Are you researching Totnes to Dartmouth boat trips? You’re in the right place with this article!
The River Dart’s a rich tapestry of lush green fields, sleepy villages, and diverse wildlife.
And how’s the river best experienced? From the water itself!
You can do this by embarking on a cruise with the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company – which I recently did on a trip to Totnes and Dartmouth.
If you’re planning on taking the Totnes to Dartmouth cruise, this blog post is a full guide to everything that you’ll need to know about the trip.
Totnes to Dartmouth boat trips: my experience
The charm of the river and its surroundings gently unwound as my boat slowly chugged down the river.
As we began our journey, the boat’s movement was mirrored by the smooth, blue ribbon of the river that snaked through a panorama of green fields.
Serene and spectacular, the river began as a ribbon cutting through Totnes but as we followed the bright green fields, the river broadened gradually.
The verdant banks gave way to different villages, each a world in itself, imbued with its own unique history and charm.
Things to see along the River Dart
The River Dart isn’t just a pretty place to visit. The running commentary on board kept us entertained, weaving fascinating stories about each sight we passed.
We learned about the curious ‘Hole in the Wall’, which was caused by damage to a river wall built by Dartmoor prisoners.
There were also beautiful viaducts built by famous South West architect Brunel.
“And over there’s the village of Duncannon”, the guide said, motioning to a collection of three houses on the side of the bank. “No, I haven’t gone mad – it’s actually a village and not a hamlet”.
“This is due to a census error where a few extra zeros were added onto the population and number of houses of the village!”.
We sailed past the villages of Stoke Gabriel – home to a scrumpy so potent that it’s only served in half-pint glasses – and Dittisham, where Kate Winslet and the lead singer of Jamarouquai both have properties.
“You might notice we’re weaving around the river a bit”, our guide said, as we meandered from left to right.
We were in the middle of a place affectionately called “the lake of the Dart”, due to its apparent lack of exits when you’re floating in the middle.
“We’re not lost, and I promise we haven’t had too much scrumpy”. He continued. “The Dart’s quite a shallow lake, and a vessel of our size has to follow the deep water channel”.
As the boat glided on, we encountered Greenway House, Agatha Christie’s beloved summer home, and its nearby quay featuring the most photographed thatched roof cottage on the Dart.
“There’s certainly a particular fairytale feel to it”, the guide commented.
As we sailed into Dartmouth, an unexpected delight was seeing the ‘face house’, its windows and doors creating the illusion of a face. “In the evening, lanterns glow in the ‘mouth’”, the guide explained. “Local kids think that they look like teeth!”
Animals in the River Dart
While there was a surprising among of history and culture on the cruise, its significance as a nature hotspot can’t be ignored.
A popular spot for twitchers, the River Dart is home to cormorants and little egrets, among plenty of other types of birdlife.
“Seals even swim up this far sometimes”, we were told. “There’s a colony of them right by the river mouth, but it’s not uncommon to see them bobbing around here”.
Just before reaching Dartmouth, the imposing Royal Britannia Naval College came into view, a proud institution where many members of male royalty have stayed and studied.
90 minutes after departing from Totnes, we disembarked onto the quay at Dartmouth, home to the fascinating Dartmouth Castle – which was my next point of call.
How to book tickets
Tickets can easily be booked online on the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company’s website.
Or if you prefer, you could buy them in person at their ticket offices in Totnes or Dartmouth.
Round Robin Ticket
Consider the Round Robin ticket for your return journey – this ticket includes a nostalgic steam train ride between Kingswear and Paignton.
The short ferry connecting Dartmouth and Kingswear is included in the price of the Round Robin ticket.
To travel between Totnes and Paignton, the bus connections are also included in the ticket – so you can start in any town on the route, and spend time enjoying them while you’re on your journey!
The cruise operates regularly between Totnes and Dartmouth, but the timing varies depending on the season.
The journey lasts approximately 90 minutes, a leisurely cruise that allows you ample time to soak in the surroundings.
Totnes, nestled at the mouth of the River Dart, is steeped in history and culture.
From the historic Totnes Castle and Guildhall to a vibrant arts scene, there’s plenty to explore before you embark on the cruise.
Or, if you take the Dartmouth to Totnes cruise the other way, you can enjoy walking around Totnes or having a drink at the Royal Seven Stars pub to toast to a successful day exploring South Devon!
When you reach Dartmouth, you’ll be greeted by a town that beautifully blends history and aesthetic charm.
The deep-water port, prestigious Naval College, and narrow, winding streets attract tourists in their droves.
Don’t forget to visit the historically enchanting Dartmouth Castle and take in tremendous views from the South West Coast Path!
Tips for the cruise
Here are my top tips for taking the Totnes to Dartmouth or Dartmouth to Totnes river cruise!
- Bring cash: There’s a bar onboard for you to enjoy a drink or two, but remember, it’s cash-only.
- Dogs welcome: Dogs are welcome on the cruise, but they must be kept on a short lead.
- Arrive early: Get there about half an hour before the cruise begins and start queuing to secure the best seats.
- Take your pick of seats: The boat has both upstairs and downstairs areas for you to choose from.
- It’s a relaxed journey: The journey is generally calm, posing little risk of motion sickness. However, if you’re prone to it, you might want to take your medication as a precautionary measure.
Are you ready to take the Totnes to Dartmouth cruise boat?
The Totnes to Dartmouth cruise boat is, without a doubt one of the best ways to explore South Devon.
The countryside of the South Hams is effortlessly beautiful, but cruising on the river takes the scenic views to a whole new level.
It’s a unique journey that beautifully captures the charm of the River Dart and its surroundings, combining the enthralling attractions of both the ancient town of Totnes and river-based Totnes.
This unforgettable river cruise awaits in South Devon—don’t skip it!