Dartmouth (the UK Devon town, not the one in the USA) is an increasingly popular place to live and holiday. In this new digital world, Dartmouth reeks of history, its has a wonderful river (the Dart) running between itself and Kingswear, reaching the sea half a mile further down, hence “Dart-Mouth”
The river Dart itself is navigable as far up as Totnes and makes for a great trip on one of the local ferry boats. These ferries also run to Torquay, Paignton and Brixham and work in close association with the Dart Valley Steam Railway, which runs between Paignton and Kingswear.
Dartmouth can be reached by river, down from Totnes, or one of the Darts tributaries (for canoeists for example) at Tuckenhay or Stoke Gabriel, both well worth a visit on their own. As mentioned above, Dartmouth can be reached from the open sea, Plymouth to the West and Torbay to the East. Plymouth will mean passing Start Point and Prawle Point which can be a bit rough! From Torbay, the journey is about 40 minutes in a ferry or average motor boat! To drive to Dartmouth there are a few options, break off the A38 (Exeter to Plymouth) and head South or via Totnes, which is the lowest crossing point by car as the Dart, reaches up into Dartmoor. It is also possible to take the car across the Dart at Kingswear, at either the upper or lower ferry. One is in the centre of Kingswear right next to railway station, (this is where the passenger ferries also run) but the other is further up the estuary and runs a much larger ferry service for cars.
Dartmouth has a rich maritime heritage going all the way back to the Norman Conquest, when the French realized how important a safe harbour was for embarking on cross-channel voyages to Normandy. The 12th century also saw the town was used as a meeting point for a fleet of a hundred plus ships which set out on the second crusade in 1147 and also in 1190 when more than 100 ships embarked upon the Third Crusade. It’s maritime flavour, old buildings and port frontage also lends itself to films and TV series, such as Onedin Line, running from 1971 to 1980.
Dartmouth Castle is of course famous and frequently visited by tourists and for 600 years has been Dartmouth’s protector. Building on the castle began in 1388 organised by the Mayor of Dartmouth, John Hawley (the smaller ferries are always named as a Hawley) and a hundred years later had a gun tower added with heavy cannon. The ambition was to protecting the wharf’s, warehouses and ensure traders had a safe port from which to build their wealth and Dartmouth’s hinterland and position in the maritime world. If you look to the far bank it can be seen that a heavy chain was strung across the river to stop invading ships from sailing up the river Dart. The castle has a church linked to it, this is the Church of St Petrox which saw action during the Civil War and Second World War.
More modern additions are the Dart Marina and its associated holiday rental apartments, which, as you may imagine, are now very expensive to buy but can be rented out through various companies. The town itself has a number of very interesting back streets, with decent restaurants, art galleries and shops and more than enough pubs for a couple of weeks exploration.
The town is also very proud of its Royal and Naval connections with Dartmouth Royal College, proudly standing in its own magnificent grounds, for a more complete history of the Naval College please check this site: http://www.discoverdartmouth.net/dartmouth-royal-naval-college
Discovery Holiday Homes has access to a number of properties for its clients and we work with many local agents to provide the best accommodation in Dartmouth and the South Hams in general.
If you like ambling down back streets, wandering around art galleries, drinking coffee, visiting pubs, sitting by the water, then Dartmouth maybe for you. It is naturally reserved area as its footprint is restricted by the hills behind and the river frontage. You may consider it a place to visit and instead, stay in the South Hams countryside, or stay closer to more activities such as the English Riviera (Torquay, Paignton or Brixham) and make a day trip and sample the delights of Dartmouth.