We travelled on the Dartmouth Steam Railway from Paignton to Kingswear. The scenery on this heritage railway is just stunning with views of the coastline, wooded slopes and the river. The train ticket includes a foot passenger ferry across the Dart estuary to the historic town of Dartmouth.
The town has a rich maritime heritage and it has been a deep-water port since the 12th century. Its cobbled streets are lined with historic architecture from the mediaeval Butterwalk buildings, the Quay, Fairfax Place and the old Market. A short walk along the quayside leads to Bayard’s Cove Port where you can join a history tour with the Town Crier. In 1620 the ship Mayflower set sail from Bayard’s Cove to discover the New World and America. There is plenty in the town to see from the Flavel Arts Centre, museums, the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth Castle or further afield to Coleton Fishacre. It is also possible to take a circular boat trip for £9.
I went into the church on Anzac Street which has so many beautiful features. It was originally called the Holy Trinity & St Mary’s when consecrated in 1372 then later the name changed to St Saviour’s. The south door which has been carbon-dated 1361 features a tree of life and a pair of leopards – the symbol of the Plantagenets (it was probably the main door originally) There is a collection of superb mediaevel brass, coats of arms, an ancient piscine, carved oak, a painted stone pulpit and ceramic mosaic reredos – basically a treasure trove of artwork from down the centuries.
We stopped for a drink (of tea) in Shambles Wine Bar in Higher Street. It was a bit of a shambles – with an eclectic mix of ephemera and papier mache dolls. It was nice to sit down in a comfy seat and the landlord was a character who was full of stories. Then we went to look around the Old Market, which is a Grade II listed building. The central bullding in the square is the former Market Court House and the arched entrances were built to give access to the horse-drawn carriages. There was a variety of stalls with some selling hand made and artisan goods.
After a further walk around, we went down to the Old Quay and ate an ice cream from the kiosk sitting down in the shade of a tree. By that time the weather was getting very warm. We then got the ferry back to Kingswear before climbing uphill to the Ship Inn. There we drank a pint of real ale outside with a great view of the harbour.
It was then time to get back on the steam train to Paignton. We had a walk around Paignton itself, which was quite a contrast from Dartmouth. A street full of seaside gift shops and amusement arcades with the prevading aroma of hot dogs. We walked along the pier for some fresh air and there was even more slot machines.
But all in all it was a splendid day out to Dartmouth.