The bluebells are in full colour at Gallants Bower, Dartmouth. The peaceful woodland walk up to the earthworks of a Civil War fort offers commanding views inland, along the coast and out to sea.
Gallants Bower fort was built by the Royalists during the English Civil War, with six circular bastions sited around the walls. When the Parliamentarian troops recaptured Dartmouth, almost a thousand Royalist soldiers fled to this fort, although they soon surrendered.
At the time these slopes would have been kept treeless, but even now there are great views. Upriver you can see the Britannia Royal Naval College sitting above the town of Dartmouth.
It was completed in 1905, but before it was built naval trainee officers were housed and trained on two old hulks moored on the river.
Looking across the river mouth from Gallants Bower, the squat square fort low to the water’s edge is Kingswear Castle. Built just over 500 years ago, it was a cutting-edge castle designed to house all-new ship-sinking cannon.
But before long guns were developed that could cover the whole river from Dartmouth Castle, and Kingswear Castle became redundant. On the high ground across the estuary mouth, meanwhile, is the Daymark – a hollow tower built as a daytime aid for navigation at sea.