- Start: Barley Lane, in the suburb of St Thomas
- End: Barley Lane, in the suburb of St Thomas
- Country: England
- County: Devon
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Along the route are some great local pubs to stop for refreshments, including the Double Locks, which is situated in an idyllic location beside the Exeter Ship Canal, and the Mill on the Exe, beside Millers Crossing.
- Ordnance Survey:
- Difficulty: Medium
Walk the surrounds of this historic city and experience peace, quiet and an abundance of wildlife
Exeters Green Circle
The Green Circle is a 12-mile walking route around Exeter. Passing through valley parks, meadows and quiet lanes surrounding the city, it offers fantastic views and the chance to learn more about Exeters rich history and wildlife.
The walk is split into five sections, which are 2-3 miles each, so can be explored a little at a time if you dont have time to do the whole route. The more easily manageable sections are found near the River Exe and Exeter Ship Canal (Ludwell Valley Walk), while the Hoopern Valley, Redhills and Mincinglake sections are a little more challenging with some steep climbs, for which walkers are rewarded with spectacular views across the city!
A walk along the Green Circle can be started from any point, and the route is well served by public transport. It can be divided into two shorter circular walks by using the path alongside the River Exe and Canal to walk between Millers Crossing (near the Mill on the Exe) and Bromhams Field (near the Double Locks).
The following suggested route starts from Barley Lane, in the suburb of St Thomas, and takes in the whole Green Circle, travelling anti-clockwise around the city.
1 Alphin Brook Walk
(approx 3 miles)
Dropping down to the valley of the Alphin brook, this section of the walk passes through rich agricultural land separated from the city by a ridge of hills. As the brook reaches the Exe valley, it becomes a leat, built to prevent it flooding the old village of Alphington and the industrial estate of Marsh Barton.
2 Ludwell Valley Walk
(almost 3 miles)
You are never far from running water along the next section, which explores the Riverside Valley Park, passing over the historic Exeter Ship Canal and the River Exe with its weirs and former mills. On reaching the Ludwell Valley Park, the route follows the quiet Northbrook, which is overlooked by steep, sloping meadows, then passes through peaceful parts of the Heavitree suburb.
3 The Mincinglake Walk
(just over 2 miles)
Following mainly footpaths and bridleways, this section of the walk continues into a more rural area surrounding the city, with wonderful views down the Exe Estuary. First passing through the Hamlin Lane Playing Fields at Polsloe, the route then begins to climb through Beacon Heath into the undulating meadows of Mincinglake Valley Park. From Mincinglake, there is another steep climb to the top of Pennsylvania Road.
4 Hoopern Valley Walk
(just over 2 miles)
This section explores the beautiful campus of the University of Exeter, situated high on a hill overlooking the city and surrounding countryside, and through the secluded nature reserve of Duryard Valley Park. Heading back into the city, the route passes through the historic district of St Davids, with landmarks including the imposing statue of Sir Redvers Buller and the Iron Bridge, dating from 1834.
5 Redhills Walk
(approx 2.5 miles)
The final section of the Green Circle starts from Millers Crossing a dramatic setting when the river is high before continuing on to explore the green areas and panoramic viewpoints from the top of Redhills and the hilly western fringes of Exeter.
Passing through so many of Exeters green spaces, there is plenty of wildlife to spot along the way. The streams and brooks are home to otters and kingfishers, and alongside the River Exe and Canal you may spot little egret, green sandpiper and mute swans. The River Exe Estuary is an internationally important site for migrant winter birds. The citys valley parks and nature reserves are home to foxes, butterflies, buzzards, kestrels, kingfishers and woodpeckers, and you may even spot a roe deer.
In the city itself, walkers may catch a glimpse of a peregrine falcon the fastest animal on earth as the imposing steeple on St Michaels church on the Hoopern Valley Walk has been a nesting site for these beautiful birds for several years.
The city of Exeter is over 2,000 years old, and its fascinating history is displayed in many sites along the route.
- Along the Alphin Brook Walk is the Alphington Church and its fine Norman font, the ancient Clapperbrook Lane, and Englands oldest Ship Canal, construction of which began in 1563.
- Along the Ludwell Valley Walk is the Countess Wear Mill, the site of a corn mill dating back to 1284, and operated from 1638 to the late 19th century as a paper mill.
- The word Mincinglake means nuns stream after the nuns from the nearby St Katherines Priory, which can be seen from the path along the Mincinglake Walk.
- As well as passing historic sites in St Davids, the Hoopern Valley walk includes the Universitys Streatham Campus, which has a valuable arboretum of rare and beautiful trees collected from around the world by the Veitch family.
Local food and real ales
Along the route are some great local pubs to stop for refreshments, including the Double Locks, which is situated in an idyllic location beside the Exeter Ship Canal, and the Mill on the Exe, beside Millers Crossing.
The route is well-signposted in both directions, but it is a good idea to pick up a free leaflet pack before you begin from Exeter Visitor Information and Tickets, situated in Dixs Field. The leaflet pack is also available to download from exeter.gov.uk/greencircle, where you will find more detailed information on each section. Much of the route is accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs. In the Green Circle pack is a leaflet on the routes accessibility, which is also available to download.
For local bus routes in Exeter, visit stagecoachbus.com.