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24 September 2014

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The Dart Valley Trail in South Devon
The woods along the River Dart near Kingswear
The woods run alongside the River Dart
The Dart Valley Trail is some 16 miles long and takes in both sides of the River Dart in South Devon. The Greenway to Kinsgwear section is 4.5 miles long and goes through ancient woodland alongside the river. It's a lovely walk, with some stunning views...and lots of wildlife.
The Agatha Christie Mile, Torquay
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Walking Routes UK

South Devon AONB

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Long Wood, alongside the River Dart in South Devon, is an ancient woodland dating back centuries.

The woods is inhabited by blue tits, marsh tits, woodpeckers, buzzards, tawny owls, sparrowhawks and jays.

Most the wood here is managed by the National Trust.

At the Greenway end of the Dart Valley Trail, there is the family home of Agatha Christie - called Greenway.

At the Kingswear end there is a ferry service where you can cross to Dartmouth on the other side of the River Dart.

The entire trail is a walk of around 16 miles - but you'll need to catch the cross-Dart Ferry to complete it!

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Ancient woodland, a steam railway line, and one of the most beautiful rivers to be found anywhere - what more could you ask for?

The Kingswear to Greenway (or Greenway to Kingswear, if you prefer) section of the Dart Valley Trail offers them all. This part of the trail is four-and-a-half miles each way, but there are two other sections you could try as well.

The Dartmouth to Dittisham part is around three miles long, and the the Dittisham to Totnes section is about eight-and-a-half miles. You could cross the River Dart by ferry and do the entire walk if you're feeling energetic!

Where to start...

Peeping through the trees to the river
Peeping through the trees, there are lovely views of the River Dart

For the Greenway to Kingswear section, it is best to park on the Ham in Dittisham and and cross the Dart using the Greenway Ferry.

The walk starts at the 400-year-old cottage at Greenway Quay, where a lane rises up the hill, bordered by woodland.

To the right is Greenway - the family home of Agatha Christie, where the gardens are currently being restored by the National Trust. Continue up Greenway Road and then, at the junction, follow the lane right towards Maypool Youth Hostel.

Halfway along the trail heads left, up a track through fields to Long Wood. This is an ancient wood, with semi-natural oak stretching over 100 acres - largely owned by the National Trust.

It is a haven for wildlife, and, even in late November, the colours were fantastic. The wood is inhabited by blue tits, marsh tits, woodpeckers, buzzards, tawny owls, sparrowhawks and jays.

A tree in Long Wood
Long Wood is an ancient
Devon woodland

The birds are attracted to the woods by the woodland floor of holly and hazel shrubs, and the plentiful supply of berries.

Foxes, badgers and roe deer can also be seen here, together with several species of butterfly.

The pathway through the woods affords views of the River Dart, and the picturesque creeks. Some bits of the path are a bit watery - so you'll need to have good walking footwear.

At Noss is the Philips shipyard, where yachts sit on the water with the wooded banks behind making a dramatic backdrop. You can also watch the Paignton to Kingswear steam trains go by at this point.

Towards the Kingswear end of this section, you can stop and look across the river to Dartmouth on the other side - it's a dramatic view, with the Britannia Royal Naval College to the right of the town, on the hill.

You can cross the river on the ferry at Kingswear, either to visit Dartmouth - or to continue the walk.

How to finish...

The River Dart
The River Dart, as viewed from Philips Shipyard near Kingswear

To continue the section, walk along the Quay in Dartmouth, turn left into Duke Street to walk into the Butterwalk, right into Foss Street and then turn left up Brown's Hill Steps.

From Brown's Hill, turn left uphill along Clarence Hill - which is a medieval street. You then cross Victoria Road and continue up Church Road to Townstal Church.

Cross over College Way and turn right into Old Mill Lane. Where the road divides, follow the steps beside Archway Cottage. Turn left and follow the lane downhill to the creek. Continue on the pathway alongside the creek.

The trail splits, with the right hand route going through woodlands and fields with spectacular views of the river. This bit does, however, include a very steep section of path.

The left route is more gentle but part of it can become waterlogged after rain. The alternative routes meet up just before Dittisham.

The South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit produces a leaflet about this trail.

Contact the unit by email at:

Or visit the website, which is linked from this page.

The leaflet is also available for purchase from local Tourist Information Centres and some village shops.

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