Walking has always been a popular activity in Devon, which isn’t a surprise given the region’s stunning landscapes, golden sands and crystal clear waters. Whether you’re a keen hiker or just a fan of taking a stroll, there’s no better place to walk than in Devon.
With contrasting coastlands between the north and south, and 365 square miles of Dartmoor National Park, Devon offers a wide variety of walking terrain. The phrase “spoilt for choice” comes to mind when you’re planning a walking day out in Devon.
In our quest to unearth the regions finest walks, we’ve asked local ramblers to share their favourite walk in Devon with us.
Starting in the tiny village of Gidleigh, walk through the lovely wooded Teign Valley and out onto the open moor along an old peat cutters’ track, this is where you come across your first hut circles, prehistoric homes from the days when the climate was warmer and people lived and farmed high up on these hills. Towering above is Kestor, one of the great viewpoints on Dartmoor with a deep rock basin carved into its summit.
From here, it’s an easy stroll over to Shovel Down which features an ancient standing stone and a series of stone rows and burial sites. Follow them downhill and you encounter two old clapper bridges (made out of slabs of granite) over two moorland streams. This is an idyllic picnic spot. A short stretch uphill brings you to the Scorhill Stone Circle, possibly Dartmoor’s most beautiful spot (and a popular place for pagan weddings and other ceremonies). Continue uphill and onto the lane and you’re back in Gidleigh in no time.
For more information about this walk, please visit dartmoorwalksthisway.co.uk
The Warhorse Trail
This 5-mile walk starts at the small parking area at grid reference SX 581674 at the end of the ‘no-through’ lane leading from Sheepstor Village. Starting from the parking area, you need to walk towards Gutter Tor over the open grass area until you reach Sandy Path. If you then turn left along the track, you will be able to see Gutter Tor on the right.
The whole of the area was used for rabbit breeding, hence the name given to the area of Ditsworthy Warren. The farmhouse here was used in the filming of Warhorse and the surrounding areas of moorland will be familiar to those who have seen the film.
After passing the house, follow the track where you will see Plym Valley Way over to your right. Ahead is a hill which slopes upwards away from you with Drizzlecombe Stone Rows at the top of the hill. One of the largest standing stones on Dartmoor marks the end of one of the rows. You then turn north to find the distinctive trackway which runs southwest back to the car park.
For other amazing walks in Devon, please visit simondell.co.uk.
Combe Park, Exmoor
The walk follows deep wooded valleys with fast flowing rivers, where you climb high to Countisbury and its lovely old church. From here you follow the South West Coast Path down to Lynmouth to climb the funicular railway to Lynton. The walk then goes to the amazing Valley of Rocks, where you then follow a path high above Lynton and Lynmouth, giving you a bird’s-eye view over the towns and across to Wales. The walk then follows The Cleaves, the top edge of a valley above the East Lyn River, high above Watersmeet before dropping back down to the start point.
This 8.7 mile walk is described in West Country Walks ‘5 Full Day Walks in Exmoor’ booklet, which can be seen here.
Haytor Rock, Dartmoor
Leaving the Visitors Centre, you take the broad track up to the Haytor Rock, which is unmissable on the horizon. From there you can see the Teign Estuary, the South Hams and many other Dartmoor Tors. Walking due north along a narrow path through the heather will take you across the disused granite railway, which is the start of the Templer Way - Devon’s first railway opened in 1820 to take granite to the Teigngrace Canal. Smallcombe Rocks come next on the route, where the path bears NE to a cairn on Black Hill and the views continue to be thrilling. You then descend into Leighton via a tarmac lane and take the signed path to Hound Tor Rocks, the setting for Conan Doyles ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’, or return to Haytor and your car.
If you continue on the walk, leaving Hound Tor behind and head south, you will come across the fascinating remains of an excavated medieval hamlet. Following the path down through a gate to the left of Greator Rocks you then come to a pretty Dartmoor clapper bridge. Take the path on the other side of this bridge, uphill this time and you will be back at Smallcombe Rocks where you can retrace your steps to Haytor. The whole walk is about 7 miles but you can shorten the walk as you wish.
For more information about the walk, please contact torbayramblingclub.org.uk.
On your next holiday in Devon, be sure to try out the circular walk around Lundy Island. Enjoy this unique island experience on a marvellous boat trip across to Lundy Island. There you will be taken on a fascinating 3.5 mile walk around Lundy with a chance to go to the top of the Old Light where there are amazing views around the whole island and beyond. Discover the sheltered side of the island to the east compared with the windswept rugged western side. The walk gives the opportunity for refreshments at the Marisco Tavern before returning to Ilfracombe.
For more information about the Lundy Island Wildlife Walk, visit the National Trust website.
Tors and Crosses
The 5 mile walk starts at the large car park at the top of Pork Hill on the Tavistock to Princetown Road at Grid Ref SX 531 751. From here head south across Barn Hill where there is a fairly well trodden path which leads you across the Common to the high ground of Barn Hill. Just over the rise you reach the rocks with wide views south to Feather Tor and Pew Tor, both of which you will be visiting on this walk. Continue to the right of the rocks and down the slope in the direction of Pew Tor.
Continue along the grassy path downhill towards Windypost Stone Cross situated next to the leat. This is one of the ancient stone crosses which once marked the old foot route between the Abbeys of Buckfast and Tavistock hundreds of years ago.
You then need to turn left and follow the leat upstream towards the road. You will pass by a demolished blacksmith’s workshop and then the leat goes over an aqueduct. Leave the leat and walk north across the road up to the Tors for fine views south towards Plymouth.
You can now turn west again back towards the car park, unless you are feeling very energetic to join the walkers who are going up the wide grass path to the summit of Cox Tor which is the highest tor over to the right of you. It’s definitely worth the climb for the views.
The car park is clearly seen ahead and you can now make your way back.
For alternative walks in Devon, visit moorlandguides.co.uk.
Bennett’s Cross, Dartmoor
This particular walk is a figure of eight so it can cater for people wanting to walk no more than 5 miles, or those who are happy to walk twice that distance. The starting point is Bennett’s Cross (Grid Ref SX 675 817) on the B3212 – a few hundred yards from the legendary Warren House Inn where the fire never goes out. The walk provides evidence of the area’s industrial past with sites of former tin mines at various points and the ancient settlement at Grimspound containing the remains of 24 small round houses. As with so many Dartmoor walks it has the “3 Ws” – woods, water and wilderness, as well as a couple of tors.