herons rest to dittisham via kingswear and dartmouth

dart valley trail

saturday, 4th may 2019

thursday, 9th may 2019

When I attempted this walk on Saturday I kept running out of Dart Valley Trail signs and so kept getting lost and ended up walking miles out of my way. I attempted the walk again on Thursday and made my way all around without getting lost this time. This account is an amalgamation of both walks but based on not going wrong.

The weather forecast looks pretty good today with sunshine all day long but I don’t like the look of those northerly winds which should make for a pretty chilly day.

Greenway Quay high tide 07:10

Greenway Quay low tide 12:58

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I start the day at our holiday cottage, Herons Rest, set high above the River Dart and Dartmouth. I leave the cottage and head along the road before heading along a track beside some cottages.

the view from herons rest

I walk alongside a field of wheat before climbing a stile which takes me into Long Wood which is largely owned by the National Trust. The wildflowers in the hedgerows are looking at their finest.

Near to the start of Long Wood I come across a patch of dreaded Japanese knotweed. It’s only a small patch but I wonder how long it will take to spread.

long wood

japanese knotweed

I amble down through the wood enjoying the masses of bluebells and other wildflowers and I have fleeting views of the River Dart and its creeks.

view over the river dart

I leave the wood and briefly join the road down to Noss. Phillip and Son Shipyard used to be located here until 1999 and is now the home to Noss Marina. Swallows are flying all around the marina.

noss marina

The shipyard was attacked by German bombers on the 18th of September 1942, killing 20 men and women who were building military vessels to assist in the war effort. There should be a memorial stone here in honour of the people who lost their lives during the bombing but I failed to find it.


Frederick Clarence Adams, aged 22
John Richard Ash, aged 21
David Bott, aged 29
Jack George Charles Bustin, aged 52
Rosie Annie Crang, aged 20
Thomas Farr, aged 58
Richard Franklin, aged 26
Lionel Edgar Holden, aged 44
Walter Lewis, aged 40
George Herbert Frank Little, aged 17
Henry James Luckhurst, aged 70
John Martin, aged 48
Ernest Poole, aged 51
Sydney James Alfred Pope, aged 17
Hubert Ernest William Putt, aged 37
Ewart Edgar Trant, aged 27
Nella Eileen Trebilcock, aged 28
Samuel James Veale, aged 21
Frederick Thomas Skinner Vickery, aged 28
Hazel Joan Weaver, aged 20

I retrace my steps and cross a road and pass Coombe Cottage before continuing along the path towards Kingswear. I come across a patch of early purple orchids.

A sign warns me about killer pine cones! I joke but the cones are monsters and could do some serious damage if one lands on your head.

killer pine cones

killer pine cones

I now have magnificent views over Dartmouth.

view over dartmouth

view over dartmouth

I drop down to the road that takes me to Dartmouth Higher Ferry.

dartmouth higher ferry

I join the railway track of the Paington to Kingswear Railway and follow the railway track in to Kingswear. As I reach Kingswear I have a lovely view of the steam train pulling into the station.

I follow the footpath over a footbridge above the railway line and into Kingswear where I pass the Steam Packet Inn, the Ship Inn and the railway station.

steam packet inn

ship inn

railway station

Here I take the Dartmouth Lower Ferry over to Dartmouth. It costs me the princely sum of £1.50.

dartmouth lower ferry

ferry ticket

The crossing offers lovely views of Dartmouth, Kingswear, Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth Castle and the open sea.

I alight the ferry below Bayards Cove Fort, a Tudor fort built between 1522 and 1536.

I can’t find any Dart Valley Trail signs so I’m going to have to make up the route through Dartmouth. I walk along the Embankment passing many canons and also the, now closed, Cottage Hospital and Dart Marina and Dart Marina Hotel and Spa.


I walk through Royal Avenue Gardens, enjoying all of the varied flowerbeds.

I pass Dartmouth Visitor Centre and head behind the health centre where I find a set of stone steps, Cox’s Steps, heading upwards. This takes me to Clarence Hill which climbs steeply up to Tounstal Hill and then to Church Road where I pass St Clement’s Church, clad in scaffolding and plastic.

st clement’s church

I can see where I went wrong on Saturday now. There’s a Dart Valley Trail sign on a lamppost on this side of the road but I’d already crossed the road so I completely missed it and there isn’t a corresponding sign on the other side of the road.

I cross the busy A379 near to the entrance to Britannia Royal Naval College and walk down Old Mill Lane behind the college.

britannia royal naval college

I reach the end of the road and come across more signs pointing across Tounsal Crescent. I cross the road and find some steps next to Archway Cottage which takes me down to the next part of Old Mill Lane. I amble along this lane for quite some time until it takes me to Old Mill Creek.

old mill creek

At Old Mill Creek I cross over a bridge and turn right and follow a road which becomes unmetaled Lapthorne Lane where I pass Distin’s Boatyard and Creekside Boatyard, which looks like it might be up for sale.

old mill creek

I come across a signpost, next to a Raleigh Estate information board, which shows me that the Dart Valley Trail takes two different routes. On Saturday I took the shorter route but Thursday I take the longer route to my right.

raleigh estate information board


I amble through a woodland area which turns into a pine forest, passing, what my notes tell me is a lake on my right, but I’m sure it must be just part of the creek.

pine forest

not a lake

The woodland alternates between broadleaf and pine and the edges of the path are covered in mint for some reason. There are wildflowers everywhere, including some foxgloves not quite in flower yet and some wild strawberries.

I leave the forest and cross a steeply sloping field where I have lovely views back over the River Dart.

view over the river dart

I climb up a path next to fields. I hear the steam train chugging back to Paignton and I have lovely views over to Noss Marina on the other side of the river.

view over to noss marina

It’s a long climb upwards before I reach Green Lane, although it’s not marked on my Ordnance Survey map, which is covered in stinky wild garlic.

green lane

I turn right into fields and cross a field with no discernible path through it but the Dart Valley Trail sign is pointing right across the field. I follow a deeply rutted track which is full of yesterday’s rain until I join the road at Fire Beacon Hill. It must be a stinky old path after some proper rain.

I briefly follow the road before climbing over a stile and along a track and I’m now on the outskirts of Dittisham, where I climb down Rectory Lane. I detour left to visit the church as the photo I took of the church on Sunday was overblown.

I retrace my steps and amble steeply down through Dittisham.

At the bottom of the road I reach the gaudy, pink Ferry Boat Inn and Anchorstone Cafe on the banks of the River Dart.

ferry boat inn

anchorstone cafe

Here I catch the Greenway and Dittisham ferry which takes me over the river to Greenway. The ferry fare is £2.

river dart at dittisham

greenway and dittisham ferry

I head up the road briefly and then head through a side entrance to the Greenway Estate, once the holiday home of Agatha Christie.

One day we saw that a house was up for sale that I had known when I was young... So we went over to Greenway, and very beautiful the house and grounds were. A white Georgian house of about 1780 or 90, with woods sweeping down to the Dart below, and a lot of fine shrubs and trees - the ideal house, a dream house.
— Agatha Christie

I spend a bit of time enjoying the edge of the gardens of Greenway Estate before heading for home.

I pass through a field on the outskirts of the estate before I enter a field where I have magnificent views high over the River Dart towards Dartmouth.

I follow a road past the Maypool Youth Hostel and from here it is a short walk back to Herons Rest.


Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • skylarks

  • buzzards

  • honesty

  • red campion

  • bluebells

  • greater stitchwort

  • japanese knotweed

  • herb robert

  • celandines

  • wrens

  • whitethroats

  • chiffchaffs

  • navalwort

  • bugle

  • garlic mustard

  • gorse

  • lords and ladies

  • common dog-violet

  • oaks

  • holly

  • pheasants

  • swallows

  • wild garlic

  • early purple orchids

  • common bird’s-foot trefoil

  • orange tip butterflies

  • green alkanet

  • mint

  • foxgloves not quite in flower

  • buddleia

  • wild strawberries

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The podcast of today's walk is now available. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.

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According to my phone I've walked 12.6 miles today which amounts to 25494 steps (on Saturday I managed to walk 14.2 miles with 29679 steps). It has been magnificent walking today in what turned out to be not too bad weather. The walk had ferries and trains and helicopters. Ten out of ten!

The total ascent today has been 997 feet or 303 metres.


noss marina

early purple orchid


steam train

ferry boat inn