Devon’s best walks: A countryside circular around Clyst Hydon
PUBLISHED: 11:13 25 June 2019
Exploring pastoral countryside, villages and inns in the east of the county, with SIMONE STANBROOK-BYRNE
It's unusual in Devon to find an almost entirely flat walk, but here, in the pastoral countryside towards the east of the county, we have one. Linking the villages of Clyst Hydon and Plymtree is a network of footpaths that gently walk you through a pretty patchwork landscape.
There are two things on a walk that make me hasten my step: one is the promise of a tea shop ahead and the other, as regular readers probably know, is bouncy cattle. We encountered many 'mooks' on this walk, all peaceable and used to walkers; indeed, the young heifers near the end, with the sunlight silver-lining their hairy ears, were quite adorable.
Because of the flatness of the terrain this area is also supplied with power lines, but the pylons beneath which the route passes are relatively diminutive and unobtrusive; our brains remained unfried.
1) The walk starts from the church lychgate on the main road through Clyst Hydon. Walk along this inviting path, flanked by cottagey flowers in summer, to arrive in the churchyard. Follow the path round the right of the building to find a metal gate behind the church leading out to the lane, a place of appealing cottages.
Turn right and as the lane goes right within 100m leave it and keep straight ahead at a two-way fingerpost, walking across the gravel behind a cottage and passing through a yellow-arrowed gate. This leads into a paddock, bear very slightly left across it, walking through what will one day grow into a pleasing avenue of trees and shrubs.
This line reaches a wooden footbridge spanning the River Clyst. On the end of the bridge an arrow directs left, through a cleft fence and across the next small field, in the far corner of which a wooden construction carries the path out of the field - or you can just walk through the gateway.
2) A three-way fingerpost is just outside this field; follow the left finger, entering another field and walking beside the right-hand fence, approaching power lines. At the end of the field go through the arrowed gate and keep straight ahead, through another gate and following a fenced track; the buildings of Twynhayes Farm are over your left shoulder.
The track leads into a large field beneath wires. Follow the clear path aiming slightly right towards another pylon across the field (the marked path on the map and the worn one in the field don't quite tally here).
3) Pass the pylon, with its 'caged' water trough, and beyond this cross the footbridge through the field boundary. Walk through the next field, following the right-hand hedge; here we watched the aerial shenanigans of a peregrine receiving unwanted attention from a raven.
Cross another plank bridge and continue, initially following the right-hand hedge; as it bends away keep ahead, effectively cutting across the corner towards a line of graceful trees (if the field is cropped pick your way round the right-hand margin). Expansive farmland surrounds you; behind are the tree-clad slopes of Ashclyst Forest.
You arrive at a wooden kissing gate tucked in the hedge beneath the tall, elegant trees. A short path leads to another arrowed gate and then out into the field. Follow the direction of the arrow across the field, diagonally left away from the trees to reach another kissing gate. From here go obliquely left, passing a splendid solitary oak, to an old-fashioned gate less than 100m away.
Continue in exactly the same line through the next field to another kissing gate and keep going on the trodden path towards the houses of Plymtree; the top of the church beckons above the trees. At the end of the field emerge through a kissing gate near cottages and turn right along Green End Lane.
4) Within 200m, just before you reach the road in the village, the walk continues along a drive on the right signed for Meadowlands and Rickyard. Before continuing you may wish to walk into Plymtree to visit the church and pub, but if not turn down this drive, passing a few houses.
Keep going along the surfaced track, soon passing stables on the right. Ignore any gates off until the track reaches a field- and footpath gate. Pass through and follow the right-hand hedge towards the tree line in 150m. In the corner duck under the trees, negotiating a couple of kissing gates, then walk straight across the next field in the same line as before, towards the opposite hedge.
5) When you get there go through a gate then turn right along the track towards the buildings of Peradon Farm.
At the end of the field don't go through the gate into the farmyard; instead turn left on a re-routed section of path and head for the yellow-arrowed footpath gate about 30m away, near the back of a barn. This re-routed section is clearly signed with green and white arrows - and is reportedly due to a cattle problem in the yard, although there seemingly isn't one in the fields!
Follow the fenced path as it bends right and when it soon ends keep straight on to join a track through an arrowed gateway. This leads between fences on a stony track which soon reaches a crossing of ways at the concreted drive to the farmhouse, which is over to your right.
Cross the concrete drive and follow the track beyond it, green and white arrows still directing; farm buildings are to your right, with another barn ahead.
6) Just as you reach the gate into the barn area look for the arrowed gate on the left directing into a field, now resuming the original footpath and walking along the right-hand boundary away from Peradon Farm.
At the end of the field a wooden kissing gate tucked beneath trees leads onto a short stretch of woodland path. A plank bridge carries you into a field. Turn right and follow the right-hand boundary to a gate. Walk along the shady path beyond to another arrowed kissing gate.
Line up the arrow and aim straight across the next huge field as it directed; you are walking towards two tall poplar trees in the far distance (there are others, but these two stand alone). This line leads to a concrete bridge across a ditch.
After this bear right across the corner to a wooden kissing gate 40m away, beyond which you can glimpse thatched Marsh Farm. Ascend a few steps then turn left along the surfaced farm track.
7) Follow the track for just under 100m to reach an arrowed post. Go right here, entering a field, and walk across it along the line of the right-hand hedge, approaching power lines. In the corner negotiate the gate then continue with the right-hand hedge through the next field. When the hedge ends keep ahead towards a footpath gate in the fence in front of the pylon.
Go through and walk past two small lines of solar panels on your left - yet more power. The path reaches a kissing gate under trees. Keep ahead after this through the edge of young woodland, ignoring a left fork; this woodland has some much older trees in its boundary. In 150m emerge from the trees near a handy bench; nearby steps carry the path down to the road.
Turn right along the road. The church tower comes into view and you re-enter Clyst Hydon. Follow the road through the village, passing occasional paths to left and right; the sign for one was well-decorated and included directions to the sun and moon.
A short way further brings you back near the church. The Five Bells is at the far end of the village, just over half a mile along the road.
Ordnance Survey maps are available from all good booksellers and outdoor stores or visit our online shop www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/al
Start point: Clyst Hydon parish church. Nearby postcode: EX15 2ND. Grid ref: ST035016
Parking: On-road in village, near the school and church lychgate
Directions to start: Clyst Hydon is within five miles of Cullompton and can be accessed off the A373, Honiton to Cullompton road
Public transport: Despite having a beautifully-built bus shelter, buses to Clyst Hydon are infrequent (see travelinesw.com)
Map: OS Explorer 115 Exmouth & Sidmouth 1:25 000
Terrain: Field paths and tracks; short stretch along road
Distance: 3¾ miles (6km)
Dog friendliness: Good, but animals grazing. Both pubs welcome dogs; let The Five Bells know if you have canine company and they will allocate suitable tables
Refreshments: Just off-route, but highly recommended, The Five Bells, Clyst Hydon, EX15 2NT (01884 277288); The Blacksmith's Arms, Plymtree, EX15 2JU (01884 277474) has restricted day-time opening, so check if you plan to visit. There is a good community shop in Plymtree at Farthings Lodge, EX15 2JY
Simone Stanbrook-Byrne, with James Clancy, has produced a selection of West Country guides including: Favourite Walks in Devon, Circular Walks in the South Hams, Circular Walks in East Devon, Circular Walks in Central Devon, Circular Walks in North Devon/Exmoor, A Dozen Dramatic Walks in Devon, Town Walks in Devon.
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