Devon actually does concentrate on fairly cities however from its citadel to its beautiful riverfront, I’m all the time notably tempted to move again to Dartmouth with youngsters.
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With its lengthy historical past and laid-back vacation vibe, I’ve visited in wonderful summer time sunshine and autumn drizzle, and every time come away decided to spend longer.
And with so many issues to do in Dartmouth with youngsters, it’s the right spot for a household vacation as effectively – listed below are my prime 16 concepts to start out you off.
Go to Dartmouth Fort with youngsters
Whereas it’s simple to whereas away a day (and extra) in Dartmouth, one place you shouldn’t miss is a go to to Dartmouth Fort with youngsters.
Set on the mouth of the River Dart, elements of the citadel date again to the 14th century and it noticed motion in the course of the English Civil Warfare, plus there are additionally later nineteenth century additions – it was nonetheless used to defend the coast in Victorian instances, in addition to defending Britannia Naval Faculty in the course of the First World Warfare.
And when you shouldn’t count on knights, turrets and medieval splendour right here, there are some enjoyable issues to do with youngsters at Dartmouth citadel as effectively.
There’s a path for teenagers to observe with varied totally different quizzes and bits of trivia, in addition to the possibility to design your individual citadel.
Preserve a watch out for the mice alongside the way in which too: some are on show, others take a bit extra looking out. And if I’m trustworthy, there was a lot else to have a look at that we didn’t even spot all of them, as we saved getting distracted.
Earlier than you even set foot inside, you’ll spot the primary of the cannon – what’s now the store was a Second World Warfare gun home.
And it’s a theme which continues as you discover by way of the Victorian fortress and head on into the older medieval part.
The primary defences date again to 1388, constructed by privateer and Mayor of Dartmouth John Hawley – an inspiration for the Shipman in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – whereas the fifteenth century gun tower is considered the primary purpose-built fortification for heavy cannon that will sink ships.
That wasn’t the one defence: a heavy chain stretched throughout the estuary, which could possibly be used to dam enemy ships from invading.
And once you head down into the passageways – you’ll want the torch in your telephone to light up these dim tunnels – the rooms have been used to retailer gunpowder and explosive shells through the years.
Alongside the way in which, there’s a sound and light-weight present designed to offer you an concept of what it should have been like when the cannon have been firing – and simply how many individuals have been wanted to function one.
One of many highlights of the primary a part of the citadel was a mannequin exhibiting what the fortress seemed like at totally different factors in historical past: no atypical mannequin although, you flip a deal with on this interactive creation to make towers rise and fall and fortifications abruptly erupt.
There are extra shows and interactive enjoyable over within the older part of the citadel too – together with extra cannon and early weapons.
However much more enjoyable is the gathering of metallic helmets which you’ll attempt on, in a wide range of shapes, and nearly all loads heavier than I may think about sporting for quite a lot of minutes.
And to complete the tour of the citadel, you’ll be able to head as much as the roof of the tower, together with the guard-room on the highest level, to take in some superb views again alongside the river in the direction of Dartmouth.
If you happen to’re fortunate, you would possibly even spot just a few seals within the water; you’re assured to spy just a few boats zooming by and Kingswear Fort (an artillery tower now reworked into a novel place to remain by the Landmark Belief) on the banks reverse.
Do look inside St Petrox church as effectively when you’re on the citadel, with brass grave inscriptions relationship again to the seventeenth century inside and its slanting sloping weathered graveyard exterior.
We spent round an hour right here earlier than heading again to Dartmouth alongside the coast path, however there are extra woodland walks across the citadel, in addition to the possibility to purchase a cream tea.
Open 12 months spherical however at weekends solely in the course of the winter months. Click on right here for opening instances and tickets: free for English Heritage members.
There may be parking by the citadel however it’s very restricted however except you’re planning to get there early, it’s finest to take the ferry from Dartmouth (this additionally will get busy, particularly in peak season) or stroll from the city, which takes round 20 minutes.
Take a ship tour
We ticked off our style of being out on the water by taking the ferry out to Dartmouth Fort, however you’re spoiled for alternative in relation to different boat excursions in Dartmouth with youngsters.
There’s a round boat journey which takes you alongside the river out to Kingswear and Dartmouth castles, in addition to to Greenway and Dittisham – tickets out there from the kiosks by the city pontoon.
The Kingswear Fort paddlesteamer, which usually runs this journey in the course of the summer time months, shouldn’t be working in 2022.
Or take the longer cruise in the direction of Totnes: 90 minutes every manner, it’s a beautiful various to driving, for those who’d wish to spend a day exploring Totnes.
If you happen to’re planning to go to Greenway (scroll down for particulars), there’s a ferry which runs from Dartmouth to Agatha Christie’s former house. The identical firm operates the ferry to fairly Dittisham, round half-hour away by water.
Test out my assessment of a keep at Dittisham Hideaway in one of many luxurious treehouses
Or enterprise additional afield with a ferry to Brixham, or choose up the steam practice to Paignton after hopping on the ferry throughout to Kingswear – there’s additionally a mixed steam and cruise ticket to incorporate the round harbour tour, or the spherical robin possibility, which incorporates ferry, practice, cruise and bus!
Dartmouth Steam Railway
The classic trains of the Dartmouth Steam railway run between Paignton and Kingswear for a moderately totally different approach to get to the seaside, travelling alongside the English Riviera Geopark coast line, and by way of fairly stations together with Goodrington, Churston and Greenway Halt (for Agatha Christie’s vacation house).
In addition to absorbing the coast and countryside, there’s a free foot passenger ferry included together with your practice ticket to sail over from fairly Dartmouth, plus the spherical journey choices which embrace an open-topped bus, or with an additional round cruise on the River Dart.
If the climate isn’t being variety, the steam practice is a enjoyable possibility on a wet day in Devon with youngsters as effectively.
Take a stroll
With tiny twisting alleys, and a historical past of pirates and explorers, there’s loads to find on a wander by way of Dartmouth, from the 14th century Cherub Inn (with its gold cherub) to Bayard’s Cove, the place the Mayflower anchored earlier than its journey to the New World.
There’s been a settlement right here since 4000BCE, though it was solely after the Viking raids resulted in Norman instances that the primary beginnings of the city started to be established.
You’ll be able to observe this Dartmouth city path, designed as a part of the Mayflower 400 celebrations or be a part of a guided historical past tour. This Dartmouth Treasure Path can also be a great way to maintain youngsters entertained alongside the way in which.
Scroll down for extra Dartmouth walks with youngsters, together with routes alongside the South West Coast Path.
This little museum is a enjoyable approach to study extra about Dartmouth’s historical past. Positioned on the historic Butterwalk, it’s set inside a terrace of retailers’ homes relationship again to round 1640, which as soon as sheltered Charles II when a storm compelled his fleet ashore.
Targeted in town’s maritime historical past, there’s every thing from ships in bottles and background on the Mayflower to displays on Dartmouth’s contribution to D-Day in the course of the Second World Warfare, in addition to profiles of notable native inhabitants.
There’s loads of probability for teenagers to get arms on as effectively, wanting in drawers under shows, peeking by way of microscopes, answering questions – and you may even put them within the shares!
Royal Avenue Gardens
If you happen to’re into vegetation, the gardens (which sit between the Mayor’s Avenue automobile park and the River Dart) are house to a herb backyard, rose backyard, Antipodean backyard and Mediterranean backyard, amongst others, together with the grand Victorian fountain.
For many guests, it’s a peaceable shady spot to loosen up – though you may as well discover little markets happening, whereas the bandstand is normally the main target of the city’s festivals.
There are additionally public bathrooms right here, though there’s a small cost to make use of them (20p piece or contactless cost accepted)
Hit the seaside
You do have to depart Dartmouth itself if you’d like a little bit of seaside time, however there are some beautiful stretches of coast inside simple attain of the city together with Blackpool Sands, considered one of my favorite seashores in Devon with youngsters.
It’s additionally a terrific base to discover the South Hams – house to some extra beautiful seashores, together with Salcombe, Bantham Seashore and Bigbury on Sea to say just some.
Preserve the children entertained on the seaside with this enjoyable South Hams colouring ebook from the Devon With Youngsters assortment – there’s additionally a Dartmouth colouring ebook for once you’re again within the city.
Wander the coast path
If your loved ones doesn’t fancy trekking for miles, the part between Dartmouth Fort and Dartmouth itself is a simple stroll, and makes a pleasant various to taking the ferry each methods.
Alternatively, if you’d like an extended hike, there are a number of family-friendly choices from Dartmouth: try the South West Coast Path web site for routes, or do this round stroll from Little Dartmouth to Dartmouth Fort.
Woodlands Household Journey Park, Dartmouth
With a string of animals, play areas and family-friendly rides, Woodlands Household Journey Park is ideal for youthful kids in Devon, in addition to extra adventurous enjoyable for older siblings – and round a 10-minute drive from Dartmouth.
You’ll discover occasions operating all year long, alongside the string of themed zones with totally different rides and different actions, from fairytale forests to sea monsters and the water coasters of Cyclone Canyon, plus a toddler zone.
Meet falcons – with flying shows for a lot of the 12 months – and the inhabitants of the zoo farm, together with meerkats, rabbits and guinea pigs, an cattle.
It’s a terrific possibility for those who’re in search of concepts for a wet day in Devon with youngsters too: head contained in the reptile home and large animal barn, earlier than hitting the 25 indoor slides (and 32 extra open air by the way) or the ball pit.
Have some fish and chips
Is it actually a correct day by the coast for those who don’t have fish and chips? Rockfish is all the time considered one of my favourites to go to every time we’re in Devon and there’s not one, however two branches in Dartmouth.
The primary restaurant is on the waterfront, together with some beautiful out of doors tables searching to the River Dart, that are good on a summer time’s day.
If you happen to’re in search of a faster and barely cheaper possibility, there’s additionally a takeaway on Decrease Road, near the Decrease Ferry – take your fish and chips across the nook to Bayard’s Cove, the place there are some public benches overlooking the river.
Properly price getting there early in the summertime (or ship an advance social gathering to snap up some seats!) There’s a pub close by the place you will get drinks to sip alongside together with your fish and chips.
Get pleasure from an ice cream
You’ll be spoiled for alternative in relation to getting an ice cream in Dartmouth on a sunny day – however head to The Good Intent on Decrease Road (simply alongside from the Rockfish takeaway) to find the flavours of the Dartmouth Ice Cream firm.
I couldn’t resist a stem ginger one, whereas my daughter couldn’t resolve between raspberry and mint choc chip, so to her delight was supplied a half and half cone with a little bit of each. Delish.
There’s additionally a department on Duke Road between April and October, and you may as well discover them by Avenue Gardens in the course of the summer time months and busy intervals.
Day journeys from Dartmouth with youngsters
If you happen to’re staying in or close to Dartmouth with youngsters, it additionally makes a terrific base to discover additional – I’ve picked out a few of my prime day journeys inside round a 30-minute drive.
However for those who’re ready to drive a bit additional, try my final information to Devon for households, together with options round Totnes and Paignton, in addition to issues to do in Torquay and Teignmouth & Shaldon.
Whereas Agatha Christie’s vacation house isn’t in Dartmouth itself, it’s a simple time out for those who’re staying in (or close to) the city.
The Nationwide Belief web site nonetheless seems to be a lot because it did when she stayed there – there’s a path for teenagers to observe round the home, which will get dressed up for Christmas, in addition to a altering show within the Cupboard of Curiosities.
If you happen to’re arriving to Greenway by automobile, you need to ebook a parking area upfront: there may be additionally a ferry service from Dartmouth which takes round an hour (or an open boat from Dittisham), then a steep 10-15 minute stroll from the jetty.
One other contender for the title of prettiest place in Devon, it’s simple to whereas away a day exploring the twisting little streets and harbour, the place you’ll be able to go crabbing.
Don’t miss a go to to the Golden Hind: the reproduction of Sir Francis Drake’s well-known ship has loads for historical past followers, together with an audio tour, but in addition heaps to carry it alive for teenagers, together with trails and an opportunity to show the wheel.
There’s additionally road artwork, extra boat excursions to discover the coast, and simply exterior city, you may go for a swim in Shoalstone sea pool, or rockpooling on Shoalstone seaside.
Berry Head Nature Reserve
This beautiful clifftop reserve on the southern half of Tor Bar is likely one of the gateways to the English Riviera international geopark, with some fabulous views out to the ocean on a sunny day.
When you’re at Berry Head Nature Reserve, you may as well discover the fortifications from the Napoleonic Warfare, gaze out to attempt to spot seals and sharks within the waves, or enterprise onto one of many strolling trails.
Try our assessment of a day at Berry Head Nature Reserve
Coleton Fishacre, Kingswear
Moving into this artwork deco home (constructed by the D’Oyly Carte household of West Finish theatre fame) is great at any time of 12 months, particularly the fantastic gardens.
If you happen to’re visiting Devon in the course of the run-up to Christmas, Coleton Fishacre is much more particular.
The home is adorned for a Twenties Christmas, with conventional video games and dressing up (plus the Coleton Aglow illuminations: have to be booked upfront) – there are spotter trails to observe inside the home year-round as effectively.
South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh to Totnes
If you happen to can’t get sufficient steam railways, head to Totnes, round half-hour from Dartmouth the place you’ll be able to choose up the South Devon Railway.
This route takes you between Totnes and Buckfastleigh, with seven miles of railway operating alongside the River Dart valley, so you’ll be able to take pleasure in among the countryside with none effort as your steam practice puffs and chuffs alongside.
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