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6 reasons why you should go walking in South Devon

PUBLISHED: 12:44 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:44 04 September 2018

Dartmouth Castle viewed across the graveyard of St. Petroc's church (c) Richard Szwejkowski, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Dartmouth Castle viewed across the graveyard of St. Petroc's church (c) Richard Szwejkowski, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Dust off your walking shoes and head to South Devon – here are 6 reasons why the area is so good for a stroll writes Victoria Rogers

The South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is home to a vast network of winding footpaths and unspoilt bridleways, not to mention over 190,808 steps of breathtaking South West Coast Path, lined with jaw-dropping sea and country views.

With so many routes to enjoy, many of which are superb for exercising dogs, it is little wonder the region is attractive to walkers of all types. Whether you prefer short saunters or are a hardened hiker, here are some suggestions to tempt you to dust off your walking boots.

1) Experienced explorers

For the more seasoned walker, comfortable over long distances and more challenging terrain, why not tackle a stretch of the Start Bay coastline? Beginning at Dartmouth, head towards the popular Blackpool Sands beach, taking in the many coves along the way.

If you choose the circular option the walk is 10 miles – enough to build up a good appetite for supper in one of Dartmouth’s award-winning restaurants on your return.

The walk from Hope Cove to Salcombe is also a great choice if you are planning a whole day on the trail. Favoured by many locals and visitors to the Salcombe area, the dramatic, rugged coastline contrasts with the gentle South Hams hills to create an unforgettable backdrop to your walk. There are many viewpoints and picnic spots if you need a breather – look out for the remains of an old Iron Age fort along the way!

Hope Cove, Devon

2) Sunday strollers

Prefer a more leisurely stroll rather than a long hike? Thurlestone to Bantham is an easy route if you are looking to take things at a more sedate pace, providing stunning views of Burgh Island and Thurlestone Rock.

With benches dotted along the path, perfect for a rest whilst admiring the breathtaking scenery, this easy four-mile circular walk is great for families and suits all ages. Those itching to feel the sand between their toes will also be pleased to find the route is interspersed with four beaches. Another leisurely option that offers dazzling sea views and an incredible feeling of tranquillity is the East Soar circular walk.

Whilst it is longer that the Thurlestone to Bantham walk, it still feels like a relaxing ramble, rather than an arduous trek. Look out for the inquisitive wild ponies, and don’t forget to drop in to the East Soar Walker’s Hut for a delicious coffee and cake… a wonderful reward for the four-mile stroll.

Thurlestone Rock

3) Food trails

The region is home to so many fantastic food establishments, serving everything from succulent freshly-caught seafood to delicious locally-made ice cream. Many of the most popular walking routes are lined with restaurants, cafés and beachside pitstops, serving exceptional food sure to spur on even the most reluctant walker!

The three-mile linear walk from the pretty fishing village of Hope Cove to the picturesque village of Thurlestone not only includes a host of tempting places to dine, but also boasts unmissable views of Bolt Tail and Thurlestone Rock.

The Cove Café Bar at Hope Cove, the Beachhouse at South Milton Sands and The Village Inn in Thurlestone are all on the path, meaning you can enjoy refreshments every step of the way. With options ranging from mouth-watering fresh seafood platters, to good old-fashioned Devonshire cream teas, the calories consumed may out-weigh those burned!

South Milton Sands

4) A pooch’s paradise

South Devon not only has multiple dog-friendly beaches to run on and miles of the South West Coast Path to explore, but many eateries and attractions that welcome pets too, making it an excellent area for those with dogs.

The route from Beesands to Hallsands is a fabulous moderate 1.5 mile circular, ideal for allowing your dogs to stretch their legs all-year-round.

Finish your walk at Beesands and enjoy a bite to eat in the Cricket Inn, where your dog will be welcome too.

Beesands

5) Footpaths for families

Why not escape the crowds with the children this summer and head ‘off the beaten track’? A stone’s throw from the picturesque town of Salcombe and its beaches, yet worlds away from any hustle and bustle, the gentle terrain of the walk at Snapes Point offers 360 degree views of rolling hills and the delightful Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary.

This is a great option for tots wanting to stretch their little legs, or those wishing to stay in the comfort of their pushchair!

For nature loving children with a keen eye, the walk from East Portlemouth to Gara Rock is sure to provide plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities. Passing Sunny Cove, Splat Cove and Stink Cove on your route, look out for gannets and terns plunging into the water. There have also been sightings of dolphins, basking sharks and dustbin lid jellyfish on this trail!

East Portlemouth

6) History and culture

When out and about walking South Devon’s picturesque pathways don’t forget to look out for the numerous sites of interest that are scattered across this historic and culturally intriguing region.

The ruins of the forgotten village of South Hallsands on the Start Bay coastline, lost to storms in 1917, are fascinating, whilst the National Trust property Greenway House and Gardens, Agatha Christie’s former home, is a welcome rest stop for those walking from Dartmouth to Dittisham via Kingswear.

The National Trust property Overbeck’s in Salcombe, and English Heritage’s Dartmouth Castle are also wonderful places to soak up local history.

Dartmouth Castle

South Devon Walking Guide

Looking for more information on these walks? Four-time British Travel Award-winning holiday lettings agency Coast & Country Cottages has launched a free downloadable resource, the South Devon Walking Guide.

Featuring 14 detailed walks complete with maps, plus useful, informative articles containing advice from local experts and national organisations like the National Farmers’ Union, this guide will help walkers of all abilities to easily navigate South Devon on foot.

Use this handy resource to plan your route, to choose your food pitstops, or for help spotting and identifying wildlife along the way!

To download your copy visit coastandcountry.co.uk/downloads

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