Devon walk: Kennerleigh and Woolfardisworthy
PUBLISHED: 11:52 03 May 2016 | UPDATED: 12:08 03 May 2016
Kennerleigh and Woolfardisworthy are tucked-away villages that you'd not happen upon by chance, but they are worth seeking out. Hidden in the heart of Devon amidst patchwork fields and tumbling hillsides, they are linked by a network of paths and lanes that meander through traditional farming country.
Woolfardisworthy, with its curious name, is all the more surprising for being one of two in Devon: a larger Woolfardisworthy is located some 40 miles away near Bideford. The name is thought to derive from ‘Wulfheard’s homestead’, although whether both villages were named after the mysterious Wulfheard is uncertain. This Woolfardisworthy is also referred to as Woolfardisworthy East to distinguish it from the other one in North Devon. If you say it out loud make sure you pronounce it correctly – “Woolsery” – and everyone will know you’re a local.
Directions to start: Kennerleigh is tucked away in Mid Devon, north of Crediton, between Sandford and Black Dog
Start point: Kennerleigh Post Office and Stores. Post code: EX17 4RS. Grid ref: SS819073
Parking: On road, with courtesy towards residents
Public transport: Buses are rare – see travelinesw.com
Map: OS Explorer 114, Exeter & the Exe Valley 1:25 000
Terrain: Tracks and field/woodland paths. After the excessive rain of early 2016 expect wet and muddy areas – wellies a good idea. One section of quiet lane
Distance: 3½ miles/5.75km
Dog friendliness: Good, but livestock grazing
Exertion: Easy to moderate, brief ascents
Toilets: None en route
Refreshments: Kennerleigh boasts a delightful village stores (01363 866452) where sustenance for your walk can be purchased. A nearby pub is The Lamb Inn, Sandford, EX17 4LW (01363 773676
1 Leave the stores with sufficient chocolate to keep you going and turn right out of the door. Pass the phone box, Garden Cottage and the entrance to the churchyard, all on the right. On the left of the lane look out for the public footpath sign which directs you ahead along a track. Take this, passing a bungalow called Marchants on the left. Follow this winding track, ignoring any paths off, for about a third of a mile until it eventually reaches some barns.
Pass through the gate in front of them (you may need to unravel a chain) and bear left – you’ll see a yellow arrow on the left hand-end of the barn pointing you into the second of two fields on the left. Follow its direction, ahead and left, into the field, then walk through the field with the hedge on your left and the buildings of South Emlett Farm coming into view ahead.
At the end of the field continue into the next, bearing slightly right as indicated by the arrow. This line leads to another gateway. Pass through and continue ahead with the hedge on your right, enjoying the views.
2 In 100m you find another gate on the right. Go through here and cross the track to go through another gate beyond. An arrow here directs diagonally left towards the left-hand field boundary and a gap, about 100m away, through which you enter the trees.
Head down into woodland. At the bottom of the slope follow the clear track ahead as indicated by an arrowed post (don’t go left). This track has a feeling of ‘oldness’ about it. The way bends about and can be quite mushy. After 400m you reach a muddy crossing stream spanned by a beautifully mossy, fern-fringed fallen tree, which still has its roots in the ground and from whose trunk several smaller trunks have sprung vertically up to the light. It looks like it’s been there forever.
Negotiate the quagmire (we did suggest wellies!), go through the arrowed gate, then follow the track uphill to a tarmac drive in 150m. Go left on the drive, fork right in a few metres, then take the footpath sharp right within about 20m, rising to a gate into a field. After this turn left, climbing beside the field boundary on your left.
Follow the left boundary up to a gate. Pause here to admire the view behind then cross the lane and take the footpath opposite, walking down the next field with the hedge on your right.
3 About 150m down this hedge you find a metal footpath gate. Pass through into an area of young trees, then continue to another gate about 20m further on, followed by a plank bridge. Cross this then turn right along the hedge. Moor Farm is away to your left as you follow this hedge, bearing left just before the end of the field to another plank bridge and gate in the boundary, followed by another plank.
Beyond here keep ahead through the field with a ditch to your right and a youthful woodland beyond it. At the far side of the field cross a high, stepped stile and continue beyond in the same line, boundary on the left. You will pass ponds on the right and after almost 300m the path bends left to approach a house with a wonderfully creative garden. Keep on the track as it veers right below the house, following the line of the fence with more ponds to the right. Walk away from the house along their drive.
4 Follow the drive for about 150m then look for the yellow arrow near a eucalyptus tree directing you left up a field track. Follow this, beside the right-hand hedge, for about 100m to a stile on the right. Cross here and walk straight across the field to the far boundary. There are fabulous rolling views down to your right. Pass through two small gates in quick succession (the second is a fine example of recycling) and walk through the next field with the hedge on your left. Depending on how leafy the trees are you may spot the tower of Woolfardisworthy church ahead of you. At the end of the field leave through the second gate on the left, which has two arrows, and turn right across the field, effectively keeping in the same direction as before, towards a small gate. This brings you into the churchyard. Take time to explore here.
5 Leave the church by the main gate and follow the path downhill past attractive cottages until you reach the lane. Turn right, ignoring the footpath that goes left almost immediately, and stay on the bendy lane to reach Creedy Farm and Creedy Barn in just over a third of a mile. Bear right with the lane, ignoring the option ahead, and pass Creedy View on the left. You are climbing now. About 100m up the hill go left through a gate to join the signed footpath, turning right to keep the hedge on your right until you reach a stile at the end of the field. Cross here and turn right along the lane for about 15m to another stile on the left which has an inventive dog flap. Pandora managed to work it out.
6 Cross this, or go through the flap, and walk ahead with the hedge on the left. In 100m go through an arrowed gateway on the left and continue in the same direction as before, now with the hedge on your right. Kennerleigh is ahead. At the next gate continue through the field beyond in the same line and when you enter a third field keep on, there are barns ahead to the left as you approach and a scattered assortment of once-loved farm machinery. Bear left beyond the barns to leave the field through a gate onto the lane opposite the church. Turn left on the lane and soon you are back at Kennerleigh Stores.