It had been a while since I had completed one of my “Use of Ferries” walks. Just as a reminder, these are walks to fill in the gaps created where I had previously used ferries on my coastal walk. So in order to do a complete walk around the coast of Great Britain I needed to walk around the estuaries (to the first bridging point) where I had taken the ferry.
I decided on an overnight stay in Totnes in order to get two full walking days in. A very early start from Shropshire saw me arriving in Dartmouth at 6:30 in the morning. As this was still the “Low Season” I was able to park for free on the North Embankment of the River Dart.
I walked along the quay towards the Lower Ferry. Dartmouth was very quiet at this time of the morning as I headed for the first ferry of the day. The ferry had an unusual arrangement, it consisted of a large pontoon with a deck for passengers and cars also an engine within the pontoon. A small tug was attached to the pontoon which guided/steered the pontoon.
I set off on a footpath sandwiched between the River Dart and the railway track, this was the Dart Trail which I would be on and off for most of the day around to Totnes and back to Dartmouth. I soon arrived at the Higher Ferry which had a much bigger vessel operating and was much busier. I transferred onto the road and had to negotiate some disembarking early morning ferry traffic, before climbing very steeply up Hoodown Hill. The Trail crossed over the ferry road and dropped down to a rough pathway around the contours of Oakhem Hill. At this point I left the Dart Trail and cut across country to the boatyard quay near Galmpton.
After taking a footpath which climbed up through a grassy field, I joined a road, which had occasional traffic. I passed through the small hamlet of Waddeton, which had some lovely examples of thatched Devon cottages painted in the popular light pink shade. I continued onto the small village of Stoke Gabriel, where I could see a lot of new building work going on. I headed out of the village making for the small settlement of Aish, along what are termed “Unmetalled Roads”, basically just farm tracks. I would be using a number of these tracks over the rest of the day and which have the added benefit of having no traffic on them – although two off-road motor bikes did pass me on one section. Soon after leaving Aish I continued down another Unmetalled road which would take me all the way to Totnes, the first bridging point over the River Dart.
After popping into a local Spar shop for some food and drink I crossed over the bridge over The Dart and continued along the Dart Trail. At various points the Trail path made descents down towards the river before re-joining the cycleway. Although only about 200m away, I decided to stay on the cycle path as it maintained a level height and offered more expansive views down the Dart Estuary. It had become increasingly hot with the midday sun, which was quite amazing for late March. The cycle path passed onto the Sharpham Estate and descended into the charming village of Ashprington, with its striking church and quaint village pub.
The road out of Ashprington dropped down to Perchwood Creek, one of the arms of the Dart Estuary. I was able to take a short-cut across the Harborne River by means of stepping-stones that still had their tops above the water level. I passed through the village of Tuckenhay and decided to divert, again, away from the Dart Trail and take a very steep unmetalled road on a direct route to the village of Cornworthy.
After leaving Cornworthy, the drive, the heat, the distance and the amount of ascent and descent were beginning to take their toll. I now decided to look for a much more direct way back to Dartmouth, which was easier said than done! I continued on through typical Devon lanes which had vertical embankments and no verges, so nowhere to go should you meet a car other than to lean back into the bank! Which I had to do on a few occasions!
I decided to give the village of Dittisham a miss and took a slightly different route, opting to go through the hamlets of Kingston, Downton and Old Creek before joining up with the Dart Trail again and climbing up yet another steep road into Townstal on the outskirts of Dartmouth. I was relieved to join the main road down into Dartmouth and my car. I had seriously under-estimated the amount of ascent/descent the walk would involve. [On my return home I plotted my route out and was amazed to find that the total ascent of the route was 6110 feet (1905m)!! Thats two good-sized Munro’s!]
I headed back into Totnes, where my AirBnB was located.
Distance today = 24 miles
Total distance = 4,671 miles