To the south of Brixham are the twin towns of Dartmouth and Kingswear which sit facing one another on opposite sides of the River Dart where it meets the sea. A ferry has been known to link the two settlements since at least the 14th century, and today ferries play an important role on this part of the Dart with two vehicle ferries continually crossing the river, with the larger higher ferry forming part of the A379 connecting Brixham to Dartmouth and beyond.
Demonstrating the strategic importance of Dartmouth's deepwater harbour, two castles can still be seen today standing guard at the entrance to the estuary. On the south side is the impressive Dartmouth Castle which has been standing guard on its rocky promontory since the 14th century, and on the north side, its sister castle built in the 16th century. A chain was once fixed from the castles across the entrance to the river, supposedly to stop enemy ships entering during times of war, however, local rumour suggested it was more often used to stop merchant ships leaving before they had paid their taxes!
The town retains many charming features from its medieval past, including narrow winding lanes, steep stone stairways, and many historic buildings, including the Cherubs public house in Higher Street (dating from 1380), the historic Royal Castle Hotel (1639) and the Butterwalk (1635).