I must go down to the seas again

Mayflower Garden And being the island race we are, John Masefield’s poem stirs the sea salt in us. To follow the trail of the Pilgrim Fathers in their ship Mayflower along the SW Coast of England took me on the most picturesque and fascinating journey packed with historical and naval exploits.

The Mayflower with 65 passengers on board left London in July 1620 to meet with the ship Speedwell in Southampton Water. Together they put into Bayard’s Cove, Dartmouth for rest and repair breaking their journey west. Dartmouth was a strategic deep-water port for sailing ships and had been the departure point for the Crusades in the C12th. On either side of the narrow river mouth lie Dartmouth Castle and Kingswear Castle and this part of the river could be closed and made secure by dragging a huge chain across. From here, US troops left on the Utah Beach operation in D Day landings during WWII. Drake, Raleigh and many other great names have connections in this area and the patchwork of narrow lanes and stone stairways date from mediaeval and Elizabethan times. A figurehead of this wonderful heritage is the Royal Naval College which overlooks the town. As if all the history wasn’t enough to excite, legends of privateers and ship wreckers abound.

Dartmouth For the landlubbers amongst us, a trip up the Dart Estuary to Totnes is delightful. It derived its considerable wealth in mediaeval times from exporting wool, tin and farm produce through being the highest navigable port in the area. Founded in 907AD, Totnes has more listed buildings per head than any other town and today, embraces a New Age lifestyle- no chain stores here! One magazine named it as one of the world’s Top 10 Funky Towns and in 2007, Totnes became the first town to adopt its own currency- the Totnes pound- in order to support the local economy.

The Dart area has so much to offer to the visitor so it is no surprise to learn that it is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Small towns and villages sit within amazing scenery and I certainly felt that this is England at its very best.

The Mayflower - replica Onwards the Mayflower sailed to Plymouth before setting our across the Atlantic. There is a plaque at Newlyn in Cornwall which says that they were forced to take on fresh drinking water there as the supplies from Plymouth were contaminated, an outbreak of cholera and fever being in the city. Once out into the Atlantic, the unseaworthy Speedwell was forced to turn back and the Mayflower journeyed alone.

In the mid 1950s, a replica of the Mayflower was built at the Upham shipyard in Brixham, still a working town, combining a large leisure marina alongside its famous fishing tradition. A veritable paradise for fish foodies! A replica of the Golden Hind rests in Brixham harbour as a reminder to us of this glorious heritage. This was my personal journey brought alive from childhood memories and family roots – what would yours be?

More about Sandra
Sandra is rapidly approaching 68, and has been retired for a while. She has done a lot of travelling worldwide and is also a fan of Sun Park Living. With her sister (think Thelma and Louise-except for the end!), she did a motor trip in the USA a couple of years ago, so she believes in getting out there and just doing it before decrepitude sets in!

128 people found this helpful

Share Article:

Sandra Kinghorn

Retired silver traveller

Leave a comment


Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Ambassador offers unique ways to focus on health and wellness while enjoying the beauty of the sea….
Who can resist an invitation to a birthday party in Paris? Gillian Thornton celebrates 40 years of Riviera Travel, the…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.