10 Amazing South Devon Walks
Devon is well known for its walking and many people from all over the country come and visit to enjoy the old ways and strays that litter the Devon countryside and coastline. Coastal walks in Devon are popular as the South West coastal path visits every hidden cove and tiny fishing village along the way. Dartmoor has many ancient pathways used throughout time by those that farmed this desolate land. Whilst exploring Dartmoor you may find ancient ruins and an abundance of wildlife. The rivers of Devon form part of many walking routes as those that wanted to travel large distances knew where the river ended so put their trust in its direction. There are some lovely towns and villages all along Devons rivers, maybe stop at a local tavern for a drink or bite to eat. Below are 10 of my favourite south Devon walks. Remember to always be prepared when walking long distances, check out my article for “6 Basic Essentials To take Hiking”.
Red Lake, Dartmoor
Dartmoor is home to some of the most scenic places in Devon and somewhere which should be on every photographer’s bucket list. Red Lake is probably one of my favourite south Devon walks, which takes you across open moorland and down into winding valleys. Make sure you go on a clear day as it’s not for the faint-hearted, the moorland weather can conjure up some challenging scenarios and Red Lake is quite isolated. The scenery along the way is absolutely stunning and whilst stepping back in time you will be following the old Red Lake railway line which has now become an excellent walkable pathway. There are other ways to get to Red Lake however if you don’t know Dartmoor, this is a great way to get there and trust me you won’t be disappointed with the scenery. Read more about my journey to Red Lake here “Dartmoor’s Secret Red Lake”
Hembry Woods is a National Trust owned woodland which has been designated an SSSI (site of scientific interest). This is due to its diverse range of wildlife, some of which are rare and Hembry Woods seems to provide the perfect environment. Hembry Woods links directly onto Holne Woods and they make two of the best South Devon walks you can find, both for beginner and expert. You can either take a stroll into the endless woodland or venture alongside the river. With such a large variety of routes to take its easy to explore these woods for hours. I recommend going in the spring when the bluebells have arrived, the forest floor is littered with a sea of blue and the birds are singing along. Read more about Hembury Woods here “Hembury Woods Walk – Hidden Devon Walks”.
Castle Drogo To Fingle Bridge
Castle Drogo is known as the last castle to be built in England and stands high upon the Devon hills just on the edge of Dartmoor. There are many great walks around this area but none are quite like the circular walk to Fingle bridge. The walk is dog-friendly and you will find many people taking their furry friends around this fantastic walk. The walk itself starts high above the river Teign and crosses over at Fingle bridge into some colourful woodland, abundant with wildlife. Remember to look out for Sharp Tor as you can get some fantastic views from the top, the steep climb is well worth it.
Dartington Hall and Woods
Dartington Hall is an old building and a very popular attraction for visiting tourists. The Dartington estate stretches far and wide around Dartington Hall and there are many opportunities for a walk. For easy walks try strolling around Dartington Halls beautiful gardens and afterwards have some refreshments in their on-site café. If it’s a bigger walk you’re looking for you can follow the river across open fields and through ancient woodland. There are some beautiful areas along the way, the steam railway travels alongside the river and the woodland has some beautiful redwood trees to look up at.
Dart Valley Trail
This has to be one of the most popular walks on the tourist trail. The Dart valley trail spans from the beautiful market town of Totnes to the famous harbour town of Dartmouth. The entire route is around 16 miles long and can be made into a circular walk by getting ferries at Totnes, Dittisham and Dartmouth. The route is more popular in smaller chunks the Greenway to Dartmouth circular walk is known to be the most beautiful in terms of natural scenery, but that’s a matter of opinion. It’s also acceptable to view the Totnes to Ashprington section as the best, as it’s a much easier walk and allows you to experience the quirky town of Totnes whilst also viewing some lovely scenery along the way to Sharpham Vineyard. You can’t go wrong as there is so much to see whichever route you take. Read more about Totnes here “Things To Do In Totnes – Days Out In Totnes”.
Teignmouth To Dawlish
This is another popular South Devon walk, it can be either easy or challenging depending on how much you want to do. The start of the walk is all flat and takes you along the famous South Devon railways sea wall. This stretch of the railway line is known to be the most photographed stretch of railway in the country with beautiful red cliffs falling endlessly into an open sea its no wonder it is so popular. If you want to walk a little further you can do the entire stretch in a circular walk but be warned the elevations on certain parts of the walk can be challenging. Remember to take lots of photographs and enjoy both the towns of Teignmouth and Dawlish.
Saltram house is owned by the National Trust and is known to have the largest footfall of all National Trust buildings. The grounds are set on the edge of Plymouth and alongside the open expanse of the Plym Estuary. This walk is an easy walk and great for beginners, it takes you through ancient woodland and gives you great views of the Plym Estuary. The walk is dog-friendly, with big wide paths. Drop into Saltram house for a cream tea or a mosey around, it’s a beautiful building with lots of character.
Bantham to Hope Cove
Bantham is a well-known tourist beach and hope cove is also popular but much smaller. The two beaches make up part of the famous South West coastal path. Coastal walks in Devon are among the best south devon walks and are the perfect way to see the incredible South West coast, with wonderful views of the sea and all the colourful villages that sit along its edge. Bantham to Hope Cove is generally an easy walk with around 3 miles of flat pathways. One thing to mention is the hill at the beginning of Bantham is rather steep and some might struggle as it does ascend for some time.
Start Point To Salcombe
Start Point lighthouse is a great starting point for a walk along the South Devon Coastal Path. This area of the coast is somewhat hidden with many beaches such a Mattiscombe Sands and Elender Cove hidden away from the main tourist scene. The peaceful atmosphere these small sandy coves have is due to the majority of them requiring a walk to get to and this is why you will have many opportunities to visit a fair number of quiet coves on this walk. This walk is a long one but the terrain is not too strenuous, although be prepared for some hard walking. To get over to the main town of Salcombe you will need to catch the ferry although it’s well worth a visit. Read more about Salcombe here “Discovering Salcombe”.
Dartmouth Castle to Compass Cove
Dartmouth Castle is a place that has seen many battles during its 600-year life. Dartmouth was an important port and entry point into the Devon rivers, the castle was used as the first line of protection against any possible enemies. The walk from Dartmouth Castle provides some exceptional views and shows you a much more rugged example of the Devon coastline. Compass Cove is a small cove that’s nestled between tall cliffs, it’s a quiet place for a rest or a spot of lunch. Remember to look out for wildlife on this walk as some birds and seals are known to make an appearance.
Walking is so popular in this area of the country and some South Devon walks provide everything the enthusiastic hiker wants. If its coastal scenery, rugged landscapes, or quaint little hamlets then Devon is the place to visit. Rember if you enjoy reading about Devon and other travel destination please subscribe for all the latest content.