This pretty harbor town lies at the heart of the South Devon AONB.
With its colorful harbor, cobblestone lanes, and medieval castle, Dartmouth paints a pretty picture. Perched on the banks of the River Dart and surrounded by forested hills, campers have easy access to nature, whether hiking through the hills or getting on the water. Admire the views from Dartmouth Castle, ride the ferry to Kingswear, or explore the riverside on foot or by bike. Birds, seals, and other wildlife can be spotted along the River Dart—take a paddle steamer cruise, paddle around the estuary on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, then grab some fish and chips from one of the harborside restaurants.
North of Dartmouth, the English Riviera is home to some of the UK’s most idyllic beaches. Head to Torquay, Babbacombe, or Paignton to stroll along palm-lined promenades, lounge on sandy beaches, and tuck into delicious seafood at ocean-view restaurants. Camping here is equally upmarket, whether you choose a 5-star holiday park with a swimming pool or a tranquil tent pitch with a view out to sea.
Rocky coves, sandy beaches, and verdant estuaries stretch for more than 60 miles along the coast of the South Devon AONB. For the most impressive views, hike along the South West Coast Path, camp out by the beachside, or go bird-watching at Prawle Point. Just 10 minutes south of Dartmouth, Blackpool Sands is Devon’s flagship beach, or head west to Bantham beach or Bigbury on Sea to try kitesurfing and windsurfing.
The River Dart runs north into the Dartmoor National Park, where you can hike across misty moorlands and rugged river gorges. Outdoor adventurers have more than 400 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails to choose from, and intrepid campers can even pitch their tent in the wilderness. Look out for free-roaming herds of Dartmoor ponies along the way.
Peak season in Dartmouth is summer, so book campsites well in advance if visiting in July and August. Sunny weather is the time for wild swimming along the river or trips to Blackpool Sands beach, but wildlife watching is better in spring and autumn when the water levels are higher. Hikers heading to Dartmoor should prepare for all seasons even in summer, but most trails remain accessible year-round.