As its name would suggest, Dartmouth lies alongside the Estuary of the River Dart, a mighty waterway which snakes its way from a source in the heart of Dartmoor National Park, through the rolling green hills of Devon, and right down to Dartmouth in the South Hams. And though this Devonian town may well be best-known for its fishing industry and candy coloured houses, there are plenty of hidden gems to uncover. Here’s your guide to the best of secret spots in Dartmouth and some of the more unusual activities on offer!
Bayard’s Cove Fort
Situated on the fringes of the old town, Bayard’s Cove is now owned and managed by English Heritage, an organisation which oversees the maintenance and upkeep of many of Britain’s finest ruins and monuments. Bayard’s Cove itself is free to visit and wander around and is an example of gun ports. If you’re interested in photography, then it’s worth noting that the little windows looking out onto the Dartmouth Harbour make for interesting frames.
The upper floor of Dartmouth Parish Church
Though most churches in Devon are free to visit (with the exception of particularly prominent ecclesiastical buildings such as Exeter Cathedral), what’s unique about the Parish church of Dartmouth is that you can actually head up the wooden steps and explore the church’s top floor! If you’re curious to learn more about Dartmouth’s largest ecclesiastical building, then check out our guide to St Saviour’s Church.
Dartmouth Old Barometer, Holset House
If you’re looking for a quirky piece of history which is to be found quite literally on the side of the street, then the Old Barometer in the town centre is it. Tucked away in a little corner and unnoticed by many visitors walking past, the Dartmouth Old Barometer is fixed to the North wall of Holset House. The weather meter was presented to the mariners of Dartmouth in 1860 and still looks as good as new on the side of the historic building!
Royal Avenue Gardens, Dartmouth
Though not as much of a hidden gem as some of the other locations listed within this article, Coronation Park is often overlooked by visitors in favour of strolling alongside the sea walk promenade or indeed frequenting one of the many independent shops which are scattered across the town.
Nevertheless, Coronation Park is home to a wonderful array of green spaces and benches which make the perfect spot to enjoy fish and chips from one of the many nearby vendors or indeed sit and calmly watch the world go by. Of particular note is the cast iron bandstand which often serves as a stage during town celebrations and special events. Other highlights of Royal Avenue Gardens include many planted flowerbeds in the spring and summer months, as well as a herb garden and mediterranean-inspired garden.
Dartmouth Community Bookshop
If you’re already a fan of independent shopping, then you need to look no further than the Dartmouth Community Bookshop, which even has links to A.A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh! You see, the Dartmouth Community Bookshop was founded as a a not-for-profit community benefit society following the closure of the Harbour Bookshop in 2011.
Previously on-site, the Harbour Bookshop was run by Christopher Milne (son of A.A. Milne) together with his wife after they left their lives behind in London in search of a more tranquil life by the sea. Today, the Community Bookshop sells everything from memoirs to children’s literature to non-fiction tomes. The shop also sells greeting cards and CDs, as well as a small selection of other things for sale.
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