Stroll and scoff! 11 winter pub walks in Devon
Wishing you hadn't polished off that family-sized Celebrations box? Here are 11 town and countryside walks around Devon to fuel your Fitbit.
If you like your walks to come with indie shops and cafes (and bird watching opps), you’ll love this easy circular walk around Topsham. Park at the top car park and walk through the town, past the pretty 17th century Dutch houses until you reach the estuary then follow it round through the lanes until it brings you back to the town. You’ll find plenty of seats and a bird hide en route, then pop by The Passage House Inn for a refreshing pint in the open air where you can sit right by the estuary (open 10am-6pm).
The old ones are the best and this walk is really old, with 400 year-old stunted oaks covered in moss and lichen, with every view an insta-worthy shot. It’s also the site of one of the largest Bronze Age settlements in Dartmoor and the winter home to skylarks, short-eared owls and hen harriers. Get there early if you want to find a spot in the small car park nearby and pack a flask or stop for a mulled wine at the cosy Two Bridges across the road from where the walk starts.
Nine Maidens and Belstone Tor, North Dartmoor, Moderate, 4.2 miles
Steer clear of the Boxing Day Dartmoor crowds (at Haytor especially) and head to this lesser known Tor in the pretty village of Belstone. Legend has it the nine rocks were created when nine maidens were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday. No such superpowers for you, though there is the option of an old stocks the kids in when you can’t take any more of their squabbling. The village pub is closed on the 26th but The Three Crowns at nearby Chagford is open for slap-up Boxing Day Feast, with the excellent promise of a turkey-free menu.
Yarner Woods, East Devon Nature Reserve, Bovey Tracey, 2 miles circular walk, Easy
A great walk with kids in tow, with huge ancient oaks to see and the Yarner Wood Reserve Base for leaflets about the various trails. There are cool sculptures, plenty of benches and loos too. Afterwards, head over to Ullacombe Farm Shop for a festive cream too (book first) or stop off at the Muddy-approved and multi-award winning Home Farm Cafe, open for drinks and homemade cakes (locals can get 5% off with their Locals Card).
The Obelisk, Haldon Forest, Mamhead, Circular easy walk, 1 hour
A short, flat mutt-friendly walk in the woods with the lure of a panoramic view out over the Exe estuary and Exmouth in the distance, and an excellent Exe Coffee Roasters coffee and cake from Teign Bean based in the car park. Check out the 18th-century stone Obelisk just to the right of the viewing point, built as a landmark for ships sailing up the estuary.
Grand Western Canal, Sampford Peverill to Tiverton, 6 miles, Easy
A sedate waterside stroll along the canal to Tiverton, the site of one of only three horse-drawn barge companies left in the UK, Tiverton Canal Company. Though they’re summer-only, you can enjoy a relatively mud-free peramble with plenty of urban options in the town for scoffing and quaffing and idyllic barges to daydream about living in and handsome Shire horses chewing in the fields.
Teign Gorge to Castle Drogo, Easy to moderate, 1-2 hours
Park up and grab a brew at Fingle Bridge Inn (open 11am-4pm) then take your pick from the more arduous stomp up Hunters Path or keep it tame alongside the river. The views across the valley are stunning with plenty of picnic benches for coffee stops on your journey to Castle Drogo, the last castle to built in England (opening hours here).
Noss Mayo and Revelstoke Drive, Noss Mayo, Moderate, 3 hours/3.5 miles
A walk round the wild side of the Yealm estuary, starting at Warren Car Park with options for the sure-footed to clamber down to beautiful beaches and spot seals along the way. If you fancy a detour, stay on the road to Noss for a bevy overlooking the water at The Ship Inn. Alternatively, park in Noss or Newton Ferrers and do a circular walk around the two villages which face each other across the water (hopping over the creek if the tide is out) while trying to look like you’re not rubber-necking into the windows of the many covetable cottages and awesome waterside homes.
Abbotsham and Westward Ho, Circular Walk, 5.5 miles, Easy
An easy walk that takes you from the Kipling Tors car park though a mix of country lanes and coast path, with the reward of a stop-off at The Thatched Inn at Abbotsham. It has a new covered ‘Snug’ outdoors too for meeting up with five of your pals if you need a break from the family (as if.)
Prefer the city sights? Try these…
Exeter City Wall Trail, Easy, 3.2km
With Exeter badly bombed in WW2, you might be surprised to discover 70% of its ancient city walls still remain. This curated trail takes you around the city’s 2000 year history, from Castle Street to the Norman gatehouse and the sites of the various city gates. When you’ve walked the route (here) head over to Cosy Club or Southernhay House Hotel on Southernhay for a light bite and glass of Picpoul.
Plymouth Wildlife Trail, Easy, 3.2km
This child and buggy-friendly trail from the heart of the city to the waterfront and back, points out unique trees, sea and bird life, including where you might spot a peregrine falcon, taking in the historic Barbican, The Hoe and Smeaton’s Tower along the way. Route here and the Plymouth Stable on the Barbican is your pitstop for coffee and pizza.