Thursday, 19 November 2009

Walking in Devon- Weather Caution!


With the current bad weather I just wanted to remind walkers to be careful as conditions are likly to be difficult at present. Last week saw Devon & Cornwall take the brunt of the Atlantic's fury as storms battered the region.

At the current time walking in Devon could prove to be a challenge and walkers should check weather conditions beofre they go out and be prepared to abandon their walk if the weather turns against them.

The recent heavy rains will have seen river levels rise. On the moors clapper bridges and other river crossings may no longer be usable. Please do not attempt to cross a fast flowing river if the crossing is submerged. If you are out in heavy rain it is also possible that you could meet a flash flood as river levels can rise suddenly.

Ground conditions are likely to be poor, in some areas there may be an increased risk of a slip or fall due to wet or unstable ground.

Coastline walks may also be difficult. High winds or blustery conditions may make some routes unpassable. It is always better to turn back than to risk losing your footing due to a sudden wind.

As always a healthy dose of common sense will keep you safe and allow you to continue enjoying devon walks.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Cornwall walks anyone?

The Devon Walks crew are off to Cornwall for the weekend. We're hoping to get a few good walks in and praying that the rain stays away. Obviously we can't share these walks with you on the site but if we have any fun adventures we will post them here so if you decide to head further west you can enjoy them too.



Sadly the site has been a little quiet of late in terms of new info on walking in Devon and with the rugged cornish coast bekoning it will be next week before we get to update you on the North Devon walking festival, although you can find more info on that at http://www.walkingnorthdevon.co.uk/ 

If you've come across any great walks that you'd like to share with us please email info@devon-walks.co.uk  and let us know if you are happy for us to put the walk up on the site. Also please include any photos you would like to share and we will put them up on the site with the route description. 


Anyway expect to here about a bit more about Cornwall next week.


Happy Hiking!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

You can tell by the way I use my walk, I'm a Mid Devon man...




no time to talk! But I do have time to tell you about the new walk around Witheridge up now on the


site. This circular walk in Devon  makes use of the long distance two moors way path and is a lovely route across some of the lushest countryside devon has to offer.


Sandwiched between Exmoor and Dartmoor this area of Mid-Devon is often ignored by the casual
visitor but the beautiful pillowy landscape is well worth exploring. Wooded valleys shade gentle
meandering rivers whilst undulating hills offer rich pastureland.

Many of the farms which bring life to the countryside here are listed in the Doomsday book. Although the area was sparesly populated at the time. In fact the middle ages were tough in the moorland fringes in Devon and compared to the rest of the country the area was well behind in
agricultural technology. Many of the basic comforts the population were enjoying elsewhere in the
country were absent in Devon for another 100 years.

The harsh aspect of the village is what inspired it's name- 'Weather Ridge'. It's exposed hillside
position means that it catchs the full brunt of prevailing southwesterly winds and storms. And
certainly this isn't a walk to be attempted in poor weather. Conversely on a clear day you are
treated to some of the most appealing vistas in Devon with views out towards Dartmoor being
especially enchanting.

The area is rich in wildlife too. In particular the Little Dart is home to the elusive otter, as
pictured on http://www.witheridge-devon.com/ (above). Part of this walk does follow along the river
bank although I do not know if it is an area where otter have been sited. Unfortunately I do not have the wildlife enthusiasts temperament, lacking the patience to sit for the amount of time required to see these animals.

If you do attempt this walk please take the time to explore the area further and it really is one of the most unspoilt areas of the county. And of course, for more great ideas for walking in Devon head to Devon-Walks.co.uk!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Attack of the Pheasants.


There's a new walk at Devon-Walks.co.uk around Molland Common on Exmoor. This is a great Exmoor walk as it offers you the oppourtunity of seeing Exmoor's two most famous inhabitants, the Red Deer & Exmoor Ponies. At this time of year you are also likely to see plenty of pheasants as I did when researching the walk on Sunday. This is the story of that walk.

We parked by the Church in Molland and eyed up the London Inn (http://www.mollandinn.co.uk/Home.cfm), hoping it would be open on our return. As we left the village and headed down the lane we started to see the first of the many Phesants we encountered on the walk. Upon our approach they would leap through the hedgerows or startle us by flying out of a bush just over our heads.

At the top of this lane was our first navigational challenge. You leave the lane to pick up a footpath but just to confuse us the track that you would assume is the footpath is actually just a field access and you have to go through the gate tucked in on the left in the photo below. There is a footpath sign but it is hidden by the hedge.


From there we headed through several fields with the pheasant parade continuing ahead of us as they whooped & ulululed, crashed & flew out of our path. In the final field we headed steeply downhill having to pick our way through the bracken and brambles taking a guess at which muddy sheep track was the footpath and eventually locating the stile amongst the undergrowth.

At the top of the next lane we followed a tarmac farm path bridleway and soon found the source of all these pheasants. In the fields above us we saw plenty of feed bins and can only assume that there will be plenty of tasty game pies on offer at this farm through the winter. The Bridleway carries through the farmhouse garden and we were treated to a real luxury, an electronic gate! This was a novelty I have never encountered on a walk before and was filled with child-like glee as the gate swung quietly open and then closed again after we had gone through.


From the farm the bridleway turns left and heads downhill into a patch of woodland. It was here that we disturbed several red deer in the woods, one of which came crashing out onto the path before jumping a fence and heading off across the field. If a pheasent flying out of a hedge makes you jump try witnessing a deer jump out at you, it's a real thrill. After this we came across yet more pheasents all doing their best to warn each other of our approach so the air was filled with whoops and honks.


After this we came out onto the open moor and found ourselves in the company of some exmoor ponies, including a young fowl. They really are a most enchanting animal with coats that are so evocotive of the moorland colours around them.

Finally it was back on the lanes to Molland and the pheasants had one last attempt at scaring the wits out of my companion by leaping from every bush, tree and any other item of foliage that came to hand.

We returned to the car and set off for home, forgetting about our pub intentions but we were able to recify this with the swift appearance of the black cock inn and a pint of exmoor ale.

For more free Devon Walks please check out the site.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Fancy a stroll? Just from here to Weymouth.

There’s a new page up at Devon-Walks.co.uk all about long distance paths in Devon. There is a full run down of the options available to you from the obvious like the South West Coast Path to the intriguing, like the Orange Way.



These paths are all well signposted and offer a range of challenges from one week to walk the Two Moors Way unto several months and 3x the height of Everest to walk the SWCP. Local Authorities and independent organisations, like the South West Coast Path Association, put a lot of time and money into creating and maintaining these paths and it is important that we support them. Often they are a great base for shorter walks but to experience them in their full glory is something that I’m sure all walkers dream about.


All of these paths appeal to me for various reasons but nothing is as big a draw as the South West Coast Path. Who hasn’t imagined what it would be like to have the time and the money to attempt this mammoth challenge in one go. Sadly for most of us we have to tackle it over weekends and over the odd week’s holiday. Quite apart from the time required the accommodation costs and logistical challenges would be extensive.


Many people undertake these challenges on behalf of a charity and raise handsome amounts for it too. Quite rightly in my opinion, although they are probably doing something they love and have had designs on for years it is certainly no walk in the park, to borrow a suitable phrase. The personal sacrifice and challenge can be great but no one who has completed such a trip has ever felt dimished by it’s undertaking and people often grow in extraordinary ways in the face of adversity.


If any of you do harbour the desire to attempt any of these paths, I urge you to create every opportunity you can to achieve you aim. You will not regret it and will be elevated among your peers as a doer instead of a dreamer. Go forth & walk!


Of course for those with more modest desires there are still plenty of great Devon Walks that take only a couple of hours to be found on the site.


Monday, 28 September 2009

New Walk- Newton Poppleford in East Devon

There is a new walk on Devon-Walks.co.uk, the Newton Poppleford Circular. I created this walk partly to highlight the East Devon Way, an often overlooked long distance path and partly because I like the name of the village!




Newton Poppleford was established in the 15th Century and the name roughly translates from old English as New Town (of) Pebble Ford. The Pebble ford was at that time the only way to cross the nearby River Otter. Today it is situated on the main road from Exeter to Sidmouth. I think this is a lovely village that is typical of the pleasant villages you get in this part of the county.



The East Devon Way is a 40 mile path between Lyme Regis and Exmouth. Although there are a couple of climbs the route is not overly challenging and I believe it could make a nice weekend trip with an overnight stay in Sidbury.




The section of the East Devon Way that features in this walk includes the section over Harpford Commom. This is part of the pebble bed heaths that includes Aylesbeare Common. It is home to a rich selection of wildlife in particular there are over 30 species of butterfly. If you are vesting in late summer be sure to look out for brimstone fritillaries.



I hope you enjoy the walk and please keep an eye out for more great Devon Walks coming soon.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

New Walking Equipment Page on Devon-Walks.co.uk



We’ve added a new walking equipment page to the Devon-Walks.co.uk website. Check it out for a quick guide to the gear you need to enjoy walking in Devon to it’s fullest. The article covers all equipment areas including the most important item of kit, the walking boot.

Having a good quality pair of walking boots is an absolute must for maximum comfort when walking. The wrong shoe can be an irritant, say if it’s not waterproof on a wet walk and your feet are damp and cold. Or it could be more serious, where a poorly fitting boot gives you blisters that remain painful for some time. The worst case scenario is that you could sustain a serious injury, to your ankle for example, by tripping or slipping. This could stop you enjoying a Devon walk for quite some time, what could be worse!

The importance of a good boot has become such a focus that some shops offer specialised fitting services. In fact in some larger stores I have seen a plastic moulded bridge of ‘rough ground’ for customers to walk over to test fit and grip on uneven surfaces. I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced that 2 metres of plastic knobbles are really a great aid when trying to decide on a new pair of boots but it certainly makes for great entertainment.

Personally I don’t think you can find one pair of boots that are suitable for all conditions. A main bugbear of mine is that the sturdier boots which have a strong sole that are excellent when walking in muddy conditions seem to have absolutely no grip when walking across rocks. For anyone that enjoys a walk on the coast, or even scaling the odd Tor, having a flexible sole that provides some grip on a smooth rock surface is a must. Admittedly the stiff sole provides the best base for longer hikes but even a wet country lane can prove treacherous in this kind of boot. Therefore I favour a lighter trail boot with more flexibility. You sacrifice some ankle support but it does live you free to bound from rock to rock whilst your boot wearing companions march steadily beside you.

In the summer I like a trail shoe in good weather. These very light low cut shoes are almost a trainer in some respects and don’t look out of place around town. They tend to be well ventilated and being lightweight won’t bog you down in the heat. These are best sorted to shorter walks and I would still recommend a light boot on longer hikes.

Whilst it is best to try boots on in store if you are familiar with a particular brands sizing it is well worth ordering online to enjoy the savings you get with the internet. I personally like to use Amazon as they are an established retailer with good customer services. They are normally thought of as a seller of books, CDs and other media but also stock a good range of walking equipment

Thursday, 17 September 2009

New Walk on Dartmoor



A new walk has been posted on the website- Hay Tor Circular.

This easy 4 mile walk features one of the iconic landmarks of Dartmoor. Hay Tor dominates the landscape but climbing to the top of the tor and you are rewarded with some of the finest views of Dartmoor on offer. In addition there are plenty of free car parks in the area, offering plenty of options for starting points to your walk.

This is a very popular area of Dartmoor so it is best avoided during school holidays as it does get very busy. My favourite time to visit is at dusk on a sharp winters day. Watching the low sun go down in the west, casting long shadows across the mist filled valleys truely is a magical experience.

Climbing is also popular at Hay Tor and it is always worthwhile to stop and watch those brave individuals pit themselves against the rough granite of the tor. There are companies in the area that offer an introduction to the sport if the sight of others dangling from the tor inspires you. Just don't look down! 

If you are looking for a more sedate way to enjoy the countryside and wish to explore outside of Dartmoor please check out Devon-Walks.co.uk for more ideas on walking in Devon.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

North Devon Autumn Walking Festival

Following the success of the annual North Devon Walking festival, usually held in May, the organisers have decided to run an additional Autumn walking festival from the 18th to the 21st September. 

There will be over 30 events with guided walks suited to all levels of ability. Several walks have a culinary focus with the availability of wild food becoming the main focus of the walks. The fungi forage is likley to be a very popular walk, and it provides an excellent oppourtunity to pick up some expert knowledge on a tricky subject. 

Wildlife fans have not been forgotten to with the return of the popular deer search walks led by an experienced Exmoor Park Ranger. There is also the chance to explore some areas of private land not normally open to the public. The guided tour of the grounds of Hartland Abbey is sure to be a highlight of the festival and is a must for all those Jane Austen fans as a cottage within the grounds was used as a location for the BBC Sense & Sensibility adaptation. 

All walks should be booked in advanced with ticket prices at around £5. For more information visit www.walkingnorthdevon.co.uk.
If you can't take part in the festival or prefer to walk alone visit Devon-Walks.co.uk to see some of the best walks in Devon

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Walking in Devon

Getting ready for a nice long weekend walk, and guess what it looks like it's going to rain! If you are going to go walking in Devon remember to back your waterproofs. With the summer we've had my mac has seen more use than my sunscreen that's for sure.
We're off to Bratton Fleming for a new walk and hopefully a bit of blackberrying if we're lucky. If it's any good expect to see it on Devon-Walks soon.
Happy Hiking!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Welcome to the Blog!

Devon-Walks.co.uk welcomes you to the new blog. We will be posting all the 
latest news here. Whenever a new Devon walk is posted it will be announced 
on the blog. The web site is still in the early stages so expect to see regular 
updates over the next few months. We will also use this blog to document our 
own experiences of walking in Devon and perhaps a few behind the scenes 
reports on how the new walks get put together. 
 
Till then, happy hiking!