Su Carroll rounds up the very best activities and things to see close to the coastline this month, picking her top things to do in August.
1. ROYAL CONNECTIONS
In this Coronation year, there will be plenty to celebrate at the Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta. Established in 1822, it is one of the oldest events of its kind in the country. Queen Victoria bestowed the Royal title when she visited with Prince Albert in 1856. The late Queen Elizabeth had a special affection for Dartmouth – it was where she met Prince Philip – and she became patron in her Platinum Jubilee Year, 2022.
This year will be the 178th Dartmouth Royal Regatta which retains a nod to tradition but stays bang up to date. Rowing and sailing have been at the heart of the week-long event since the beginning and there is a full programme of competition events. There’s everything from the spectacle of the Jubilee Parade on the water to the more than 250 vessels taking part in races across Start Bay.
On shore there is lots to see and do from tennis tournaments, crabbing competitions and plenty of food and drink. Families are well catered for with everything from face-painting to dog shows. Expect some Navy participation (Britannia College is in Dartmouth) and the spectacle of the popular firework display.
Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta is August 23-26. dartmouthregatta.co.uk
Dartmouth has a lovely railway station which dates back to when the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel brought the railway to this area of South Devon with a service that terminated at Torre in Torbay. The plan was to extend the line with a bridge over the river Dart to Dartmouth. But there were too many problems to make it viable and so the trains stop at Kingswear on the other side of the river…but the station had already been built in Dartmouth. It still looks the part, but it’s now a restaurant. Don’t worry, you can still arrive in style by steam train or take a river cruise. Visit dartmouthrailriver.co.uk.
Feel inspired? Take a look at our Devon hotels to make a stay of it.
2. UP POMPEY
Portsmouth’s Southsea Common is the setting for the UK’s biggest metropolitan, family friendly festival. The seafront parkland caters well for families and people with disabilities. There are several stages hosting some great music acts and a kid’s arena, which centres around the permanent skate park. There’s plenty of food and drink outlets for the weekend of entertainment.
If you want to camp for the weekend, there’s a spacious site just off the motorway into Portsmouth with a free shuttle bus to the site. In the afternoons, there’s a comedy line-up which includes Dara O’Briain, Jason Manford, Zoe Lyons, Omid Djalili and Kerry Godliman.
Headliners this year are Jamiroquai (Friday), Kasabian (Saturday) and Mumford and Sons (Sunday). Other performers include Natalie Imbruglia, Ellie Goulding, Sigrid, The Vaccines, Jake Bugg and Pete Tong.
Victorious Festival in Portsmouth is August 25-27. victoriousfestival.co.uk
After three centuries submerged in the Solent followed by nearly 40 years of restoration under a wall of mist, you can now see the Mary Rose in all her glory. This unique surviving ship from King Henry VIII’s 16th century fleet has four ancient decks and 91 bronze cannons. Explore life above and below decks as you step back in time to the Tudor era at the Mary Rose Museum with thousands of fascinating artefacts. It’s all part of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. For information go to historicdockyard.co.uk.
3. TALL STORIES
For the first time in nine years, the Cornish town of Falmouth will play host to the fleet of the spectacular Tall Ships Race, Magellan Elcano. This will be the sixth time Falmouth has hosted the prestigious regatta and race – the first was in 1966. Visits in 2020 and 2021 had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.
The Tall Ships Races Magellan Elcano series will celebrate the first circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinand Magellan and Sebastián Elcano over 500 years ago. The landmark expedition was one of the most important journeys undertaken in the history of maritime navigation and epitomises the unique and impactful experience of The Tall Ships Races. The Tall Ships Races Magellan-Elcano leaves Falmouth for Spain and A Coruna, then on to Lisbon and Cadiz.
Eleven vessels are scheduled to take part in the first race. Visitors will have the opportunity to board some of the historic tall ships at A&P Falmouth Docks and there will be celebratory events on shore. A visually stunning Parade of Sail will precede the race start on August 18.
The races are organised by UK-based Sail Training International and aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25 looking for an on-board adventure. For information go to sailtraininginternational.org. The Tall Ships will be in Falmouth August 15-18.
Discover the adventure of life on the ocean waves for yourself with AK Wildlife Cruises which set out from Falmouth Premier Marina. Enjoy coastal and offshore cruises of between three (ideal for families) and seven hours. You could be heading out to sea and as far as Lizard Point or explore the Carrick Roads and Fal Estuary. If you’re lucky you’ll see plenty of wildlife. Previous cruises have spotted dolphins, whales, seals, sharks and plenty of seabirds including auks and petrels. Visit akwildlifecruises.co.uk.
Feel inspired? Take a look at our Cornwall hotels to make a stay of it.
4. SEASIDE FOLK
The Sidmouth Folk Festival has been welcoming thousands of visitors to this pretty seaside town since 1955. Award-winning singer songwriter Seth Lakeman, remembers coming here with his parents and two brothers and this year he’s one of the headliners.
Sidmouth’s week-long celebration of music, dance and the performing arts has always been family friendly with venues all across the town, many in the open air. Discover emerging talent, or enjoy the back catalogue of popular acts. Sidmouth remembers its heritage roots but also introduces the stars of the future, the people who will keep the traditions alive.
There’s a children’s festival, Shooting Roots youth sessions and participatory workshops. Pre-festival concerts with Cornish shanty heroes Fisherman’s Friends and Barbara Dickson (with Nick Holland) will set the mood for the shows that follow, many of them on the main concert stage at The Ham. The line-up includes Devon favourites and festival patrons Show of Hands, the captivating harmonies of Lady Maisery, rising star Angeline Morrison and Dominie Hooper.
Seth Lakeman plays the Bulverton where you will also find Scottish instrumental group Talisk – Radio Two’s Young Folk Band of the Year in 2015 who deliver uplifting crowd pleasers.
For full information on Sidmouth Folk Festival (August 4-11) go to sidmouthfolkfestival.co.uk.
Kennaway House…and why not? Local people gave it the name after a £1 million restoration which saved it for the community at the turn of the millennium. It was originally a family home and thrived during the early tourism boom when it was rented before becoming a lodging house in the 1890s. In the early 19th century it was endowed as Church House to serve the social activities of the parish but struggled for support after the First World War. Visit kennawayhouse.org.uk for current exhibitions and events.
5. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
A major new exhibition brings together the work of a colony of Cornish artists for the first time, showing how they inter-connect in terms of location and a shared sense of place rather than artistic style. Lamorna Colony Pioneers includes more than 60 paintings from public collections such as Tate and the Walker Art Gallery as well as from private collections.
The art colony was formed in the Lamorna Valley, four miles west of Newlyn, just after the turn of the 20th century, several decades after the established art movements in Newlyn and St Ives. A landscape shaped by the granite quarries that once operated until the late 19th century served as inspiration for husband and wife painters Elizabeth and Stanhope Forbes and the students of their painting school.
However, in the decade 1910-1920, the reputation of Lamorna as one of Cornwall’s leading art colonies grew due to the presence of Samuel John ‘Lamorna’ Birch, Laura and Harold Knight, Dod Procter and Alfred Munnings, artists who all went on to become leading Royal Academicians.
Other pioneers from the inter-war years featured in the exhibition will include Frank Gascoigne Heath, Eleanor and Robert Hughes plus later avant-garde artists such as Hannah Gluckstein (known simply as ‘Gluck’) and Ithell Colquhoun.
Lamorna Colony Pioneers is at Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance, (penleehouse.org.uk) until September 30.
The villa and grounds now known as Morrab Gardens was purchased by Penzance Town Council in 1888 for the princely sum of £3,120 for use as a public open space and library. Many of the tropical plants that have thrived in this sub-tropical climate were donated by local estates, who had transported them from abroad as a status symbol. There’s a Boer War memorial (erected in 1904) and a traditional bandstand, both renovated. morrabgardens.org
6. INCOMING TIDE
South Hill Barn in Seaford sits above Hope Gap on the Sussex coast and has a magnificent view across the English Channel, which often featured in the works of the wartime artist, illustrator, designer and wood engraver Eric Ravillious, whose spirit seems to permeate the space and captivate visitors. It’s the perfect setting for an eclectic, highly creative, mixed-media exhibition by Salt Edge Arts, a diverse group of award-winning artists spearheaded by the inspirational printmaker and educator Emma Taylor.
Emma’s objective is to bring together professional artists, challenge them with a thought-provoking theme and present an annual exhibition that invites the public to explore interpretation and submerge themselves in visual experience. The barn itself is an evocative building with a glorious view over Cuckmere Haven and the majestic coastal landscape which provides a wealth of inspiration to Salt Edge Arts.
This years’ Time and Tide is Salt Edge Arts’ third annual exhibition with a percentage of proceeds going to The Youth Counselling Project, Seaford.
Time and Tide is at South Hill Barn (saltedgearts.com) August 21-28.
Martello Towers are small defensive forts built in the 19th century along the east coast. Completed in 1810, the Seaford Mortello was part of a defensive chain from Aldeburgh to Eastbourne. The forts were quickly rendered obsolete by developments in weaponry. Some became private homes, others restaurants and public spaces. Local history enthusiasts helped transform the Martello Tower in Seaford into a town museum in 1979 and it had Heritage Lottery funding for a refurbishment in 2004. Exhibits include the history of Tide Mills, a village where tidal power was used to drive a flour mill but was abandoned in the 1930s.
Feel inspired? Take a look at our East Sussex hotels to make a stay of it.
7. HANDS ON THEATRE
Cambridge Touring Productions provide the perfect antidote to the summer holiday moan “I’m bored”. They set up camp across the country to provide entertainment for families and young people. This summer they have several events in Southwold to help make Shakespeare more accessible for family audiences. A Shakespeare Craft Workshop (August 15) in The Old Hospital in Field Stile Road will show you how to make your own ruff, quill and Italian masks. They will be perfect for the performance of The Comedy of Errors (August 20) on St Edward’s Green. This version of Shakespeare’s funniest farce offers silly slapstick, abundant anachronisms and memorable music.
Other workshops in Southwold in August connect with performances at the same venues of Robin Hood (workshop August 22, performance August 23) and Alice in Wonderland (workshop August 29, performance September 3). For information, go to wp.cambridgetouringproductions.co.uk.
Southwold is justifiably proud of local hero Alfred Corry, not a person but a lifeboat which served the town for 25 years. It was dedicated on Easter Monday 1893 and saved 47 lives during a quarter of a century of service. In 1919 it was sold and converted into a yacht and renamed Alba. The great-grandson of the boat’s first coxswain bought the vessel in 1976, rechristening it Alfred Corry. A charitable trust carried out a restoration and you can visit a Museum dedicated to the Alfred Corry on Ferry Road on Southwold Seafront. Entry free but donations welcome. alfredcorry.co.uk
Feel inspired? Take a look at our Suffolk hotels to make a stay of it.
8. FILM AND PRINT
London-based artist Ayo Akingbade has a solo exhibition in Southampton with Show Me The World Mister. Work at the John Hansard Gallery, part of the University of Southampton, includes two new films alongside a series of new prints and archival imagery building on the artist’s continued interest in history, placemaking, legacy, economics, and power.
Filmed on location, The Fist and Faluyi are her most ambitious and prevailing productions to date. The Fist is an intimate portrait of a modernist style factory – the first Guinness brewery built outside of the UK and Ireland. The factory is a site where interwoven histories of industrialisation and labour are brought into focus. Observing the daily activity of workers and the factory’s assembly lines, Ayo acutely highlights the deep-rooted politics embedded in the beverage’s production.
Faluyi follows Ife as she embarks on a meditative journey tracing familial legacy and mysticism within ancestral land. It was made in the Idanre Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the birthplace of Akingbade’s parents.
Show Me The World Mister runs until September 9 at the John Hansard Gallery (jhg.art).
A small ferry links Southampton with Hythe where you can get on the longest-operating public pier railway in the world. Driven by hand, the rickety carriages of this 2,100-foot-long pier railroad are pulled by two miniature electric locomotives, which began their relentless rattlings along the wooden boardwalk in 1922. It sounds nostalgic and quaint but the railway was originally built for a First World War mustard gas factory in 1917, then moved to the Hythe Pier when the war ended.
Ride above the gently lapping waves of the estuary to connect to the ferry service (hytheferry.co.uk).
Feel inspired? Take a look at our Hampshire hotels to make a stay of it.
9. STAY TUNED
The team behind Tunes in the Dunes at Perranporth in Cornwall and Tunes on the Sands at Devon’s Blackpool Sands are dipping their toes in the water again, returning to the Port Eliot Estate in Cornwall for the second year running with their newest festival, Tunes in the Parks.
The estate, at St Germans near Saltash, is a pretty spot overlooking the River Lynher – the perfect backdrop for a Bank Holiday weekend of entertainment. There’s wellbeing and yoga, lots of food and drink and an area especially for younger visitors. But the main attraction is, of course, the music. The Lost Treehouse stage offers Ibiza vibes and there’s a Second Stage with smaller acts, local talent and DJ sets.
All eyes will be on the main stage where the party starts on Friday night with Bad Manners, Land of the Giants and headliners Kaiser Chiefs. Saturday is guaranteed to be fun with Eurovision star Sam Ryder and The Kooks and Sunday sees Newton Faulkner as support to Sister Sledge who will bring the event to a close with a set of disco greats including the anthems Lost in Music and We Are Family.
Camping and glamping is available – for tickets and information, go to tunesinthepark.com.
It’s worth returning to Port Eliot outside of the festival dates to see the beautiful Grade I listed priory and house. It was remodelled by Sir John Soane in the 18th century and the gardens and park were created by the renowned landscape gardener Humphrey Repton. Gardens are open daily (check website for times) and you can also pre-book house tours – which include a remarkable mural by artist the late Robert Lenkiewicz. porteliot.co.uk
10. PAINTERS’ PARADISE
Pittenweem in the East Neuk of Fife is modest but it is home to around 30 artists and craft designers. In 1982 several of these resident artists got together to start an arts festival. Each August since then it has grown to include 100 or so artists and makers from all over Britain who exhibit in houses, studios, galleries and public spaces throughout the village.
Around 20,000 visitors over the eight days of the festival will see a wide variety of exhibitions, workshops, talks, children’s events and evening performances, all related to the arts. This area of Fife’s coastline is renowned as a painters’ paradise, with the wide vista of sea and sky contrasting with the close knit cottages and steep stone wynds going down to the harbour. It’s a beautiful area to explore with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The festival takes place August 5-12. pittenweemartsfestival.co.uk
Just a mile up the coast from Pittenweem is the pretty harbour of Anstruther. Once a thriving fishing village, the industry may have shrunk but the love of the sea is still evident. Among the historic buildings of the harbour is the Scottish Fisheries Museum. You’ll find artefacts including boats and gear but also items connected to the culture of fishermen’s lives, their customs and dress. scotfishmuseum.org
It’s no mystery – the International Agatha Christie Festival centred around the author’s birthplace of Torquay is a crowd-pleaser with a programme of events to celebrate the Queen of Crime. The English Riviera – often the inspiration for many a murderous tale – has a quirky selection of performances and talks to fascinate the author’s many fans.
You can dine at Dame Agatha’s home of Greenway, overlooking the River Dart, enjoy the music of The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers (led by Wire in the Blood and Karen Pirie creator Val McDermid on vocals), visit the Underground Film Festival at Kents Cavern, discover Agatha’s love of archaeology and learn all about the cocktails in her novels. Ann Cleeves (Vera, Shetland) is at the festival on September 16 at Torre Abbey. The festival is September 8-17. Full information at iacf-uk.org.