For a small river, the Dart makes a big impression. Rising from the blanket bogs of Dartmoor, it slips under clapper bridges, rushes through the Dart Gorge, becomes tidal at Totnes, and then flows elegantly past three castles to the sea at Dartmouth.
The peaceful wooded banks between Kingswear and Greenway really come into their own at this time of year. The 12.4-mile Dart Valley Trail is a linear walk that joins Totnes and Dartmouth, but that is a long trek on an autumn day. This shorter circular walk includes ferry crossings at Dartmouth and Dittisham and offers outstanding views.
Wander through ancient oak woodland, explore a mysterious creek and catch glimpses of riverside life in this otherwise hidden landscape. The 8.8-mile circular route includes rough terrain, stiles and several steep sections. Refreshments are available at Dartmouth, Kingswear and Dittisham.
Dartmouth to Dittisham walk
8.8 miles/14.2km | 5 hours | moderate
1. Steaming start
From Mayors Avenue Car Park in Dartmouth (TQ6 9NF), take the passenger ferry to Kingswear. Opposite Kingswear Village Stores, turn left down steps, then right through the boatyard. Follow the path beside the Dartmouth Steam Railway.
2. Woods aplenty
Cross the railway at the Higher Ferry crossing. Follow the Dart Valley Trail signs up the road, then quickly right, up steps and through the wood. Turn left at the lane, then cross the main road carefully. Take the permissive footpaths through Noss Plantation and Longwood until you reach the lane at Higher Greenway.
3. Dazzling dart
Turn left towards Maypool, and then enter a field via a gate. Enjoy the stunning river views and surrounding autumn countryside as you follow the Dart Valley Trail signs down to Greenway Quay.
4. To the beacon
Take the ferry to Dittisham then head up the steep hill before turning left on to Rectory Lane. Follow the Dart Valley Trail past more river views then uphill through fields to meet another lane near Fire Beacon Hill. Spot the Beacon as you pass.
5. Dartmouth descent
Walk down the lane past Bozomzeal, then across fields and down a green lane to Old Mill Creek. Cross the bridge, then follow the steep lane up until you meet houses, eventually crossing the A379 above Dartmouth. Follow the Dart Valley Trail signs or walk down the main road back to the waterfront where refreshments and more views of the river await.
Dartmouth to Dittisham map
River Dart ferry times
Dartmouth to Kingswear Passenger Ferry
First departure: 07:30
Last departure: 18:50
Price: £1.50 (adult),
Greenway Quay to Dittisham Passenger Ferry
First departure: 09:00 (summer), 09:30 (winter)
Last departure: 17:00 (summer), 16:00 (winter)
Price: £2 (adult),
Words: Fi Darby