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Let’s move to Dartmouth, Devon

It may not be an important port any more, but this attractive naval town has history, boutique bistros and just enough grit

What’s going for it? Is there a more maritime spot on these islands? There’s a lot of competition, but the very land beneath Dartmouth’s buildings seems seeped in naval derring-do and salt water. For centuries the town has been a boaty’s favourite. Its not-quite-fjord-depth estuary has long been a safe harbour against prevailing currents, so Dartmouth’s history is dotted with mentions of incredible events: the Mayflower, the Armada, etc. The entire world seems to have passed its quay as the British empire spread its tentacles; but as the ships got bigger, the harbours followed suit, and Dartmouth had to rely upon its physical beauty instead. The stunning estuary and the half-timbered streets of chandlers and sou’westers became the favourite spot for retired admirals, while youthful officer material from the Royal Naval College kept the social scene full of pep. Today it just manages to keep over-poshness under control. Yes, there are boutique bistros aplenty, but there’s enough grit in the oyster shell to keep Dartmouth real.

Well connected? Not in the thick of things. The nearest (non-steam) trains are at Totnes, a half-hour drive away. The beaches at Blackpool and Slapton Sands are 15 mins, and Plymouth an hour away. You can be up on Dartmoor in 45 mins. Various ferries (for vehicles and foot passengers) shuffle across the Dart throughout the day.

Schools Primaries: St John the Baptist Catholic is “good”, says Ofsted, with Dartmouth Academy (also a secondary) requiring “improvement”.

Hang out at… Mitch Tonks’ lauded The Seahorse, or Rockfish for great fish ’n’ chips. The 14th-century Cherub inn ticks the olde worlde pubbe boxes.

Where to buy The historic centre and harbourside are full of merchants’ houses, delightful cottages and terraces, stone-built or half-timbered. Terraces loop the loop up the steep-sided valley, with grand houses taking in the views. Check out Fairview Road and Higher Broad Park, and south to Warfleet Creek. A fair number of striking new builds. Large detacheds, £450,000-£1.75m. Town houses, £450,000-£1m. Detacheds, £280,000-£450,000. Flats, £80,000-£700,000. Semis, £170,000-£500,000. Terraces, £160,000-£450,000. Rentals: one-bed flats, £500pcm; three-bed houses, £775-£1,500pcm.

Bargain of the week Thin on the ground. A two-bedroom terraced house for £155,000, with richard-blake.co.uk.

Matt Bakewell “I love buying fresh fish in the old market; breakfast at Browney’s cafe on a Sunday; and the quick skip from the Castle Hotel to the Flavel Cinema on meal-and-movie night.”

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