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Our little black book of enchanting places



Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O'Sullivan

Too much Christmas pudding? Then how about a walk to blow the cobwebs away and work off some of those festive calories while you're at it. Our friends at Visit Devon have come up with six great walks in one of our favourite counties. None are more than five miles long, some you can do in a couple of hours, but they all take you through some of the most uplifting landscapes in the UK. 

1 The Ernest Bassett Walk, Dartmoor
Distance: up to 5 miles depending on route

Devised by a keen Dartmoor walker and founder member of the Dartmoor Rescue Group, this walk is intended as an easy introduction to the area’s natural attractions. Beginning in Okehampton on the shoulder of Dartmoor, the walk covers the historic architecture and an old waterwheel before continuing along paths, fields and through woodlands, leading to the East Okement River. The scenic route passes by small waterfalls and still pools, before continuing in a climb to East Hill where, on a clear day, walkers will see fantastic views across to Exmoor and an almost aerial view of Okehampton, before returning to the town.
2 The Middle Dart Valley Walk, Totnes
Distance: 5 miles

This route is perfect for winter as the trail follows surfaced paths and lanes, so if it’s snowy or been a little wet the going will still be easy, and there is just one gentle climb and no stiles – perfect for families and those looking for an easier stroll.
Beginning and ending at Totnes, the walk passes along the River Dart through the Dartington Hall Estate, where there are lovely views over the Middle Dart Valley. Walkers could stop off at Dartington Hall or the Dartington Press Centre nearby for refreshments and then the walk continues along lanes and through woodland, where walkers will pass by the working waterwheel before returning to Totnes. 
 3 Devils Point
Distance: 1 mile

Devils Point Park, part of the South West Coast Path (above), is a mile long park and coastal pathway that is now joined with the historic Royal William Yard. Both steeped with naval history, Devils Point, used for centuries as a farewell and welcome home point as Royal Navy Warships arrive and depart, features spectacular views across Plymouth Sound and Cornwall. Located adjacent to Plymouth’s Royal William Yard, an old walled naval yard built in 1826, the two are now joined by cantilevered stairs which link the two sites together, allowing walkers on the South West Coast path to walk through to the 19th-century walled yard through a concealed entrance. The contemporary, purpose built stairs feature a glass viewing platform and panoramic views over the Tamar Estuary. Walkers can admire the coastal surroundings before finding refreshment in Royal William Yard’s many artisan restaurants and cafés.

4 Torquay's Victorian Gardens and Lookouts
Distance: 3 miles

The 3 mile circular walk along the beautiful South West Coast Path from Daddyhole Plain, Torquay, passes what was once a Victorian rock garden, now preserved as a wildlife conservation area with some rare and beautiful plants. With superb views of Tor Bay and down through wooded cliffs, walkers can catch a glimpse of crystal clear waters.  From viewpoints along the way walkers will see Torquay's most dramatic rock formations, such as the Devonian limestone arch, named London Bridge by the Victorians. Towards the end of the coast path section lies Peaked Tor Cove where the Torbay Home Guard's Second World War lookout post can be found, 
offering panoramic view across the Bay. The spectacular walk and views demonstrates why the English Riviera is a UNESCO-recognised Global Ge-opark.
5 The Mamhead Sensory Trail, near Exeter
Distance: 1.5 miles

Beginning and ending in Haldon Forest Park (above), just minutes outside Exeter, the all-ability trail takes walkers along flat, well-surfaced tracks. It’s perfect for those with younger children, as it’s a ‘sensory trail’ with special markers along the way to encourage walkers to appreciate their whole surroundings, and plenty of resting points and picnic benches. It’s also pushchair friendly, with no steep inclines.
Starting at the car park in Mamhead, the route goes through the forest and a beech-lined avenue to the high viewpoint near the Obelisk. From there walkers can admire views across the whole of Exeter, and on a clear day across to Start Point and Dawlish. The route consists of two loops that both lead to and from the car park, and can be shortened to one mile. 

6 The Tarka Trail, North Devon
Distance: 1.5 miles

The Tarka Trail is an accessible walking and cycling path that runs through 163 miles of North Devon coast and countryside beginning at Instow and encompassing the South West Coast Path. Walkers will pass through old railway tunnels, under bridges and through the village with the opportunity to follow the path ahead and round to the beach, walking through the dunes. When the tide’s in, walkers can continue along the cricket club driveway to join the path through the village where there’s a few nice pubs to warm up in after a cold winter's walk.

Further information on all these walks and other walks throughout the county, Visit Devon 

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