Dartmouth, as it name suggests, lies on the banks of the River Dart estuary, within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With its narrow lanes and stairways, in an area packed with Elizabethan and Medieval buildings, Dartmouth is a great place to stop by in this part of Devon.
The town has a reputation for good food and shopping, with a selection of fine restaurants, art and antique shops.
Of strategic importance as a deep-water port for sailing vessels, Dartmouth has a rich naval history. It was used as a starting point for 12th Century crusades and was a home of the English navy since the reign of Edward III.
On two occasions, it surprised and sacked during the Hundred Years’ War, after which the mouth of the estuary was closed every night with a great chain. The narrow mouth of the River Dart is protected by two fortified castles, Dartmouth Castle and Kingswear Castle.
Despite it’s naval connections, Dartmouth did have a less respectable side, providing a significant base for privateering during the Middle Ages.
Today, the naval connection remains, with Dartmouth being dominated by the Royal Navy Officer Training college (Britannia Royal Naval College) at which Royal Navy Officers as well as those of many foreign navies are trained.
No railway has ever run to Dartmouth, but the town does have a railway station, which has now been converted to a restaurant. It is believed to be the only place in the world with a purpose built railway station which has never seen a train.
The Onedin Line, the famous BBC television drama series that ran during the 1970s, was filmed in Dartmouth.