Dartmouth - South Hams - Devon
Dartmouth is a unique and stylish holiday destination at the heart of the South Hams on the South coast of Devon. A historic town and deepwater port, Dartmouth is one of Devon's main tourist attractions.
Dartmouth has a picture book setting, on the River Dart, a deep water inlet with with steep wooded hillsides on either side - the river takes its name from the old celtic word for "many oaks".
The town and its neighbour, Kingswear are a major boating and yachting centre on the South Coast, with hundreds of yachts moored along the trots on the river and in the marinas at Kingswear, and the Dart Marina Hotel
The main Embankment runs along the length of the town, from the New Quay - built on reclaimed land towards the historic Bayard's Cove (filmed in the original Onedin Line series.
Dartmouth's Main Jetty is the hub of all waterfront activity in the town, Boats trips embark on a regular basis taking visitors on trips up the river to Dittisham ('Ditsum') or out into the sea to visit Berry Head or Paignton.
The passenger ferries make regular trips across from Dartmouth's quay over to Kingswear and many little boats ply their trade ferrying people up and down the river to Dittisham, Greenaway Quay and Dartmouth Castle. Tourists can hire small motor boast and explore the higher reaches of River Dart for themselves
A new addition to the fleet is the Kingswear Castle, The UKs only working "Steam powered" Paddle Steamer, which is in Dartmouth on a 14 year lease.
The Lower Ferry - transporting cars
from Kingsbridge into the centre of Dartmouth.
There are two car crossing points on the river in Dartmouth.
DARTMOUTH LOWER FERRY
Dartmouth's Smaller Lower Ferry,
operates from a small quay in the town. It is a Tug and Float system,
with two ferries operating as floating platforms pulled across the
river by small tugs, taking cars from the centre of Dartmouth across
the river into the centre of Kingswear. Dartmouth's Lower Ferry has
been carrying vehicles and foot passengers between Dartmouth and Kingswear
since the 1700's. The ferry is a pleasant alternative for foot passengers
wishing to cross the river to visit Kingswear, offering stunning river
views down to Dartmouth Castle and the Sea.
DARTMOUTH HIGHER FERRY
The larger Higher Ferry is located at the northern end of the Embankment next to the popular Floating Bridge Inn and Dart Marina. The Higher ferry is much larger, capable of carrying 30 plus cars - it is a chain ferry that crossess the river without the need to drive through the narrow streets in the town - it also avoids entering the centre of Kingswear. The Higher Ferry is part of the main A379 route that runs from Torquay and Paignton to Plymouth.
Please note that the ferries do not take Card Payments
The Embankment provides visitors with a pleasant and relaxing promenade to stroll down - admiring the sights of the busy estuary or to select from the many boat trips that depart from the waters edge.
The Butterwalk, with its timber framed arcade was built in 1635-40. This impressive façade was damaged by bombs during 1943, but it has now been fully restored.
The main road never reached down into the heart of Dartmouth, which has protected the character of the town from the "Boat float" to the Castle - helping to retain the historic atmosphere of Dartmouth's narrow streets and buildings.
Dartmouth's oldest building, The Cherub Pub c1380), in Higher Street, and Agincourt House at Lower Ferry, are both examples of 14th century buildings that have survived in the town. The Inventor of the Steam Pumping Engine, Thomas Newcomen, was born in Dartmouth in 1663. A working example of one of his engines can be seen in the Engine House.
Dartmouth offers the visitor a stunning array of bistros, restaurants, boutiques and specialist shops. All lining Dartmouth's narrow streets with their long flights of winding steps and intriguing medieval buildings.
The Station Restauraunt by the main quay in Dartmouth is a testament to the ambitions of Brunel - the great railway pioneer and engineer. Brunel established a railway link oon the Kingswear side of the river and planned to link the line into the centre of Dartmouth by bridging the river by Dittisham. He constructed the Railway Station ready for the arrival of the new track, but was thwarted by objections from locals, who obtained a ban on any crossing on the river lower than Totnes. the Station became a restaurant and left Dartmouth with the distintintion of having a railway station without any trains.
Historic River Bank and Bayard's Cove
Dartmouth was a very important port on the South Coast of England, rivalling its neighbour Plymouth in importance. The Norman's used Darmouth as a trading port with their homeland across the English Channel - and the Crusaders, led by Richard the Lionheart, set sail from Dartmouth. Both the second and Third crusades assembled and departed from Dartmouth's riverside quays.
The Cobbled Bayards Cove ( close adjacent to the Lower Ferry slip) has changed little since 1539. imparting the best impression of just how a cobbled River Bank Quay used to look.
The Cove was featured regularly in the Television series The Onedin Line. At the southern end of Bayard's Cove is a small fortification. The artillery fort was built by Dartmouth Corporation in 1510 to provide additional protection to the harbour.
The Pilgrim Fathers, put into Dartmouth's Bayard's Cove, en-route from Southampton to the New World. The Pilgrims rested for a time and then set off on their epic journey in the ships - The Mayflower and The Speedwell, on the 20 August 1620. Some 300 miles west of Land's End, they realised that the Speedwell was unseaworthy and both ships returned to Plymouth - the Mayflower then departed alone to complete the crossing to Cape Cod.
Dartmouth Castle (English Heritage)
Two impressive Castles have maintained a guard at the mouth of the River Dart for centuries. Dartmouth Castle, built in 1481, featured many state-of-the-art defences. It was the first Castle in the country to be constructed specifically for artillery.
Dartmouth Castle along with Kingswear Castle, on the opposite bank of the river, afforded this deep water anchorage even greater protection by having a heavy chain strung between them in times of war - protecting the ships at anchor and the homes and warehouses of Dartmouth's merchant community.
The Castle maintained its technological advantage for nearly five hundred years. By the Victorian era, Dartmouth Castle was equipped with a Palmerston Gun Battery.
This impressive array of guns, could hit a target at a distance of two miles - providing total protection for the River Dart from any enemy shipping.
Kingswear lies on the eastern slopes of the entrance to the River Dart, directly opposite Dartmouth. Kingswear is a small collection of buildings that hug the valley side, with a waterfront dominated by the Kingswear marina and the Kingswear to Paington railway line.
Car or passenger ferries can be taken across the river to Dartmouth or you can opt for the scenic rail journey, via steam train across the headland to Paignton and the English Riviera
Kingswear's small castle lies directly on the waters edge, at the mouth of the River, built in 1502 to support the larger fortress of Dartmouth Castle, which lies directly opposite on the Western banks of the River Dart.
The Dart Valley Trail
From Kingswear you can follow the The Dart Valley Trail along the side of the Railway tracks towards Greenaway. The Dart Valley Trail follows both sides of the River Dart and is 16 miles long. The section isrunning from kingswear along the edge of the raileay tracks to Dartmouths Higher Ferry Landing then onto Greeway, through ancient woodland alongside the river, is 4.5 miles long .The Dart Valley Trail is a stunning - picturesque walk, with amazing river views and haven for wildlife.
Greenway & Dittisham
Greenway -was the home of the author, Agatha Christie, the gardens at Greenway are currently being restored by the National Trust. A ferry runs across the river to the jetty at Dittisham and regular trips run down the river to Dartmouth's town jetty.