- Walk river estuary and coastal routes in South Devon from Totnes to Salcombe.
- The “English Riviera”, a 22-mile stretch of outstanding coastline.
- Spot leaping dolphins and migratory birds in the River Dart Estuary.
- Bohemian Totnes, with its cosmopolitan, yet rustic West Country feel.
- Picturesque Salcombe, Britain’s sailing capital on the Kingsbridge Estuary.
A self-guided walking tour exploring South Devon and the coastline known as the “English Riviera”. Stay in the 3 historic estuary towns of Totnes, Dartmouth and Salcombe.
Discover the Dart and Kingsbridge Estuaries, both part of South Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Each have meandering channels, with waterfront homes, ancient lime kilns, small islands, birdlife and hundreds of moored yachts and boats.
The historic harbour town of Salcombe is a delight, with golden sandy beaches close by. Explore its narrow lanes and check out the sail lofts, landing quays and warehouses, which in the past housed fruit schooners bound for the Azores.
Day 1: Arrive Totnes & overnight
Totnes is a wonderful base for the next couple of nights, with its cosmopolitan, yet distinctively rustic West Country feel. It’s also a market town with a free-thinking spirit and you will find lots of independently-owned shops and cafes. On Fridays and Saturdays you will find an open-air market. This town is a real draw for “foodies” with award-winning restaurants serving local and seasonal organic cuisine.
Day 2: Loop Walk via Dartington Great Hall & Gardens.
Walk straight out of your hotel, cross the River Dart and take the Totnes-Torbay Trail north. Enjoy the stunning countryside views before re-joining the River Dart once more and crossing back over it at Staverton. En route back to Totnes your trail takes you via Dartington Great Hall & Gardens. If you wish you can visit the gardens. With a rich sense of history and a host of features to explore – from a Henry Moore sculpture to a yew tree at least 1,500 years old – the gardens at Dartington are often featured in best gardens lists.
Walk: 9 miles
Day 3: Dart Valley Trail, Totnes to Dartmouth
The Dart Estuary is part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A navigable estuary about 9 miles long, it’s banks and surrounding countryside are very typically “English” with green fields, farmland and charming villages. It is also very popular for sailing and is busy with little boats and kayakers.
Today you will see the estuary in all its glory as you walk alongside the wooded banks of this broad and beautiful river from Totnes to Dartmouth. This route is also crammed with gems and jewels of human and natural history.
Walk: 12 miles
Day 4: Trails of the Kingswear Peninsula
Today take the short ferry ride (payable locally) over to the Kingswear Peninsula, which you’ll explore on today’s intriguing walk. Kingswear itself is an attractive village and as well as its scenic estuary setting, it is also blessed with some superb coastal and country landscapes.
Make your way firstly up the River Dart Trail on the opposite side of the estuary to where you were walking yesterday and then cross inland through tranquil landscapes. Make your way south through quiet villages such as Boohay and Hillhead and arrive back in Kingswear, where you can board the little ferry back to Dartmouth.
Walk: 10 miles
Day 5: Transfer to Start Point. Walk to East Portlemouth. Ferry to Salcombe.
After a hearty breakfast a transfer brings you ironically, to a place called Start Point! Situated on the South West Coast Path, for much of today’s walk you will be following this trail with its cliff walks and stunning coastal views. En route you will pass Prawle Point, the most southerly point in Devon. Upon arrival in East Portlemouth take the short ferry ride (payable locally) across the expanse of the magnificent Kingsbridge Estuary.
Walk: 9 miles
Day 6: Free day in Salcombe
Explore picturesque Salcombe, Devon’s sailing capital and located beside one of the loveliest estuaries in the South West, Kingsbridge. With its it's miles of sheltered water and fine sandy beaches on either side it offers a wide variety of excellent shops, restaurants and pubs.
Have a great time exploring today. It is even possible to board the Rivermead ferry (payable locally), which takes you all the way up the estuary to Kingsbridge. A scenic 35 minute trip each way follows a meandering channel past waterfront homes, historic lime kilns, Saltstone Island, birdlife, hundreds of yachts and boats, the ex Mersey ferry Egremont and panoramic vistas of Salcombe.
Day 7: Salcombe Loop
Today’s walk initially takes you alongside pretty Salcombe Harbour where you’ll find a variety of sailing boats moored and bobbing in the breeze. Then pass a couple of sandy beaches and walk on cliff tops with fantastic views out over the mouth of the English Channel. Turn inland and realise why this area has been named as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Walk: 8 miles
Day 8: Onward travel
An included transfer brings you back to Totnes, from where you can make your onwards journeys.
You will stay in a mixture of carefully chosen B&B’s, small hotels and guest houses.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
If you require single rooms we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.
We welcome solo walkers on this trip although you should of course take extra care in the outdoors when walking solo.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or in nearby pubs or restaurants.
We regularly use the following properties but may accommodate you elsewhere if these are not available.
Royal Seven Stars Hotel - Totnes
This award winning hotel is located in the centre of Totnes and just a short distance from the mainline railway station. It has 21 beautifully furnished roroms combining period style with contemporary touches.
Dartmouth Boutique B&B - Dartmouth
All the rooms at this B&B are bathed in natural light and enjoy lovely views over the surrounding countryside and at times, the estuary. Offering relaxing and comfortable accommodation you are sure to enjoy your stay here.
Waverley - Salcombe
This quality B&B has 6 rooms and is located in the centre of Salcombe. The rooms are all bright, airy and tastefully decorated.
This trip is available to start on any day of the week from April to October.
Time of Year
This tour can be enjoyed from April to October but you can walk at any time of year. You can start on any date that suits your travel plans. Spring and Autumn/Fall are great because it is quieter on the paths.
Grade & Terrain
This tour is graded as moderate. The walks are a combination of coastal and inland trails and there is also quite a lot of walking beside the Dart and Kingsbridge Estuaries. There will also be wooded trails, farm tracks and country roads. Extra care should be taken when following the trail along cliffs or the coastline, especially in wet or windy conditions. Some of the time you will be walking on “official” paths, such as the Dart Valley Trail, the Totnes-Torbay Trail and the South West Coast Path. You will need to be very physically fit to fully enjoy this tour as, at times, there are some elevation gains and losses to negotiate.
Navigation, Route Notes & Maps
When walking on “official trails” it is quite well way marked and relatively easy to follow. However, you will also be walking on trails through the countryside that are either not waymarked at all or intermittently. Therefore you will need to be vigilant and follow your provided comprehensive route notes and maps closely. You will have to be able to read a map and navigate. We also provide GPS tracks for those who wish to take a GPS unit.
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.
All the ferries are payable locally. Please check times and schedules before you embark on your walks when ferries are necessary. Both the ferries needed for the walks on Days 4 and 5 run regularly and every day. The cost is anywhere between 60p and £2.00 one way.
The ferry between Dartmouth and Kingswear and vice versa (for walk on Day 4) is the Dartmouth Higher Ferry.
There is no official website for the ferry between East Portlemouth and Salcombe (end of the walk on Day 5) but you can find some information here.
Rivermead Ferry from Salcombe up the estuary to Kingsbridge. (Day trip suggested on Day 6). (Runs Easter to October)
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
Getting to and from Totnes
The closest airport to Totnes is Exeter Airport which is served by Flybe and has flights from London, Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Manchester. You can also fly into Bristol or London. Exeter is a stop on the London train so you can get off in Exeter if you wish to get to Exeter Airport.
On departure at the end of the tour, a transfer from Salcombe to Totnes Train Station is included and so from here you can make your onward journeys.
- 7 Nights in B&B’s, small hotels and guesthouses
- 7 Breakfasts
- Luggage transfers
- Transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
- Detailed Information Pack, route notes and map
- 24/7 telephone support
- Travel to and from Totnes
- Dinners & lunches
- Drinks and snacks
- Personal equipment
- Travel insurance
- Additional nights before or after the holiday
- Single room supplement if single room required.
- Solo traveller supplement (if applicable)
How fit do I need to be?
This tour is graded as moderate. You will need to be very physically fit to fully enjoy this tour as, at times, there are some elevation gains and losses to negotiate.
How far in advance do I need to book?
As far in advance as possible! We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as Devon is extremely popular, especially during the summer months. If booking at short notice we will always try and accommodate your plans.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.
When is the best time of year?
This Devon itinerary is very enjoyable at any time between April and October , although it is particularly lovely in late spring and early Autumn.
How do the baggage transfers work?
All baggage transfers are included. We request that you have only one piece of luggage per person and it should weigh only 20kg.
Am I able to take my dog?
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.
What happens if I can't walk a stage?
You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.