Along the Dart Valley Trail




6 miles (9.7kms)

328ft (100m)
2hrs 30min

About the walk

Once through Baltic Wharf, early on in the walk, look back at Totnes. You get a great view of the impressive Norman motte-and-bailey castle, and the 15th-century red sandstone church just down the High Street. The castle dominates the town, and from the motte you get a clear impression of the structure of the town, the original parts of which were walled in the 12th century. Much of the town walls remain today. There is evidence that there was a Saxon burh at Totnes in the 10th century, when coins were minted here. The town celebrates its heritage in many ways, including an Elizabethan market (Tuesdays, May–September), very appropriate for a town that has so many 15th- and 16th-century buildings. Much of the town’s centre, including the historic East Gate, was badly damaged by fire in September 1990, but the sympathetic reconstruction is very successful.

It’s worth having a better look at the castle, one of the most complete surviving examples of a Norman motte-and-bailey construction in Britain. Built near the north gate of the town, the late 11th-century motte rises 55ft (16.8m) from the bailey, and from its substantial walls – much of which are still in existence – you can get a clear picture of the historic development of the town below you, aided by English Heritage’s effective artwork reconstructions. The castle was built in the heart of the Saxon town, and the great surrounding ditch, part of the original fortification, is today home to characterful cottages and pretty gardens.

Lovely Ashprington is very quiet and well preserved, tucked away in a fold of the hills. It was recorded in the Domesday Book as the Manor of Aisbertona, and until an auction in September 1940 most of the greystone houses, with characteristic latticed windows and barge-boarded gables, belonged to the Sharpham Estate.

Walk directions

From the car park exit turn left along the road, then left into Seymour Road. At the main road turn left opposite Seymour Terrace to cross the late Georgian bridge. At the small roundabout turn left through The Plains, and go straight on along New Walk. Follow the public footpath sign left along the river’s edge (pretty at high tide, muddy at low) to rejoin the road to the right of the Steam Packet Inn.

Pass St Peter’s Terrace and turn right up a steep lane. Turn left to Ashprington (National Cycle Route 28). The surfaced track ascends gently to join a tarmac drive. Pass through a gate by stone pillars and soon emerge into parkland with wonderful views over the River Dart. The next gate, under trees, enters the Sharpham Estate; the next leads back into parkland. The drive undulates across parkland before dropping downhill to pass through a gate with a pond right.

Follow the cycle track right around the field edge, soon bearing left and climbing into a former plantation and passing a stile (left). This long, gently ascending path gives way to a pretty hedged track (Leafy Lane), to meet the lane by the entrance to Sharpham House.

Cross the lane; turn right on the permissive path, which ascends gently to rejoin the lane for the final descent into Ashprington village, passing 12th-century St David’s Church to find the Durant Arms (left).

Retrace your steps to the stile passed on Point 3, and turn right down the field to cross another. Turn left on a track between fields. Rejoin the cycle track briefly; where it starts to climb keep ahead along the bottom edge of parkland to a path junction.

Keep ahead and through a gate into woodland. Cross a stile into a field; keep along the right edge and over a stile into woods. Cross a stile and boardwalk by an old quarry, then another into a field. A kissing gate leads back into woodland, with the river close by.

Ascend to a kissing gate and follow a fenced path past Baltic Wharf. Cross a stile and turn left across a parking area. Meet the lane opposite the Steam Packet Inn and retrace your steps to Steamer Quay.

Additional information

Easy field paths and country lanes, several stiles

Gentle river valley, rolling fields and woodland

Dogs should be kept under control at all times

OS Explorer OL20 South Devon

Long stay car park at Steamer Quay

Steamer Quay

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About the area

Discover Devon

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.

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