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Five awe-inspiring Devon walks

27th January 2011 Print

Celebrate 2011 by broadening your horizons with five inspiring walks in Devon on the South West Coast Path.

From castles and cliffs to breathtaking sea views and romantic waterfalls, the South West Coast Path will take you on a journey through Devon's rich history and legends with access to some of the UK's most magnificent scenery and wildlife.

From the legendary Valley of the Rocks in North Devon to the dramatic scenery of Hope Cove in the South, the South West Coast Path can inspire and energise body and soul for the start of a brand new year.

Castles, cliffs, seals and seabirds are all part of the glorious circular coastal walk from Kingswear to Froward Point (5 miles) which takes in views rich in history and natural wildlife. The walk begins in the South Devon coastal town of Kingswear on the banks of the beautiful River Dart and leads walkers past Kingswear Castle, but you can also enjoy magnificent views of historic Dartmouth Castle on the other side of the estuary. This moderate to difficult walk has some steep descents but the effort is worthwhile as you will be rewarded with outstanding and memorable views.

For those who prefer a more moderate to easy walk, the five-mile walk from Budleigh Salterton to Otterton may be just the thing to refresh your mind and blow away the mental cobwebs.

The walk begins on the western side of the Otter estuary and then takes you over the River Otter to the cliff tops which provide wonderful views of the World Heritage Coast. It is an ideal spot for bird watching and for budding historians who will be able to learn about World War II missile station at Brandy Head.

The walk ends with a stroll through Devon's famous winding country lanes to the quintessential Devon village of Otterton.

The South West Coast Path in North Devon offers views of spectacular rock formations and romantic waterfalls in a circular four-mile walk from Hartland Quay which includes the Speke's Mill Mouth falls. Walkers are rewarded at the very start of their journey with views of rock formations and black finger like reefs which are exposed at low tide. This contrasts with banks of wildflowers in late spring and summer when pink thrift and yellow birds foot are in abundance.

The Path takes you around the headland towards St Catherine's Tor, from here walkers can take a moment to look at the waterfall tumbling to the beach below. Further along the path there are stunning views of the coastline and Lundy Island and then onto Speke's Mill Mouth. Here, two streams that rise on the high ground of Bursdon Moor cascade down a sheer rock face and through a series of smaller falls before tumbling to the sea below. Further along there is an opportunity to call in at the magnificent Docton Mill Gardens before heading back to Hartland Quay:

The legendary Rugged Jack, the Devils Cheese Ring, Exmoor ponies and of course the famous goats are what make this next walk through the Valley of the Rocks in North Devon so memorable. This easy four-mile walk starts at the Lynton railway station which is home to the renowned cliff railway which is powered by water and is a feat of Victorian engineering.
Once outside the charming town of Lynton, the walk meanders through the Valley of the Rocks which were immortalised in the famous novel, Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore. The goats along with a small herd of Exmoor ponies graze the banks of the Valley and in the spring-time it is possible to see the baby goats or kids along with Early Purple Orchids.

A jagged tor known as Rugged Jack is a highlight of the walk which according to legend refers to an incident where Jack and his Druid friends were turned to stone by the Devil for dancing on a Sunday. Continuing on is a mass of rock called Castle Rock and on the opposite side of the valley is another interesting rock formation known as the Devil's Cheese Ring which can be viewed before turning back to Lynton.

Finally a five-mile walk from Hope Cove to Bolberry Down in South Devon is a magnificent walk of towering cliffs, endless coastal views with stories of shipwrecks and the area's fascinating maritime history. Winding Devon lanes and abundant hedgerows leading to and from the fishing village of Hope Cove is both invigorating and delightful, the perfect start to an eventful 2011.

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