Totnes to Ashprington is a perfect riverside walk. The path is easy to walk on and beautiful from beginning to end. We set off from a cottage in Totnes on a cold crisp morning in February with the first signs of Spring just hinting their arrival - we were perhaps one week too soon for the daffodils but just right for the snowdrops. The Dart is a gently meandering river and widens steadily in the direction we took. The ground right next to the river is mostly reed-beds and sandbanks so the cycle path keeps you safely away from the marshy ground by mainly staying halfway up the side of the valley. The riverside is a magnet for bird life and is particularly popular with waders. We saw Dunlin and Oystercatchers.
Around halfway along our journey something happened that seemed Distinctly Devon in its quirkiness. We came to a signpost with three arms. One arm pointed in the direction we’d walked and said ‘Totnes’, but the other two arms both said ‘Ashprington 1 mile’ and yet pointed us in completely opposite directions! Something which was both charming and infuriating. On a map the upper route looked more direct so after much deliberation we plumped for this one. We soon regretted our decision! The path quickly became extremely steep. However the advantage of our route soon became apparent as it took us past Sharpham Vineyard. This was one of those places that locals probably know all about but I was surprised to see such an obviously successful vineyard by the River Dart. Sadly we didn’t have time to stop and try the wines but I have made a note to definitely return at a time when I can book a Tour and Taste experience here.
Soon after Sharpham Vineyard we came to the edge of one of the loveliest little villages I’ve ever seen. Ashprington is an absolute gem of a village with a pub, a church and tiny unspoilt cottages. After our walk we were ready for a pint in the village pub but discovered to our horror that the pub shut on Mondays. A quick check of the village map showed that if we continued our walk another half mile we’d find another pub. I’m so glad we did as we ended up crossing the river on stepping stones. We nearly lost one of our party on the stones but just about all made it safely across. The experience of crossing a river on stepping stones really transported me back to a simpler time. After crossing the river we ended our walk in the beautiful 17th Century pub - The Waterman’s Arms by Bow Bridge. Inside we really appreciated the roaring log fire. I also appreciated the many bizarre signs hung up in the pub, such as one which read: ‘Soup of the day – BEER.’ And then in small letters underneath was added: ‘Unless you really wanted soup, in which case it's carrot and herb.’ Just another example of Distinctly Devon eccentricity.