Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dartmouth - England - 25th August 2011

Visit to England - Dartmouth – August 2011

Dartmouth is a small town on the mouth of the River Dart with a population of around 5,512 people. In its past Dartmouth was of strategic importance as it has a natural deep-water port that was suitable for naval sailing vessels. During the 2 crusades of 1147 and 1190, the port was used as a sailing point, and a small creek nearby was named as "Warfleet Creek" in recognition of the purpose of the harbour.

During the reign of Edward III, Dartmouth was home to the Royal Navy, however during the "Hundred Years War" with France, it was twice surprised and sacked by the French. After this a huge chain was installed in the water across the mouth of the estuary, and this was drawn up every night to secure the harbour.

The narrow mouth to the harbour was protected by 2 fortified castles, Dartmouth Castle, and Kingswear Castle. These are still looking out across the harbour, and are a tourist attraction for the many visitors to the town
Dartmouth Castle

Kingswear Castle

In 1373 Geoffrey Chaucer visited the town among many pilgrims, and this can be read in his "Canterbury Tales".

Dartmouth sent many ships from its harbour to join the English Fleet that attacked the Spanish Armada in 1588.

During "World War II" the town became a base for American forces, and was one of the departure points for the Utah Beach in the D-Day landings. Much of the surrounding countryside was closed to the public whilst it was used by US troops to practice for the landings and manoeuvres.

We took the coastal route going west from the town, this is a route of outstanding scenic beauty, and you pass many pristine orange sandy beaches and coves. We also found an ancient mile marker used in the days of horse and carriage to advise travellers how far the nearest towns were from this point.

Mile Marker

On the outskirts of the town is the Royal Navy's officer training college (Britannia Naval College), where all officers of the Royal Navy and many foreign naval officers are trained.
Dartmouth Royal Naval College
 During our visist we were fortunate enough to see the "Royal Regatta" founded in 1882. The town is able to use the term Royal as during an early regatta in 1856 during the reign of Queen Victoria, the Queen and Prince Albert visited the docks due to bad weather.

 The Queen came ashore at 6 pm and was met by the borough mayor. The Queen then drove in a carriage over 'The Ridges' to the 'Black House' at the junction of Jaw Bones/Swannaton Road/Stoke Fleming Road. She was accompanied by Sir H.F. Seale on horseback. That night there were special illuminations both ashore and afloat. The Queen donated £25 and Prince Albert gave £20 for three rowing races to be competed for by the sailors of Dartmouth and this was done on the second day of the regatta. The Queen the next day sailed on to Plymouth but before leaving bestowed the title of 'Royal' on the regatta.

During the regatta the Royal Navy Helicopters performed some amasing ariel displays. We used the ferry to cross from Dartmouth to Kingswear where we watched and recorded some of the displays. We were in the competitors tent, and the view looked out across the bay which was a mass of sailing vessels. In the centre of the bay was a Royal Navy War Ship.

In the evening there was a huge firework display to celebrate the regatta. We were fortunate, as the B&B in which we were staying had a balcony off our room, overlooking the harbour, and we were able to sit outside on the balcony enjoying a glass of wine whilst we enjoyed the fireworks.

The town has many odd signs posted around that make you think they have some thing against children. Some of them are in the pictures below along with other signs that we thought were unusual.
The Butterwalk

Winning Sailing Team

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