Our guide to holidays in Dartmouth & Kingswear
Dartmouth and Kingswear sit opposite one another on the banks of the beautiful river Dart, and a visit to either one means the chance to experience one of the finest corners of Devon. Set in the notoriously picturesque (and rather well to do, we might add) area of the South Hams, Dartmouth’s all about Elizabethan streets that wind their way past nautical-inspires shops, galleries and boutiques, and the local cafes and restaurants take pride in serving up the fresh catch of each day.
Ever-popular with the sailing set, Dartmouth’s famous for its annual regatta that sees the bunting flutter, crowds cross the Dart in their droves and everything from fly bys to tall ships. To be honest though, you can visit at any time of year and still find plenty of ways to make your stay memorable. The Dart’s always dotted with the kind of boats that make it look like a film set, and as the best way to experience the landscape is from the water it’s lucky there are some fantastic boat trips up and down the Dart.
Dartmouth tourist information
With so much history to take in (as well as all kinds of events that bring the town to life all year round), it’s a good idea to stock up on Dartmouth tourist information before you get there, so you’ll know what to look for and what not to miss. So here we go…
If you look up into the rolling hills that shelter the town, you’ll see the impressive Britannia Royal Naval College peering down, and one of its more famous recruits in recent years was Prince William himself. If you want a peep behind the stone walls, guided tours are available, and they usually take place on a Monday afternoon.
We promised you a regatta and, if you visit at the end of August – what a regatta you’ll have. One of the biggest annual events in the South West, the annual Dartmouth Regatta sees the Dart become busier than ever with everything from historic tall shops to navy vessels ready to welcome the public on board for a closer look.
The action in the skies usually includes air shows, and as the planes whiz their way through the valley they make such an impact that you can feel the ground tremor under your feet. If you want to enjoy the air show without queuing for the ferry over to Dartmouth on the day, stand close to the marina in Kingswear and you’ll still get to experience the show as it unfolds above you.
Things to do in Dartmouth
There’s no doubt about it, The Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company is one of the area’s biggest draws, and there’s no attraction quite like it. Hop aboard the steam train in Paignton and chug your way through the countryside to Kingswear in style, as the train rounds the corner just before it reached the town you’ll see the river Dart shimmering beside you, and it’s one of the best views in Devon.
The adventure doesn’t end there though, hop off in Kingswear and onto the ferry, and you’ll be whisked across the river Dart to Dartmouth for the day, and if you buy a Round Robin ticket you can catch the bus from Dartmouth to Totnes, a seriously quaint market town that prides itself on its independent shops.
Back in Dartmouth, another of the attractions you’ll need to add to your list is Dartmouth Castle. A short drive uphill from the marina, and this waterside fortress has a fairytale feel about it that makes it a peaceful spot for a wander and some time just taking in the views. The castle once guarded the narrow entrance to the Dart estuary, and it’s stood for more than 600 years safeguarding Dartmouth and its busy port.
Every Devon break needs a beach day, and if you’re staying in Dartmouth or Kingswear you’ll find some of the best beaches in the country just off the beaten track, you just need to know where to look. If you’re after a friendly beach, a few cafes and a family atmosphere, you can drive to Slapton Sands from Dartmouth in under half an hour. The roads that lead to it may be narrow and winding, but when you catch sight of the beach you’ll be glad you picked it. This pebble beach rolls on for two miles, and as it backs on to the Slapton Ley nature reserve it’s a popular choice for a slow walk on a sunny day too.
Places to eat in Dartmouth
When it comes to places to eat in Dartmouth, we can honestly say that you can’t really go wrong. If you’re something of a foodie then Rockfish is a good place to start, as it’s owned and run by celebrity chef Mitch Tonks. Mitch is a regular face on Devon’s local foodie scene, and the annual Dartmouth Food Festival sees him offer demonstrations to those of us with…shall we say…less impressive culinary skills.
And then there’s Café Alf Resco. Tucked on one of the streets that leads away from Dartmouth’s harbour, this is one of the town’s most popular spots for a lazy breakfast, and it’s the kind of place where your dog will be just as welcome as the rest of the family. For those times when you’re famished after a long walk in the fresh air and you just want great food in a welcoming old pub, The Floating Bridge Inn offers a warm welcome and good food.
With its long promenade and benches that just call for you to sit back with your fish and chips and enjoy the sight of the boats on the water, The Wheelhouse is the number one choice in the area for the traditional seaside treat. Everything’s cooked to order, the batter’s crisp, and the reviewers are always happy…sounds perfect.