Dartmouth and Salcombe: Jewels of the South West
You have to go a long way to find a town as pretty as Dartmouth especially as a destination for yachting. Overlooking one of the finest natural harbours in the UK, Dartmouth has a strong maritime heritage and is packed with events and things to do throughout the year, from sailing to arts and cultural festivals. Lying in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dartmouth is a real yachting centre for the South-West.
With a long tradition of strategic importance for sailing ships, Dartmouth was the sailing point for the Crusades and has a long association with the Royal Navy. The historic town of Dartmouth is home to the Royal Naval College Britannia, the Officer school for the Navy where HRH Prince Philip, HRH Prince Charles and HRH Prince Andrew were trained. Dartmouth offers a host of attractions to make your stop-over worth a couple of days. Within the town there are quaint narrow streets, specialist shops, a host of excellent restaurants and good walks to the castle. Going further afield, there is a steam railway and boat trips up the river Dart to the historic town of Totnes or to Agatha Christie’s recently restored home on the banks of the river.
Things to do
As one of the West Country’s best sailing ports, Dartmouth has a great range of facilities if you’re a water sports enthusiast. Sailing fans will love the Dartmouth Regatta – a spectacular weeklong celebration of the town’s maritime links taking place in August. But you don’t have to have saltwater in your veins to enjoy Dartmouth. The town has many events geared around the arts, with a diverse range of exhibitions in the many galleries.
Food and drink
From bistros to a 100-year-old barge, from the bustle of the waterside to fine dining and traditional pub grub, there’s a huge variety of food and drink outlets in Dartmouth for you to choose from, all supplied the best top chefs in the UK. Try the Devon fresh crab – a Dartmouth speciality.
Dart Harbour has approximately 1,400 permanent moorings and 200 visitors’ moorings and has a limited number of swinging, trot moorings and pontoon berths available for long-term hire. There are also some running moorings and mud berth moorings available.
Arriving and entering the River Dart is fairly straightforward as long you give the well-marked Mewstone a safe distance. It is then just a matter of leaving the Castle Ledge green buoy to starboard and the red Homestone and Checkstone red buoys to port.
After passing between Kingswear and Dartmouth castles, keep to the starboard side of the river while sticking to the 6-knot speed limit.
During summer weekends, the entrance can get quite busy and you need to let both the lower and higher car ferries have the right of way and give them plenty of space.
Sailing south west from Dartmouth is Salcombe. The river views are spectacular. If you love messing about on the water, you’ll love this charming harbour. With mild weather throughout the year, Salcombe is a popular destination thanks to its waterside location, West Country character and stunning natural environment. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you can stay in some great accommodation in the area, with excellent restaurants and bars in which to sample the local cuisine. Salcombe is a vibrant, busy little town that still manages to retain that unique Devon charm.
Salcombe’s history is intrinsically linked with the sea. Until about 100 years ago the people of Salcombe earned their living from the estuary and the sea. Fishing, seafaring, boat and later shipbuilding were the main occupations, but smuggling and even piracy meant that settlements were not built at the water’s edge but further inland. Today, Salcombe is still a thriving harbour, but without the pirates.
Things to do
A network of ferries operates in and around Salcombe, giving you easy access to a selection of local beaches that would otherwise be difficult to get to. East Portlemouth beach includes some picturesque coves and fine soft sand. Bathing conditions here are ideal and the beach is home to a range of water sports. If you fancy trying your hand at sailing there are local schools where you can learn the ropes, and a popular regatta is held here annually.
Food and drink
Head to Fore Street for the best range of Salcombe’s cuisine. Restaurants and bars line the street and serve the best in Devon produce, fresh fish and local meats. Devon is well known for its ale, and Salcombe pubs offer a good selection of locally made beer, as well as a friendly atmosphere in comfortable maritime surroundings.
There is no Marina and little alongside berthing in Salcombe, and the options are either to lay to your own anchor, or take a harbour authority mooring.
Please contact Salcombe Harbour for more detailed information 01548 843791
Approaching Salcombe Harbour from the West involves passing Bolt Head at a good distance to avoid Little Mew Stone and Mewstone, both conspicuous and standing 5 m and 19 m respectively. The entrance to the harbour will start revealing itself. In lumpy weather especially with an ebbing tide it is wise to give Bolt Head a wide berth. From the East once past Prawle Point the best plan is to keep about five cables off the coast, and then swing over to the West in the region of Starehole Bay, while trying to identify the leading marks, and turning onto a northerly heading when they have been identified.
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