gate Buckland Abbey

With Otterman ticked off our list we headed inside the reception to find out what was happening at the Abbey that day.  One of the National Trust volunteers gave us a quick overview of what to expect, showing us the different areas we could explore on the wall map.  We also found out that Buckland Abbey was currently hosting an art exhibition called Art of Reflection by Andrew Logan.  We were given a children’s activity sheet to help us explore the exhibition and were feeling excited about what we were going to see that day.

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Our first stop was to see a short film about the history of Buckland Abbey.  It was fairly short, but perfect for helping both myself and my daughter understand the history of Buckland Abbey and give our experience some context.  Buckland Abbey has had an interesting journey from a place of devout worship in it’s origins to being the home of Sir Francis Drake, who made a big impression on both the area and the country with his famous expeditions overseas.

Goldfield Buckland Abbey

We explored the barn first, and this was a great source of fascination for both my daughter and I.  It was where the Goldfield exhibit from Andrew Logan’s collection was currently being housed, and it looked amazing and very much at home.  The gold corn plants towered above my daughter making her look like a little mouse scurrying though the field.  She spotted several other mice hiding in the ‘field’, along with some beautiful butterflies who, caught by the breeze, appeared to fly between the corn.

gardens buckland abbey

There are several gardens at Buckland Abbey, and it was interesting exploring them with my daughter, who is primarily a city kid.  We talked  a lot about what we found growing in the garden, and it was interesting to see what she did and didn’t recognise.  This quickly became a great learning opportunity for her as there are so many fruits and vegetables established here.

sword in lake

The grounds at Buckland Abbey are just beautiful and we really enjoyed exploring and finding more of the Art of Reflection exhibition hiding out in the greenhouses or emerging from the lake.  You can also enjoy woodland walks around Buckland Abbey, which we would have loved to have explored.  Unfortunately, time wasn’t on our side as we were heading to Bath that afternoon, but it has given us a reason to go back and spend longer at the Abbey someday.

Buckland Abbey and gardens

We ended our visit by going into Buckland Abbey to explore the house.  It was interesting to see how it had been converted from an peaceful monastery into a home for the Grenville and Drake families.  There is lots of information about the history of Buckland Abbey, and especially about Sir Francis Drake and his time here.  His famous drum is also in residence at Buckland Abbey, which is pretty impressive to see.

mirror sculpture buckland abbey

We also very much enjoyed finding more of Andrew Logan’s works inside Buckland Abbey.  It made for lots of interesting discussions with my daughter about how they made her feel and which she enjoyed the most.  I think it’s safe to say that the unicorns ticked a lot of boxes for her and she would happily have took one home if she thought she could have got it under her coat.

unicorns buckland abbey

We were very sad to have to cut our visit to Buckland Abbey short as we really enjoyed our time here.  It has certainly inspired me to take my family to more National Trust properties as it was clear to me that my daughter got a lot out of our visit.

We were guests of Buckland Abbey for the purposes of writing this post, but all thoughts and opinions are our own. 


Zena is a 40ish year old Mum with 3 kids who is keen to pursue her passion for travel despite being a busy parent. She’s also partial to coffee and chocolate.


  1. Sidrah Ahmed
    August 24, 2017 / 1:23 am

    This looks amazing and lots to see and explore

  2. Margaret gallagher
    August 26, 2017 / 10:24 am

    Looks a FAB place to visit
    I’ve not heard of this place
    Another great place to explore

  3. Marie Evans
    September 1, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    Sometimes when going to places like Abbey’s there isn’t much to do,But from your write it seems plenty to keep kiddies occupied we have been to Devon many times.And will certainly keep this place in mind when on hols with the Grandchildren.Thanks for review.

  4. Sally Hill
    September 3, 2017 / 10:46 am

    Oh my gosh I love all those totally amazing art installations! That barn in particular looks totally magical! Thanks for sharing!

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