8 of the Best Walking Routes In North Devon
Spring and summer pleasure trips to North Devon are a great way to relax, and no part of the trip is better than the famous Devon walks. Devon’s scenery is best enjoyed when it’s out in the countryside or on a walking trail, so put on your most comfortable runners and explore!
The Best Spots For Walking In Devon
Sure, you could pick any open road or trail and waltz down it, enjoying the splendour of nature. Then again, why do that when there are better spots that offer more of a view? What if the trail you pick turns out to be a mostly uphill climb that leaves you exhausted and heaving? We’ve got your back. Here are nine super spots for a casual stroll (or hiking adventure!).
Ilfracombe – Watermouth Cove
A 7.5-mile stretch makes up this scenic route, which brings walkers by two notable homes from centuries long past – Chambercombe Manor, an 11th century manor house, and Watermouth Castle, built in the 19th century. You’ll end up at Watermouth Cove for a breathtaking view of steep cliffs and breaking waves. The walk itself is of moderate difficulty. Most uphill climbs are quite gentle, and the streams and high trees let you get close to nature.
Mortehoe – Woolacombe Beach
Lovers of marine life will love walking along these historic beaches. Starting from Mortehoe, you’ll walk along the coast where smugglers once congregated. During WWII, this spot served as a base of operations and planning. You are, quite literally, walking on history when you stroll this coastline. Along the 6-mile walk, you’ll pass through Croyde and eventually get to see the Royal Marines amphibious testing centre.
The Tarka Trail
The Tarka Trail is a popular choice for visitors to Barnstaple and the surrounding areas. This impressive walking trail has panoramic views you won’t want to miss, especially on the walk from Barnstaple, fondly called the Riverside Walk. Estuaries abound, and if you happen to walk this trail close to sunset or at low tide, a serenade of birds can be heard overhead and in the surrounding trees. You can also take other routes that lead you through wide open farmland, with broad views of the sky.
The Hangman Hills
The Great Hangman is the largest cliff in the Combe Martin area, as well as in Southern England, and it stands at a breathtaking 1,043 feet tall. To get to a view such as this, you’ll have to start from the Combe Martin beach and follow the steep ascent to the Little Hangman. If you find yourself too tired to go on after that, you can always go back and rest at the wooden shelter you passed on the way up there. For the more adventurous, another steep climb awaits you before you can get to the Great Hangman.
Barnstaple – Braunton
This river walk takes you along a part of the Tarka Trail that was once the Ilfracombe railway line. Overhanging trees gently let the sunshine through as you walk along the banks of the Taw River. It’s about 6 miles from Barnstaple to the nearby village of Braunton, a charming suburb with quaint chapels and has many historic estates. The walk from Barnstaple to Braunton is for the most part flat, making it an easy stroll for adults and children of any age.
While you can’t walk to Lundy Island (you can only get there by ferry or helicopter), there are plenty of places to walk once you get there. Puffins and other exotic marine life can be found there. Walking is pretty much free-range, but it’s best to stick to well-worn paths to avoid erosion and muddy patches. There are opportunities for easy hikes on flat paths or more challenging ones that take you up and down the cliffsides and over rolling hills.
Bideford is a lovely coastal town that’s host to the South West Coast Path that runs right through its borders. This path is one of the longest to be found in the United Kingdom; it goes for over 630 miles! Although the South West Coast Path makes its way through other walks in Devon, Bideford has some of the best sights to offer. Long Bridge, a historic piece of architecture from the 13th century, leads this path through the centre of Bideford where visitors can get a good view of the river Torridge.
This village, which sounds more like the title of an American western film, is home to a railway station that finds itself inside the boundaries of a Bideford parish. The name of the village comes from a famous Charles Kingsley novel, and the village’s title is the only one in the history of the United Kingdom to have an exclamation mark in it. Adventurous spirits and history buffs will enjoy taking the path from Bideford to Westward Ho! to see the long stretch of sandy beaches nearby.
What’s your favourite walking route in Devon?