This walk takes you from the eclectic ‘hippy’ town of Totnes, along the River Dart, past some cute quaint villages, before finishing in the wonderfully attractive village of Dittisham. When in Dittisham, you can relax with a drink and bite to eat in the Ferry Boat in, before ringing the big bell to catch a little boat across the water to Greenway. Or catch the marginally bigger boat to take you over to Dartmouth.
I did this walk as part of my quest to walk the whole of the Dart Valley Trail. I had already walked the Dartmouth to Dittisham section, so this was the last piece of the puzzle.
I walked a part of the Dart Valley trail, from Totnes to Sharpham 3 weeks ago, so I was interested to see if anything had changed. We are on the cusp of a season change. Back then, spring had just started, but is was yet to fully arrive.
What to expect on the Totnes to Dittisham walk
You will be walking through the valley along the riverside, mostly on dirt trail, but sometimes some country road. You will also walk through fields and pass through the villages of Ashprington, Tuckenhay and Cornworthy. For some sections you will have a gorgeous view of the surrounding hills, other times you will be in woodland.
There are two sections where you are offered an alternate route. This is due to the water levels. When the tide is low, you can walk over the stepping stones, and along the river bed. At high tide, these areas are not accessible. I will show you when I describe the walk below. As luck would have it, it was low tide for me, so I got to do the fun stuff.
The walk also takes you right through a farm. This is where I ran into trouble. The cows were loose. I got cornered by them and was stuck for a good 45min. I’m not gonna lie, it was a little traumatising, the way they were aggressively mooing at me.
Logistics for the Totnes to Dittisham walk
- Start: Totnes
- Finish: Dittisham
- How to get there: Located in South Devon. Totnes is on the Great Western Railway line, so that’s easy. Dittisham is a little more tricky. There are no buses, so your best bet is to get a boat to take you to Dartmouth where you will have more options. From Dartmouth, the number 91 bus will get you back to Totnes, or on certain days there is a boat to Totnes. Or you could make the walk longer and walk to Dartmouth (see tips).
- Distance: 9 miles
- Time: A bit over 3 hours
- Difficulty: Medium
- Elevation: Highest point is 416m. Total elevation gain is 400m
- Terrain: Road/country lanes, dirt trail, grass, river bed, stepping stones.
- Amenities: Everything at Totnes, a pub and cafe at Dittisham. A pub in both Ashprington and Tuckenhay.
- Time of year: It was spring when I did this walk
Tips for the Totnes to Dittisham walk
- Try to time it for low tide (or just not high tide), so you can walk the stepping stones.
- In Dittisham, stop off in the Ferry Boat in for a drink and bite to eat
- For some history (and pretty gardens) catch the little boat over to Greenway (from Dittisham), where you will find Agatha Christie’s home.
- To catch the boat to Greenway, you ring the big bell by the pub and go and stand on the pier. The little boat will come and pick you up. At the time of writing, it costs £2.50.
- If you have it in you, you could lengthen the walk, and walk over to Dartmouth. It’s only a few extra miles.
- Following on from the above point, if you want to walk to Dartmouth, on this side of the river, it’s very challenging. You will have a never ending uphill. I would suggesting going over to Greenway and walking to Kingswear. It’s a much easier route. In Kingswear you can catch a boat over to Dartmouth.
- I know with all the boat crossings, it sounds like a faff, but don’t worry, it isn’t at all. The boat crossings are very regular, short and cheap. They are much more regular than buses out here.
Map for the Totnes to Dittisham walk
More walk ideas near Totnes and Dittisham will be at the end
A Guide To The Totnes To Dittisham Walk
To start the walk from Totnes to Dittisham, you need to find the river. It’s not hard. It’s at the bottom of the high street in Totnes.
Top Tip: On the main road at the bottom of the high street, stop for coffee at the Curator. One thing I miss about London, is a good coffee shop (for any coffee snobs out there). This is the best one I have found in all of South Devon. If you get a cappuccino, ask for chocolate on top. They use the most divine dark chocolate shavings.
Walk to the start of the Dart Valley Trail
If you stand facing the river from the bottom of the high street, turn right, and follow the main road. Keep going past a few colourful houses, then turn right past the white coloured house. There should be a trail signpost there.
Then a short way up, take the trail on the left. This will lead you uphill, along the back of some houses, and a bit further along, you will start to get views along the valley.
Keep going, then go through the gate at the end, and the trail will zig zag you downhill. At the bottom turn right to walk alongside the River Dart.
Walk through the woods
The trail will now lead you into some woods, where you will remain for some time, with occasional peaks of the river to the left.
For this bit of the walk from Totnes to Dittisham, you will leave the woods a couple of times to walk along the bottom of a field, before going back into woods. I was hoping that things would be more leafy by now. But they weren’t. If anything, it felt more dead. It was a gloomy day, all the colours seemed muted.
On (I think) the third exit from the woods, you will be in a big hill field with 3 trail options. One at the very top, one along the middle, then one at the bottom. All of them will work.
On a previous walk, I had tried the top trail and the bottom trail, so today I took the middle.
I think the middle is my favourite. The bottom one, you don’t have any views, the top one has views, but it’s a very civilised path. The middle one has both the views and more of a nature path (grass and dirt).
Walk to Sharpham
If you took the top trail, keep going straight to reach the gate. If you took one of the others, when you reach the path, turn left to go through the gate.
Through here you will have a few options. For this walk, take the left one which points to Sharpham House. This will take you on a gradual uphill, where you will start to get the best views so far on the Totnes to Dittisham walk.
As you near the end, look out for a trail on the right, which runs alongside the road. There is a sign for Ashprington here.
Sharpham is straight ahead and down. It’s a cheese place. There was a time you could visit and sample some cheese, however, they have now shut to visitors and are moving their visitor place somewhere else.
Walk to Ashprington
So, no Sharpham cheese on this walk I’m afraid. To walk to Ashrpington, take the right trail up a steep uphill.
Last time I was here, 3 weeks ago, there was a fantastic cherry blossom tree in full bloom. Today it was no more. That’s how short their lifespan is. I got really lucky with my timing last time.
Of course, as you get higher up, the views get even better, and I also had some cows today.
When you reach the main road, turn right.
I mentioned earlier that things had been feeling more dead and gloomy than the last time I walked here 3 weeks ago, but I was really pleased to see the house down the valley on the left was still surrounded by colourful bush tree things.
Past the pillars a bit further along, you should see a trail on the left of the road. Go along there, and keep going. Eventually you will be forced back onto the road for the last little bit to reach Ashprington.
Walk through Ashprington
Ashprington is a cute little village with a wonderfull view of the hills ahead in the distance. Walk straight through, and when you reach a junction with a trail sign pointing left, you stay right.
You are going to be walking on country road for a bit, but it was surprisingly lovely. So lovely in fact, that at one point there was even a view point bench by the road.
At the bottom you will walk past some stone and flint walls and a thatched roofed cottage, and you will then need to decided wether to go left or right. There is a signpost here. The Dart Valley Trail arrow points right, but the sign also says you can go left via the stepping stones at low tide.
I had to go left. I couldn’t miss a stepping stone opportunity.
Walk across the stepping stones and along to Tuckenhay
If you timed the walk from Totnes to Dittisham for low tide, turn left to walk over the stepping stones.
On the other side, turn left on the main road to walk to and through the village of Tuckenhay. Stay on the main road, and you will walk past the Malsters Arms pub.
You get a lovely river view along here, and will walk past some thatched roofed cottages. Oh and btw, this is now the Harbourne River, a branch of the River Dart.
Walk to Bow Wood
When you reach the little bridge, go over it, and a short way along you should see a trail signpost on the left, to take you back along the other side of the river.
After a bit of trail and tree root walking, you will reach a wooden gate that says Bow Wood. Go in and walk along the bottom of the hill field, alongside the river.
You will be led from a dirt trail, onto a more gravelly trail. Then at the junction, take the steps down on the left.
Walk to the river bed…or not
At the next big junction, you will have two options. If it’s low tide, you can go left. Otherwise go right. I really wish I had gone right. Not because of the river bed. That bit was fine. It was the cows. The cows are a bit later on, but I would have avoided their territory if I had gone right.
Note: I didn’t encounter the cows in a field. They were loose around the farm building. So you might have more luck, and they will be in their field.
If you choose to go right, I don’t know the route, so have fun. If you choose to go left, follow the path to reach the green next to the river and walk along it. I was actually a bit confused at this point. I thought this is what was supposed to be the inaccessible bit at high tide. It didn’t look like this ground was under water for part of the day (I later discovered that the river bed bit actually comes later on).
The trail will then take you through some trees, up a few steps, then along the bottom of a field, and then onto a woodland riverside trail.
Way, way further along you will reach the river bed. It’s so far along that you want to be absolutely sure the tide is out, because when you get here, if it’s impassable, then it’s a long way back to take the other route.
You can check out the tide times for the Totnes to Dittisham walk here.
Walk along the river bed
This bit is potentially slippy, and a bit wet. It’s only a short while before you reach the bigger field through the gate, and are back on dry ground. In the distance along the river, you will have a lovely view to some riverside cottages.
At the end of the field, you will find a tree swing. Have a play if you want. The gate ahead says private, so you need to turn right to walk with the hedge to your left.
Walk uphill towards the farm
The grassy hill trail, leads you onto a wide dirt trail lined with hedges. It’s a bit of an uphill walk here.
When you reach the junction, turn right to walk uphill some more, and you will reach the farm. The first group of cows were minding their own business by the shed on the left. It was interesting actually. It looked like there were all queuing up for something.
I could see one cow sitting down up ahead. Nothing to worry about, so I kept going…..
The cow stand off
Then the cow ahead started making moo noises, and more cows appeared. They formed a group blocking my path through the farm.
There was a partial wooden fence up ahead, so I went and stood behind it. When I say partial wooden fence, I mean just that. It’s connected to a bit of bush and the fence outlining the field on the right.
The cows all stood there looking at me. Making very aggressive moo noises. Some started walking closer so I tucked myself into the corner of the partial fence. All they needed to do was walk around it. I hoped they were stupid enough to not realise. Then I saw a nose ring. I looked down and saw the testicles. A bull.
I heard a noise to my right, and suddenly saw more cows starring at me from field.
As I said, it was probably a good 45 min stand off. I couple of times, I slowly started to move thinking I could make my way around them, but they would moo louder, and walk closer. I was trapped.
I realised that movement made them more lively, so I then tried to keep absolutely still, and looked down to avoid eye contact. Eventually some started to get bored and made their way into the field. But one of them was not giving up. She stood herself in the middle of the path which leads through the farm. Blocking my escape….
Walk through the farm
As you probably know, I made it out alive. That cow eventually gave up and went into the field. While her back was turned I quickly rushed through. I didn’t want her to turn around and see me and start chasing.
Now the next bit is potentially confusing. Through the gap in the buildings, you want to go left. When I was there, there was a string across it, making you think it’s no entry. This is the way, so if the string is there, just crouch under it.
When you reach the road, turn left, then at the end, follow the sign pointing left to Dittisham.
I didn’t take any photos for this bit as I was still quite traumatised
Walk along the country lanes
You will be walking on country lanes for a bit. Always risky, but I found these ones to be pretty car quiet.
Then when you reach the next junction, instead of following the sign left to Dittisham, walk straight across, following the sign to Broadgates.
You will continue on more country road, sometimes with a view, sometimes surround by tall hedges. The road will then turn to dirt and you will be surrounded by more greenery and then trees.
When you reach the junction with a big wooden signpost, turn left to walk along a track which is more open.
Walk to East Cornworthy
I think there is another junction coming up. I can’t recall which way, but there will be a Dart Valley Trail sticker. Follow the way it says to go. This will take you along a road again to reach a small village.
Then at the next junction, the sign for Dittisham points right. You go left. This will lead you down the road, and past a sign that says East Cornworthy, and then some cute little houses.
You will then walk uphill along the road, and you need to look out for the trail through the wooden gate on the right.
Through the gate, you will be in woods, then a bit further along it becomes pretty magical….Along a trail lined with wild garlic. Obviously this is time of year dependant. If you can, time this walk from Totnes to Dittisham for wild garlic season. You can thank me later.
At the end, and through a gate, the trail runs along the side of a hill field.
At this point I wasn’t feeling good. I felt weak, hungry and a little nauseas. I hadn’t eaton yet. Plus the come down after that adrenaline from the cow encounter earlier. So I took this moment to take a break, have some snacks, and admire the view below.
The final stretch of the Totnes to Dittisham walk
Across this hill field and over the stile, it’s down a few steps, and then across the wooden bridge.
Next turn left on the road. I was feeling better at this point, after some food and rest, and now seeing a super cute riverside cottage. I could sense that I was approaching Dittisham, and Dittisham makes me happy. It’s such a cute little place with colourful buildings and lots of boats.
You will be walking uphill now, and the higher you get, the better the views become. Then it hit me. The tide is out. Does this mean I won’t be able to cross the river to Greenway? Will the water level be too low? If it’s fully out, I guess I could walk across couldn’t I? I would have to wait until I got there to find out.
There will be a junction, but keep to the right, following the Dart Valley Trail sign, and you will start to walk past more houses. Then at the church, follow the road to the right, then take the road that runs left next to the post office.
A short way further along, look out for an almost hidden trail signpost pointing left.
Follow this down, and the trail will become narrow as it leads you along the side of a hedge and then big field, with a lovely view down to the River Dart. The river was looking more present over there. This was a good sign.
When you reach a mini junction with a footpath sign, follow it between some hedges, then turn right at the end to walk on a lovely path lined with a mix of hedge and stone wall, passing by some more houses.
At the end, turn left and walk downhill to the harbour and all the colourful Dittisham buildings.
More walks near Totnes and Dittisham
Dartmouth Dittisham circular walk – The other section of the Dart Valley Trail. This is a fantastic walk taking you along both sides of the river with a potential steam train encounter. Of the two Dart Valley Trail walks, this is my favourite.
Totnes to Dartington – This takes you along the River Dart in the other direction. You will walk around the Dartington Country Park, sometimes in open fields, sometimes in impressive woodland to reach the cider press centre.
Totnes to Sharpham – The Totnes to Dittisham walk takes you to Sharpham first, so you will have done it. What the Totnes Sharpham walk shows you is an alternate route to walk back on, to make it circular.
For a more detailed comparison, you can read about the best walks from Totnes.