Energetic young visitors may rave about hiking and cycling in Devon, but in the heat of summer why expend all that sweaty energy when you can gently cruise the River Dart? These scenic boat trips are a wonderful way to take in some of South Devon's gorgeous scenery in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Dartmouth – Totnes river cruises
If you are staying in Dartmouth, a short stroll from your idyllic holiday cottage will bring you to the Town Pontoon where Greenway Ferry Pleasure Cruises depart for Totnes twice a day, from March through December. Operating as a local ferry as well as a pleasant cruise, I was pleasantly surprised at the price – just £3.75 each way when you book online.
Settling in my seat on the open upper deck in the sunshine, I had a wonderful view of the passing Devonshire scenery from the river – a whole new aspect for me. Leaving Dartmouth you can't fail to admire the grand building of the Britannia Royal Naval College, with its domed tower and grey stone walls, perched high above the town. On the opposite bank is the historic village of Kingswear with its higgledy-piggledy cottages stacked up along the riverbank.
Agatha Christie's home at Greenway
Old pubs and whitewashed cottages give way to green fields, reed beds and families of moorhens and ducks which lined the route as we sailed to the first port of call – the delightful riverside community of Dittisham. It is just across the river from Greenway House and Gardens, the former home and gardens of Agatha Christie, now managed by the National Trust. The gardens are lovely in summer and I can highly recommend a cream tea overlooking the beautiful river valley. A small local ferryboat which carries foot passengers to and fro connects Greenway Quay and Dittisham.
The cruise continued inland, the winding river getting gradually narrower as we headed towards Totnes, with the informative commentary from the captain making sure we don't miss any of the sights as we pass. The lovely old cottages of Duncannon are a treat, along with the waterside villages of Galmpton and Stoke Gabriel. Rocks and wrecks, islands and creeks, boatyards and vineyards provided passing entertainment on either bank as we travelled.
Sir Walter Raleigh's boathouse and the Anchor Stone are typical of the historic treasures found along this river, if you just take the time to sightsee at the gentle pace of the river.
Things to do in Totnes
Finally our destination of Steamer Quay and the Totnes bridge came into view. You can return by bus, stay onboard and do the full return 3Â½ hour cruise, or explore Totnes for a few hours before catching the late afternoon ferry back. Times vary according to the tide, but generally you get 4-5 hours to explore Totnes Castle, the market, antique shops and the Elizabethan House Museum before the afternoon ferry sails back to Dartmouth.
Have you taken a boat trip up the River Dart? Did you spot some of the local wildlife on your trip? Let us know what you enjoyed most about your cruise – we'd love to read your comments in the box below.