Dartmouth was the home of the Royal Navy in the reign of Edward III and ships have been built here as far back as the 12th century or earlier. Dartmouth sent many ships to join the English fleet against the Spanish armada, the armadas’ ‘payship’ was captured and anchored in Dartmouth harbour. The town is home to the Britannia Royal Naval College which has been at the forefront of the education and development of world-class Naval Officers since 1863 and where the Queen met her future husband. Dartmouth has always been of strategic importance as a deep-water port for sailing vessels (regular visits by naval and pleasure cruise vessels attest to this!). The port was used as the sailing point for the Crusades of 1147 and 1190, and Warfleet Creek, which is a short walk from Dartmouth Castle is said to be named for the vast fleets which assembled there. Dartmouth was twice surprised and sacked during the Hundred Years' War, after which the mouth of the estuary was closed every night with a great chain. The narrow mouth of the Dart is protected by two fortified castles, Dartmouth Castle and Kingswear Castle (a castle at each end of the chain).
The stunning South West Coast Path passes through Dartmouth for those that are feeling like walking a bit further than around town but you can of course mooch around the quayside and River Dart estuary or laze on one of the unspoilt beaches nearby. Try sailing, fishing or exploring by boat or the kids (and you!) will have great fun crabbing, wakeboarding, kayaking or paddleboarding - or just let the river cruises and steam train take the strain.
If it's heritage you're looking for you can take a tour of the Naval College, visit the late Dame Agatha Christie's estate at Greenway (run by the National Trust) or come along to one of the many fantastic festivals (music festival, food festival, Royal regatta - and loads more).
Round Robin, Dartmouth River Cruise, Dartmouth-Totnes Cruise,
Steam Train (from Kingswear), Kingswear Castle Paddle Steamer
Here are our three most popular trips...
A lovely addition to your day out in Devon. Full, informative (and usually amusing!) commentary is provided. This is a circular trip that starts and finishes in Dartmouth.
The queen of cruises in our repertoire sailing along the beautiful River Dart between the delightful and unique towns of Dartmouth and Totnes.
Meander among the Elizabethan streets with independent boutiques, shops, art galleries and bustling market. Enjoy fine food restaurants, bistros, bars and cosy cafés.
On a sunny day (and even when it's not sunny!), Dartmouth is an unbelievably beautiful town. Positioned in a sheltered spot near the mouth of the River Dart, the steep hills covered with pastel coloured homes and its town centre dominated by medieval buildings, it's hard to imagine its role in some of history's most momentous events. Only the presence of Britannia Royal Naval College, where generations of Naval officers have trained, suggests this lovely place is anything more than a sleepy little town of tourists and the yachting set.
Dartmouth has chic art galleries, art glassmakers and jewellers as well as tasteful shops selling quality casual resort and yachting wear. The quaint pedestrian lanes around Foss Street are particularly good for mooching around
A walk from the town out to Dartmouth Castle is a beautiful one which can be rewarded with a traditional cream tea at the café there. The views are wonderful out to sea and the castle itself is well worth a visit. If you’re feeling energetic you can take the woodland walk back which brings you back to the town via a higher route or you can choose to take the blue ferry back to the town embankment.
Dartmouth Embankment (postcode TQ6 9BH). Park and Ride recommended (postcode TQ6 9LW) - situated at the top of Dartmouth on the A3122 opposite Sainsbury's. There is a short-stay car park in the town centre (postcode TQ6 9NF), (maximum of 3 hours), opposite the Embankment.
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