The Best Walks to Take in Devon

If you're yearning for magnificent views and bracing winds, head to the spectacular Jurassic Coast of Devon
If you're yearning for magnificent views and bracing winds, head to the spectacular Jurassic Coast of Devon | © ah_fotobox / Getty Images
Photo of Finola Robinson
2 September 2021

Wherever you stay in Devon, you’re never far from a scenic walk or hiking trail. On Exmoor, enjoy woodland, rivers, and rolling hills. On Dartmoor there’s wild open spaces, hundreds of granite tors and ancient woodland and rivers. There’s also the South West Coast Path, with craggy cliffs facing the Atlantic. Then there’s a gentler vista of inlets, estuaries and bays overlooking the English Channel. We round up the best walks in the third-largest county in the UK.

You can now discover the best of Devon with Culture Trip on our six-day adventure around the region. Led by a local guide, you’ll explore the North Devon Coast and the South West Coast Path on foot, and the wilds of Dartmoor by bike.

Dart Valley Trail, South Devon

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A walker enjoys the view of River Dart Valley in South Devon between Kingswear and Greenway
© Paul Mogford / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the most popular walks in Devon, the Dart Valley Trail runs 16mi (26km) from Totnes to Dartmouth and the Kingswear Peninsula, via the villages of Ashprington, Cornworthy and Dittisham. If you’d rather walk a shorter section, Totnes to Dittisham is just over 8mi (13km), Dittisham to Dartmouth 3mi (5km), and Greenway to Kingswear just over 4mi (6km). It’s worth a stop-off at the Sharpham Trust retreat centre in Ashprington; it does great cream teas. And there’s Agatha Christie’s former holiday home, Greenway, a glorious 18th-century Georgian house now run by the National Trust.

Teign Valley, Dartmoor National Park

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Castle Drogo, Teign Valley; Dartmoor, Devon.
© David Chapman / Alamy Stock Photo

Dartmoor is a rambler’s paradise, with the option to camp overnight in the wild in certain areas. The Teign Valley circuit is arguably the most famous walk in Dartmoor. Castle Drogo, the last castle built in England, marks the start of the trail. You then take Hunter’s Path, which drops to Fingle Bridge and then runs back alongside the lovely River Teign.

Newbridge, Dartmoor National Park

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Newbridge Dartmoor Devon
Newbridge Dartmoor Devon | © ianwool / Getty Images

Another great set-off point is Newbridge, a narrow granite bridge over the River Dart in Dartmoor with a car park that gets busy in the high season. There are a few walks here, plus opportunities to canoe, kayak and wild swim at Sharrah Pool and Spitchwick.

The Tors, Dartmoor National Park

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Hound Tor, Dartmoor National Park.
© Adam Burton / Alamy Stock Photo

The granite tors are one of the main attractions in Dartmoor, and a popular way to enjoy them is to follow a circular walking tor tour, where you choose a selection of tors in one particular area and stop off at each. In mid-Dartmoor, for example, there’s a 6mi (10km) walk taking in Beardown Tors, Rough Tor, Devil’s Tor and Beardown Man. In the southeast, there’s a slightly longer walk for 7.5mi (12km) that includes Hound Tor and the remains of the Medieval village of Hundatona.

The Dewerstone, Dewerstone Wood, Dartmoor National Park

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© James Clancy / Alamy Stock Photo

As well as being a wonderful haven for wildlife and walks, Dartmoor is rich in myth and folklore. One place with a captivating story is the Dewerstone, a large granite outcrop in Dewerstone Wood that’s more than 100m (328ft) high. The name comes from Old Dewer, an old Celtic term for the devil, who – according to legend – would haunt the woods at night with his pack of phantom Wisht Hounds from Wistmans Wood, and lost travellers would be pushed over the edge of the Dewerstone. Despite the spooky back story, the Dewerstone still attracts walkers and climbers today. There’s a circular 3mi (5km) walk starting at Cadover Bridge, which takes you up one side of the River Plym up to the Dewerstone.

Sidmouth to Beer, Jurassic Coast

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© Richard Barnes / Alamy Stock Photo
A Unesco World Heritage site, the Jurassic Coast spans 95mi (153km) from east Devon to Dorset. You can see incredible fossils and rocks that show 185m years of history. The route along the South West Coast Path from Sidmouth to the village of Beer is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there are a few steep climbs but that does mean that you get to see great views.

Watersmeet, Exmoor National Park

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© Adam Burton / Alamy Stock Photo

For a great mix of walks that include rivers, waterfalls and coastal views, head to Watersmeet in Exmoor National Park. Here you’ll find one of the deepest river gorges in Britain and various hiking trails. Don’t miss Foreland Point and Countisbury, they’re some of the highest sea cliffs in England and the views east and west are spectacular. From Countisbury, enjoy a good walk along the South West Coast Path.

Dartington Hall, Dartington

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© andrew payne / Alamy Stock Photo

An 800-acre (324km) country estate that’s a great destination for walkers, with gorgeous landscaped gardens, numerous public footpaths, forests, rivers and wildlife to explore and enjoy. The estate is home to the Dartington Hall Trust, which runs 16 charitable initiatives, including Schumacher College, that are focused on the arts, sustainability and social justice. A walk around the entire estate is around 8mi (13km). Entry is free but donations are always welcome.

Killerton House and Gardens, Exeter

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© Rolf Richardson / Alamy Stock Photo

Owned by the National Trust, Killerton is a vast expanse of 6,400 acres (2,590ha) of historic estate with a Georgian house and garden, two chapels and three satellite properties as well as Ashclyst Forest, one of the largest woods in east Devon. There are numerous walks and dogs are welcome too.

Wembury Point, South Devon

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Wildlife presenter Bill Oddie describes Wembury as his favourite spot in the UK for rock pooling – put his recommendation to the test before or after your walk. When setting off for a stroll, there are a few different routes to try; the circular around Wembury Point has lovely views of the rocky island Great Mewstone, or you can use Wembury Point as your starting point and head off elsewhere. From Wembury to Mount Batten Point is nearly 6mi (10km) or you could include the Yealm Estuary in your rambles as part of a route that includes the South West Coast path.

Croyde Bay, Baggy Point and Woolacombe, North Devon

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Baggy point Croyde bay devon england. Image shot 05/2010. Exact date unknown.
© Dave Ashwin / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’d like to do a decent-length coastal walk that includes a sweeping sandy beach, rolling dunes and views of farmland and the sea, the 10mi (16km) hike from Baggy Point to Woolacombe will get your pulse racing and the wind in your hair. Start off at surfing hub Croyde, head to Baggy Point and look out for the beautiful wild flowers, then walk along Woolacombe beach towards the far north edge and back again.

Chloe Byrne contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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