No visit to the area would be complete without visiting some of the many places with an Agatha Christie connection, including the locations where she played, worked and socialised. Amongst these are the beach where she learnt to swim, the concert hall where Archie Christie proposed to her, the hotel where she spent her one-night honeymoon and the civic building where she volunteered as a nurse during the First World War.
The Agatha Christie Mile
This route was devised in the early days of the Agatha Christie Festival and takes you to some of the places that were inspirational in her life and works. The name is a bit deceiving, as the seafront route is actually about three and a half miles long, but it’s all fairly flat with some great views and places to stop along the way. There are also seven unique plaques for amateur detectives to find along the route, while you will also pass the Agatha Christie memorial bust.
Our festival director Matt Newbury worked with the English Riviera BID Company to produce an updated self-guided walking tour along the route. You can either pick a copy up for free from the Visitor Information Centre or download it here. Another option is to book onto an Agatha Christie Walking Tour (see details below) and have your experienced guide bring the route to life.
Agatha Christie Country
By exploring the English Riviera and the wider Devon area you will also be able to uncover some of the inspirations behind some of her most famous characters and stories. At least 15 of her books have a local connection and by exploring a bit further afield you will be able to visit her beloved holiday home at Greenway, the wild and untamed moors of Dartmoor National Park (where she wrote her first novel) and the enigmatic Burgh Island, the inspiration for two of her most famous mysteries.
Agatha Christie bought Greenway Estate in 1938 as a family holiday home. Her second husband Max Mallowan, along with her daughter Rosalind would travel down from their main residence in London in the spring, late summer and often for Christmas, where they would be joined by family and friends. Greenway remained a holiday home for Agatha and Max until Rosalind purchased the property from her mother in 1959. The property was given to the National Trust in 2000 on the proviso that it shouldn’t be turned into an Agatha Christie Museum or theme park. Following a £5.4 million restoration, the house opened its doors to the public for the first time in 2009 and provides an extraordinary glimpse into the world of the author and her family. You can either visit by hopping on the Greenway Ferry from Dartmouth, following the walking route from Broadsands or Kingswear, or arrive by car (you will need to book a parking space).
Dartmouth Steam Railway
We would highly recommend taking a lazy journey on the charming Dartmouth Steam Railway, which chugs along from Paignton to Kingswear along the River Dart. The route passes Goodrington Sands with its colourful beach huts, up over two of Brunel’s lofty viaducts above Broadsands and then through Churston Station, before following the Dart down to Kingswear (directly across the river from Dartmouth). In Agatha’s time the Torquay Express ran from London to Kingswear and the author would travel along this scenic route before alighting at Churston Station where she would be picked up by car to travel onto nearby Greenway. The great Hercule Poirot also steps off the train at Churston Station in the ABC Murders to investigate a murder at Elberry Cove. Poirot and Hastings alight at the station a second time in Dead Man’s Folly when it appears as Nassecombe Station.
Whilst it will take you a bit of an effort to reach Burgh Island, it’s one of those places where the journey is just as satisfying as the destination. It’s certainly one of the most evocative places to visit in Devon – an atmospheric tidal island that was to inspire two of Christie’s most famous books – And Then There Were None (1939) and Evil Under the Sun (1941). It is sometimes dubbed a ‘part time island’ as it can only be reached by a strip of golden sand at low tide and is cut off twice a day. A unique sea tractor has been operating since the 1960s and will carry visitors over at high tide. The island is home to the 14th century Pilchard Inn and an exclusive Art Deco Hotel. Whilst a stay at The Burgh Island Hotel doesn’t come cheap, another option is to treat yourself to an afternoon cream tea. Please note that booking is essential and must be made at least 24 hours in advance.
Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor with its rugged landscape and craggy tours is one of the last great wildernesses in the UK. Whilst writing her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha found herself suffering from writer’s block and at the suggestion of her mother booked into the Moorland Hotel on Dartmoor to complete her story. In the summer of 1917, the fledgling author spent two weeks staying at the hotel, which is in a stunning location at the base of craggy Haytor. Agatha would write all morning and then after lunch explore the wilds of the moors, muttering to herself as she tried out the dialogue she had written. Haytor is just a short walk from Hound Tor, which is the setting for the Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskevilles. Agatha featured Dartmoor in several books and short stories including The Big Four, The Sittaford Mystery, The Idol House of Astarte and Evil Under the Sun when Hercule Poirot organises a day trip to the moors. Agatha loved Dartmoor so much, that she also organised a huge family picnic there for her 80th birthday.
Agatha Christie Walks & Tours
The best way of exploring Agatha Christie’s Devon is to book onto one of the many excellent tours that are available and let an expert guide help you to unravel the mystery of the Queen of Crime.
English Riviera Walking Tours
Graham of English Riviera Walking Tours not only offers walks during the festival but also twice a day throughout the year. His Agatha Christie’s Extraordinary Life tour gets amazing feedback and we would highly recommend you join him if you can.
English Riviera Custom Tours
New for 2024, English Riviera Custom Tours has created a number of custom days out for single travellers and couples, each with an Agatha Christie theme. Miss Lemon will be your travel companion and guide, as you explore Agatha Christie Country.
Unique Devon Tours
Alex from Unique Devon Tours offers private tours of both Torquay and the wider area, as well as organising holidays for small groups. In addition to his Agatha Christie tours, he also covers everything from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to ghosts, mysteries and legends up on Dartmoor.
Devon and Moor Walking and Driving Tours
Nigel from Devon and Moor offers premium tours in his Land Rover Discovery, that will pick you up from your accommodation and take you to some of the places from Agatha’s life and works including Torbay, Dartmoor and Burgh Island.