South Devon & South Hams
South Devon is an exciting mixture of beautiful unspoiled coastline with its quaint harbours, secluded beaches and outstanding views and its large, busy seaside resorts, namely the English Riviera, giving South Devon something for everyone.
Many believe that South Devon and the South Hams area in particular can boast some of the most picturesque countryside in the County. Stunning beaches and coastline, rolling hills, and beautiful towns and villages captivate the thousands that flock to this area every year as well as those of us who are lucky enough to sample its beauty every day.
The South Hams enjoys one of the mildest climates in the whole of mainland Britain, sheltered by the granite uplands of Dartmoor. As a direct result of the mild weather, a wealth exotic plants and animals inhabit this part of the county. The South Hams name comes from the old English word "hamme" meaning an enclosed or sheltered place. The South Hams covers an area of 342 square miles with 55 miles of coastline. 130 square miles (337 sq.km.) of the district is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with 30.86 square mile coverage of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). There are 62 miles of coastal path and 16 miles of beaches.
As a well as a popular boating centre with a famous regatta, Dartmouth is also a fishing port and fresh catches are traded on the quayside at Kingswear. This town is especially rich in buildings of historic and architectural interest, including the 17th century Butterwalk. Art galleries and fascinating shops abound in Foss Street to while away an hour or two.
The Britannia Royal Naval College, prominent on the hillside, offers guided tours celebrating their centenary in 2005. Pleasure boat trips are a favourite pastime, either upstream where much of the renowned TV series "The Onedin Line" was filmed, or along the coast to view the rugged coastline and watch grey seals. Don't miss a visit to Dartmouth Museum and the Newcomen Engine House, which is also home to the Dartmouth Tourist Information Centre.
Dartmouth is an ancient borough, market town, and sea-port, picturesquely seated on the western side of the estuary of the Dart, opposite Kingswear, which projects nearly midway into the river, about a mile from its confluence with the English Channel; thus narrowing the entrance, and protecting the spacious harbour above, where there is room for an immense gathering of shipping in the broad waters of the Dart and its creeks. Passenger vessels ply up the Dart to Totnes about ten miles away, where the valley is crossed by the South Devon Railway. Royal Dartmouth is five miles south west of Brixham, 28 miles east of Plymouth, 30 miles South of Exeter, and 202 miles west of London.
Visitors, will be struck with the projecting fronts, carved brackets, and antique gables of Dartmouth, where many of the houses are of the Elizabethan and earlier ages. The town is built close along the edge of the large basin formed by the estuary, and up the sides of the steep hill rising directly from it. So abrupt is the gradient of the hill, that from the level of the houses in the upper street, people may almost look down the chimneys of those in the lower street. The two lines of streets, one above the other, are remarkably narrow, and communicate with each other by steps, or very steep openings, at various distances.
The entrance to the harbour is guarded on either side by the fortifications called Dartmouth and Kingswear Castles, between which a chain was formerly drawn across the water every night, to keep out hostile vessels. The borough was called Clifton - Dartmouth - Hardness, from the three ancient hamlets now forming the town, and it comprises the two parishes of St. Petrox and St. Saviour, and most of Townstal parish.
The two first-named parishes comprise only about 100 acres, but Townstal extends north-west beyond the borough, and comprised of the hamlets of Norton, Oldmill, Ford, and Warfleet, land that was mostly the property of Sir Henry Paul Seale, Bart., lord of the manors of Townstal and Norton-Dawney; who had a large castellated mansion here, called Mount Boon, situated on a commanding eminence, west of the town, and formerly a seat of the Boone and Harris families, the latter of whom sold the estate to the Seales about 1700. Hillfield was once part of Seale estate.
Sir John Henry Seale was created a baronet in 1838, and died in 1844. Sir Henry Paul Seale was also lord of the manor of South Town, comprising the parish of St. Petrox, and formerly belonging to the Fitzstephen, Fleming, Mohun, Carew, and Southcote families. The manor of Dartmouth passed as a parcel of the barony of Totnes till the reign of Edward I, after which it was conveyed by succeeding monarchs to various families. Queen Elizabeth granted the manor and borough to persons named Downing, Ashton, and Peter, by whom they were conveyed to the Corporation.
A charter for a market and fair at Dartmouth was granted to Richard de Gloucester, in 1226; and another charter was granted in 1301 for a market and fair at Clifton-super-Dartmouth. The old fairs are disused, but there was two pleasure fairs in March and October, and a regatta in August. The borough sent representatives to one of the Parliaments in the reign of Edward I., and regularly sent two members from the 14th of Edward III. till 1832, when it was classed by the Parliamentary Reform Act, among the boroughs entitled only to send one member each. The right of election was formerly by the freemen, who were about forty in number, the rest occupiers of houses, of the yearly value of £10 or upwards.
Col. Sir John Henry Seale represented the borough from 1832 till his death in 1844, and so anxious were the householders for his return, and for reform in Parliament, that 119 voted for him at the election in 1830, though their votes were disallowed, and two successful candidates were returned by the votes of only 21 freemen. In 1347, Dartmouth stood third in the list of 84 sea-ports, which furnished Edward III, with 700 ships for the siege of Calais; its quota being 31 ships and 757 seamen.
It was nearly destroyed in 1377 by a powerful army from France; but in 1403, when another French army commanded by M. du Chastel, again burnt and destroyed Plymouth, it was in a condition to send many well-armed vessels to the fleet, which destroyed 40 of he enemy's ships, captured as many more, and returned laden with booty, after landing at Penmark, in Bretagne.
To avenge himself for this loss, M. du Chastel, in the following year, laid siege upon Dartmouth, with a considerable force; but they met with such determined resistance, that the commander and 400 men were killed, 200 taken prisoners, and the rest were glad to flee to their ships, and leave the harbour with all speed. Chaucer, in his "Canterbury Tales", written about this time, says, "A Shipman was ther, woned fer by west ; for ought I wote he was of Dertemouth”.
Having a deep and capacious harbour, where 500 sail of large ships can ride in safety. Dartmouth has from very early times been a place of trade and maritime importance. The fleet destined for the Holy Land assembled here in 1190. Wool, wine, and iron constituted its principal commerce in the reign of Edward I. Until the beginning of the present century, a large Newfoundland trade was carried on here. The harbour was much frequented by steamers and homeward-bound Dutch vessels, and those of other northern nations, which remain during the time the continental rivers, are frozen. It is also a safe port of refuge for ships during adverse gales in the channel.
In the latter part of the 15th century, means were taken for the better protection of the town and harbour, Edward IV. having then covenanted to pay the burgesses £30 a year for ever, out of the customs, on condition of their erecting "a strong and mighty and defensive tower," adjoining the castle, properly furnished with arms and artillery, and with a chain to be drawn across the river to the tower at Kingswear. Dartmouth Castle was mounted with six 12 and four 18 pounders. Near it is an older castellated fort, also mounted with cannon, and rising immediately above the water.
Dartmouth was garrisoned by Parliament in the early part of the civil wars of the 17th century. After the capture of Exeter in 1643, Prince Maurice marched to Dartmouth, which he expected to find an easy conquest, but the town did not yield till after a month's siege. The royalists, deemed it an important place, repaired its fortifications, and strongly garrisoned the castles on both sides of the harbour, and the forts called Gallant's Bower, Paradise, and Mount Flaggon, as well as the West-gate, Townstal Church, and the mansion of Mount Boon; but in January, 1646, it was stormed and taken by the army of Sir Thos. Fairfax.
Mr Newcomen, one of early improvers of the steam-engine, was a native of Dartmouth; and in the 16th century Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed from this port to establish a settlement in Newfoundland; and Capt. Davis in search of the north-west passage to India. The town and neighbourhood were celebrated for "white ale", said to have been first brewed here. The ale taster is an officer appointed by the corporation, and formerly he tasted every brewing of the publicans, and proclaimed at their doors with a loud voice and "uplifted leg and arm," whether the ale was good or not! The last ale taster died at the age of 91, and shortly before his death he met, at a "tasting," four others of the respective ages of 88, 87, 79, and 76.
A more whimsical source of modern fame occurs every May Day, when the village hosts what it claims is the world's largest international worm-charm. This strange ritual involves local teams squatting in a field and applying potions, brute force or even music to roped-off squares of earth to try to coax worms to emerge.
Why is it international? Well, only locals take part but there is inevitably a US or Japanese TV crew following the action to inform viewers about the eccentric English.
Blackawton was used as the base for the rehearsal of the D-Day landing during the Second World War and the more elderly locals talk of being evacuated as the US military commandeered the village and swore the population to secrecy. A pub on the outskirts is called the Forces Tavern and until recently had 1940s sandbags at its front door. Another pub, The Normandy Arms in Blackawton itself, contained memorabilia left behind by 1940s sailors until it was converted to housing in 2003. Even now the village remains a visiting spot for retired servicemen.
Further along the same road, with an old inn by the church. Two ancient hillforts stand guard over it. Halwell Camp and Stanborough Camp.
Overlooking the stunning coastline and perched several hundred feet above the sea, Stoke Fleming with it's 14th century Church (St Peter) ) stands boldly on a hill and has been a landmark from the sea for centuries it may possibly have been put here for that reason. The pub, village store and restaurants are just 2 miles form the historic naval town of Dartmouth. The award-winning Blackpool Sands beach is just a 5 minute drive away. Continue along this dramatic stretch of coastal road with some wonderful views to Start Bay, Slapton Sands and further along to the market town of Kingsbridge.
Kingswear is not mentioned in the Doomsday Book but there is reason to believe that Kingston, which is on the plateau above Kingswear, dates from Saxon times with some evidence of Stone Age and Roman occupation. After the conquest Kingston passed into the de Vasci family and the first documentary mention of Kingswear was around 1170 when William de Vinci gave half the land at Kingswear to the incumbent of the local church which was a chapel of ease to the parish church at Brixham and came under the jurisdiction of Totnes Priory. The name Kingswear may be associated with a tidal mill at the head of the creek with its system of weirs.
Why Dartmouth, on the opposite side of the river Dart, developed instead of Kingswear with its better communications to Exeter and London is unknown but it may be due to the attitude of the local lords of the manor and their ability to resist the demands of Totnes. Overseas pilgrims preferred Kingswear as a landing place on their way to the tomb of Thomas à Beckett in Canterbury and this probably gave rise to the dedication of the parish church to St Thomas of Canterbury. The church was rebuilt in 1847.
A ferry to Dartmouth operated from at least 1365 from Kittery Point, the western most tip of Kingswear and nearest to Dartmouth. Kittery was an area of the village south of the point now remembered in the house Kittery Court on the site of the former Kittery Quay. In 1636 Francis Champernowne sailed from here to the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Maine USA to found, with the Shapleigh family also from Kingswear, the town of Kittery.
The railway, with connections to Exeter and London, came to Kingswear in 1864 with the Royal Dart Hotel between the station and the ferry slipway providing accommodation for passengers waiting to sail to South Africa and elsewhere. The hotel occupied the site of the previous Plume of Feathers Inn and here the Royal Dart Yacht Club used to meet until its own club house was built next to Kittery Court. The proprietors of the inn adopted the name Royal Dart Hotel by which it is still known.
During the Second World War the hotel became HMS Cicala and headquarters of the 15th Flotilla which made journeys to the northern beaches of Brittany to land agents and equipment for the French Resistance and bring back escaping allied soldiers and airmen. The Free French Navy operated motor launches and motor torpedo boats from Kingswear and was based in Brookhill, a large house on the outskirts of the village dating from about 1820.
The harbour became a principal bunkering port for steam ships to take on coal brought to Kingswear both by sea and, following the opening of the Severn Tunnel providing access to the South Welsh mines, on the railway. However the bunkering trade suffered as ships became too large to enter the harbour. For a few years the trade continued with coal being brought into Kingswear by sea for transportation by rail to the gas works in Torquay but it ceased all together in 1963. In 1972 the railway from Paignton to Kingswear was sold and became the Dartmouth and Paignton Steam Railway and a holiday attraction. Although Dartmouth had a station, now the Station Café, it never had a railway and passengers were taken to Kingswear by ferry.
There are now three ferries between Kingswear and Dartmouth. The Lower Ferry from the slipway in the village takes cars and foot passengers; the passenger ferry from the nearby pontoon is the successor to the railway ferry connection Dartmouth Station to the Kingswear railway and the Higher Ferry which also takes cars and foot passengers and is accessed by a road which bypasses Kingswear village.
Strete is about a fifteen minute drive from Dartmouth. It is to be found on the high coastal ground at the eastern end of Slapton Sands. It's a good place to stay if you like exploring the local beaches and is convenient for Kingsbridge (about twenty five minutes) and Totnes (about the same). A drive to Salcombe will take you about thirty five minutes.
The village of Strete stands between 300’ and 450’ above sea level on a cliff above Start Bay with its wide sweep of shingle beaches between Start Point and the Mewstone, outside the mouth of the Dart. The cliff is of “Dartmouth slate”, the oldest formation recognised in South Devon. It is possible that the name Strete or Street came from the ‘straight’ road running between the sea and Slapton Ley from Strete Gate to Torcross. This road, known as the Line nowadays, was shown as a track way between Street and Slapton Cellars in the early 16th century maps. Strete Gate is so called because here was a gate to prevent cattle straying up the old road, Old Hill, into the village.
At Street Gate was the settlement known as Undercliffe or Underdown as local people have always known it. This settlement consisted of about nineteen fishermen’s cottages, which were built at intervals along the beach towards Shiphill Rock. No doubt the cottages were washed away by the encroachment of the sea. The sea has an influence on the climate and fish from the sea and the Ley must have been always available. When farming was at a “low”, fishing became the chief occupation and must have been a godsend to local communities.
In this area it appears that permanently inhabited fishing villages emerged quite late between the 15th and 17th centuries at or near sites which had previously been uninhabited and seasonally called “cellar” settlements. Salt pans were essential in preserving fish and in the Domesday Book it states that Blackawton had a saltern or salt works but this could only have been at or near Street Gate as only there did Blackawton parish touch the sea. Before the second World War Strete had two seine boats owned by villagers and large catches of fish, mainly mackerel were made. The boats fell into disrepair and the last big catch was in the 1950’s.
On the main road to Dartmouth and Kingsbridge. Once a mill village, it now boasts a pleasant riverside area.
Set amidst rolling hills on the way to Dittisham with the ruins of a Medieval nunnery.
Dittisham, known affectionately to locals as Dit'sum. In the centre of the village is Shinners Meadow and down by the river The Ham, which was bequeathed to the parish. The Ham is a place where people walk their dogs, meet friends, or just sit and gaze at the river. There are toilets, a small car park, the proceeds of which go to the Parish Council and help towards its upkeep. To those that live in the village, Shinners Meadow is the green heart of the village. In the meadow is the local teams football pitch which is owned by the Football Club and administered by trustees for the club.
The magnificent Dittisham plum orchards - so famous between the two world wars - still thrive in the mild climate though not to the same degree as those days. However its plums are still famous particularly so for the locally-known 'Plowman' variety, which is similar to the 'Victoria' and is believed to be unique to Dittisham. There is some speculation as to the origins of the name 'Plowman Plum', one theory being that it is from German 'Pflaummen Baum' and that the trees were originally brought in from the continent. Whatever the name, the fruit is delicious and people come from the surrounding towns to buy them in July and August, when they are ripe.
There has been a Church in Dittisham for more than a thousand years as it is assumed there was a Saxon one, though no trace of it now remains. But in the year 755 Devon was conquered by the Saxons and a Saxon Chief settled on the banks of the River Dart. This settlement was part of the manor given by Edward the Confessor to Leofric, Bishop of Exeter, who is certain to made sure there was a Church in the settlement. This Church was replaced by a Norman Church consisting of only a Chancel and Nave; the line of this roof can still be seen on the east wall of the Tower.
In 1328 Bishop Grandisson of Exeter ordered an enquiry into the neglect of duties and of the Church, which was now a ruin, by the Rector, Sir Richard de Inkpenne who died soon afterwards. The Church was restored and reconstructed between 1328 and 1333 by the Rector, Sir Richard de Gormersale, the chancel being enlarged and the side aisles added. The Church was reopened and dedicated to St. George by Bishop Grandisson on the 4th October 1333.
On Bow Creek, the largest tributary of the Dart. This was once an important industrial village, with mills, busy quays and limekilns. Now a delightful waterside retreat, well-known for its two famous inns.
A classic Devon village with church and pub adjacent to each other, and with old and new houses denoting a varied and active population.
Slapton lies midway between Kingsbridge & Dartmouth and is a half mile inland from the famous Slapton Sands. Slapton Ley Nature Reserve justifiably attracts visitors from all over the world, be it for scientific, educational or recreational purposes.
The village manages to combine being a thriving local community with being an excellent choice for a visit. Slapton has two Public Houses, a General Store, a well equipped village hall, a church & a Chapel, the Slapton Ley Field Studies Centre and two local Campsites.
The Slapton Sands incident - the “Exercise Tiger” disaster, 1944
Exercise Tiger was a pre D-Day training exercise carried out along the Dorset and South Devon coast around Lyme Bay to Slapton Sands. This area was used because of the similarities with the Normandy beaches where the landings were to be made. The theory was that the forces would move along parallel with the coast, the equivalent of half the distance across to France, and then make a landing at Slapton Sands. The villages around Slapton were evacuated and the simulated Normandy landing set up.
In late April 1944 the assault force crossed Lyme Bay. They were supposed to be protected by British vessels offshore and opposite Cherbourg in case the fast-moving German E-boats became involved. Early on 28 April the convoy in Lyme Bay was attacked on its way to Slapton Sands by nine German E-boats which had avoided the British patrols. There are suggestions that they came across the exercise by accident. Serious errors were made by the Allied forces; warning of the approach of the E-boats had been given, but on a radio frequency different from the receiving radios in the convoy.
The E-boats had only two torpedoes, but two Allied ships were torpedoed and sunk. The American and British ships returned fire but the E-boats escaped. More than 700 American servicemen died. Unsurpr isingly, news of the casualties was not released until after D-Day. However, there was not a cover-up as has been alleged. Information has been in the public domain since soon after the war. Soon after the end of the war, veterans of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, which incurred the heaviest losses in Exercise Tiger, did just that, erecting a monument on Omaha Beach to their dead, presumably to include those who died at Utah Beach and those who died in preparation for D-Day.
Edwin P. Hoyt, The Invasion Before Normandy: The Secret Battle of Slapton Sands Nigel Lewis,
Exercise Tiger:The Dramatic True Story of a Hidden Tragedy of World War II Charles B. MacDonald
The Last Offensive (United States Army in World War II)
Ken Small, The Forgotten Dead
Greene, Ralph C. and Oliver E. Allen, "What Happened Off Devon," American Heritage
MacDonald, Charles B. "Slapton Sands: The 'Cover-Up' That Never Was,"
Leslie Thomas's The Magic Army is an impressive and often very moving novel, and is a great fictional account of the story as seen through the eyes of the locals and the American troops.
The address of the Exercise Tiger Association is P.O. Box 1050 Beach Haven, NJ 08008.
Charles B. MacDonald
article on Exercise Tiger
The Sherman Tank Memorial Website
Slapton Community Web Site
Torcross is a small village at the southern end of Slapton Sands, a narrow strip of coastal road and shingle beach separating Slapton Ley from Start Bay. It is now well known as the beach where many lives were lost during rehearsals for the D-Day landings in 1944 and there is a memorial tank, which was recovered from the sea. Slapton Ley is freshwater lake forming part of a nature reserve and is popular with bird watchers. Storms frequently cause damage and nearby Hallsands was destroyed by a storm in 1917, with just a few ruined cottages remaining.
Totnes Tourist Information Centre, Town Mill, Coronation Road, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5DF
Totnes, according to medieval mythology, is where the British people had their origins. The story is that after the long war between Greece and Troy, the defeated Trojans set out to find a new home, led by a young prince called Brutus. Eventually they reached a beautiful island which was uninhabited except by a few giants. Brutus leapt ashore onto a granite boulder and proclaimed “Here I stand and here I rest and this place shall be called Totnes”. The Trojans quickly disposed of the giants and settled down, naming the island ‘Britain’ after their leader. All this happened in about 1170BC. The ‘Brutus Stone’ can be seen beside 51 Fore Street.
Totnes is an ancient borough town and river port, founded in the 10th century. Mellow with age, yet lively and forward-looking, the town covers a long hill sloping gently to the Dart estuary, surrounded by rich and beautiful countryside. The busy narrow streets, dominated by Totnes castle and St Mary's church tower, are full of architectural and historic interest, while the green horizon is always visible just beyond the houses. The town enjoys good road and rail links, and is within easy reach of both Dartmoor and the sea.
Totnes has always been a market town and centre of trade for the surrounding countryside, and this is still the case. A full range of shopping and banking facilities can be found in and around the main streets. Totnes shops are friendly and individual, as befits a place of such character. Totnes is widely known for such essentials of good living as whole foods, fine arts, antiques, second hand and antiquarian books, handmade shoes, ceramics, unusual boutiques, handmade furniture, musical instruments, crystals and complimentary therapies. Galleries and workshops in and around the town display a vast selection of arts and crafts.
Totnes is blessed with three markets every week in the season and two markets a week during the rest of the year. On Fridays and Saturdays there is a market in the Civic Square, where you can browse around colourful and fascinating stalls selling everything from bonsai trees, bric a brac and didgeridoos to locally grown plants, fresh local vegetables and organic bread. On a Tuesday, in the main season, the square is home to the small Elizabethan market when some stall-holders dress in Elizabethan costume for the event. There is a monthly Farmers Market in the Civic Hall.
Numerous artists, writers, musicians, craftspeople and therapists have found a congenial home in Totnes and the surrounding Dart Valley, or sought inspiration for their work in the old town and its gentle, secure countryside. The town is more culturally active than many much larger places. Throughout the year, many pubs and restaurants feature live music, ranging from traditional folk to sophisticated modern jazz, while buskers and street entertainers can add colour to the street scene during the day.
Less a single village than a group of widely spread hamlets and modern developments. Dartington Hall, built in the 14th century by the Duke of Exeter, has been the home since 1925 of a diverse and ambitious experiment in rural regeneration involving education, the arts, business and crafts. The gardens are amongst the finest in Devon. The Cider Press Centre, on the main road to Buckfastleigh, is a complex of quality gift shops, while the thatched Cott Inn (15th century) is noted for its food.
Kingsbridge and District TIC, The Quay, Kingsbridge,TQ7 1HS,
The historic town of Kingsbridge , sometimes known as the capital of the South Hams, stands at the head of the Kingsbridge estuary. Whatever the weather, it is well worth exploring with its medieval origins and interesting lanes and passageways. The specialist, and often family run, shops offer an unexpected variety of goods and there are many cafes, pubs and restaurants serving a varied selection of foods to suit all tastes and mostly using local produce.
Throughout the summer months, there are some wonderful events to enjoy, either as spectator or participant. Open air concerts take place on the Town Square, Kingsbridge every Sunday from June to September. Kingsbridge Fair Week in mid July has activities for all ages. November sees Kingsbridge launch the Christmas season with the Extravaganza, which is a huge local event.
A very attractive, unified village in grey stone, next to the Sharpham estate. Pleasant village pub and 15th century church.
A small village full of well-kept cottages and gardens, part of the Duke of Somerset’s estate. About a mile away, Berry Pomeroy Castle (English Heritage) is reputedly the most haunted castle in England, romantically situated in a wood on the edge of a cliff.
Deep in a valley, with flowing streams and pretty cottages, and an enjoyable pub near the church.
Brixham has two main industries of fishing and tourism. Brixham is picturesque and the cottages are quaint and olde-worlde, and the harbour side is a popular strolling ground for tourists. Brixham special because of its authenticity and it does not have the sickly sweet taste of a chocolate box resort. Brixham is alive with the sounds, scents and tastes of the fishing industry. Fishing boats chug into the harbour along side the mega yachts and motor cruisers which reside in stately grandeur in the Marina
Fresh fish is sold early each morning from the fish market. You could buy fresh fish or sample fresh fish from one of the many restaurants. And don't forget that famous British Invention “Fish and Chips”. They taste twice as good with fresh Brixham fish.
The harbour nestles at the foot of the town, surrounded on three sides by steeply ascending rows of terraced fishermen's cottages, crowned and guarded by the old All Saints Church. Understandably, the harbour must be the focal point of Brixham. Here you will find the under-cover Fish Quay, where you can buy a wide variety of fresh fish.
A monument to William Prince of Orange rise’s in haughty grandeur from the harbour side often a favourite perch for the local seagulls that have no respect for title. You will also find a Salt-water Aquarium; a walk-around replica of Sir Francis' Drake's ship the Golden Hind
The Marina is located just outside of the inner harbour, and pedestrians reach it by walking around the inner harbour through a fairly recently constructed paved pedestrian walkway. This has opened up the whole area very successfully, and is the location for some rather luxurious Marina-side apartments and flats. Here you will find all the trappings of luxury boating, Ships Chandler, Marina-side Pub/Restaurant/open-air cafe, and of course the boats themselves, of all shapes and sizes, mega-yachts and sailing dinghies sharing their berthing spaces in apparent harmony.
The Heritage Museum provides a fascinating insight into life a hundred years ago or more, with a superb collection of old photographs as well as exhibits on trawling and associated industries such as boat building, chandlery and cooperage maritime trading. Admire the distinctive shape of Ye Olde Coffin House, now an antique shop.
The station on the South Devon Railway has been used frequently for films and TV programmes. A short way along the road is the village, with riverside walks and a famous inn.
Large riverside village on the Dart, traditionally known for its salmon fishery and apple orchards. Spend time exploring the narrow streets, atmospheric pubs and marvel at the huge yew tree in the churchyard. George Jackson Churchward, the steam locomotive designer, was born here.
Ashburton lies on the southern slopes of Dartmoor in the heart of the South Devon countryside and is a splendid gateway to Dartmoor. The scenery in the area is glorious in all the weather's moods and offers visitors opportunities for walking, pony trekking, canoeing, fishing and - if you like - just pottering. There are a variety of good food outlets, whether for retail or dining purposes, with inns that are mellow and welcoming and the pace of life bids you gently to unwind.
This ancient stannary town dates from Saxon times and has spread out from its centre along the courses of the little river Ashburn and its tributary, the Balland Stream. Spanning the centuries are many beautiful and intriguing buildings. Today, Ashburton is a blend of its richly historic past and its bustling, market-town present. Look inward and you see a range of shops and services to meet your every need; look upward and outward and there stand the green hills of South Devon, ever peaceful and unchanging.
Modbury Tourist Information Centre, 4 Modbury Court, Church Street, ,Modbury,PL21 0QR.
Modbury is a very attractive small country town, rich in character with many fine buildings. Its steep streets with close knit frontages give the town a pleasant and dignified air. Much of it contained within a conservation area. It is by virtue of its ancient charter that Modbury calls itself a town, albeit a small town, yet a town that has all the attributes of a thriving village with a strong sense of community.
Overlooked by the 13th century St George's Church, the many Georgian buildings which comprise much of this old market town lend Modbury an air of quiet elegance. Take time to explore the numerous interesting craft and small friendly shops clustered around the Exeter Inn, formerly a coaching house in use since Elizabethan times.
Dating back to the 8th Century, Modbury boasts a rich and colourful history, whose traces can be detected in and around the town. The eight day long fair, held each May, dates back to 1329. Two battles were fought here in the Civil War and some say the ghosts of fleeing Royalists haunt "Runaway Lane". A wealthy local family, the Champerknownes, gained power in the courts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
Katherine Champerknowne was mother to three famous sons:- Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who established the colony of Newfoundland, Adrian Gilbert who discovered the North West Passage and Sir Walter Raleigh (by her second marriage). The fine church (built in 1300) houses the effigy of Sir John Champerknowne and a carved granite fireplace lintel set in the pavement outside the old White Hart Inn is all that remains of their fine estates.
Modbury is a town that feels like a village, where you'll find service with a genuine smile and all the day to day necessities of life with fresh produce - and a lot more besides. You'll discover a superb range of small independent shops selling just about everything you could possibly want, from everyday essentials to most unusual specialities. Relax in one of the old English pubs - take a little time to explore Modbury, you'll find shopping will become a pleasure again and some shops will even repay your first hour's parking fee.
Torquay & Torbay
Torquay has a Mediterranean feel with its own café culture and modern international marina, luxurious in high season with splendid yachts and ocean going vessels. Torquay is England’s premier family resort, boasting safe sandy beaches and exciting nightlife. There are many great attractions for all the family, including, bars, restaurants, theatres and much more. Water sports of all kinds are available for those looking for a more active holiday. Spectacular walks and cliff top views are available or you may decide to relax on the deck chairs on long seafront promenades.
Large village deep in the country, with interesting church and lively pubs.
Salcombe TIC Market Street, Salcombe, TQ8 8DE,
With its sheltered waterways, Salcombe is the most southerly seaside town in Devon, and is one of the South West's best loved sailing centres. Salcombe has everything; beaches, coastal walks, water sports, interesting shops tucked up tiny streets and wide choice of pubs and restaurants. The climate is so mild that, in some gardens alongside the estuary, you'll actually seem lemon trees bearing fruit.
Salcombe is a seaside town, surrounded by beautiful countryside, award winning beaches and a Ria (landlocked salt water), and designated a Local Nature Reserve. The area encompasses the nearby villages of Thurlestone, Hope Cove, Bolberry and Soar, with a 2 minute passenger ferry ride to East Portlemouth. Salcombe is surrounded by tranquil countryside with a magnificent scenic coastline. The town lies beside the Kingsbridge estuary, which provides a natural sheltered harbour.
You can visit the Salcombe Maritime Museum and learn some of the history of the town. Many restaurants use local produce when available, the locally caught fish and shellfish are a real gourmet delight. Salcombe and its surrounding coastline are perfect for all kinds of water sports. Sailing and motor boats are available for hire.
The picturesque fishing village of Hope Cove once a favourite place for smugglers is now a popular holiday destination. An ideal holiday retreat for families and nature lovers, with its charming thatched cottages, clean sandy beaches, and peaceful relaxed atmosphere. Diving is a popular sport, as many visitors explore the various shipwrecks found not far from the waters edge. It is also easy to sail your own boat from Hope Cove, with an open beach and a slipway at Inner Hope. The spectacular sunsets are not to be missed!
Ivybridge Bookshop and TIC, Leonards Road, Ivybridge, PL21 0SL, Tel: 01752 897035
The old mill town of Ivybridge is right on the doorstep of 368 square miles of the Dartmoor National Park - stretching north from Ivybridge to Okehampton and east from Tavistock to Bovey Tracey. Proof of its fascinating and ancient history lies scattered over the land in the form of Bronze Age settlements and burial grounds, whilst the remains of Iron Age hill forts skirt the edge of the moor.
Many granite tors loom up from its surface. Wild flowers grow in abundance and with its vast moor lands, woods, rivers, streams and reservoirs; Dartmoor is a haven for the many animals that live there. Buzzards and rabbits are easily spotted, but not so easy to see are the timid deer and the shy otters splashing in the streams and rivers. The ponies that roam freely are not wild but belong to local farmers with grazing rights.
Being the southern gateway to Dartmoor, Ivybridge is a brilliant centre for walkers to explore the beautiful Erme Valley and continue along the Erme Plym Trail to Plymouth or the South Devon Coast. It is also the start — or finish, depending on your point of view — of the Two Moors Way, the 102 mile trail which crosses Dartmoor to the north of Exmoor. Easily reached from the A38 Devon Expressway, Ivybridge offers good shopping facilities and a leisure centre with both indoor and outdoor pools.
Dartmoor National Park Authority Information
Dartmoor was designated one of the National Parks of England and Wales in 1951. It is a beautiful moorland landscape with wooded valleys and wind swept Tors. 368 square miles (953 sq. km.) in area, with about 33,000 people living in it, and where about 10 million visits are made each year. All the land is owned by someone and the public is able to roam freely on unenclosed, open moorland on both foot and horseback. There are also about 600 miles (966 km) of public rights of way. Dartmoor is a rich habitat for wildlife and has a wealth of archaeological remains.
Exmoor National Park Authority Information
Nearly all the people who visit Exmoor come because it is an unspoiled area of beautiful scenery. Many are happy to travel in their car on a scenic route perhaps even stopping at a viewpoint where they can enjoy the panorama before them while having a picnic and without even leaving the car. Others may stroll a short distance but for various reasons may wish to stay within easy reach of their vehicle. Yet others enjoy exploring the quiet villages or visiting places mentioned in books, archaeological sites or interesting churches. Some are keen on bird-watching or other aspects of nature, while artists and photographers find many opportunities for pursuing their hobbies. Many people visit the coast, again to admire the dramatic scenery but also to stroll around little harbours like Porlock Weir and Combe Martin or indulge in traditional beach activities.
Down to Earth in South Devon
Not that we need reminding of how lucky we are to live and work in such a beautiful part of the country, but the BBC’s current series of the popular series ‘Down to Earth’ certainly does that anyway! Previous series of this gentle Sunday evening show have whizzed around various locations in Devon and the West Country, without really admitting to their exact location. Although those of us actually living here may have shouted out ‘that’s Totnes’ on more than one occasion, or ‘we were on that beach today!’ there was no real identification of the location. This series so far has proved different, with many scenes very obviously shown with picturesque Dartmouth as the backdrop, including a scene with the teenager Becky apparently ‘stood up’ outside Dartmouth Sailing Club, and many scenes played out on the flower-lined quayside and quaint ferry in this historic maritime town.