Most places I visit, the Tourism to Charity Shop ratio is actually pretty decent: there’s something worth seeing, a town worth mooching in, and so on. There’s exceptions of course, and Newton Abbot is one of them. Wikipedia has a fairly big section on its landmarks, but if a wiki article makes heavy of the town’s train shed and cheese and onion fair, you know you’re not onto a touristic delight.
To be fair, there’s no real reason for Newton Abbot to act as such a place. Its role is more as the functional hub of the area, leaving the tourists to get on with the attractive bits: Dartmoor, Torbay, Dawlish Warren, Exeter and Totnes are all within close proximity. Newton Abbot has instead the big supermarkets, the administrative functions, and fulfils any longing the region had for modernist architecture in its dusty, angular main streets.
Compared to those aforementioned towns, you’d never know Newton Abbot was in the heart of prime Devon rural idyll, but it’s right there. It’s got a big horrible Asda, a local department store spread over several sights, oh yes, and about a million charity shops. Newton Abbot falls down comfortably high on the thrift side of the meter here. There’s more than I can remember, more than we had time to visit, and you could quite happily spend a couple of hours here completely avoiding the sites and focusing on the charity shops. There’s a large Oxfam books and music, a Cancer Research children’s store, British Heart Foundation, Rowcroft Hospice, CLIC Sargent, YMCA and many more. I think I counted around a dozen.
There’s clusters found on Courtenay Street, Market Street and Bank Street, and by the very laws of probability, you’re bound to find some sort of thrifty bonanza in Newton Abbot. Don’t go for the sights though, you’ll be disappointed.
Find: Newton Abbot @ Google Maps
Consume with: we just ducked in a Costa, but there’s some sort of ancient cider house.
Visit: How about Puritan’s Pit, erstwhile hiding place of fugitive rogue puritans.
Overall rating: three baby pajamas