East Devon Way
The East Devon Way provides a 40 mile long distance path through the rich and varied countryside of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along the route you can fully enjoy the character of quiet Devonian countryside, with its dramatic views and welcoming villages. Linking footpaths, bridleways and stretches of country lanes the Way heads eastwards from Exmouth exploring the AONB as it makes it way to the finish at Uplyme.
Leaving Exmouth the first village encountered is Lympstone, a little place set between low sandstone cliffs on the bank of the Exe, with a quaint little pier. It's picturesque, with a pleasant jumble of mid-Victorian houses. From here there are good views of the hills around Mamhead and Haldon. The route now heads across the East Devon Commons, past the earth works of Woodbury Castle and eventually into the Hawkerland valley. This area forms part of the RSPB Aylesbeare Nature Reserve and from the track there are splendid views up to the Otter Valley towards tree capped Dumpdon Hill and the Blackdowns.
After crossing the coarse scrubland of Harpford Common the villages of Newton Poppleford and Harpford, with their pretty cottages, part cob and part stone, and many thatched, make a welcome sight. Newton Poppleford is a good choice for a first overnight stop. From Harpford follows a stiff climb through Harpford Wood and along the ridge of Fire Beacon Hill, another Nature Reserve. The route then heads towards Bold Hill and then drops into the upper Sid Valley, eventually making its way into the village of Sidbury.
Leaving Sidbury the Way begins a muddy climb through Buckley Plantation to reach a plateau at nearly 600 feet. After a short ridge walk the Way enters Tallmoor Coppice, a mixture of oak, ash, holly and birch through which are glimpsed the fields of Roncombe Valley. Other acid woodlands follow as the Way descends to Lower Knapp, once a farm, but more recently a holiday establishment. These valleys, with their smaller side valleys, are excellent places to see birds of prey such as kestrels, sparrow hawks and buzzards.
The Way now climbs again to Farway Hill, another large plateau at 700 feet and after a series of field paths enters a large coniferous plantation. Further field paths give views south towards Farway as they make their way around the top of the valley and descend to Church Green and Farway villages in the Coly Valley. From here it is a short journey to Northleigh from where the Way follows the left bank of the River Coly as far as Colyton, a good choice for a second night stop over.
From Colyton the Way crosses the Seaton Tramway line after which it meanders through the floodplain of the River Axe. This is a great place to see spectacular dragonflies and damsel flies as well as abundant birdlife, including greenfinch, goldfinch, dunnock and meadow pipet as well as herons on the river. Eventually, after passing an area where the river becomes a small lake and where wildfowl can be observed, the Way crosses the Axe River and heads into Musbury.
The final leg of the East Devon Way leaves Musbury, passing the Iron Age Camp knows a Musbury Castle which offers fine views. The Axe Valley is spread out below, down to the coast, which is visible as far as Start Point, and inland beyond Axminster to the Blackdown Hills. Shortly the Way picks up an old drover's road from where there a good views of the Bruckland Valley, with its ancient woodland, marsh and traditional meadows. At Great Trill Plantation the Way turns east and heads for Uplyme after crossing the abandoned Axminster to Lyme Regis branch line at a little stone bridge at Hartgrove Farm. The Way now follows Woodhouse Lane to Wadley Hill and the final descent to Uplyme and the little River Lym.
By returning along the Coastal Path from Lyme Regis back to Exmouth, the East Devon AONB can be appreciated as a whole. This also allows you to make a circular route of 65 miles by combining the East Devon Way and the South West Coast Path National Trail.
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