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.