England: Devon – 5 nights
A tale of two riversBack to Routes
South Devon Railway
'Greenways' - Agatha Christie's home
The gardens at Dartington Hall
My sister and I booked the Devon walking tour in May and worked with Harriet and others at On Foot Holidays. We were delighted beyond belief - lovely scenery, perfect accommodations, good food and wonderful people!
On Foot staff were super accommodating, very detailed and replied to any query in a timely manner. I even spoke with them on the phone and they couldn’t have been more friendly and kind.
Barb - May 2019
It's the type of holiday I enjoy - walking from place to place. I couldn't arrange something like this on my own, so having the On Foot notes and maps (and GPS file) and luggage transfer is really the only way to do this. It makes the planning part so easy for me.
I really had a good time and enjoyed the variety along the way (moors, farms, rivers, trains, ferries, etc). It was the perfect antidote to my desk-bound life.
Jean McKenna, New York, USA - October 2018
I can honestly say that all four of us loved all aspects of the walk. The route was breathtakingly beautiful, so very diverse, everyone we came across was friendly and helpful.
What I liked least was that we couldn't stay a month in every place we crossed. Thank you all at On Foot for a fantastic and memorable experience.
Paula Tassie, Winnipeg, Canada - May 2018
Everyone in the family (teenagers included!) agreed it was one of the best vacations we've ever had. The walking route was a lovely combination of fields, moors, woods and small towns, and the beginning and end points were locations we could have spent a few extra days exploring.
It was an ideal vacation for us - surrounded by nature, active and challenging, but with a shower and fabulous pub meal awaiting us at the end. It was a luxury to focus on the countryside and our hiking, not the logistics of it all.
Jill Gibson, Wassenaar, Netherlands - June 2018
I wanted briefly to reassure you that our Tale of Two Rivers tour was a huge success.
Everything went perfectly to plan. We loved the walking, the route, all our overnight stops, and all the attractions and activities along the way. The girls had a wonderful time and putting them in charge of one of the map sets gave us a suitable treasure hunt dimension to the week. We were blessed with the weather and it was especially satisfying to experience Dartmoor both bathed in sunshine and shrouded in mist.
Mike Unwin, Brighton - August 2017
At a glance
5 nights (4 walking days) - miss Exeter and the Teign Gorge walk, start in Chagford, and combine two final days walking, with boat from Dittisham to Dartmouth. We recommend extra nights in any accommodation (upgrading for extra comfort)
How much walking?
Full days: 13-21 km per day, 4-6½ hrs walking
Using shortening options: 11-21 km per day, 3½-6½ hrs walking
A tale of two rivers
Devon and Cornwall occupy the south-west peninsula of England, an area defined by England’s remarkable maritime heritage. Devon, perhaps the lesser known of the two counties, nevertheless contains three great and ancient ports of which one, Dartmouth, forms the end of this route.
Your journey takes you through some of the most beautiful and varied country in the British Isles. After a night in stylish Chagford, the walk goes straight to legendary Dartmoor: windswept downs of a lonely and unsurpassable beauty and the background to much literature, both romantic and mystical. Overnight in pretty Widecombe-in-the-Moor, then a breathtaking walk along the fringes of the moor to the upper reaches of the River Dart, where your journey back to the sea begins. Buckfast Abbey, Dartington Hall and the fine town of Totnes itself line themselves along this majestic waterway, winding down to the sea at the historic town of Dartmouth, from where many a buccaneer sailed and, more notably, the base from which the Pilgrim Fathers sailed in the Mayflower to colonise the New World (watch out for celebrations in 2020).
Staying in country inns and carefully chosen B&Bs, and with a variety of ways to shorten and ease the walking (including a steam train and a river steamer!), the walker will experience the best that England can offer, though should be ready to navigate intelligently as the paths are not always well signed.
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon and Harriet
REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews of this route submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit AITO.com
Writer Andrew Morris also managed to coincide with the annual Fair at Widecombe-in-the-Moor during his trip, and wrote about it here.
- Stylish Chagford
- Dartmoor, wild hills and long views
- Buckfast Abbey and Dartington Hall
- Totnes High Street
- Sharpham vineyard – wine and cheese tasting
- The Dart estuary
- Agatha Christie’s Greenway
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Coast, Villages and farms, Birdwatching, History
Upgrades in various stops - stay at Dartington Hall, watching an arthouse film in the evening and dining in the vaulted hall.
How much Walking?
Using shortening options: 11-21 km per day, 3½-6½ hrs walking
Reasonable signposting on most days, though navigational alertness needed, with careful attention to the route directions particularly Chagford-Widecombe across the moor. Highest point of route 530m. Underfoot conditions mainly good.
Medium-hard: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 493m (350m-600m) per day.
Medium: CUSs 393m (300m-525m) using modest shortening options
Important note: Times given for each day are walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.
When to go?
The best months to walk
May, June, July, August, September, October
Other possible months
The best time to go is any time between May and October, though the summer months can have accommodation availability problems so you may not get the accommodation you are hoping for. In early and late season the length of daylight can make the use of shortening options sensible.
Temperature and rainfall chart for Dartington
Day 1 - Arrive in Chagford
You'll start in Chagford (by prearranged taxi from Exeter) - a fine moorland town with some excellent shops and inns.
Day 2 - Chagford to Widecombe
Today’s walk follows the Two Moors Way for the whole of the day. Heading out of town along leafy lanes, your path leads south and up onto the high moor. After visiting Grimspound, a Bronze Age circular stone settlement, you continue up above the stone circle and along a ridge. On a fine day, the views from here are almost 360° of stunning countryside, with several tors in sight in the near and far distance. On reaching the far end of the ridge, you head down quickly to reach the village of Widecombe, your resting place for the night. (Medium-hard: 5½hrs, 19km, CUSs 730m).
Alternative: If you prefer a shorter walk or the weather is inclement, each half of the day has a shorter version. The first half would be mainly on quiet asphalt road and the second would miss out the moorland section (Medium: 4hrs, 14km, CUSs 530m)
Day 3 - Widecombe to Scorriton
An easy start from Widecombe takes you up to spectacular high moorland and into the wooded West Webbern river valley at Jordan, to follow the ‘Two Moors Way’. Passing through tiny hamlets and woods (carpeted with bluebells in May), you will find yourself in seemingly forgotten places, untouched by the 21st century. Continuing through the picturesque village of Ponsworthy, you climb once again up onto moorland at Bel Tor Corner, to walk Dr Blackall’s Drive, an eccentric way along a high ridge above the stunning Dart River valley. Coming down off the moor at “New Bridge”, a pretty medieval bridge across the river Dart, and one of only a few crossing points on this section of the river, you head up through farmland to Scorriton for the night. (Easy-medium: 4hrs, 13km, CUSs 485m)
Day 4 - Scorriton to Dartington
Today’s walk takes you away from the moorland landscape of Dartmoor, and into the softer South Hams, with its voluptuous rolling hills and hidden valleys. The walk starts with a gentle introduction through ancient woodlands and then on to beautiful Buckfast Abbey. After this you enter the bucolic South Devon countryside, walking the delightful ‘green lanes’ to Staverton, where you will meet the River Dart once again. Continue through Dartington Estate (world famous for its summer music schools, and its beautiful quad and Great Hall). It’s then an easy walk down to Dartington village, to a welcome pint in the lively Cott Inn. (Medium: 5½hrs, 21km, CUSs 650m).
Alternative: If you would like a shorter day or simply have some different fun, you can take a steam train for the stretch from Buckfastleigh to Staverton and save 7km of walking (Easy-medium: 3½hrs, 14km, CUSs 405m)
Day 5 - Dartington to Dartmouth via Dittisham
A long day, but a beautiful one. The moorland left far behind, you are following the River Dart to the tidal reach of the sea at Totnes and beyond towards the coast. Highlights of the day include time to visit the beautiful town of Totnes with its famous High Street, and the vineyard at Sharpham, where you can taste the wines and cheeses produced there. The day continues to the pretty sailing village of Dittisham. Then you take the ferry to Dartmouth, or cross over to Greenway to visit Agatha Christie’s house, and then take the boat to Dartmouth. (Medium-hard: 6½ hrs, 21km, CUSs 525m)
Depart for home, or why not stay extra nights in this fine old seaport? Whichever, your options for getting home include a steam train to the railhead at Paignton or a boat trip to Totnes!
ARRIVING BY AIR
The best “local” airport is either Exeter or Bristol. Intercontinental flights use London airports.
Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.
For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.
EXETER AIRPORT is situated close to the city. Local taxi best.
Land by: 16:00 for shuttle + train to Exeter (c. 2 hrs).
Return flight earliest: 12:00 for train connections from Paignton or Totnes (c. 3 hrs) – accessed by bus or private steam train (Kingswear-Paignton, seasonal)
Land by: 14:00 for shuttle to Reading + train to Exeter (c. 3 hrs).
Return flight earliest: 14:00 for train connections from Paignton or Totnes (c. 3 hrs) – accessed by bus or private steam train (Kingswear-Paignton, seasonal)
See “Getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information
ARRIVING BY TRAIN
Nearest railway station:
Finish: Totnes by bus from Dartmouth, or Paignton by private steam train in season
Getting to the start of the walk
The first hotel is in the city of Exeter or the villages of Dunsford or Chagford, depending on route version, and the last in the port of Dartmouth. Transfer times and methods are suggestions from London Heathrow airport, but you can also fly to Exeter or Bristol.
Outward: Bus then train to Exeter (c.2½ hrs) then short walk or local taxi to first hotel/B&B (or prearranged taxi on from Exeter train station to Dunsford/Chagford)
Return: Historic steam train from Kingswear to Paignton, train to Reading then airport bus to Heathrow (c.4 hrs)
Alternatively, take the more efficient (if less exciting) bus from Dartmouth to Totnes to connect to the train network. The same bus also continues on to Exeter.
Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.
Where You'll Stay
A wonderful array of village pubs and B&Bs on this walk. You can also upgrade in Exeter, Chagford, Dartington and Dartmouth, and to a once-owned-by-celebrity-chef riverside restaurant with stylish rooms in Tuckenhay.
Classic Devon farmhouse with flag floors, chickens running wild, rusting tractors and exceptional cream teas. Some shared bathrooms.
Chagford – The Globe Inn (B&B)
Good quality hotel in the village centre. Upgrade to a superior room for a small supplement.Website
Chagford – Ring o’ Bells (B&B)
Traditional village pub with rooms over - and a renowned kitchen.Website
Chagford – The Three Crowns (B&B)
Former coaching inn with lots of space and comfortable rooms.Website
Widecombe-in-the-Moor – Higher Venton Farmhouse (B&B)
Classic Devon farmhouse with flag floors, chickens running wild, rusting tractors and exceptional cream teas. Some shared bathrooms.Website
Widecombe-in-the-Moor – Langworthy Farm (B&B)
Modern farmhouse on working farm 5 minutes drive from the village centre (free transfers).Website
Scorriton – The Tradesman’s Arms (B&B)
Great village pub with quiet rooms above, presided over by Kevin and Suzanne.Website
Scorriton – Mitchelcroft (B&B)
Stunning modern B&B with three lovely rooms and a beautiful outlook. Owners Michael and Debbie are walkers too. Min. 2 night stay in peak times.Website
Dartington – Dartington Hall (B&B)
More an event cente than a hotel, this fine old former college boasts beautiful gardens, comfortable rooms, a pub, restaurant and even arts cinema on site. An experience.Website
Dartington – The Cott Inn (B&B)
Award winning pub with great atmosphere and comfortable rooms. Might be noisy on Fri/Sat nights and there are weekly live-music events. Please ask us for advice.Website
Dartmouth – Bayards Cove Inn (B&B)
Comfortable rooms above a restaurant in a historic building, close to the sea front. Some of the rooms are on the small side, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it.Website
Dartmouth – The Royal Castle Hotel (B&B)
Grand old lady of Dartmouth hotels in stunning position overlooking boating pool and Dart.Website
Total 5 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts and 2 picnics, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.
All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.
Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £205
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £165
Large party saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £15 per person
Maximum party size: 10
Extra nights and upgrades Contact On Foot Holidays (seasonal pricing)
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK and Ireland: £10-£40 (per pack, location dependent)
Route designed by:
Caroline has lived in rural South Devon for 25 years. Now that her children have all left home, she spends her time teaching and producing art, attempting to master Spanish, and helping tend the smallholding, whilst her husband also fills the sheds with plenty of logs for the winter