With some of the most varied terrain and beautiful countryside in the UK, walking breaks are always popular in North Devon. Add Exmoor National Park and the drama of the South West Coastal Path and you have even more choice of great walking routes to explore, with plenty to see and do along the way.
However, for many visitors, it is the shorter walks in North Devon that appeal most, for several reasons. Firstly, they suit all abilities and don’t demand high fitness levels or extensive planning to deliver on great scenery and fresh air. Such shorter walks that swallow up only 2 to 3 hours of time can also be fitted around other activities, or planned around the weather more easily. Hence these shorter routes also make ideal autumn and winter walks.
Here are 5 walks ideally suited for all abilities and easily combined with a day excursion. We’ve include a little fact file with each location to show other attractions and activities nearby, as well as distances and links to route maps. These are ideal starting points, but it’s also worth simply asking our staff at Northcote Manor Hotel for further places to walk and explore in the region.
Barnstaple Estuary Walk
An ideal little walk to combine with an excursion to Barnstaple, or perhaps an afternoon ramble in its own right, this easy route takes you across a pretty 3 miles or so of Tarka Trail. Leading alongside the River Taw, it delivers sea air and broad views and is a great way to take in the estuary and its wildlife. Autumn is an especially rich time to visit, with migratory birds in great diversity and numbers each year; don’t forget the binoculars and camera if wildlife is your thing!
Other things to see and do: Pop into Barnstaple for a look at the markets or a trip to The Queen’s Theatre for an evening of music, comedy or drama.
Distance: 2.9 miles
Dulverton Circular Walk, Exmoor
The beautiful Barle, an important artery feeding the River Exe (Image by Lewis Clarke)
Ancient woodlands and the pretty River Barle are key features of this most pleasant and easy of circular walks to the south of Exmoor. Perfect for all abilities, it takes in some lovely countryside along the way, with a well-deserved seat for a break or a picnic. The river itself is always changing, with the chance of spotting a kingfisher or even an otter or leaping salmon if you are lucky. The small town of Dulverton is well worth a look too- why not enjoy a cream tea or a pub lunch as a reward for your exercise?
Other things to see and do: The cute pubs, shops and heritage sites in Dulverton are well worth a detour, while there is year round fly fishing at Exe Valley Fishery nearby.
Distance: 3.3 miles
Windswept Views at Westward Ho!
Splendid views and space to roam at Westward Ho!
Another one of those circular walks in North Devon that will provide a good helping fresh air but can easily be completed in a morning or afternoon, this coastal route takes in some lovely views of Lundy Island and the Atlantic Coast. It can certainly be dramatic here, if rather bracing on a windy day. It is Charles Kingsley’s 1855 novel of the same name, however, rather than the unpredictable coastal weather which gives the town it’s rather theatrical name.
Other things to see and do: Kipling Tor is a famous local landmark that gets its name from the Jungle Book author, who spent childhood days here.
Distance: 3.5 miles
Tall Trees and Civil War History in Torrington
Cool waters on the Torridge (Image credit: Barry Deakin, Geograph.co.uk / Wikimedia Commons)
Sometimes overlooked but always a pleasant day excursion, Great Torrington is a quiet town with fine views over the River Torridge as well as a great deal of local history. There are several Torrington walks you could try, but one easy route is the ever popular Torrington Common area and its special Tree Trail. As the name suggests, his shared area of land has a bewildering assortment of trees, from elms and poplars to rarer West Country natives such as the Devon Whitebeam. The area has over 20 miles of curiously named paths and something to spot at every season, whether you visit in autumn or spring. Another good alternative, however, is to book a guided Torrington walk for a closer look at intriguing local heritage and legends.
Other things to see and do: Torrington has some fascinating English history (and even its own Civil War themed 1646 Cafe), as well as a vibrant performing arts scene at The Plough Arts Centre. Or for gift shopping, Dartington Crystal is a must.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Forest Trails and Wildlife at Eggesford
With easy access and well-marked woodland trails, Eggesford Forest is as accessible as it is peaceful. At less than 20 minutes from the hotel, it is ideal for many of our guests, whether they want to stretch their legs for an hour or demand a longer and more challenging walk. Talking of which, there are odd steeper or boggier sections to test the more intrepid rambler. There are few facilities of any kind out here; you’ll be lucky to get a phone signal much of the time (sheer bliss for many of us!).
All Saints Church, Eggesford (Image by Phil Halling, Wikimedia Commons)
Other things to see and do: Although most mod cons are missing, there are several nice picnic spots, along with rich seasonal wildlife. You might also stop at Eggesford Church or explore the nearby hillfort site.
Distance: From 2.7 miles
CLICK HERE FOR WALKING ROUTE & MAP
Northcote Manor Hotel: Ideal for Walking Breaks and Romantic Escapes in Devon
With a beautiful country house location, great scenery and an excellent restaurant, Northcote Manor Hotel is the ideal place to escape for some serious respite at any time of year. It is always worth checking our special offers section and Facebook page for any current hotel deals and late offers.