If this year’s holiday plans don’t include visiting Devon, you could be making a mistake.
Especially if you love walking.
Devon was made for walkers
With two unique coastlines, both Exmoor and Dartmoor national parks, and mile after mile of rolling fields in between, Devon could have been designed for walkers.
Whether you’re looking for a gentle family walk, an accessible walking route, or a long distance route march, Devon walks have it all. Step it out along the South West Coast Path, collect a few Dartmoor tors, or try your hand at beachcombing in a secluded cove. Wherever your Devon walk takes you, you won’t be disappointed.
Especially if you choose one of my favourite Devon walks (including two accessible walking routes).
I’ve lived and walked in Devon for 20 years now. I haven’t finished exploring yet but I do know a thing or two about the best places to walk in Devon.
And I’m more than happy to share some of my favourite walks with you.
All you have to do is pull on your trainers, lace up your hiking boots, and set off. I’ve done the hard bit. It’s time to get exploring on foot. What better way could there be to experience this most satisfying of counties?
The ten best walks in Devon
(According to me!)
1. Bossington to Porlock Weir – North Devon
If alien landscapes are your thing, you’ll be right at home crossing the mysterious Porlock Salt Marshes. For ghost trees, rippling water channels, and some of Devon’s most photographable light, this short walk is a must for anyone looking for something a bit different.
Start at the National Trust car park in Bossington TA24 8HQ. Leave time to explore the village with its impressive chimney stacks, then enjoy lunch on the other side at Porlock Weir. I can definitely recommend Ziangs on the Weir for amazing take away noodles (reopens March 2022).
NB: To avoid the scramble onto the impressive shingle bank at the Porlock end, I recommend an early cut up to meet the road.
2. Lynmouth to Watersmeet House – North Devon
For a river walk, this one has its fair share of hills but it also takes you close along the banks of the East Lyn River. For the budding river swimmer there are plenty of pools on offer here but be warned, this river may look tame but it has quite a current.
Start at the car park by the Lyndale Bridge in Lynmouth EX35 6ES. You won’t need a picnic, there are refreshments on offer at the National Trust’s Watersmeet House but you might require a few snacks to get you up those slopes.
3. Start Point to Great Mattiscombe Sands- South Devon
You really can’t beat a lighthouse walk but this gem in the beautiful South Hams has so much more to offer. Especially if you’re interested in geology. Along the South West Coast path here you’ll find yourself walking on some fascinating ancient beach platforms where the sea levels have fallen (a strange concept in modern times).
Start at the Start Point car park TQ7 2ET, and don’t forget to include a detour down to the lighthouse. Take your beachwear for Great Mattiscombe Sands but watch the undertow here, and don’t get cut off by the tide. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a coffee van back at the car park.
4. Haytor to Hound Tor – Dartmoor
Both Hound Tor and Haytor are amongst Dartmoor’s most visited tors but the route in between is not so well explored, and always delivers. Discover the Templer Way stone tramway, take a traditional clapper bridge across the babbling Becka Brook, and ascend to discover the mysterious medieval settlement at Hound Tor.
Start at the top Haytor car park TQ13 9XT (not the Visitor Centre one), and pack a picnic. You might find the Hound of the Basketmeals van at Hound Tor car park but it’s not always there. On the way home I can recommend Home Farm Cafe at Parke near Bovey Tracey.
5. Widecombe to Grimspound – Dartmoor
If you love a bit ancient history, this is the walk for you. Leave the picturesque (no it really is) village of Widecombe for the high, wide expanses of Hamel Down. Along the way spot Bronze Age cairns and barrows (burial sites) before you descend to explore the fascinating Bronze Age village at Grimspound.
Start at Widecombe car park TQ13 7TA, and treat yourself to coffee and cake at the Cafe on the Green before you set off. On your return I guarantee you’ll feel a wander down the lane to the Rugglestone Inn is worth the extra effort. If the atmosphere and building don’t do it for you, the pies and pints certainly will.
6. Bolberry Down – South Devon – ACCESSIBLE
By far the best thing about Bolberry Down is its expansive sea views but a really close second is that this walk is accessible for the whole family. With wide, wheelchair and pushchair friendly paths, and plenty of benches, this one offers the opportunity for everybody to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a clifftop walk.
Park at the National Trust car park at Bolberry Down TQ7 3DY then wander at will. With such wonderful views, you might want to pack a snack but there’s also some great Devon grub available at nearby Ocean’s Restaurant. For a longer walk why not head west to beautiful Hope Cove or east to secluded Soar Mill Cove.
7. Kingswear to Stoke Fleming – South Devon
You can start this walk in Dartmouth but I recommend taking the ferry from Kingswear. It’s a wonderful experience that will give you a water level view of the first section of your walk. You can’t beat the River Dart estuary for castles, coves, and contours. There are a fair few hills in this walk but each one reveals its own unique glimpse into Devon history.
Follow signs for the Dartmouth Lower Ferry then park at the Darthaven Marina car park TQ6 0BH. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a steam train as you head for the ferry. I definitely recommend Dartmouth Castle Tea Rooms for a fantastic combination of coffee, cake and sea views. Once you’re back in Dartmouth you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eateries.
8. Bovey Tracey to Lustleigh – South Devon
It’s time to head inland now with a walk that joins the traditional market town of Bovey Tracey to the picture postcard thatched village of Lustleigh. Take your time as you wander along these leafy lanes. There’s plenty to admire. This walk gives you a welcome taster of the Dartmoor Way long distance walking route.
Park at the Station Road car park TQ12 2JE then cross the road to start your walk alongside the River Bovey. It would be rude not to celebrate your arrival at Lustleigh with cake from the thatched Primrose Tea Rooms. but don’t eat too much, there’s lunch at the Cleave Restaurant and Bar before you roll back down the hill to enjoy pasties in Bovey Tracey.
9. Ditsworthy Warren House – Dartmoor
Dartmoor has plenty of film locations but the house at Ditsworthy Warren is probably its most well known. The atmospheric building has been home to the fictional Narracott Family in Steven Spielberg’s film version of Michael Morpergo’s War Horse, and the real (rabbit) keeper of Ditsworthy Warren. Explore and you might find the remains of pillow mounds, where rabbits were once bred for commercial sale.
Park at the Gutter Tor car park near Sheepstor village. Please note, the lanes here are very narrow. You will probably need to reverse your vehicle at some point. For easier parking, consider walking in from nearby Burrator Reservoir. You’ll need to bring your own refreshments for your film location picnic but please stay off the private land around the house itself.
10. Haldon Forest Park – Exeter – ACCESSIBLE
Haldon Forest Park is another place that has something for the whole family. Even if one member likes to dangle from trees, and another is more comfortable on two wheels, Haldon can cater for all your needs. Whether you choose to walk, push or run on Haldon Forest’s walking trails is up to you but there’s plenty of information about their accessible trails here to help you choose.
There’s plenty of parking at the main Forest Park car park EX6 7XR. Haldon Forest Park really does have it all with Tramper off-road mobility scooters available to hire, and the Ridge Cafe for refreshments.
Top ten walks in Devon
So there we have it. My top ten walks in Devon. However, don’t let my list stop you from exploring further. With miles and miles of green lanes, bridleways and footpaths, Devon has something exciting around almost every corner. So many that I predict you’re going to need more than one pair of walking boots.
Enhance your website with walking tips
It could rightly be said that, as an outdoor writer living in Devon, Fi is ideally situated. She certainly has plenty to offer her growing portfolio of outdoor clients.
Fi is an Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champion. She teaches navigation skills and loves weaving stories, encouraging people to get outside, creating entertaining walks, and giving outdoor advice. Get in touch today to find out how Fi can help bring an outdoor spark to your website or magazine.