10 walks with pubs & *maybe* a stopover
Is there anything better than a beautiful Autumnal walk that ends in a pub lunch? Stroll, scoff (and maybe even stay) your way across Devon.
The sun may have gone in, but there’s plenty of day time left for a crisp autumn walk – followed, of course, with a pint or lunch in a cosy pub or cafe! Here is Muddy’s pick of places where you will love to play and maybe *definitely* be tempted to stay. Feel free to add your recommendations in the comment box below – the more the merrier.
Teign Gorge to Castle Drogo, Easy to moderate, 1-2 hours
Beautiful at this time of year, starting with Fingle Bridge Inn and ending at National Trust’s Castle Drogo. Park near the inn and either do it the hard way up Hunters Path or stomp alongside the river. You’re guaranteed stunning views at Sharp Tor, where you can look along the valley and over the tops of the turning trees. There are picnic benches for coffee stops or hotfoot it back to the inn with its traditional Dartmoor feel and cosy fire.
Fancy a stay? The modernista’s dream, Huxham View, is close to city and moor, but nestled in countryside so the best of both worlds.
Circular Ancient Yew Tree Walk – Plymtree to Clyst Hydon, Easy, 1 hour 45 minutes
Wellies on for this route which starts at the Grade 1 listed church and 1000-year old yew tree and takes you through fields with a stop off at Muddy-approved Five Bells at Clyst Hydon, named one of 2020’s Top 50 Gastropubs, with talented chef Charlotte serving up pub classics and some amazing specials: pressed Belly of pork with mustard and apple compôte, anyone?
Fancy a stay? Larkbeare Grange is one of those rare B&B beasts, a restored Georgian Manor House where owners Charlie and Julia think of everything, from home-made marmalade at breakfast to White Company linens in the bedrooms. Lush.
Morethoe to Morte Point, Easy circular walk, 1 hour
Start at pretty Morethoe where you can stock up on homemade cakes and warm scones at Miss Fea’s then head out to Morte Point from where you can see the whole of Woolacombe Beach and if you’re lucky maybe an Atlantic grey seal. For a longer walk, the energetic can make along the cliffs to Bull Point Lighthouse which takes you past secluded coves with rickety steps down to them. Time it right and you may be rewarded by an amazing sunset.
Fancy a stay? After an idyllic retreat just for two? March End Lodges is good for exploring rolling North Devon countryside by day and by night you can sink into a hot tub on the decked terrace. Bliss.
Church Green and Farway Circular, Blackdown Hills near Honiton, Easy, 2 hours
Lose yourself (metaphorically, obvs) in dreamy Devon farmland and wend your way past berry-filled hedges and the bucolic village of Farway with its thatched cottages. For kitchen garden-grown vittles and a gorgeous bar, The Pig at Combe is just four miles away.
Fancy a stay?
Well, I mean you’re right there so it would be rude not too. The Pig does rustic-luxe impeccably, and the best breakfast Muddy has ever eaten.
Broadsands Beach, near Berrynarbor, North Devon, Difficult, 1 – 2 hours
One of those hidden gems with crystal clear waters and dramatic rock formations – more like something you’d expect to see in the Med. The only downside is the 200-plus steps to get down to the beach. Park on the road near the steps of if you want to avoid the walk altogether, hire kayaks or paddle boards instead from nearby Combe Martin and travel under your own steam b y water. For top nosh, hotfoot it to The Old Sawmill for American smokehouse goodies, and quality local meat and produce.
Fancy a stay? Easy-peasy! Book into one of the Sawmills four rooms (two pet-friendly) so you can tuck into dinner then just walk the few stairs to snod-land.
Slapton Sands, Torcross, South Hams, Easy, 1 and half hours
This three-mile shingle beach is dog-friendly all year round and great for foodies with Start Bay Inn and Stokely Farm Shop cafe (and the vintage furniture shop, Relish) a few minutes away inland. Just ten minutes down the road is Beesands, with the Cricket Inn and Brittania at the Beach. The nature reserve at the lake behind the beach, Slapton Ley, is an easy walk with littlies too.
Fancy a stay? Want a sea view with your stay madam? Book a chic apartment At the Beach, which is exactly what it says on the tin, perched at the end of Slapton Sands.
Dulverton to Tarr Steps, Exmoor, Easy or Difficult (take your pick)
Technically, just over the border in Somerset but hey, who’s measuring?! Find 40 acres of gardens to explore at the 17th century Tarr Farm and the stunning medieval clapper bridge over the river Barle to boot. You can rock up at the car park close to the steps or up the ante with the more challenging circular stomp from Dulverton which takes you from riverside through woods and Iron Age hill fort.
Fancy a stay? Boutique hotel, Heasley House, at your service! Family-run and Muddy approved, and Jamie and Melly will happily hire you an electric bike if walking is too much like hard work.
Prawle Point Walk, East Prawle, Moderate, 1 – 1 and a half hours
A blow-away-the-cobwebs trek along dramatic clifftops with the reward of stunning coastal scenery and a stop at the characterful and dog-friendly Pig’s Nose Inn with its interesting nick nacks and roaring fires, perfect for warming cold post-walk toes.
Fancy a stay? Make it uber-amazing at Gara Rock, 8 miles away, with its spa, cinema room and stunning sea views. Family and dog-friendly too.
Dartmouth to Greenway, South Hams, Moderate, 2 hours
A fun walk that takes in a boat ride, disused train tracks and historic houses in the shape of Agatha Christie’s former holiday home at Greenway. Begin in Dartmouth, then take the short lower ferry ride across the River Dart to Kingswear. Grab a bevvy in The Steam Packet Inn to get you going, walk parallel to the steam train tracks along the Dart Valley Way and river all the way to Greenway, then take the little boat from Greenway to Dittisham and end up in The Ferry Boat Inn. Cheers!
Fancy a stay? How does a chic and peaceful retreat right on the banks of the River Dart take your fancy? Book in at the Dart Marina Hotel, with rooms, suites and self-catering on the cards.
Maidencombe Circular, Watcombe via Maidencombe, Moderate, 1-2 hours
One for seal-watchers and dolphin spotters, this up-and-down south west coast path walk takes you from the sandy beach at Watcombe near Torquay through woods and across clifftops to the thatched village of Maidencombe where you should definitely pop into The Thatched Tavern for a pint. It’s now family-owned and had classy makeover. (If you don’t believe me check out my review). Don’t miss the honesty box selling fresh flowers and produce on the farm steps opposite the pub.
Fancy a stay? Just up the hill in Maidencombe is the boutique hotel, Orestone Manor, family-friendly with an award-winning restaurant channeling a jazzy, Gatsby vibe, with super sea views and equally gorgeous cream teas.