If I was going to pick a National Trust property to live in I think it would have to be Coleton Fishacre in South Devon. As well as day dreaming about moving in, we are regular visitors for the incredible sea views and gardens that are colourful all year round. Here’s what you need to know about visiting Coleton Fishacre with kids.

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Our most recent visit to Coleton Fishacre was in lockdown. Pictures in this post of the inside of the house were taken during a previous visit.

The history of Coleton Fishacre

View of Coleton Fishacre house

If you like knowing the history of the National Trust places you visit, here’s a bit of Coleton Fishacre’s background.

Before being entrusted to the National Trust, the 1920s art deco country house was owned by the D’Oyly Carte family – some of Devon’s famous residents from the past. They were well known in the operatic world with connections to Gilbert and Sullivan. 

Coleton in South Devon was their country retreat – a place for relaxation and entertainment. The family would have thrown lavish parties here.

Champagne glass tower
1920s dining table decorated for Christmas

Much of the furniture and fittings are not original to the D’Oyly Carte period but have been recreated or sourced, even down to the French designed curtains and art deco furniture.

There’s also plenty of interactive activities to keep kids amused. Go to the handling room to find trinkets, clothes and jewellery that can be touched and tried on.

1920s party clothes hanging in wardrobe

Coleton Fishacre gardens

We’ve been to Coleton lots over the past five years, mostly sticking to the main path down the middle of the sub tropical valley. There’s always something in bloom in the formal gardens near the house and the wilder landscape closer to the South West Coast Path.

Flowers in bloom outside Coleton Fishacre house
Water feature in formal gardens

Things to do at Coleton Fishacre with kids

As well as exploring the house and gardens here are some of the other things to do at Coleton Fishacre:

  • Pick up a trail sheet at reception
  • Build a den
  • Spot the bug hotels
  • Play on the adventure trail (NB this is currently closed for maintenance)
Child holding trail sheet

How accessible are the gardens?

Something you should bear in mind if you are visiting with children is that the gardens slope down to the sea. At some point you are going to have to walk back up. 

It’s possible to push a buggy up and down the main path or the grass and gravel path that runs around the back of the house. This leads to the den building area and view over the Mew Stones. All the other paths leading off these come with steps.

Steep path in gardens
One of the non-pushchair friendly routes

If you are able to explore further we recommend it. There are many routes around the gardens that give you different views of the house and sea, as well as weaving around a stream and huge tropical plants.

View of Mew Stone and South West Coast Path from Coleton Fishacre National Trust
Stream running through Coleton Fishacre gardens

Events at Coleton Fishacre

We can highly recommend visiting at Christmas. In previous years the gardens have been illuminated from the end of November and the house has been decorated for a 1920s party.

Here’s a video of the illuminations at Coleton:

Food and facilities

There’s a cafe and toilets beside the National Trust reception and shop. This sells hot meals, drinks, cakes and snacks.

Are dogs allowed?

Yes. Dogs are welcome in the Coleton Fishacre gardens but must be kept on a lead.

How to get to Coleton Fishacre 

Coleton Fishacre is in quite a remote location. Expect narrow Devon lanes within the last few miles of your journey.

If you are coming from the South Hams you will need to take either the Dartmouth Lower or Higher Ferry across the River Dart. Both take card payments.

If you are coming from the Torbay area you need to head towards Brixham and then Kingswear.

There are signposts from the A379 from Hillhead. Use the postcode: TQ6 0EQ.

Coleton Fishacre opening times and booking

Coleton Fishacre is open daily over the summer and on the weekends during the winter months. Check the National Trust website for exact opening times and booking.


So that’s our guide to visiting Coleton Fishacre with kids. Check out more things to do in Brixham and things to do in South Devon.

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