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Enjoy a Devon walk featuring valleys & vines

PUBLISHED: 16:15 19 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:15 19 September 2014

Bickleigh thatch alongside the River Exe

Bickleigh thatch alongside the River Exe

Archant

SIMONE STANBROOK-BYRNE explores the undulating countryside of Mid Devon on a walk which has plenty to offer the thirsty!

Bickleigh Bridge spans the River ExeBickleigh Bridge spans the River Exe

Mid Devon, with its beautiful patchwork fields and verdant valleys, has much to offer walkers, and the quintessential English village of Bickleigh boasts several other enticements.

Its ancient bridge, spanning the River Exe, was rumoured to be the inspiration for Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water; the myth has been refuted but the centuries-old stones could tell many stories.

The village has a lovely medieval church and is home to the oldest vineyard in Devon. Yearlstone enjoys a wonderful south-facing position above the Exe Valley and enjoys almost exactly the same latitude as the Moselle Valley. Established in 1976, it has acres of vines and orchards, a winery and the fabulous Deli Shack Café. It’s a superb place to enjoy good food, award-winning wines, vineyard tours and thirst-quenching views along the Exe Valley. Go!

Yearlstone VineyardYearlstone Vineyard

Route

1.

Look out for...

Historic Bickleigh Bridge

Yearlstone Vineyard

Grey herons

Secretive roe deer

17th century Leach Monument in Cadeleigh Church

From Bickleigh Bridge take the road towards Crediton, passing The Fisherman’s Cot on your left. The road crosses a small humpback bridge, after which go right towards Cadeleigh, glancing up right to the vine-clad slopes of Yearlstone. Follow the lane ignoring the first footpath right (over a footbridge beyond some red brick houses) and continuing on the lane past another house on the right. About 100m beyond this you’ll find a footpath fingerpost on the right directing you through a gate, away from the lane and through the field, hedge to your left.

Towards the end of the field the River Dart (a different one to its bigger brother on Dartmoor) comes in to meet you on the right – its valley is the haunt of herons. Keep ahead on the path through small fields, hedge on your left and river to your right until, just before you can go no further, you meet a gate on your left. Leave the field through this gate and go right along the bridleway – a blue arrow directs.

2.

Once on the bridleway go through a gate and follow the track, passing occasional cottages. The River Dart has meandered away to the right and you will eventually see trout ponds, a focal point for the herons. Keep ahead on the ascending track and as it levels out glance back across the Exe Valley in a south-easterly direction towards the mast on Christ Cross, one of the English Marilyns (a hill with a relative height of at least 150m).

The bridleway starts to descend through trees. You pass houses on the right of the track, ignore a left hand footpath and keep ahead on the bridleway until you meet the lane.

3.

Turn left on the lane and within 50m go right on a signed bridleway, this is also the drive to a cottage. Pass the cottage on your right (please respect their privacy) and bear left over the little bridge. A few metres ahead you’ll see a gate with a blue arrow. Pass through here and walk between a shed (left) and a barn (right), then go through another gate – arrows direct you clearly. Beyond the buildings continue uphill on the track.

Eventually the track levels out to amble between a lovely avenue of trees on a narrower path. Keep with it, noticing the hamlet of Little Silver with its converted chapel – the gravestones still standing – below to your left. The bridleway goes through another gate, narrows even more, then eventually emerges onto a lane. Turn right here and in 50m go left on another bridleway. This is the drive to Langley Farm.

As the drive to the farm bends left keep ahead on the track – a blue arrow directs and you can enjoy more glorious gateway views as you puff uphill. The path reaches an area where three field gates lead off; look left across to the Iron Age hill fort of Cadbury Castle (you may spot the dragon who guards his treasure there) then continue ahead on the narrower path which eventually emerges onto the lane at Kingdom’s Corner.

4.

Turn left and, within 20m, left again, following the surfaced drive past Well Bargains and Willis Farms to reach Deep Ash. Just before the buildings of Deep Ash look out for the yellow arrow on the left, pointing you through the gate to then turn right, walking behind the red brick shed and garden boundary. Beyond the garden fence bear diagonally right across the field, arrows help direct you. This line brings you to a gate in the boundary.

5.

Cross the concrete drive and enter the grassy field ahead, bearing diagonally left across the field (a yellow arrow directs). This line leads to a gap in the boundary where another arrow points you straight down the next field, hedge on your right. At the bottom turn right and immediately left through the boundary, as directed by arrows, to continue diagonally left quite steeply downhill through the next field.

At the bottom you find a stile followed by a stream, beyond which walk up the bank to meet an attractive woodland path. Turn left along this, conifer woodland stretches uphill to the right and deciduous woodland down to the left. After a few hundred metres another arrow directs you sharp right up a broad track through the conifers. Take this and just before the top yet another arrow directs you left through the trees.

Follow this, occasional arrows on trees reassure, and eventually you emerge from the conifers and another arrow directs you ahead on a path through deciduous trees.

6.

This path reaches a stile on the right. Cross here and continue down the next field, boundary on your left. In the bottom corner you find a stream and an arrowed gate. Go through the gate and cross the stile immediately opposite, followed by a second, higher stile. After this bear left a short distance through the field towards a gate – the gate you need is the second on the left with a yellow arrow.

Beyond this walk ahead into the field and bear left to follow its left boundary. This leads to a gate with a footpath arrow pointing you slightly right through the next field to meet a track, along which you turn left downhill. Keep on this track for a very short distance and as it bends left you’ll find a gate ahead with another yellow arrow. Go through here and head downhill to a stile which deposits you on to a metalled drive with a pond beyond.

Turn right along the drive away from the house and in about 30m you’ll see another arrow directing you right into a field. Follow the path through the field, a hill sloping steeply up to the left and ground dropping away to your right. Keep on the grassy path climbing steadily uphill and curving left. You meet the field boundary on your right: follow this uphill to reach a stile in the corner.

Beyond this continue with the boundary on your right to another arrow in the corner. Continue ahead with the hedge on your right and keep in this direction through several fields until you reach farm buildings. Keep going, passing stables and a farmhouse, and continuing along the drive beyond the buildings. You emerge on the lane at Cadeleigh Village Hall.

7.

Turn right along the lane and at the T-junction go left. Just along here, should the mood take you, you can enjoy the embrace of The Cadeleigh Arms; if you wish to visit St Bartholomew’s Church, with its remarkable Leach Monument (currently being restored), you’ll find it just down the lane opposite the pub. Otherwise, continue down the lane, passing the pub on your left and enjoying wonderful views as you drop back down to Bickleigh, 1½ miles away.

This walk was taken from Circular Walks in Central Devon by Simone Stanbrook-Byrne and James Clancy, one of a selection of West Country guides from Culm Valley Publishing. Others include: Circular Walks in East Devon, Circular Walks in the South Hams, Circular Walks in North Devon, Favourite Walks in Devon, A Dozen Dramatic Walks in Devon, Town Walks in Devon. culmvalleypublishing.co.uk/01884 849085

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