This circular walk takes you from Dartmouth, across the river to Kingswear, along the River Dart to Greenway and Dittisham, then back on the other side of the river. What makes this walk unique is you will have 2 river crossings. First from Dartmouth to Kinsgwear, and then from Greenway to Dittisham. You don’t cross over on a bridge though. You do it by boat. The Dartmouth to Kinsgwear crossing is a regular old boat. The next crossing is the special one though. You have to ring the bell, and a little boat comes and picks you up to take you across.
This is the second time I have done the circular Dartmouth to Dittisham walk. The first time was almost a year to the day. That time, I did the walk in the opposite direction and it didn’t quite go to plan. I took some wrong turns and ended up on the shore line. It was low tide so I was able to walk along it….then things got hairy.
What happened the first time around….
There came a point when there wasn’t any ground to walk on. It was the river to one side, and the slither of bank to the other. I found myself scrambling along the side, hanging onto the trees.
In a normal situation I would have turned back. But in this case I was too far gone. The only way was forward.
I wasn’t alone though. I had met a guy doing the same route somewhere further back so we tried to figure it out together.
What was the walk from Dartmouth to Dittisham like?
Before doing the walk the first time around, I had read about it. It seems to be quite a famous walk around here. I had read about how it’s the best in the area. I’m always sceptical of claims like that. The word ‘best’ is often used as clickbait.
Having now done it, I can tell you that those claims aren’t a stretch. This really is one of the best walks I have done down here.
I said I would come back and do it again to write about. This time following the correct trail. And 51 weeks later, I came back and did it.
What will you see on the Dartmouth to Dittisham walk?
You have a mix of woodland, crazy steep hills, jaw dropping views, a cute colourful village, a beautiful harbour town, 2 river crossings on a boat, and a walk alongside the steam train railway. You will also walk through the gardens of Agatha Christie’s home.
That cute colourful village I mention is Dittisham. It’s a truly unspoiled little river side settlement, with a local pub, and apparently one of the best places to go crabbing in Devon. Some say it’s the most attractive village down here. I won’t dispute that.
Is the Dartmouth to Dittisham walk easy to follow?
Yes. Sort of. As I said, the first time around I got lost. I can show you the exact moment I took a wrong turn, and then after that I was in the dark. You see, the route follows the Dart Valley trail, and its 99% well signposted. Once I took that wrong turn, there were no more signs, so anything went.
How to cross the river on the boats?
The boat crossings are super easy. For the Dartmouth, Kingswear crossing, you want to take the lower ferry. You should see the pier from the town centre. Just go and stand on it, on the left end, and wait. They run very regularly, every day except Christmas Day, and at the time of writing costs £1.50 one way. They only accept cash on the boat, but they are also very trusting and let you go to the cafe on the other side to go and pay by contactless if you don’t have cash.
For the Greenway to Dittisham crossing, the is a big bell by the water. Go and ring it, and wait. The little boat will come for you. At the time of writing, it’s £2 to cross. They only accept contactless payment. No cash. The boat man has a card machine. This boat runs every day except Xmas and Boxing day.
You can even get a boat to take you between Dittisham and Dartmouth. You can read more about the boats here.
Which direction should you do the Dartmouth to Dittisham walk?
As it’s a circular walk, you can go in either direction, and I have done both.
The first time I did the walk, I walked clockwise, Dartmouth to Dittisham, then Greenway to Kingswear. This time I walked anti-clockwise, Kingswear to Greenway, then Dittisham to Dartmouth.
Each direction has it’s pros and cons, so I will tell you about them and you can decide which way you want to go:
Walk anticlockwise, Kingswear to Greenway then Dittisham to Dartmouth
- The Kingswear to Greenway side is dominated by woodland, the other side has all the views. So it might be nice to save the views for later. Something to look forward to.
- The start of this direction is along the railway track. So you could time the start of the walk for when a steam train is due to pass by. If you walk in the other direction, you won’t be able to time it.
- The end of the walk back into Dartmouth is on a long not very nice busy road, however, it’s downhill the whole way and you get a nice view to the water and boats. If you are walking in the other direction, it’s uphill with no views.
- I found this direction much easier to follow. From the beginning, it’s very well signposted.
Walk clockwise from Dartmouth to Dittisham, then Greenway to Kingswear
- The Dartmouth Dittisham side is way more hilly, so you may want to get the hills done and out of the way first.
- Following on from the above point, if you are planning a big pub stop in Dittisham, I would do the walk in this direction. So that the rest of the walk back to Kingswear and Dartmouth is easier. You may feel a bit sluggish after eating and drinking. If you are walking anticlockwise, then straight from Dittisham, it’s a long long never ending uphill slog.
- Walking in this direction, I found it slightly harder to follow and I had to refer to my map a lot more. You also know that didn’t work out.
- The start of the walk is on that long not very nice road. You will be walking uphill for a long way with nothing nice to look at. If you are going in the other direction, at least it’s downhill with a sort of nicer view.
Which way did I prefer?
If I was to go out and do it again, I would walk clockwise, purely to get the big hills out of the way first. But that’s only because I have already done it, got to walk past the steam train, plus I now know the route so won’t get lost.
However, if it’s your first time, I would walk anti-clockwise. You can time the start for a steam train passing, you are unlikely to get lost, and over at Greenway, whilst you wait for the boat to come and get you, you can sit and admire the view of Dittisham across the water.
Plus, if you start the walk clockwise, that not very nice walk out of Dartmouth doesn’t set a nice tone for the walk.
Logistics for the Dartmouth to Dittisham walk
- Start/Finish: Dartmouth or Kingswear
- How to get there: Dartmouth is located in South Devon. You either need a car or to get the bus. Bus number 92 gets you from Totnes to Dartmouth. Totnes is on the Great Western Train line. If you are staying in Paignton or Brixham, you can get a bus to Kingswear. Bus number 120 and 18 respectively.
- Distance: 8.8 miles. I didn’t track the river crossing parts, so let’s say it’s 9 miles.
- Time: 3h10min
- Elevation: Highest point is about 157m. You will walk uphill a total of about 475m
- Difficulty: Challenging
- Option to shorten to the walk: From Dittisham, you can get a boat to take you back to Dartmouth.
- Terrain: Dirt trail, some road, grass.
- Amenities: Everything at Dartmouth. A couple of pubs, a little cafe next to the railway and some public toilets at Kingswear. At Dittisham you have the Ferry Boat Inn and the Anchorstone Cafe, that’s it.
- Time of year: Early spring
Tips for the Dartmouth to Dittisham walk
- Wear hiking boots. There are some steep bits on uneven ground.
- Following on from above, it looks like it could get muddy during rainy periods. Actually, even when I did the walk, there was a bit of trail that looked like it was trying to be a river. Make those boots waterproof.
- If you have the energy, stop off for a wander around the gardens of Agatha Christie’s house.
- Be wary of bus times if you are travelling in from outside Dartmouth and Kinsgwear. At the time of writing, the bus from Paignton is every 2 hours and doesn’t run on Sunday. The bus from Totnes runs like twice or something on a Sunday (it’s fine on other days though). I came in from Totnes and learnt this the hard way. Not on this walk though. It was the next days walk from Kingswear.
Map for the Dartmouth to Dittisham walk
Note: I paused my tracker whilst I waited for the boat at Dittisham. I forgot to start it again until I crossed. That’s why there is a gap. But I promise, I did cross the river.
More walk ideas near Dartmouth and Dittisham will be at the end, with links to the full guides.
A Guide To The Dartmouth To Dittisham Walk
Starting from Dartmouth, you need to jump on the boat to take you over to Kingswear. As I said, they are very regular…more regular than buses. Once on the other side, walk onto the main road and turn left. You will walk past some of the colourful houses on your right and the harbour and railway line to your left.
Walk alongside the railway
When you reach the gap in the wall, turn left through it, to walk across the bridge over the railway track. On the other side, walk along the path that runs next to the railway, and keep going straight. This is a nice little section, railway to your right and the river and boats to your left.
If you timed it right, a steam train will pass by. Maybe say choo choo as it passes.
The first steep uphill
When you reach the road, keep going straight, and look out for the steps on the right of it. Go up them, and then turn right where you will have a steep but short uphill walk through the woods. When you reach the top, turn left onto the track.
The road crossings
You will be under woods still, but then things open up for some nice views to the river, and a sign warning of dangerous pine cones.
Next you hit the first of two roads. You need to go straight across it to pick up the trail, but I want to warn you of this road, because you will be right on a blind bend. So be extra carful and listen out for cars. After the road, it’s a short downhill bit through woods again to reach the next road. This next road is a dead end one, so it’s quiet. Go straight across it and into the woods again.
The Long Woods
You will now be in woodland for almost the rest of the walk to Greenway. The woods are actually called Long Woods. I wonder if this is why.
It’s a dirt trail, which is mostly flat but has a few steep hills. It’s very well signposted, but at the time of writing I found one turn which didn’t have a sign. From memory, it’s a T-Junction at the top of the first steep uphill. You turn left at this T-Junction.
At first when walking through the woods, you will have the occasional peak of the water down to your left, but then as you get higher up, and deeper in, there are no views.
Walk out of the woods towards Greenway Gardens
You will know the woods are nearing their end when you start to get peaks of views again. When you reach a junction with this sign (photo below) turn right to go through the gate, and then downhill.
At the bottom, turn right, and at the end you will see a signpost for Greenway Gardens. Follow it.
You will first be walking on a bit of road between houses, then left onto a more established road, which then becomes a dirt trail. At the end, you will walk through a gate to a big open hill field with a gorgeous view down to the river on your left.
I mentioned at the beginning that all the views are on the Dartmouth Dittisham side of the walk, however, the exception is this bit (and the next bit about to come) I don’t have a photo to show you this bit as the sun was directly in frame and the photos are un-usable. You just have to imagine.
Walk the final stretch of the Kingswear Greenway side of the walk
Walk across the top of this hill field, then at the bench and gate on the right, go through it and walk up the hill. At first you don’t see anything but hill and sky, but when you reach the top, oh my gosh. Everything opens up for a fantastic view down the valley to the River Dart and villages.
Walk down to the bottom of the hill, where you will have 3 options.
- Walk straight to the Greenway river crossing following the Dart Valley trail
- Walk to the Greenway river crossing, a different more scenic way.
- Explore the gardens first.
Today I did option 1. Option 2 is the way I walked last time.
On the road, turn right (Dart Valley Trail signposts should be there to guide you). When you walk past the lodge, take the immediate bend back on the left. Follow this road all the way down to the river. This is the least interesting option. But it’s the official one.
This is a much more scenic route on a dirt trail through the woods. It also allows you to see the gardens a little.
From the road at the bottom of the hill, turn left, then at the fork, keep right. You should be walking past some lovely flowers. Somewhere along here, around the corner, there will be a trail to your right. Take that, and it will lead you all the way down to the Greenway river crossing.
Cross over the river from Greenway to Dittisham
You will get a lovely view across the river to the colourful buildings of Dittisham. It’s like Dartmouth and Kingswear but much cuter and smaller. You should see a very obvious big bell by the river. Go and ring it and wait. The little boat will come for you. If you have been waiting for a while and it hasn’t come, then ring it again.
Walk from Dittisham to Dartmouth
Now things get tough. It’s a long long walk uphill. First on road, up past the village houses, then turn left on the hairpin bend to continue walking uphill some more.
Top tip: Make sure to look back for a lovely view down the road to the river.
Near the end, you should see a trail signpost directing you right, onto the trail. Now you have some more uphill. Further up, there will be a gate and stile on the left.
Go through here. And guess what? You have even more uphill. It’s up here that you start to get those fantastic breathtaking far reaching views back down the valley.
Continue walking up
Keep to the edge of the field, and follow it through the gate/stile into another field. Keep going along the edge through I think another gate/stile. Basically keep going until you reach the road. All the while going uphill.
Follow the road past Bozomzeal and to views out to the sea
Turn left on the road, and you will walk past some farm land, and maybe farm smells. You will walk past a little community of cute houses of Bozomzeal. Then just past here, take the right fork in the road. Then a bit further along, take the right at the next fork.
This will take you into a field, which you now walk across.
When you walk across this field, you will start to get views over to Dartmouth and the sea. Actually, what you can see is Kingswear.
At the end, there are two paths, separated by hedge. Pick the right one. When you reach the junction, turn right (left photo below). Follow this and through the gate at the end (right photo).
Walk through the lush woods and ‘river’
You will now descend into woodland. Deeper in, the woods have a real tropical lush feel. I remember these woods very clearly from the last time I did the Dartmouth to Dittisham walk. These aren’t like normal English woods.
It’s also along here that I found myself walking downhill on a bit of path covered in a layer of water streaming down. I wondered what this must be like if there has been fresh rain. This is why I suggest waterproof shoes. Just incase.
As you near the bottom, you will come across a junction with an information board on your left. This is where it all went wrong last time. I took the left trail.
Top tip: If you have lots of energy and don’t want to finish the walk yet, if you turn left here, it’s a really lovely walk through the woods and then some uphill to a big open green hill with fantastic views onto the river.
If you are tired and want to walk straight back to Dartmouth, then keep going down this main trail.
The river cottage, another big uphill, and the road
The trail becomes road as it leads you down to the river, to a little river side cottage and bridge. Go over the bridge and walk to the right of the cottage, and follow the road up as it curves to the left.
You now have a long uphill on road for almost the remainder of the walk. You do occasionally get some lovely views over to the left though.
The final stretch of the Dartmouth to Dittisham circular walk
Things will level off as you walk through a housing area. But don’t be fooled, the trail isn’t this kind to you. Now you have some steps. At the bend where you see a dead end sign on the side road (see left photo below), go along it and up the steps a bit further along, which should bring you out next to the castle looking building (right photo).
Follow the road directly across from it, and at the big main road, turn left to walk downhill all the way to Dartmouth.
More walks near Dartmouth and Dittisham
For a detailed side by side look, you can read about the best walking trails around Dartmouth, and the Brixham walk guides (which is very near Dartmouth). Or for a quick look at a selection, see below.
Totnes to Dittisham is the other section of the Dart Valley Trail. Of the two, I definitely preferred the Dartmouth to Dittisham walk. This one isn’t bad at all though. My view of it was probably tainted because I had a scary cow encounter.
Little Dartmouth circular is a lovely little walk taking around around the peninsula of Dartmouth. You get lovely views in both directions. It’s not too challenging, but a good walk to give you the views and nature without tiring yourself out for the day.
Dartmouth Castle walk is one to do if you want to keep it chill, as it is very easy and simple. You get a lovely river view, walk past Dartmouth Castle, and along to a little hidden beach cove.
Dartmouth to Blackpool Sands walk takes you in the other direction from Dartmouth, along the coastline, past an interesting post box, and finishes at Blackpool Sands beach.
Kingswear to Brixham is not a walk for the faint hearted. This is a very challenging, insanely hilly walk. You can expect those fantastic coastline views in both directions and will probably find yourself on long stretches without anyone else around. Not many people are crazy enough to walk the full stretch. From Brixham it’s a short bus journey back down to Kingswear and Dartmouth.
Daymark circular is a shortened, taster version of the full walk from Kingswear too Brixham. That doesn’t mean it’s easy though. It’s also hilly, but as it’s shorter, much more manageable. It’s not a consolation walk though, as you are still rewarded with fantastic views.