Spring is the perfect time to explore Dartmouth, and uncover some of its secrets and the pleasures it has to offer – and there are many.
If you love the great outdoors, and you have little ones on board, follow The Dartmouth Town Trail. It’s a perfect walk, about 1.2 miles, to take either before or after brunch or lunch – with us here at Bayards Cove Inn of course.
Follow the adventures of pirates and merchants, kings and fisherman through the historical routes of Dartmouth. It’s great for kids, and for adults too!
If you want to make more of a trek of it, you can pull on your hiking boots and walk the South West Coast Path, which will take you to some beautiful sea vistas and amazing Devon scenery. Our favourite starts at Little Dartmouth and takes in Dartmouth Castle, Warfleet Cove and Gallants Bower.
Or take a stroll up to the 600-year-old
Castle which has defended our town for centuries. We never tire of this wonderful place. Climb to the top of the battlement for incredible views across the estuary, or take a look at the harbour chain, a feat of medieval engineering.
Stop a while to remember the fallen in St Petrox Church, which sits at the mouth of the river; this is the oldest of the three parish churches dating back to 1192. It’s a beautiful place, and so poignant too. Then jump on the ferry for the trip back to town.
Once you have satisfied your cultural, historical, and ecclesiastical thirst, there is time to be frivolous, and engage in the joy of browsing the shops and bountiful galleries of which Dartmouth has a splendid abundance. You can weave in and out of the maze of streets and keep discovering more fabulous shops, just as you think there can’t be any more.
You can’t come to Dartmouth and not take a ferry across to Kingswear. Once there, take a walk to the stunning landmark known as the Daymark. The hollow, octagonal tower is built of limestone and rises to 80ft (24m) on tall arched legs. It was built as a guide for mariners to show them the position of the harbour entrance.
And whilst you’re there, you can also take in the National Trust owned Coleton Fishacre, where there is a glorious house with magical gardens that can be enjoyed as much after dark, as in the daytime.
Another nearby National Trust-preserved house is Greenway, family holiday home to one of the greatest crime writers the world has ever known, Devon’s own Agatha Christie.
If you have any energy – or time – left, head back towards the castle and walk around Bayards Cove Fort. This dates back to the times of Henry VIII. Take a moment. Stop and stare out to sea, and imagine days gone by, when the town was protected by heavy cannons (there is still a Crimean cannon to be found.) Think of the thousands of ships that have sailed out of the harbour, and what they achieved, and those that were lost. There are buildings in Dartmouth where the previous Prince of Wales entertained the infamous Lily Langtree; where bank notes were once printed, pottery made, beer brewed, and even where the second and third Crusades sailed from in the 12th Century.
If, after all this, the kids have still got some life left in them they can try crabbing off the walls of the quay at Bayards Cove. Tear them away from their digital devices to experience the simple pleasures in life.
Bayards Cove Inn itself is the second oldest building in Dartmouth and was once known as Agincourt House. Keep your eyes peeled for blue and other commemorative plaques. The history in Dartmouth leaves you breathless – it seeps out of every brick, every alcove, from every street corner.
And remember as you leave Dartmouth, that the cobbles on the quay are from 1665, the Onedin Line was filmed here in the seventies, and somewhere in the town there is a mermaid called Miranda.