Walking in Devon
Glorious Devon rightly deserves to be one of England's favourite holiday destinations. It has everything from the warm 'English Riviera' of the south coast to the dramatic rugged cliffs of the north coast, and is surely one of the jewels of England's richly varied countryside.
Protecting the southern coast with its Mediterranean flora, is the wild and brooding mass of Dartmoor National Park, a stunning contrast and providing a unique walking experience. In the north east, part of the softer fissured moorland of Exmoor tumbles over the county boundary. Central Devon is also enchanting with its rolling green hills, narrow winding lanes and sleepy villages. The East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty provides a rich coloured tapestry of red, lush green and chalk white. The Blackdown Hills AONB, a series of ridges on the Devon / Somerset border, provide easy pleasant walking with very few people. The only problem with Devon is being spoilt for choice.
Drewsteignton is a lovely little village on the edge of Dartmoor, overlooking the spectacular Teign Gorge. It is believed to take its name from a Norman knight, Drogo de Teigne, who was the local landowner. Thatched cottages surround the central square with the imposing 15th and 16th century church at one end. Castle Drogo nearby, which is open for visitors, looks medieval, but was actually built in the 20th century.
A Walk from Drewsteignton [SX 735908] OS Maps: Explorer™ OL28
This route takes you along a green lane and farm paths to join the Hunter's Path, high above the gorge, with spectacular views across the river to Dartmoor. The Hunter's Path leads into a beautiful wood, full of birdsong, and a track brings you full circle through a conifer plantation and back to the village. The distance is about 2.5 miles of easy walking.
Best Pub for this walk
Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton Tel: 01647 281224 (Good Pub Guide)
This unpretentious old thatched pub is a gem and very popular. At the front there is a small unspoilt bar with a serving hatch and a small lounge with a cosy log fire in winter months. At the rear is a pretty little restaurant which serves a wide selection of locally sourced food.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Pocket Pub Walks in Devon' by Michael Bennie
Crediton is a thriving market town serving the local agricultural area, but with tourism becoming an increasingly important part of its economy. It is set in a landscape that is typical Devonshire, amidst lush valleys of fertile deep red soil. Visiting the town today, it is doubtful if you would appreciate its historic importance, were it not for the impressive red sandstone collegiate Church of the Holy Cross, which suggests an affluent past. In fact Crediton is regarded as the birthplace of St. Boniface, one of the founding fathers of the Christian Church in Europe. St. Boniface is the patron saint of both Germany and the Netherlands. Its Christian history led to Crediton becoming the See of the first bishopric of Devon, an honour which it lost to Exeter in 1050AD. Much later, in the 15th century the town became one of the most prosperous of the county's wool towns.
North of the town, besides the little river Creedy, a footpath leads to Upton Hellions. Another route, mainly through pleasant farmland with a short but steep climb at the start, provides panoramic views across the countryside, including the hills of Dartmoor. The route heads south from Crediton past Queen Elizabeth College towards Uton. After crossing the Tarka railway line it heads west, following the River Yeo for a short while before heading to Fordton.
The countryside surrounding Crediton provides idyllic peaceful walking and there are a number of attractive and interesting villages worth visiting including the cob and thatched village of Cheriton Fitzpaine, Colesbrooke and Shobrook Barton. From Shobrooke you can use a combination of quiet country lanes and footpaths across farmland to plan a route visiting Shobrooke Mill Farm, Shobrooke Barton with its lovely Anglo-Norman church of St Swithins and Shobrooke Park. The climbs in the walk are rewarded by fine views across rolling Devon countryside.
Sandford is another small village just 1.5 miles north of Crediton. Documented history of the village goes back to a Saxon charter of 930AD and its true origin is probably much earlier. The name means 'sandy ford'. The centre of the village dates back to the middle Ages and has changed little since the 19th century. On 15th July the Sandford Revel, a revival of a medieval fayre, includes open-air sports and fairground attractions. The village today is a thriving community with a village store and two pubs. The historic centre of the village has been designated a Conservation Area by Mid Devon district Council.
There is a varied walk from Sandford to Upton Hellions using footpaths, green lanes and quiet country roads, which pass through some beautiful Mid Devon countryside. The route also takes in the historic parish churches of Sandford and Upton Hellions. Leaving Sandford to the north the route then heads east to Northlakes and along a green lane to Helions Mill after crossing 'Shakey Bridge' over the River Creedy. At Upper Hellions the attractive church of St. Mary the Virgin can be visited. From here there are fine views across the Creedy Valley. Return is via Lower Creedy and Thornhedges Lane.
Resources for Walking Routes
A series of booklets describing half day and full day walks on Exmoor and the North Devon coast are available to view at the website www.combewalks.com These have been written by Bryan Cath who for many years organised the North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival and therefore has immense local knowledge. Printed copies of the booklets can be purchased.
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