I love a woodland walk. From green forest glades, to dark ancient woods, there is something for everyone in this list of 5 fantastic woodland walks in Devon.
This ancient oak woodland is a magical place. You can’t help but be moved by the timeless feel of these moss-covered tress. This is a place of gnarled twisted branches and lichen-cloaked stones. The walk across the moors to find the wood takes you parallel to a sparkling stream where the views are wide and expansive. But as soon as you reach the trees of the wood, everything changes. The wood makes everything seem darker and older. This is an isolated eerie place with its own dark beauty. It’s not an easy place to walk through, as the forest floor is covered in large granite boulders, but it is worth it for the intrepid. It is a great place to bring children. My children are always inspired by these woods and hop between the boulders hunting pixies, or running from imagined trolls.
Bellever is right at the heart of Dartmoor, and connects to numerous trails for all abilities. You can choose to follow one of many marked trails or follow the historic bridleway, The Lich Way. Alternatively, you can just wander freely. The forest contains the tall spires of Scot’s Pine. Although Bellever Forest is less than 3 miles from Wistman’s Woods the character of the two woods could not be more different. Where Wistman’s is dark, mysterious and ever-changing; Bellever is open, airy and comparatively unvaried. I find them both beautiful in different ways. Bellever is a great place to visit on a warm day as you can picnic by the East Dart River or relax in the soft grass of the meadows. This is a good place for spotting the iconic Dartmoor Ponies, beautiful wild ponies roaming free across the moors.
Fingle Woods, Teign Valley
There has been a lot of work recently to open up this forest to visitors. The Woodland Trust has been partnering with The National Trust to restore this woodland and make it more accessible. There is still much work to be done but many areas of native woodland are now reachable. These areas, in particular, contain many species of native trees, as well as wild flowers. These are also good habitats for different species of wildlife and birds. Fingle Woods can be found on the south side of the Teign Valley, downstream from Fingle Bridge.
Plymbridge Woods lie just outside the large city of Plymouth but as soon as you enter these forests you feel like a million miles from city traffic. These well-established woods have relaxing clearings to picnic in beside shallow bubbling streams. There are lots of marked paths criss-crossing this forest which means that you can plan your visit according to your time and energies. If you have got time and energy though, it is well worth following a trail which takes you to the impressive Cann viaduct, with its amazing views. This is a great place for birdwatching and there are sometimes Peregrine Falcons in the cliffs nearby. There are lots of interesting trees here. When I visited recently, the National Trust had organised a trail called ‘Top Trunks,’ which my children loved. Various species of tree had been given scores for height, age, thickness and lifespan. Another feature of these woods are various ruins lying alongside the River Plymm which reflect the area’s industrial pst.
Haldon Forest Park, near Exeter
This forest has something for everyone: walkers, bikers, dogs and families all share this area. There is even a place offering segway trails. This is a well-organised forest which has been designed to make things as easy as possible for visitors. There is a huge car park, a cafe, a ranger’s office and various play areas. What you gain in ease and convenience you sacrifice in any sense of wildness. There are days, though, when the organised simplicity of this place is incredibly welcome. It is very family-friendly and includes a Go-Ape Activity centre and various child-friendly trails. At the moment, the main activity trail for children is based on the popular picture book The Highway Rat. Although these forests are popular, they are also quite expansive, so once you are away from the car park you can quickly lose the crowds. There are some spectacular views here, and lots of activities to keep everyone happy.
Stay in Devon to enjoy woodland walks, beach days and much more.