Maritime history in Bayards Cove

Nestled in a side street, just off the waterfront in Dartmouth is Bayards Cove Inn, a Tudor black and white building that actually dates back much farther, to about 1380.

Bayards Cove Inn - The Rural Travel Guide

Bayards Cove Inn

- The Rural Travel Guide

In fact, it’s the second oldest building in Dartmouth and was originally a homestead with a wide courtyard, known as Agincourt House. It’s thought that the Tudor black and white at the front of the building was built as an extension in reflection of the fashion of the times.

It was in this extension that we spent a couple of cosy nights, looking out of the cross-hatch window and across Bayards Cove itself, to sea. We stayed in Raleigh, an en-suite deluxe double room named after the infamous explorer Sir Walter Raleigh - a trend that’s continued in all seven rooms at the inn which are named after famous nautical figures.

At the centre of the room was a ginormous super-king sized bed, which we were later told had to be delivered through the window as it was too big to go up the stairs. Near the window was a dressing table with tea and coffee making facilities - all loose leaf to my delight - and a stunning view across the cove.

It struck me as I looked out to sea that this view would have been one of the last sights the Pilgrim Fathers saw of England before setting sail in the Mayflower almost 400-years ago; a thought that made this American Studies graduate’s year. The Mayflower and The Speedwell pulled in at Bayards Cove in August 1620 to make repairs to the ill-fated Speedwell before their final stop at Plymouth and onto the New World. And the Inn would have looked similar then as it does today.

Despite only becoming an inn in recent years, it has already made a name for itself as a stylish place to stay, restaurant serving local and seasonal dishes and cafe bar for everything in between, from locally roasted coffees to gluten free bakes and cakes.

The daytime and evening menus change regularly, featuring fresh fish, local meats, vegetarian and vegan options. We enjoyed a delicious evening meal there, choosing an Asian duck salad and smoked haddock fishcakes for a starter, smoked haddock chowder and the fish of the day - lemon sole - for main and we shared a sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Nick washed his down with a bottle of ale from local brewery, Bays, in Torbay and I opted for a softer lime and ginger fizz from Heron Valley, also based in Devon.

And the breakfast menu is filled with local delights too. Breakfast is served to both residents and visitors and you can opt for a continental buffet of fresh fish, meats and breads, or a hot meal to start the day, from a full English to smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

We opted for the latter, filling up for a full day exploring along the River Dart, starting with a 10-minute walk into Dartmouth where we caught a small boat out to Dartmouth Castle, which is managed by English heritage, and is one of the only castles in the country that was built as a military fortress, protecting the south coast from the French and used right through to the Second World War. Those of you who follow us on Instragam will already know that I am not a fan of spiral stone staircases but I usually overcome it and crack on… I’m afraid to say that for the first time since I was a child, Dartmouth Castle defeated me and I didn’t make it to the top of the battlements. Nick did but as he’s scared of heights, he didn’t stop to appreciate the views and so, between us, we were pretty rubbish explorers that day.

Weak in the knees, we walked back into Dartmouth from the castle (which took about half an hour) for a cream tea and just as the sun broke through the clouds, climbed aboard another boat which took us on an hour’s tour further inland to the village of Dittisham, opposite Agatha Christie’s estate, Greenway which is now managed by the National Trust.

Having worked up an appetite, we headed back to the Cove, where we sat and ate fish and chips before retiring back to our room with a selection of DVDs from the inn’s own extensive collection.

On Thanksgiving 2019, Bayards Cove Inn is one of many businesses across the country that are taking part in the launch of the Mayflower 400 celebrations, with an extensive range of activities and trails to take visitors on the same journey that the Pilgrim Fathers took when they set sail for America, culminating in the 400th anniversary on 16th September, 2020.

We will certainly be putting the date in our diary and heading back to the south coast to celebrate.

2018-10-14 16.59.20.jpg

A Nick’s eye view of Dartmouth…

- The Rural Travel Guide

Megan is the owner of Rural Roots Media, specialising in rural tourism, where her passion for travel, heritage and a great visitor experience inspired her to start 'The Rural Travel Guide'.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.