10 of the best woodland walks in Devon

Bellever Forest (c) shrdlu-, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Bellever Forest (c) shrdlu-, Flickr (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

Experts say forests and woods are important places to de-stress and relax and were included in the top three nature destinations people visited last year. So what are you waiting for? Get your wellies or your boots on and head out on one of these wonderful woodland walks.

Halsdon Nature Reserve

1) Halsdon Nature Reserve, nr Dolton, North Devon

This Devon Wildlife Trust reserve provides the perfect place to see nature on a walk through oak woodland to the River Torridge and its surrounding water meadows.

If that's not enough, there is a point along the walk known as 'the top of the world', with views across to distant Dartmoor. If you keep an eye out there's also a good chance that you may see an otter or two enjoying the tranquil waters.

Haldon Forest Park

2) Haldon Forest Park, near Exeter

The Discovery Trail here is designed for everyone. There are fun features along the route for children, regular resting points and some stunning views.

The park is made up of 3,500 acres of woodland and other than the Discovery Trail there are four other walking routes and five cycling trails, all of which can be enjoyed when you head just 15 minutes out of Exeter.

Plymbridge Woods 222-0632

3) Plymbridge Woods, Plymouth

Start at Plymbridge Woods car park and head off on a walk that takes you past the ruins of railway cottages, onto a viaduct where you might be able to see peregrine falcons at their nesting site, before heading back along the glorious River Plym.

As well as being filled with majestic nature at every turn, the area has a rich industrial past with the numerous bridges and the Cann Viaduct still standing as a reminder of that heritage.


4) Bellever Forest, near Postbridge, Dartmoor

The various trails that go through this stunning part of Dartmoor are perfect for a peaceful meander through the forest where you will stumble across silent hut circles and a few grazing ponies.

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If it's archaeological history you're after then try the History Hunters trail that gives you an insight into how our ancestors formerly lived on and worked on this particular part of the county.

Hisley Wood Pack Horse Bridge

5) Fingle Woods, Teign Valley

This ancient woodland stretches out between Castle Drogo and Steps Bridge. The trail takes in long-forgotten sights including an Iron Age hill fort at Wooston Castle and the Hidden Valley at Halls Cleave.

The Fingle Woods area is one of the many in the county managed by the National Trust and you can see many other walks going through their other sites through this link.

Bluebells in Hardwick Wood

6) Bovey Valley Woods, Lustleigh

It's three woods for the price of one here. Follow one of the several networks of paths to see oak woodland, bog habitats and meadows.

The three woods in question are Pullabrook Wood, Hisley Wood and Houndtor Wood with each one providing something different to the next. The woods have a range of medieval features including the remains of several farmsteads.

Core Hill, Sidmouth, Devon 25/10/15

7) Hardwick Wood, Plympton

This is ancient woodland, referred to in the Domesday Book as 'a grove of fences'. Hardwick Wood is one of five woods that together make Plymouth Woods, an escape from the busy streets of Britain's Ocean City.

Take one of the narrow paths that criss-cross the site and explore the wildlife that has made it a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 1954.

combe wood sign w C and D

8) Core Hill Wood, Sidmouth

As the name would suggest, these woods sit on a hilltop, so expect a great view out to sea. The paths will take you past a delightful mix of alder, sycamore, beech and oak trees.

The woods are located a couple miles outside of Sidmouth and so provide the perfect spot for an alternative view of this near flawless stretch of East Devon coast.

Andrew's Woods Loddiswell Kingsbridge Devon

9) Combe Wood, near Honiton

Try the one-mile circular walk here and look out for the Hazel Glue Fungus, as well as nesting birds, such as the nuthatch.

The woods provide lots of shelter so are great for escaping the blazing Devon sun in summer or hiding away from the elements on a miserable winter afternoon.

10) Andrew's Wood, nr Kingsbridge

Once an area of open, boggy moorland, Andrew's Wood is now an established haven for a wonderful collection of ferns, mosses and beautiful wildflowers.

There are two circular way-marked trails to help you to explore this nature reserve while there is also a fair chance that you'll come across the reserve's herd of Exmoor ponies as they graze on the meadows and rich woodland.

Article updated by Martha Griffiths in May 2021.