The Top 10 Best Walks in Devon

Otter Valley Park

Devon is one of the most beautiful and varied areas in the UK, taking in the river valleys of the South Hams, Dartmoor, Exmoor, and a stunning coastline.

The National Trust’s local expert Jim Pascoe selects his favourite walks…


Fingle Bridge

Fingle Bridge over the River Teign near Drewesteignton, Devon
Fingle Bridge over the River Teign near Drewesteignton, Devon. Photograph: Michael Dutton/Alamy

Distance 3¾ miles
Start Fingle Bridge car park, grid ref: SX743900
National Trust downloadable route and map

The Teign Valley is one of Dartmoor’s hidden gems: on one side the famous bleak high moor, on the other, the less well known eastern side, a series of steep-sided wooded valleys. The Two Moors way passes through it – for the truly adventurous this route, as the name suggests, goes from north to south Devon through both Exmoor and Dartmoor national parks. Fingle Bridge itself is a stunning setting, and a steep climb up Hunter’s Path rewards you with fantastic views from Castle Drogo out across the North Moor. In the castle’s cafe, Christine’s team do great cake. If you prefer to stay down by the river, the option to explore the Gorge on the Fisherman’s path is equally rewarding.


Wembury Point

Wembury beach, Devon
 Wembury beach is a great spot for rock-pooling. Photograph: Alamy

Distance 3 miles
Start National Trust car park, Wembury Beach, grid ref: SX517485
National Trust downloadable route and map

This fascinating area used to be HMS Cambridge – the navy’s gunnery school. Since its purchase by the National Trust it has been lovingly returned to nature and is now a significantly more tranquil place. The views out to sea are spectacular and this is a great place to see the wide variety of craft that come and go from Plymouth. You get a great view of the navy’s Thursday War (the weekly war-fighting exercises) from here too. The bay back towards Wembury church is a top spot for rock-pooling adventures.


Gara Point, Yealm estuary

Noss Mayo in south devon at low tide
 Noss Mayo at low tide. Photograph: Alamy

Distance 3½ miles
Start National Trust car park at Warren, grid ref: SX541465
National Trust downloadable route and map

The area around Noss Mayo and Newton Ferres has some spectacular walks, this is one of my personal favourites. Gara Point is the wilder side of the Yealm; you pass some striking coastline, gorgeous woods and picturesque grazing, not to mention the options for good pubs – the Ship ( and the Swan (, both in Noss Mayo, pull a fine pint. All of this is packed into a relatively compact area, the paths are good but the climb out of Noss Mayo is not for the faint-hearted. On a clear day, as you walk along Revelstoke Drive you can see across the mouth of Plymouth Sound, to Cornwall, and all the way out to the Eddystone Lighthouse.


Ringmore to Ayrmer Cove

Clifftops above Ayrmer Cove, looking towards Burgh Island, Devon
 Clifftops above Ayrmer Cove, looking towards Burgh Island. Photograph: Adam Burton/Getty Images

Distance 3 miles
Start Ayrmer Cove car park, grid ref: SX649456
National Trust downloadable route and map

This is a beautiful valley and beach that is tucked away – the route down to the cove passes through old sunken lanes, one of which was supposedly used by smugglers. The area is well known for its reptiles, which can often be seen basking in the sun. The cove itself provides hours of fascination; at low tide the vast rock pools are teeming with marine life such as blennies, anemones and starfish. The sand dunes, bound together with marram grass, are constantly shifting and home to sea sandwort, forming a lush green carpet bearing greenish white flowers in summer. The cove also has unique and colourful rock formations. The Journey’s End Inn ( is a great little spot to stop once you’ve scaled the lanes.


Salcombe to Hope Cove

Salcombe Devon
 The stunning estuary at Salcombe. Photograph: Derek Crouche/Alamy

Distance 4½ miles
Start East Soar car park (National Trust), grid ref: SX713375
National Trust downloadable route and map

This area is probably best avoided in the height of summer as the sheer number of people can detract from the outstanding charm of the place. That said, it doesn’t take long to leave the crowds behind. The headlands on both sides of the Salcombe estuary provide excellent walks. Catch the ferry from Salcombe and you can walk directly up the beautiful valley at Mill Bay, this opens up as you reach the top and is the start of a lovely walk to Prawl. The Pig’s Nose at East Prawl ( provides great entertainment as well as a welcome stop. On the opposite side, the area between Bolt Head and Bolt Tail has amazing views and the walk up from Salcombe to Overbecks is really stunning – as you climb up it is well worth looking back to take in views of the estuary.


River Dart and Kingswear peninsula

Combe Point to Froward Point at the mouth of the River Dart, south Devon
 Combe Point to Froward Point at the mouth of the River Dart. Photograph: Derek Stone/Alamy

Distance 4½ miles
Start Greenway Quay, grid ref: SX876548
National Trust downloadable route and map

The Dart estuary is a brilliant area to walk, and there is a good system of ferries which link Dartmouth, Dittisham and Kingswear, as well as options to travel further up the river to visit the brilliant Sharpham’s vineyard. My favourite walk is from Agatha Christie’s old house at Greenway along to Coleton Fishacre, right out on the end of the peninsula. You pass through Long Wood to join the Dart Valley Trail, the steam railway runs alongside and provides the perfect time machine experience, and once through Kingswear you join the South West Coast Path and your surroundings become more exposed. The walk to the old gun battery at Froward Point is spectacular, the views back across to Start Point and Slapton are breathtaking.


Upper Plym and Trowlesworthy Tor

Ponies grazing at Dewerstone, Dartmoor, Devon
 Ponies grazing at Dewerstone, Dartmoor. Photograph: Jane Hallin/Alamy

Start Shaugh Prior National Trust car park, grid ref: SX533637
National Trust downloadable route and map

The route of the River Plym provides some amazing and varied scenery. Up on the High Moor it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere yet you are only a few miles north of Plymouth. The area of the upper Plym is littered with bronze age archaeology; there are barrows, hut remains and standing stones within a very short walk of the car park at Cadover bridge. Following the river south brings you to the Dewerstone, which takes its name from the Dartmoor legend of demonic hunter Dewer; the devil himself. When night fell, Dewer would hunt down people who were lost on the moor.  Accompanied by a pack of fearsome, ghostly dogs called Whist Hounds, Dewer would drive people to their deaths via a fatal fall from Drewerstone’s highest cliff. Thankfully these days Devil’s Rock is more commonly used for climbing.



Watersmeet in Devon
 Watersmeet is home to otters – and brave kayakers. Photograph: Getty Images

Distance 3 miles
Start National Trust car park at Countisbury, grid ref: SS747496
National Trust downloadable route and map

Watersmeet is one of Britain’s deepest river gorges, where the lush valleys of the East Lyn and Hoar Oak Water meet. This entire area is a walkers’ paradise, with options to explore inland or take the coastal path along the cliff tops. Watersmeet House is now a great little cafe where you can refuel on an ample cream tea. The river is home to otters, salmon and the occasional brave kayaker. The varied terrain in this area is striking, but it is the wealth of wildlife which is the real treat: red deer, herons, wood warblers and jays all call this beautiful place home.


Heddon Valley

Heddon valley, Exmoor Devon
 Heddon valley in north Devon. Photograph: Alamy

Distance 3 miles
Start National Trust car park, grid ref: SS656480
National Trust downloadable route and map

A beautiful walk through ancient woodland alongside the River Heddon to where it meets the sea on the north Devon coast, between some of England’s highest sea cliffs, framing an amazing view out to sea. Down on the beach you will find a restored 19th-century lime kiln. The coppiced woodland and meadows are specifically maintained to provide habitat for the high brown fritillary butterfly. The best season to spot them is between mid-June and early July. For those of an adventurous disposition, a steep walk down to Woody Valley provides a great opportunity to take a dip.


Croyde, Woolacombe and Mortehoe

Woolacombe, Devon
 The golden sands at Woolacombe. Photograph: Martin Brent/Getty Images

Distance 6 miles
Start Mortehoe village car park, grid ref: SS458453
National Trust downloadable route and map

This part of the coast was once notorious for smugglers and wreckers. During the second world war it was a D-Day planning centre; today it is home to the Royal Marines amphibious testing centre. The walking around this corner of north Devon is great, stretching from the rocky headland of Baggy Point at Croyde to the rugged heights of the Tors of Ilfracombe, Lovely Woolacombe beach sits beneath the surrounding hills, miles of golden sand to wander along while watching surfers in action. You can scramble up the stegosaurus’ back of Morte Point’s wild headland, and if you’re really lucky you might spot seals basking in small coves below. This coastline also has a Victorian past – the Torrs Walk above Ilfracombe was created for the enjoyment of tourists many years ago, and you can see why this stretch of coastline has had such an enduring appeal.


Source: The Guardian / Writing Credit Jim Pascoe

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