The 11 best walks in Devon
The 11 best walks in Devon
Video: Conquerors Life Form 2022, Sept.
Devon is the third largest county in the United Kingdom, and it’s a nature lover’s paradise. There’s so much to explore and countless options for walking. In Exmoor you can enjoy forests, rivers and gentle and rolling hills, while Dartmoor is more dramatic, with wild expanses and hundreds of granite torrents and ancient woods and rivers. There is also a path on the southwest coast, with its rocky cliffs to the north facing the Atlantic Sea, and a much more tranquil experience of inlets, estuaries, and outflows to the south facing the English Channel.
The Dart Valley Trail, South Devon
This is one of Devon’s most popular walks, covering 16 miles from Totnes to Dartmouth and the Kings Peninsula in the villages of Ashprington, Cornworthy, and Dittisham (or vice versa, if you prefer). If you prefer to take the shorter section, the toteins to Dittisham are about eight and a half miles, Dittisham to Dartmouth is three miles, and the Greenway to Kingswear is four and a half miles. Recommended stops along the way include the retreat center at Sharpham in Ashprington, which makes wonderful cream teas and Agatha Christie’s former vacation home, the glorious National Trust owned 18th-century Georgian home, the Greenway Estate.
Ting Valley, Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor is a paradise, with opportunities to stay overnight camping in the wilderness in certain areas. The Ting Valley Chain is considered the most famous walk in Dartmoor. Start at Drogo Castle, the last castle built in England, then follow the Hunter’s Way, which descends to Fingle Bridge, before following the trail back along the scenic Ting River.
Newbridge, Dartmoor National Park
Another great starting point is Newbridge, a narrow granite bridge over the Dart River in Dartmoor with a parking lot that is busy in high season. There are several different walks to choose from, as well as opportunities to canoe, kayak and indulge in refreshing wild swimming in Sharre Pool and Spitwick.
Roundtrip Tours, Dartmoor National Park
Granite torsos are some of Dartmoor’s top attractions, and a popular way to enjoy them is to follow a circle tour as you go, where you choose a selection of torsos in one particular area and stop at each one. For example, there is a six-mile walk in the middle of Dartmoor to Bord Tors, Rough Tor, Devil’s King, and Fight Man, which you can read about here. To the southeast, there is a slightly longer walk of seven and a half miles that includes Hund Tor and the remains of the medieval village of Hundaton. For planning your walk, this torso index is a helpful guide.
Dewerstone, Tree Tree, Dartmoor National Park
In addition to being a wonderful haven for wildlife and walking, Dartmoor is also rich in myth and folklore. One place in Dartmoor with beautiful scenery as well as a fascinating history is Dewerstone, a large granite outcrop in Dewerstone Wood, over 100 meters high and a site of special scientific interest. The name comes from “Old Dewer,” an old Celtic term for the devil. Legends say that the devil will haunt the woods at night in his bag of ghostly Whisht riders from Woodman’s Wood, and lost travelers will be pushed over the edge of Dewerstone.
Despite such a spooky narrative, Dewerstone still attracts hikers and climbers today. The circular three-mile walk begins at the Cadover Bridge, which takes you up one side of the Plym River to Dewerstone. The views are stunning as you head back into the woods.
Sidmouth to Beer, Jurassic Coast, south Devon
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast covers 95 miles of incredible coastline from east Devon to Dorset. You can see incredible fossils and rocks that show 185 million years of Earth’s history. The route along the southwest coast from Sidmouth to Peer Village is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and there are some steep climbs, but that means you can see great views.
Watersmeet, Exmoor National Park
For a great combination of hikes that include rivers, waterfalls, and coastal views, head to Watersmeet in Exmoor National Park. Here you’ll find one of Britain’s deepest river gorges and a variety of hiking trails. Don’t miss Foreland Point and Countisbury, they are some of the highest sea cliffs in England, and the views to the east and west are spectacular. From Graftsbury you can enjoy a nice walk along the South Coast. Further inspiration for walking around Watersmeet can be found here.
Dartington Hall, Dartington.
An 800-acre estate that is a great place for hikers, with gorgeous landscaped gardens, numerous walking paths, woods, rivers and wildlife to explore and enjoy. The estate is home to the Dartington Hall Trust, which has 16 charitable initiatives, including Schumacher College, that focus on the arts, sustainability and social justice. The walk around the entire estate is about eight miles. Admission is free, but donations are always welcome. More information about Dartington Hall and the property can be found here.
Killerton House and Gardens, Exeter, Devon
Owned by the National Trust, Killerton is a vast expanse of 6,400 sprawling acres of historic estate with a Georgian house and garden, two chapels and three satellite properties, and Ashclist Forest, one of the largest woods in East Devon. There are lots of walks and dogs. Some ideas for walks around it can be found here.
Wembury Point, south Devon
Bill Oddie describes Wembury, an area of marine conservation, as his favorite place in the UK to rock pool, so it’s worth giving time to put your recommendation to the test before or after your walk. When you go for a walk, there are several different routes; the circular drive around Wembury Point has great views of the rocky Great Maystone Island, or you can use Wembury Point as your starting point and go elsewhere. From Wambury to Mount Batten Point is about 6 miles, or you can include the mouth of Yealm in your winds as part of an itinerary that includes a path on the southwest coast.
Croyde Bay, Buggy Point and Woolacombe, north Devon
If you want a decent coastal outing that includes a wide sandy beach, sparkling dunes and views of farmland and the sea, the 10-mile hike from Baggy Point to Woolacombe will get your pulse racing and the wind in your hair. Start by surfing Croyde Mecca, head to Baggy Point and note the beautiful wildflowers, then head along Woolacombe Beach toward the far north end and back.
In the south of England, on the border of Devonshire and Somersetshire is Exmoor National Park, once a royal hunting ground. Today the park covers almost 700 square kilometers and is home to Britain’s largest population of red deer.
A bit of history
Until 1818 Exmoor was the hunting grounds of the British Crown. They were later sold off. In 1949 the National Parks Act was passed in Great Britain, and in accordance with it in 1954 it was decided to consider this geographical area as such a conservation area. Some areas of the park are areas of special scientific significance. In 1993, Exmoor was declared an ecologically sensitive area.
The area of the park is 692 square kilometers, and the length of the coastline along Bristol Bay is 59 kilometers. Thanks to its unique scenery, the coast was designated a Coastal Conservation Area in 1991. The coast is famous for its seaside cliffs – the highest in England.
On the territory of the park there are several settlements, quite distant from each other. The largest of these are Porlock, Dalverton, Linton and Lynmouth, the last 2 being parts of the same community and connected to each other by a cable car.
In addition to the royal deer, the park is also known for its other inhabitants. For example, those interested in ornithology will also find something to do here – 243 species of birds can be seen in the park. Many of them nest in the cliffs on the banks of the Aix River – where several tours of the national park start. Here you can find merlin, peregrine falcon, great curlew, white-throated thrush, grouse. The park is also famous for a special breed of ponies called “Exmoor ponies. They are considered the closest relatives of the European wild horses. Local residents traditionally breed sheep and Devon beef cows.
The most famous attraction in Exmoor is the 55-meter-long Targ Steps Bridge. It spans the rather shallow Barlo River just south of Exord, which is also the starting point for many tours of the park. The bridge is made of stone and, according to researchers, was built no later than the Bronze Age. Also of interest will be the village of Celworthy, located on the coast of Barlo, which is known for the tiled cottages built in 1828 by Thomas Ackland. A distinctive feature of these cottages are huge fireplaces.
Where to stay.
In Exmoor Park, you can either camp right outdoors or in a fairly comfortable hotel. In total, there are about a dozen hotels in the communities within the park. The most popular is the Exmoor White Horse Inn. This family-run hotel in a 16th-century mansion is located near the Exmoor River Bridge.
Exmoor offers excellent fishing. It’s available on the East Lyn, Barlow, and Axe Rivers, as well as the Bristol Bay shoreline. It catches bass, cod, marlang, sea eel, trout, salmon and other fish. Any angler over the age of 12 must have a fishing license issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.
How to visit the park?
Exmoor National Park can be visited any day, 24 hours a day. The park directorate is open daily from 10:00 to 17:00 (opening hours may change during the Christmas vacations). It is there that you can make arrangements for a tour or a safari through the park. You can reach Exmoor from London by car on the A303 in about 3 hours. 20 minutes by car from London and 1 hour from Bristol. 1 hour and 20 minutes by car from Bristol along the M5.