Kingsbridge (7 miles) – Information Office, Shops, Cooksworth Museum, Estuary boat trip, Swimming Pool
Salcombe (10 miles) – town, shops, beaches, maritime museum Click me
Totnes (18 miles) – Castle, old town, shops Click me
Dartmouth (19 miles) – Maritme town, shops, museum, Dart river Cruise, Naval College Click me
Plymouth (16 miles) – City and Shops, The Hoe, Aquarium, Cinemas etc. Click me
Kingsbridge is a market town and popular tourist hub in the South Hams. The town formed around a bridge which was built in or before the 10th century between the royal estates of Alvington, to the west, and Chillington, to the east, hence giving it the name.
Kingsbridge has been the main market town in the area for centuries. Its attractions include several restaurants, pubs, a cinema housed in the town hall building, and a museum devoted to the chemist William Cookworthy, born in Kingsbridge in 1705. Situated at the head of the Salcombe Estuary, a number of river cruises can be taken from the quayside. There is also a ferry service to Salcombe. There are monthly farmers’ markets in the town square, where there is also a recently installed bandstand, summer music festivals and carnival processions.
Kingsbridge boasts a purpose-built sports and leisure complex including an indoor swimming pool
Sheltered inside the Kingsbridge Estuary, Salcombe retains its peace and quiet by favouring the pedestrian over the motorist. There is plenty of parking around the edges of the town and the wisdom of using it becomes clear when you see the narrow streets in the town centre. Salcombe was, and still is, a seafaring town. The sea trade peaked in the 1860s when it was home to 100 or so schooners (most of them locally built) shuttling to the Bahamas, the Mediterranean and the Azores for exotic fruit for the home market. It was a tough but lucrative business if you survived, and profits from the trade provided the cash for many of the substantial Victorian houses you see today.
There are plenty of small shops, many catering for watersports enthusiasts, as well as restaurants, galleries, and some very pleasant waterfront pubs. There’s also marine services and berths for seaborne tourists, and two very pleasant little beaches – North Sands and South Sands, both to the south and west of the town. A short ferry ride over the estuary will bring you to East Portlemouth which has a more substantial sandy stretch.
There is a castle on North Sands – a 16th Century artillery tower, destroyed in the civil war, and on the headland just beyond South Sands is Overbeck’s Museum and Gardens – an elegant Edwardian house containing the weird and wonderful collections of scientist and inventor, Otto Overbeck. Perched on sloping cliffs, the gardens enjoy a balmy microclimate which encourages rare and tropical plants from all over the world. There’s even banana trees growing in the open! Glorious views over the town and estuary too.
Salcombe has its own maritime museum, including details of the historic locally built fruit schooners, smuggling and some hands-on stuff for the kids.
There is more family fun at the Splash Centre – a watersports activity centre on the South Sands.
Totnes, an ancient borough sitting on a steep promontory next to the river Dart, devotes itself in almost equal measures to arts and crafts, to history and architecture, and to eccentric lifestyles. Totnes is an absolute gem of a town – a must-do for your holiday itinerary.
The main shopping area is Fore Street, which runs from The Plains up past 16th and 17th Century merchants’ houses to the East Gate Arch, and the High Street, which continues up the hill. Here you’ll find a fine assortment of alternative health and organic food shops, local arts and crafts, and shops selling old and new books. There are markets on Fridays and Saturdays, and an Elizabethan market each Tuesday morning (May-September), when traders get their Elizabethan kit on.
The Town Guide, available from the Tourist Information Centre, is essential for enjoying the town trail and don’t miss Totnes Museum if you want a more detailed history. If you haven’t exercised enough on your town walks, visit the Totnes Pavilion Leisure Centre.
There’s so much here, summarising what to see in Totnes is difficult, but besides the main museum, you should try to include Totnes Castle, at the top of the town; Bogan House Costume Museum – in the Butterwalk; China Blue Ceramics – hands on pottery; The Leechwells near the Kingsbridge Inn (Totnes’ oldest pub); The Guildhall and the Ramparts and for children – the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm.
From Totnes you can take the South Devon Steam Railway to Buckfastleigh or cruise down the glorious River Dart to Dartmouth by Dartmouth River Boat’s passenger ferry. To enjoy the Dart at closer quarters try Canoe Adventures at Tuckenhay.
A mesh of narrow lanes, stairways and corridors, with plenty of medieval and Elizabethan streetscapes, make Dartmouth a must-see for anyone visiting this part of Devon. The town has a reputation for good food – with many fine restaurants, as well as arts, antiques and craft shops just about everywhere. If the shopping doesn’t keep you fit, the leisure centre will.
The natural deep water harbour here has been the driving force behind the town’s history as a port and military centre. It grew to prominence in the Middle Ages exporting cloth from Totnes, and importing wine from France and Spain. The Cherub Inn (1380) and The Butterwalk (1628) which includes the Dartmouth Museum, are two of the oldest surviving buildings, among a wealth of architectural interest. Dartmouth lost economic momentum when Plymouth was preferred as the base for a western naval defence force. The consolation prize though, when the navy “returned” in 1863, was the magnificent red brick Britannia Royal Naval College which opened in 1905 as a training base for naval officers. Tours of the college can be booked through the Dartmouth Tourist Information Centre.
Also well worth the effort is a visit to Bayards Cove – a cobbled medieval quay and 16th Century coastal defence tower; Dartmouth Castle (1488); and Gallants Bower – a civil war redoubt – above the castle. The Newcomen Memorial Engine (next to the Museum) and St Saviours Church, which has a most unusually carved south door, dated 1631.
Plymouth is a vibrant waterfront city packed full of attractions. Come rain or shine you’ll find something for everyone among the city streets, surrounding countryside and marine environment beyond.
There are well-known landmarks, historical sites and natural assets to explore across Plymouth’s many unique areas and districts.
Wander the Barbican’s quaint cobbled quayside following in the Pilgrim Father’s footsteps or visit the National Marine Aquarium with its deepwater fish tanks. Sample Plymouth’s finest export at the Blackfriars Gin Distillery or take a boat trip around the Sound from Mayflower Steps.
There’s more family fun to be had up on the Hoe where you can climb the iconic Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse. Take the plunge at Tinside Lido, our restored Art Deco swimming pool or simply take in the panoramic view of busy boating activity from this stunning natural amphitheatre.
Out on the water you can take a floating tour of Drake’s Island, the Naval Dockyards and River Tamar, book a behind the scenes tour of Devonport Naval Base or stick your own paddle in the water at Mountbatten Watersports Centre.
If its entertainment you’re after the nationally acclaimed Theatre Royal showcases some of the UK’s biggest and best productions throughout the year, whilst the Pavilions has leisure and entertainment under one roof with its packed event diary of live gigs and shows along with the ice rink. And there’s art aplenty at the City Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth Arts Centre and the Peninsula Arts venues.
Further a field you can stroll round the many stately homes and gardens in the area, get up close to some big cats at Dartmoor Zoological Park, travel down the Tamar by rail or take to the (dry!) slopes at the John Nike ski and leisure centre.
And if the great British weather is really inclement there are also indoor play centres at Jump and Drake’s Den, a multiplex cinema and ten-pin bowling at the Barbican Leisure Park