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Jonathan Manning hits the bullseye on a ride which follows the River Dart and explores rural Devon
Forget delayed gratification - the stellar highlights of this stunning route are in the first three miles as the ride follows an excellent trail above the River Dart from Totnes. This was originally an 18th century carriage ride to Sharpham House, with ancient woodland giving way to beautiful views over the nature-rich marshland, the meandering river, and the hills beyond.
There are benches along the way to stop, sit and soak up the panorama, and with several uphill stretches, the benches also provide pride-saving opportunities to rest! For those in need of something stronger, there’s the option of a diversion (at point 3) to the award-winning Sharpham Wines vineyard on the Sharpham Estate, where vine walks, tastings and tours are available (check booking details as the winery is moving to the other side of the river in 2022, along with its café - sharpham.com). There’s also a creamery making soft cheeses from the milk of the farm’s own Jersey cows. Sharpham House is not normally open to the public, but there are seasonal open days.
Away from the River Dart, the route follows single track roads with tall hedges - the type of roads that are a nightmare for anyone towing a caravan, but great for cyclists. This is the South Hams region of South Devon, and the landscape is decidedly hilly, so make sure to recharge any e-bike batteries before you set out, or pack a drink and snack to recharge your own batteries.
The ancient village of Harberton is worth a stop, with its hilltop church and historic 13th century inn right next door.
And if you make it back to Totnes without stopping, there’s no end of pubs and cafés along the quirky, independent high street to restore your energy before you pedal back to Steamer Quay Club site.
You can download this route from our dedicated Strava page here.
1. Turn right out of the gates of Steamer Quay Club Campsite and then left at the T-junction. Turn left at the next T-junction to cross the River Dart, and at the roundabout turn left. When the road bends sharply to the right go straight ahead, following signs for National Cycle Route 28. Continue to the Steam Packet Inn.
2. 0.7km – Opposite the Steam Packet Inn turn right up a narrow lane, and in 40m, turn left along a bridleway signposted to Ashprington. Continue for almost 3km to a fingerpost sign on the left, where the Asphalt path turns to the right and a gravel path leads ahead to Sharpham Estate.
3. 3.1km – Turn right to stay on NCR 28, which eventually reaches the edge of Sharpham Estate. Continue on this road into Ashprington.
4. 4.7km – Turn right in front of a war memorial in Ashprington. Continue for 3.5km until the road bends 90° to the right.
5. 8.2km – Turn left at the bend, signposted to Harberton. Continue for 1.4m to a crossroads with a stone cross.
6. 9.6km – Turn right at the crossroads, signposted to Harberton. Go straight over the first crossroads in 500m and continue to a T-junction.
7. 10.8km – Turn left and continue to Harberton. Turn right along Fore Street, just before a bus stop, and in 30m turn left at a T-junction along Tristford Road and continue almost to the top of the hill to a crossroads.
8. 11.9k – Turn right at the crossroads and continue for almost 2km to a T-junction.
9. 13.6k – Turn right, then left at a crossroads to descend into Totnes. After 1.1km turn right onto Cistern Street, signposted to Steamer Quay and Town Centre car parks. In 50m, turn right along The Lamb. At the T-junction turn left, then almost immediately right to reach another T-junction. Turn right at the junction along Heath Way then left at the next T-junction along St Katherine’s Way, and follow the road to the roundabout from point one. Turn right, crossing the Dart, and on the other side of the bridge turn right along Seymour Road. In 50m turn right along Steamer Quay Road to return to the Club site.