The West Country is blessed with some lovely rivers but the Dart has to be my favourite. From its source up on Dartmoor, through the rolling hills of the South Devon countryside, to its mouth where it joins the English Channel at Dartmouth.
At Dartmouth there is always a hive of activity with boats coming and going all the time. The water here is also deep enough to accommodate navy ships and some of the largest cruisers afloat so you don’t even need to take to the water to see the river in full swing if you don’t want to, but you would be missing a treat if you didn’t take a trip upriver.
There are shorter trips to Greenway Quay and Dittisham as well as ferries over to Kingswear and down to Dartmouth Castle but what I would recommend is to wait until the tide is right and take the journey up to Totnes which is the highest navigable point on the river and you can spend some time in Totnes before returning on a later boat if the tide permits.
I won’t go into any more details for now because I’m hoping to give some more in-depth tips about some of the options available for boat trips out of Dartmouth later on. Suffice it to say that if there’s one thing you should do while in Dartmouth is to explore the wonderful River Dart.
The Dartmouth Steam Railway is a 6.7-mile (10.8 km) heritage railway that runs on the former Great Western Railway branch line between Paignton and Kingswear. The trip is a lovely way to travel and see the countryside and coast between the two towns aboard a beautiful Steam Engine. At the destination the ticket includes a return crossing across the River Dart aboard the Dartmouth Passenger Ferry.
The photo shows the 7827 Lydham Manor and was taken from the Dartmouth side of the river, this locomotive’s claim to fame is that in the late 1950’s along with its sister, the 7828 Odney Manor it hauled the royal train.
The Inner harbour is known locally as the Boat Float and is bordered by the Royal Avenue Gardens, shops, cafes, restaurants, and various Georgian buildings. The harbour connects to the main Dartmouth estuary via lock gates under the roadway, which are currently disused, and dry out at low tide.
Dartmouth Museum is a local museum housed in an old merchant’s house that was built in approximately 1640 which, in 1671, entertained Charles II and where he held court during a storm which forced him to stay in the port. The museum moved to its current location in the 1950s and was refurbished during the winters of 2010 and 2011.
The Museum is home to an extensive collection of artefacts, models of sailing ships, ships in bottles, paintings and photographs.
Sunday and Monday: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Sunday to Saturday: 12:00 to 3:00 pm
Children (Over 5): £0.50
Children (Under 5): Free
The memorial commemorates the sailing from the town on June 3, 1944 an amphibious force of 485 ships of the Royal navy and the United States navy to take part in the invasion of Normandy and the liberation of the oppressed countries of Western Europe. The memorial was unveiled in July 1954.
The Dartmouth Tourist Office is located in the heart of town in the corner of Mayor’s Avenue Car Park and is the officially recognised and networked Information Centre for the town. The centre is a good source for a wide variety of Maps, Walks, attractions leaflets and discount vouchers. The office also has a select range of souvenirs – including Postcards, mugs and T-towels with their own individual logo.
The office also shares its building with a working model of one of the first atmospheric steam engines – invented in Dartmouth by Thomas Newcomen c 1712. This engine was used by the Coventry Canal Company for pumping water into the canal at Hawkesbury Junction, Warwickshire and was brought back to its birthplace in 1963 by The Newcomen Society.
Monday to Saturday: 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Monday to Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
The estuary of the River Dart, which starts at Dartmouth, is a long, narrow tidal ria that runs inland as far as Totnes. The name comes from the Brythonic Celtic meaning “river where oak trees grow”. The river begins as two separate smaller rivers, the East Dart and the West Dart, which converge at the popular tourist spot of Dartmeet.
York House is a Grade II Listed built in 1892 and was probably designed by EH Back, the borough surveyor. The house is of a timber-frame construction in an Elizabethan style and co-ordinates with some of the other buildings around the Quay area, the ground floor is currently used as a convenience store.
Although this is a rather smart hotel it does have a proper public bar, the Galleon, which whilst upscale isn't painfully expensive nor exclusive. OK men are expected to have sleeves and collars but it's not a shirt and tie place. The beer's good, all local stuff often featuring one of my personal favourites - Dartmoor's "Jail Ale", and it manages to be quite an egalitarian, characterful, room with its maritime knick-knacks.
Plus there's even bar stools!!
This is a bit of a modern trendy pub these days but still with plenty of character. I think the building dates back to 1838 (when it was called the Union Inn) and externally features what I think is Poole pottery. Inside is cosy in a sort of contemporary rustic fashion with friendly staff and good beer (mostly local brews). The menu looks good with plenty of seafood at very reasonable prices but I haven't had to chance to eat here (yet) simply dropped in for an afternoon pint on a November afternoon.
Nice pub and by all accounts gets lively in the evenings, especially when they have live music and other events - check out the facebook page below:
This is a bit of a scabby town centre pub aimed at a younger crowd and football fans but is friendly enough and the beer and food are reasonably cheap. Much more of a lager drinkers haunt than us real beer people but useful if you want to catch the days sports events.
Whilst The Cherub claims to be the oldest building The Seven Stars is Dartmouth's oldest pub. It dates back to sometime around the 18th century when two earlier houses were knocked together and as a listed building has several 16th and 17th century features, although much of its present appearance is a result of more recent modernisations.
As a pub this is by far Dartmouth's friendliest local, being just that little way off the main tourist drag. The beer (mostly local brews) is reasonably-priced and there's usually good craic at the bar.
The black and white timber-framed building that is now The Cherub Inn is reckoned to be Dartmouth's oldest house, dating from 1380 when it would have been on the river - before the town started to reclaim the tidal mud flats.
it was probably originally built as a merchant's townhouse with its lower cellar providing access to a riverside dock and its front door, on the ground floor, opening onto what was Dartmouth's main street. It has amazingly survived several fires (the last being in May 2010) and German bombing which destroyed the other side of the street during World War II.
The house was virtually derilict in 1958 before being restored by a Mr. Cresswell Mullett for use as a private members club.
it is now a cracking little pub and restaurant (being first licensed as a freehouse in 1972) with a proper public bar on the ground floor selling locally-brewed beers and by all accounts excellent food. As befits a Grade 2 listed building there's plenty of original features such as ship's timbers as beams and leaded windows which combined with the traditional furnishings give it a convivial, cosy, ambience.
Just over half an hour (just off the A38) from Dartmouth is Buckfast Abbey which was a nice day out. Their restaurant has lovely food which is not overpriced, of course there is the abbey itself which is also nice. The Abbey is more 'other' than the abbey. They have a lavendar garden which was beautiful in the summer, a large gift shop, a monastic shop.
About 2 miles from the abbey is Buckfast Butterfly and Otter Sanctuary which is also worth a visit.
Otherwise known locally as the Boat Float.
The Boat Float is an inner harbour created on reclaimed land and now home to dozens of small pleasure boats. The Quayside area is surrounded by some fine Georgian and earlier buildings many now hotels, cafes and restaurants.
Click on the picture to see the wide version.