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The most effective issues to do in Dartmouth with children

Devon actually does concentrate on fairly cities however from its fortress to its attractive riverfront, I’m all the time notably tempted to go again to Dartmouth with children.

View of boats on the river Dart, looking out across the water towards Kingswear - the best things to do in Dartmouth with kids
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With its lengthy historical past and laid-back vacation vibe, I’ve visited in wonderful summer time sunshine and autumn drizzle, and every time come away decided to spend longer.

And with so many issues to do in Dartmouth with children, it’s the right spot for a household vacation as properly – listed here are my high 16 concepts to begin you off.

Go to Dartmouth Citadel with children

Whereas it’s simple to whereas away a day (and extra) in Dartmouth, one place you shouldn’t miss is a go to to Dartmouth Citadel with children.

Set on the mouth of the River Dart, elements of the fortress date again to the 14th century and it noticed motion through the English Civil Warfare, plus there are additionally later nineteenth century additions – it was nonetheless used to defend the coast in Victorian occasions, in addition to defending Britannia Naval Faculty through the First World Warfare.

View of the rooftop on the tower at Dartmouth Castle, a girl next to the low doorway and seagull on the ramparts - the best things to do in Dartmouth with kids

And when you shouldn’t anticipate knights, turrets and medieval splendour right here, there are some enjoyable issues to do with children at Dartmouth fortress as properly.

There’s a path for teenagers to observe with numerous completely different quizzes and bits of trivia, in addition to the prospect to design your personal fortress.

Maintain a watch out for the mice alongside the way in which too: some are on show, others take a bit extra looking out. And if I’m sincere, there was a lot else to have a look at that we didn’t even spot all of them, as we stored getting distracted.

Earlier than you even set foot inside, you’ll spot the primary of the cannon – what’s now the store was once a Second World Warfare gun home.

And it’s a theme which continues as you discover via the Victorian fortress and head on into the older medieval part.

The primary defences date again to 1388, constructed by privateer and Mayor of Dartmouth John Hawley – an inspiration for the Shipman in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – whereas the fifteenth century gun tower is regarded as the primary purpose-built fortification for heavy cannon that may sink ships.

That wasn’t the one defence: a heavy chain stretched throughout the estuary, which may very well be used to dam enemy ships from invading.

And whenever you head down into the passageways – you’ll want the torch in your telephone to light up these dim tunnels – the rooms had been used to retailer gunpowder and explosive shells through the years.

Alongside the way in which, there’s a sound and lightweight present designed to provide you an concept of what it will need to have been like when the cannon had been firing – and simply how many individuals had been wanted to function one.

One of many highlights of the primary a part of the fortress was a mannequin displaying what the fortress appeared like at completely different factors in historical past: no atypical mannequin although, you flip a deal with on this interactive creation to make towers rise and fall and fortifications all of a sudden erupt.

My daughter looks at the model of Dartmouth Castle, which you can move to show how the fortress changed over the centuries - a visit to Dartmouth Castle with kids

There are extra shows and interactive enjoyable over within the older part of the fortress too – together with extra cannon and early weapons.

However much more enjoyable is the gathering of metallic helmets which you’ll be able to strive on, in quite a lot of shapes, and nearly all rather a lot heavier than I might think about carrying for various minutes.

And to complete the tour of the fortress, you may head as much as the roof of the tower, together with the guard-room on the highest level, to take in some superb views again alongside the river in direction of Dartmouth.

If you happen to’re fortunate, you may even spot a number of seals within the water; you’re assured to spy a number of boats zooming by and Kingswear Citadel (an artillery tower now remodeled into a novel place to remain by the Landmark Belief) on the banks reverse.

Do look inside St Petrox church as properly when you’re on the fortress, with brass grave inscriptions relationship again to the seventeenth century inside and its slanting sloping weathered graveyard exterior.

View back towards Dartmouth and the river Dart across St Petrox church - a visit to Dartmouth castle and the church is one of the best things to do in Dartmouth with kids

We spent round an hour right here earlier than heading again to Dartmouth alongside the coast path, however there are extra woodland walks across the fortress, in addition to the prospect to purchase a cream tea.

Open 12 months spherical however at weekends solely through the winter months. Click on right here for opening occasions and tickets: free for English Heritage members.

View of St Petrox church by the river Dart and Dartmouth Castle - a visit to the castle and church is one of the best things to do in Dartmouth with kids

There may be parking by the fortress nevertheless it’s very restricted however until you’re planning to get there early, it’s greatest to take the ferry from Dartmouth (this additionally will get busy, particularly in peak season) or stroll from the city, which takes round 20 minutes.

Take a ship tour

We ticked off our style of being out on the water by taking the ferry out to Dartmouth Citadel, however you’re spoiled for selection in relation to different boat excursions in Dartmouth with children.

There’s a round boat journey which takes you alongside the river out to Kingswear and Dartmouth castles, in addition to to Greenway and Dittisham – tickets obtainable from the kiosks by the city pontoon.

The Kingswear Citadel paddlesteamer, which usually runs this journey through the summer time months, shouldn’t be working in 2022.

Or take the longer cruise in direction of Totnes: 90 minutes every means, it’s a stunning various to driving, in case you’d wish to spend a day exploring Totnes.

If you happen to’re planning to go to Greenway (scroll down for particulars), there’s a ferry which runs from Dartmouth to Agatha Christie’s former dwelling. The identical firm operates the ferry to fairly Dittisham, round half-hour away by water.

Examine out my assessment of a keep at Dittisham Hideaway in one of many luxurious treehouses

Or enterprise additional afield with a ferry to Brixham, or choose up the steam prepare to Paignton after hopping on the ferry throughout to Kingswear – there’s additionally a mixed steam and cruise ticket to incorporate the round harbour tour, or the spherical robin choice, which incorporates ferry, prepare, cruise and bus!

Girl strides along the old platform at Kingswear for the Dartmouth Steam train to Paignton, with its creamy yellow carriages seen on the left - one of my top 30 things to do in Devon with kids

Dartmouth Steam Railway

The classic trains of the Dartmouth Steam railway run between Paignton and Kingswear for a slightly completely different strategy to get to the seaside, travelling alongside the English Riviera Geopark coast line, and by way of fairly stations together with Goodrington, Churston and Greenway Halt (for Agatha Christie’s vacation dwelling).

In addition to absorbing the coast and countryside, there’s a free foot passenger ferry included together with your prepare ticket to sail over from fairly Dartmouth, plus the spherical journey choices which embody an open-topped bus, or with an additional round cruise on the River Dart.

If the climate isn’t being variety, the steam prepare is a enjoyable choice on a wet day in Devon with children as properly.

Take a stroll

With tiny twisting alleys, and a historical past of pirates and explorers, there’s loads to find on a wander via Dartmouth, from the 14th century Cherub Inn (with its gold cherub) to Bayard’s Cove, the place the Mayflower anchored earlier than its journey to the New World.

There’s been a settlement right here since 4000BCE, though it was solely after the Viking raids led to Norman occasions that the primary beginnings of the city started to be established.

You possibly can observe this Dartmouth city path, designed as a part of the Mayflower 400 celebrations or be part of a guided historical past tour. This Dartmouth Treasure Path can also be a great way to maintain children entertained alongside the way in which.

Scroll down for extra Dartmouth walks with children, together with routes alongside the South West Coast Path.

Dartmouth Museum

This little museum is a enjoyable strategy to study extra about Dartmouth’s historical past. Positioned on the historic Butterwalk, it’s set inside a terrace of retailers’ homes relationship again to round 1640, which as soon as sheltered Charles II when a storm pressured his fleet ashore.

Targeted in town’s maritime historical past, there’s all the things from ships in bottles and background on the Mayflower to reveals on Dartmouth’s contribution to D-Day through the Second World Warfare, in addition to profiles of notable native inhabitants.

There’s loads of likelihood for teenagers to get palms on as properly, wanting in drawers beneath shows, peeking via microscopes, answering questions – and you’ll even put them within the shares!

View of the bandstand at Royal Avenue Gardens and some of Dartmouth's pretty buildings seen beyond on a sunny day - the best things to do in Dartmouth with kids

Royal Avenue Gardens

If you happen to’re into vegetation, the gardens (which sit between the Mayor’s Avenue automobile park and the River Dart) are dwelling to a herb backyard, rose backyard, Antipodean backyard and Mediterranean backyard, amongst others, together with the grand Victorian fountain.

For many guests, it’s a peaceable shady spot to chill out – though it’s also possible to discover little markets going down, whereas the bandstand is normally the main focus of the city’s festivals.

There are additionally public bogs right here, though there’s a small cost to make use of them (20p piece or contactless cost accepted)

Hit the seashore

You do have to depart Dartmouth itself if you’d like a little bit of seashore time, however there are some pretty stretches of coast inside simple attain of the city together with Blackpool Sands, considered one of my favorite seashores in Devon with children.

View onto Blackpool Sands beach in Devon with boats in the cove and green trees above the shingle beach - one of my favourite beaches in Devon, it's perfect if you're visiting Dartmouth with kids

It’s additionally an incredible base to discover the South Hams – dwelling to some extra attractive seashores, together with Salcombe, Bantham Seaside and Bigbury on Sea to say just some.

Maintain the youngsters entertained on the seashore with this enjoyable South Hams colouring guide from the Devon With Children assortment – there’s additionally a Dartmouth colouring guide for whenever you’re again within the city.

Wander the coast path

Linking DevonDorsetCornwall and Somerset, there’s loads of selection alongside the South West Coast Path for walks with children.

If your loved ones doesn’t fancy trekking for miles, the part between Dartmouth Citadel and Dartmouth itself is a simple stroll, and makes a pleasant various to taking the ferry each methods.

View from part of the South West Coast Path between Dartmouth and Dartmouth castle looking down to the water with boats on the river - the best things to do in Dartmouth with kids

Alternatively, if you’d like an extended hike, there are a number of family-friendly choices from Dartmouth: try the South West Coast Path website for routes, or do that round stroll from Little Dartmouth to Dartmouth Citadel.

Woodlands Household Journey Park, Dartmouth

With a string of animals, play areas and family-friendly rides, Woodlands Household Journey Park is ideal for youthful kids in Devon, in addition to extra adventurous enjoyable for older siblings – and round a 10-minute drive from Dartmouth.

You’ll discover occasions operating all year long, alongside the string of themed zones with completely different rides and different actions, from fairytale forests to sea monsters and the water coasters of Cyclone Canyon, plus a toddler zone.

Meet falcons – with flying shows for a lot of the 12 months – and the inhabitants of the zoo farm, together with meerkats, rabbits and guinea pigs, an livestock.

It’s an incredible choice in case you’re on the lookout for concepts for a wet day in Devon with children too: head contained in the reptile home and large animal barn, earlier than hitting the 25 indoor slides (and 32 extra outside by the way) or the ball pit.

View of the River Dart and colourful buildings from Bayards Cove in Dartmouth - one of the best places to sit and eat your fish and chips in Dartmouth with kids

Have some fish and chips

Is it actually a correct day by the coast in case you don’t have fish and chips? Rockfish is all the time considered one of my favourites to go to every time we’re in Devon and there’s not one, however two branches in Dartmouth.

The primary restaurant is on the waterfront, together with some pretty out of doors tables searching to the River Dart, that are good on a summer time’s day.

If you happen to’re on the lookout for a faster and barely cheaper choice, there’s additionally a takeaway on Decrease Road, near the Decrease Ferry – take your fish and chips across the nook to Bayard’s Cove, the place there are some public benches overlooking the river.

Effectively price getting there early in the summertime (or ship an advance occasion to snap up some seats!) There’s a pub close by the place you may get drinks to sip alongside together with your fish and chips.

Take pleasure in an ice cream

You’ll be spoiled for selection in relation to getting an ice cream in Dartmouth on a sunny day – however head to The Good Intent on Decrease Road (simply alongside from the Rockfish takeaway) to find the flavours of the Dartmouth Ice Cream firm.

I couldn’t resist a stem ginger one, whereas my daughter couldn’t determine between raspberry and mint choc chip, so to her delight was supplied a half and half cone with a little bit of each. Delish.

There’s additionally a department on Duke Road between April and October, and it’s also possible to discover them by Avenue Gardens through the summer time months and busy durations.

Day journeys from Dartmouth with children

If you happen to’re staying in or close to Dartmouth with children, it additionally makes an incredible base to discover additional – I’ve picked out a few of my high day journeys inside round a 30-minute drive.

However in case you’re ready to drive a bit additional, try my final information to Devon for households, together with strategies round Totnes and Paignton, in addition to issues to do in Torquay and Teignmouth & Shaldon.

Greenway, Galmpton

Whereas Agatha Christie’s vacation dwelling isn’t in Dartmouth itself, it’s a simple day trip in case you’re staying in (or close to) the city.

The Nationwide Belief website nonetheless seems a lot because it did when she stayed there – there’s a path for teenagers to observe round the home, which will get dressed up for Christmas, in addition to a altering show within the Cupboard of Curiosities.

If you happen to’re arriving to Greenway by automobile, it’s a must to guide a parking house prematurely: there’s additionally a ferry service from Dartmouth which takes round an hour (or an open boat from Dittisham), then a steep 10-15 minute stroll from the jetty.

Boats in the harbour in Brixham Devon - my day out on the Golden Hind Brixham with a toddler


One other contender for the title of prettiest place in Devon, it’s simple to whereas away a day exploring the twisting little streets and harbour, the place you may go crabbing.

Don’t miss a go to to the Golden Hind: the duplicate of Sir Francis Drake’s well-known ship has loads for historical past followers, together with an audio tour, but in addition heaps to carry it alive for teenagers, together with trails and an opportunity to show the wheel.

Take a look at our assessment of a go to to the Golden Hind with a toddler (to not be confused with the Golden Hinde in London)

There’s additionally road artwork, extra boat excursions to discover the coast, and simply exterior city, you may go for a swim in Shoalstone sea pool, or rockpooling on Shoalstone seashore.

Berry Head Nature Reserve

This attractive clifftop reserve on the southern half of Tor Bar is among the gateways to the English Riviera world geopark, with some fabulous views out to the ocean on a sunny day.

Whilst you’re at Berry Head Nature Reserve, it’s also possible to discover the fortifications from the Napoleonic Warfare, gaze out to attempt to spot seals and sharks within the waves, or enterprise onto one of many strolling trails.

Take a look at our assessment of a day at Berry Head Nature Reserve

Yellow flowers and the sea in the distance looking out from Berry Head nature reserve - one of my top things to do in Devon with kids

Coleton Fishacre, Kingswear

Getting into this artwork deco home (constructed by the D’Oyly Carte household of West Finish theatre fame) is fantastic at any time of 12 months, particularly the fantastic gardens.

If you happen to’re visiting Devon through the run-up to Christmas, Coleton Fishacre is much more particular.

The home is adorned for a Twenties Christmas, with conventional video games and dressing up (plus the Coleton Aglow illuminations: should be booked prematurely) – there are spotter trails to observe inside the home year-round as properly.

South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh to Totnes

If you happen to can’t get sufficient steam railways, head to Totnes, round half-hour from Dartmouth the place you may choose up the South Devon Railway.

This route takes you between Totnes and Buckfastleigh, with seven miles of railway operating alongside the River Dart valley, so you may take pleasure in a number of the countryside with none effort as your steam prepare puffs and chuffs alongside.

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