The wooded valley of the River Dart has been a holiday hot spot for the rich and famous for centuries. In 1938 the crime novelist Agatha Christie bought the lovely house and gardens at Greenway, and used it as a summer home until her death in 1976. Although she never wrote any books there, her work is closely linked to south Devon (notably the art deco Burgh Island Hotel). The National Trust acquired the property and 300 acres (122ha) of land in 2000, and the gardens and house (set in the 1950s) are open to the public. Parking is very limited and has to be pre-booked, and visitors are encouraged to arrive by greener methods – on foot, by bicycle or by ferry.
Activity on the Dart
There has been a crossing point below Greenway at what is now Greenway Quay since at least the Bronze and Iron Ages. Pretty Dittisham, on the other bank, witnessed activity in World War II when in June 1944 the Dart provided safe anchorage for invasion landing craft gathering in preparation for D-Day– the building which today houses the Anchor Stone Café was a first-aid post at that time.
The Dart is no stranger to all manner of craft. Legend has it Phoenician galleys and later Viking longboats ventured up it, and in the Middle Ages cog boats brought wine from the Continent to Totnes. In keeping with this maritime heritage, Greenway – then a Tudor mansion, and later remodelled in Georgian style – was the birthplace in 1539 of Sir Humphrey Gilbert . He was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, and founded the colony of Newfoundland while trying to find the North West Passage.
Start from the junction of Old Road and Greenway Road, by Galmpton primary school. Follow Greenway Road uphill out of the village and take the second turning left, just after the village sign, soon crossing the railway line.
Turn right on a bridlepath (Combe Lane) that soon bears left between hedges, eventually climbing to a T-junction of bridlepaths in woodland. Turn right, with views across Torbay. At track end cross a stile and keep along the right field-edge, with views up the Dart towards Dartmoor. Drop to a gate at a footpath junction at Higher Greenway; turn right along a rough track to meet a lane.
Turn left on a public right of way, passing a line of large houses and private drives. At the gates of Maypool House follow a wooded track ahead. Pass through a gate into parkland and continue, with views left to Dartmouth.
By a seat turn right to Greenway Gardens, through two bridlegates. Keep along the right edge of a huge field, with views across the Dart to Dittisham. Pass a path junction and bear left, with trees to your right. Descend very steeply to a gate by the car park. Turn left to reach a footpath junction (Greenway House is shown left); turn right along the drive to the lane (Greenway Quay, left).
Turn right along the little-used lane, passing the drive to Lower Greenway Farm.
Soon after turn left over a stone stile, and follow the right field-edge to cross another stile onto a track at Lower Greenway Farm. Bear right, then left between the farmhouse and barns. Cross a stile; head down the right-hand edge of the field. Pass through a gate by a yellow-topped post in the wire fence, then follow the fence downhill towards Galmpton Creek. At the bottom pass another post and cross a stile onto the foreshore (note the lime kiln, left). For the alternative high-water route: keep ahead up the lane for 250yds (229m) to a junction of paths (Galmpton View) above Greenway Tunnel, then turn left through a gate and walk downhill, aiming for a footpath post by a stream at the bottom of the field. Cross the stream and bear left towards a gate into woodland, then follow the path (Hook Lane) uphill to meet the main route between Points 7 and 8; keep ahead.
Turn right along the foreshore below Old Mill Farm, soon turning right up steps, and turn left on a narrow tarmac way. Where a footpath to Galmpton keeps straight ahead, stay on the lane as it bears right uphill, soon bearing sharp left at Hook Lane. The lane reaches Greenway Road.
Turn left to climb past the Galmpton village sign, then descend to return to the start.
Paths and tracks, rolling parkland, one tidal section (optional); several stiles
Rolling farmland, river valley
On lead through farmland and Greenway Estate
OS Explorer OL20 South Devon
Laneside in village centre, near primary school
None on route
This route runs along a short section of foreshore; at times of high spring tides the alternative route (marginally shorter) will avoid the possibility of wet feet
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
With magnificent coastlines, two historic cities and the world-famous Dartmoor National Park, Devon sums up all that is best about the British landscape. For centuries it has been a fashionable and much loved holiday destination – especially south Devon’s glorious English Riviera.
Close to the English Riviera lies Dartmoor, one of the south-west’s most spectacular landscapes. The National Park, which contains Dartmoor, covers 365 square miles and includes many fascinating geological features – isolated granite tors and two summits exceeding 2,000 feet among them.
Not surprisingly, in Dartmoor the walking opportunities are enormous. Cycling in the two National Parks is also extremely popular and there is a good choice of off-road routes taking you to the heart of Dartmoor and Exmoor. Devon’s towns and cities offer stimulating alternatives to the rigours of the countryside.