Dartmouth is the loveliest of the South Hams towns, and well deserves its reputation as the jewel in Devon's crown. Dartmouth and the surrounding areas are packed with places to see and things to do for all ages and interests. There are Castles, family attractions, farm attractions, National Trust houses and gardens or museums and galleries.
Dartmouth is a deepwater port and has a continental feel about its steeply rising streets and flights of winding steps. The town center is packed with individual shops and art galleries in cobbled walkways and arcades.
As you stroll around Dartmouth you will sense in the narrow streets and buildings an atmosphere reflecting the town's long history.
Brown's Hill Steps was once the original main road into Dartmouth and the ponies that were used to carry people up and down were stabled in pens in the courtyard of Grant's Cottage and where the front door and hallway are now was the passage used to gain access to the yard.
The old market was built in 1828 on land reclaimed from the old mill pool and it was the place to which farmers brought their livestock and other produce to sell in exchange for goods made in the town or brought in by sea. The main open-air market is on Friday, with a smaller one on Tuesday in the summer months.
The 17th-century Butterwalk, pictured below, with its impressive restored timber-framed facade and unique plasterwork was completed in 1640 as the luxurious home of a prosperous merchant in the cod trade.
Cobbled Bayards Cove, above, which often featured in TVs The Onedin Line, looks much the same as it did in the 16th Century and the ancient harbour has been a point of departure for around 1,000 years.
Dartmouth Castle, about a mile out of town overlooking the Dart, is a fortress constructed specially for artillery and for six centuries protected the town and its wealthy merchants from marauders - gaze down from its walls and you can see why this is a superb natural harbour.
Dominating the skyline is the 1905 Britannia Royal Naval College, the training ground for Royal Navy officers including several Royals. The Queen first met Price Phillip here. You can take a guided tour of the magnificent building with its museum, sculptures and artifacts, by booking at the Tourist Information Centre.
This area of South Devon is, in addition, blessed with a mild climate, nestling beneath the sheltering splendour of Dartmoor, and as such is ideal for walkers, keen cyclists and sailing enthusiasts who are drawn here every year. In spring, autumn and winter, Dartmouth proves a draw to those who relish quieter and cooler seasons, while in summer, festivals, fairs, sailing and watersports bring Dartmouth alive.
Swimming, windsurfing, surf kayaking, surfing and boogie boarding are available at beaches in the area with tuition and equipment hire as well. It goes without saying that sailing is a much loved activity in this area with a number of sailing schools for the less experienced.
There are many beautiful local beaches including Blackpool Sands, below, which is just 5 miles from Dartmouth.