Walking & Hiking in Devon
Short stroll or epic hike, summer or winter walk, take your choice of miles of Devon's exhilarating views, gently rolling countryside, high moorland, river valleys and some of the finest stretches of coastline in Britain - what more could you ask?
Walking in Devon is an absolute joy, which is why it is such a popular destination for walking holidays, Devon's walking routes take in every glorious view, every beautiful beach, and every interesting monument and you can see a whole different side to the county which can't be found from a car or train.
Here, you'll find a network of pathways criss-crossing the county and, with its mild climate, unspoilt beauty, peace and tranquillity - not to mention Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, and the South West Coast Path running across 205 miles of the north and south coasts - Devon is the perfect place to explore on foot.
Going on a bracing walk in the winter or a gentle stroll with a picnic in the summer is a lovely way to spend time together without having to break your budget. Whether you're looking for a romantic activity or a way to amuse the whole family there are plenty of places to explore on foot, with everything from flat, level walks with beautiful views to challenging hikes that take on hills, tors and more. Because Devon is such a popular place for walking tours and holidays, you'll find that many of the outdoor attractions, like the spaces managed by the National Trust and other establishments with large amounts of ground will run themed trails and treasure hunts, particularly during the school holidays and there are plenty of opportunities for geocaching and other family friendly fun.
Great Devon walks, with a roast dinner chucked in...
One of the best things about going on a countryside or coastal walk is the chance to stop off at a traditional pub or restaurant for a drink or two and an all important hearty meal. There are few things better than stomping through the countryside and then pausing for a homemade roast at countryside pub. Here are a couple of popular walking routes, all are circular routes, and graded as easy, so suitable for most abilities. There are a series of walks that have been adapted to make them suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs and there are routes across Dartmoor that are part of the Miles without Stiles campaign.
The Middle Dart Valley walk
Distance: 5 miles
This is perfect for winter walks because it only follows surfaced paths and lanes, so if it’s snowy or been a little wet the going will still be easy, and there is just one gentle climb and no stiles.
It begins (and ends) at the centre of the interesting medieval town of Totnes, then passes along the River Dart through the Dartington Hall Estate, where there are lovely views over the middle Dart Valley. You could make a day of it and stop off at Dartington Hall or the Dartington Cider Press Centre nearby, where there are crafts, shops, and places to eat. The walk continues along lanes and through woodland, where you’ll see a mill with a working waterwheel before returning to Totnes.
Good to know: Dogs aren’t allowed in the courtyard or gardens of Dartington Hall, but you can pick up the route at the far end of the gardens. Long-distance walkers may want to add this middle part of the Dart Valley to the Dart Valley Trail.
The South West Coast Path, Bolberry Down
Starts/ends: Bolberry Down car park
Distance: 1–1.5 miles
Bolberry Down is managed by the National Trust, so this lovely area has a network of well-maintained, easily accessible paths from which to admire the sea views and rare coastal grassland.
There are a number of routes that you can take, but if you want a nice easy stroll take the loop route that heads east along the coast. You’ll pass the Port Light Hotel, then head along the coast, passing a number of viewpoints and benches. When you reach the return point you’ll be able to see along the coast as far as Rame Head in Cornwall, and on a clear day you should be able to see the Eddystone Lighthouse guarding a dangerous reef 8 miles out from Rame Head.
Good to know: this route is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies, and dog-friendly too. The Port Light Hotel is a good stopoff point for refreshments.
The Mamhead Sensory Trail, near Exeter
Starts/ends: Mamhead car park in Haldon Forest Park
Distance: 1.5 miles
This all-ability trail is in Haldon Forest Park, just minutes outside Exeter, and takes you along flat, well surfaced tracks. It’s perfect for those with younger children, as it’s a ‘sensory trail’ with special markers along the way to encourage walkers to appreciate their whole surroundings, and plenty of resting points and picnic benches. It’s also pushchair friendly, with no steep inclines.
Starting at the car park in Mamhead, the route follows through the forest and a beech-lined avenue to the high viewpoint near the Obelisk. From here there are views across the whole of Exeter, and on a clear day across to Start Point and Dawlish.
Good to know: There are two loops of one and one and a half miles that both lead to and from the car park, and can be shortened to one mile. The route is very clearly marked by a map board at the carpark and markers along the way, but you can pick up a paper map first from Haldon Forest Park Ranger’s Office a mile or so away.
The Tark Trail, North Devon
Distance: 1.5 miles
The Tarka Trail is an accessible walking and cycling path that runs through 163 miles of North Devon coast and countryside. Follow the section that runs through Instow and leave the trail to double back along the South West Coast Path and a footpath that promenades along the edge of the beach.
Join the Tarka Trail where it crosses Marine Parade, at Instow Signal Box. Head north through old railway tunnels and under bridges through the village for about 1 kilometre, until there’s the opportunity to leave the trail to the left in the direction of the thatched Instow Cricket Club building. Follow the path ahead and round to the beach, then walk to the left/south back in the direction of the village – you could walk through the dunes if you like. Once you reach the village, continue south along the path that runs along the edge of the beach until it takes you back to your starting point.
Good to know: If the tide’s in and you don’t want to walk along the beach after you leave the trail at the midway point, you can walk left/south along the cricket club driveway to join the path that leads through the village. There’s a public car park in the village, further along Marine Way, and a few nice pubs to warm up in after your walk.
The Ernest Bassett Walk, Dartmoor
Distance: 5 miles
Devised by a keen Dartmoor walker and founder member of the Dartmoor Rescue Group, this walk was planned as an easy introduction to the area’s attractions.
It begins in Okehampton on the shoulder of Dartmoor, and initially takes in the sights of the town’s historic architecture and an old waterwheel. It continues along paths, across a field and through woodlands, then alongside the the East Okement river. From this scenic valley the route passes by small waterfalls and still pools, then continues in a climb to East Hill – on a clear day you’ll see fantastic views across to Exmoor and an almost aerial view of Okehampton – before returning to the town.
Good to know: This walk has variations that can make it 2.5, 3 or 4 miles.