Do you dream
of sailing away, crashing out on the beach,
seeking seals and sea-birds, traversing hidden creeks, catching crabs,
tramping the coast path, drifting on a pleasure cruise, taking a
steam-train ride or fishing for your supper? Take the kids and explore a
castle, or leave them behind and stroll in a romantic garden, ride off
into the sunset, or row the river.
– it’s not just messing about in boats!
Dartmouth is the loveliest of
the South Hams towns, and well deserves its reputation as the jewel in
Devon's crown. The mere mention of South Hams brings to mind images of
beautiful countryside, woodland and river scenery, seascapes, superb
beaches and pretty rural villages. The area's historic towns are
bustling centres awash with individual shops in cobbled walkways and
arcades; they are a Mecca for arts and crafts lovers, and a place to
savour the finest of local produce.
This area of South Devon is, in addition, blessed with a mild climate,
nestling beneath the sheltering splendour of Dartmoor, and as such is
ideal for the plethora of walkers, keen cyclists and sailing enthusiasts
who are drawn here every year.
Dartmouth, a deepwater port, is one of the area's finest attractions and
has a continental feel about its steeply rising streets and flights of
winding steps where shoppers linger around the specialist shops and art
galleries, and enjoy a drink or a meal at one of the many fine bistros,
bars and restaurants.
The lushness of the River Dart snaking through wooded hillsides and the
myriad colourful craft on the blue waters seem to transport you to more
exotic climes. Strolling is the order of the day here - it's a pity to
rush. Take your time as you wander along the main embankment that runs
through the town from New Quay towards Bayard's Cove. On the busy
estuary, why not step on board a boat for the many trips that ply back
and forth - a riverboat ride to the ancient river port of Totnes, for
example, is particularly charming.
As you stroll around Dartmouth you will sense in the narrow streets and
buildings an atmosphere reflecting the town's long history.
Admire the 17th-century Butterwalk with its impressive restored
timber-framed facade, cobbled Bayards Cove, which often featured in TVs
The Onedin Line, looks much the same as it did in the 16th Century and
the ancient harbour has been a point of departure for around 1,000
Dartmouth Castle, about a mile out of town overlooking the Dart, is a
fortress constructed specially for artillery and for six centuries
protected the town and its wealthy merchants from marauders - gaze down
from its walls and you can see why this is a superb natural harbour.
Dominating the skyline is the 1905 Britannia Royal Naval College, the
training ground for Royal Navy officers including several Royals. You
can take a guided tour of the magnificent building with its museum,
sculptures and artifacts, by booking at the Tourist Information Centre.
In spring, autumn and winter, Dartmouth proves a draw to those who relish
quieter and cooler seasons, while in summer, festivals, fairs, sailing
and watersports bring Dartmouth thrillingly alive - so don't forget your