BRITAIN'S OCEAN CITY
Just a few minutes south of the rural glories of Dartmoor National Park lies the remarkable seaport of Plymouth on the Devon/cornwall border - a vibrant and historic survivor to remind us of days gone by but never forgotten.
Plymouth is a remarkable seaport - a vibrant and historic survivor to remind us of days gone by but never forgotten. →
PLYMOUTH IS THE CITY WHERE, in 1620, the Pilgrim Fathers spent their last night on land before bravely sailing to the New World, reaching land on 21st November, the origin of that great US holiday. Its harbour also saw, a few decades earlier, in 1577, Francis Drake set off on a voyage of state-sanctioned piracy which became the first English circumnavigation of the world, returning in 1580, and in its close embrace has the Royal Navy been cosseted since the 17th century. Plymouth fully deserves its recognition as a British maritime icon. 45 easy-driving miles beyond Exeter brings you to this (originally) ancient city, much damaged during WW2 but retaining hundreds of unique and charming delights, within its bounds, and with all the seaside attractions you could wish for, on the doorstep or at least within a short ferry-ride. The area now known as Sutton Harbour and the Barbican is truly unforgettable for its many outstanding historic buildings, of granite and Tudor brick, and maze of cobbled lanes and streets. Look out for Jackas Bakery, in business, on this very site, since 1597 and Britain’s oldest gin distillery where, since 1793, Plymouth Gin has been produced in a 14th century building first occupied by the Black Friars. For the throngs of folk not content with refreshment at one of the many dockside alehouses (try the Dolphin, one of the oldest and most original) satisfaction will be found in the sheer variety of bars, cafés and international restaurants that have opened for business in this special zone around the harbour and its marina. Take a short stroll around the headland, with the stunning views of the Sound to your left, and another miraculous architectural survivor awaits. The fabulously-grand, art-deco Tinside Lido was built in 1935, at the height of a boom in outdoor bathing, and is protected by a Grade 2 listing. Considered one of the finest open-air pools in Europe, it is the perfect place from which to watch the boats go by. However, you, like Sir Francis Drake before you, might vote for the view from the Hoe, on the grassy hill overlooking the lido, and legend has it that, in 1588, his friendly pastime of bowls was interrupted by the sighting of the ships of the distinctly unfriendly Spanish Armada,