In December the nights are long but the lure of grabbing a hot chocolate or a coffee with friends and sitting in front of a roaring log burner, to while away some time before more shopping beckons– just like at Bayards Cove Inn - can help make the decision to leave your home that bit easier.
When people think of Dartmouth they might think of the regatta, or the fireworks and Red Arrow fly pasts that go with it, or the food and music festivals of the summer months. They might also think of Dartmouth for its many pubs, bars, cafes, bistros, and fine dining – of which there is literally a feast to choose from.
What you might not realise is the wealth and variety of shops there are to enjoy here. In Dartmouth, in the run up to Christmas, the town has all the gift shopping opportunities you could wish for with high street names such as Jack Wills, Saltrock, Joules, Fat Face, Mountain Warehouse, and Henri Lloyd plus some amazing independent art galleries and fabulous boutiques.
With the Dartmouth Boating Centre, the RNLI Visitor Centre, and the Dartmouth Yacht Club plus of course the Britannia Royal Naval College and the Dartmouth Museum, you can of course expect a nautical theme throughout the whole of Dartmouth, and you won’t be disappointed.
Starting from our end of town, round the corner from Bayard’s Cove Fort is Compass Books – a delightful second hand book store with some beautiful book art made from old books with missing pages in the window.
For some very smart homeware items where you could spend a lot of pennies look for Distinctly Living. Further along the street you’ll find Paul Barclay Designs, which has a very nautical theme with a strong local flavour with prints and cushions featuring Dartmouth, Salcombe, Burgh Island and beyond; you can also find beautiful brass ship’s barometers, engine order telegraphs (full steam ahead!) and lovely clocks. For the more quirky, unusual, and cool get yourself to Gifts for Gentlemen (est. 1989).
There are a whole host of galleries throughout the town with some beautiful prints, original paintings from local artists, bronze work, ceramics and sculptures. Just some of the galleries to search for are Whistlefish Gallery, Triton Galleries, Rowbury Gallery, Baxters Contemporary Art Gallery, and Simon Drew – who have some gorgeous ceramic figurines including foxes and puffins.
Tiffany’s window will draw you to it effortlessly – this store is beautiful with Highland cattle and stag covered cushions, dog brass bookends, throws, Tiffany lamps, umbrella stands made from stirrups, funky wine racks and octopus tables, and oodles of other things will make you want to scream ‘take my money’!
For food on the hoof, I urge you to try the Cornish Bakery’s apple, rhubarb and custard pasty – totally orgasmic (and ask for it warm.)
If you like your tootsies toastie, shuffle into Moshulu, where there is a huge choice of handmade slippers as well as some shoes.
Just when you think you’ve covered all of Dartmouth by wending your way up and down the main streets, and even a couple of obvious side streets, then you turn a corner and there’s an abundance of stores that are just waiting to be discovered – here you will find the cobbled way of Foss Street, the Old Market, and all of the lovely little boutiques and galleries that Dartmouth is famed for.
For the food and wine connoisseurs there is the Dartmouth Wine Company (I daren’t go in) and Peppers World Foods.
Devon Soap Company – smells divine, with the additional plus of their soaps being parabens and sls free.
For traditional toys, head to Flamingo – with spinning tops and cuddly toys, trains sets and farm animal sets, perfect for Christmas gifts for the younger relatives.
Habit – has some great deals and the ‘street’ labels such as Animal, Superdry, Billabong, and Only and Sons.
A Little Gift – something for the older boys and girls, for gin and prosecco lovers or Made In Chelsea lovers there’s a sign for everyonel ideal for the twenty- somethings looking for a gift for their pals.
Canvas Factory – has everything you could want in canvas including a very cool wine bucket which holds a bottle of champagne or fizz of your fancy and six glasses – perfect for the races, a day on the boat, a picnic in the park, or even the back garden.
There are plenty of super jewellery shops in town, but for me Trish Thomas’ handmade contemporary designer jewellery had some mouthwatering pieces of silver.
So there you are, a brief guide to just some of the incredible stores we have here in Dartmouth. Begin or end your shopping spree with a coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner at Bayards Cove Inn to make it a perfect day out.