Devon’s largest city is packed with seafaring heritage and quintessential britishness. Tea shops, pubs, a famous gin distillery plus a newly revamp port promenade provide much in the way of gentle entertainment, while those who like to stretch their legs only have to look northwards to the rolling moors.
The city is of course most famous for its role in the launching of the Mayflower, as it is from Plymouth that the Pilgrim Fathers left for the New World in 1620 – the original steps may have been lost but a stone plaque allows visitors to stand on the exact spot they left from. The town is peppered with remnants of its historic maritime heritage, across the waters of Plymouth Sound lies fortified Drake’s Island guarding the approaches, while Plymouth Hoe, where Sir Francis Drake was famously playing bowls when he received news of the invading Armada, is just up from the docks. Nearby Royal William Yard, built by John Rennie between 1825-31, boasts the largest collection of Grade 1-listed military buildings in Europe. Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery contains maritime displays including important Napoleonic ship models.
The city’s strategic position on England’s south coast cost it dearly during WWII. From 1940-44 the Luftwaffe basically razed the original city, and many of the original building were destroyed. What was rebuilt is more gritty than pretty, but those who are willing to look beyond the dour city centre will find a very pleasing place surrounded by beautiful English countryside.