Coastal cures! 10 walks to blow away the cobwebs
From stunning clifftops to tranquil reservoirs, here's Muddy's pick of local waterside walks to restore you during Twixmas and New Year.
Heddon Valley to Woody Bay, North Devon, challenging, 6 miles/2 hours
Hoof it to the Heddon Valley and its dramatic South West Coast Path, along some of Devon’s highest cliffs. Park next to the Hunters Inn – always good for a hair of the dog, then head out to the clifftops for breathtaking views as far as Wales, as well as a Roman fortlet and ancient oak woodlands to spy along the way.
A dog-friendly National Trust walk for wildlife lovers taking you down Woodhuish Lane to Man Sands beach taking with wetlands and bird life at Man Sands. Follow the South West Coast Path to Scabbacombe beach and finish off back at Woodhuish, a Victorian working farm complete with restored cider press. Look out for the Dartmoor ponies en route. Don’t forget your NT card and book tickets here.
Prawle Point Walk, East Prawle, Moderate, 1 – 1 and a half hours
A not-too-long 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 and a liquid top-up.
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.
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 by water.
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.
Trenchford and Tottiford Reservoirs, Bovey Tracey, Dartmoor, 3 miles, easy to moderate
A delightful waterside walk that take you around one or two reservoirs, depending on whether your legs are up to it. The fact there is a hidden Stone Age settlement beneath the still waters gives it extra edge, as found by Channel 4’s Time Team. Muddy likes to get back in the car and drive over to The Cleave at Lustleigh, a traditional thatched pub with a covered garden (also dog-friendly) for a bevy or a slap-up roast.
Brownsham Wood to Mouthmill, Hartland, 2 miles, Challenging
Only two miles long but this South West Coast path walk on the jagged Hartland peninsula will get your heart pumping, as will the windswept views as you stomp up and down the zigzag slope, taking in the seagull-filled skies across Bideford Bay. Don’t forget your camera to grab a shot of the iconic Black Church Rock at Mouthmill beach, and the stunning rock formations.
Gara Point Walk, Noss Mayo, Moderate, 3 hours/3.5 miles
A walk round the wild side of the Yealm estuary, with options for rock-sure to clamber down to beautiful beaches and seal-spot en route, from Gara Point to Noss Mayo. If you fancy a detour, stay on the road to Noss for a bevy overlooking the water at The Ship Inn.
Don your wellies, pack the dog, the kids and gird yourself for this challenging circular walk across Exmoor that crosses fields, woodlands and riverbanks to the rare opportunity to walk along a dry Devon combe, aka valley. Keep your peepers open for salmon and otter-spotting.