All was quiet but for birdsong coming from the branches above me and the occasional rustle of last year’s leaves underfoot. I was walking uphill through Bridford Wood, which lines part of the Teign Valley and is just inside the boundary of Dartmoor National Park.
Rosie, my greyhound, was at my side, eager to explore a new walk. I kept my fingers crossed any stiles we came across were dog-friendly.
The path rose steeply, and by the time the woodland thinned out into pasture on the hilltop, I had to stop for a breather. But from there, it levelled out, following field boundaries, giving me a chance to soak up the spring sunshine and – if I looked behind me – the view to the north across gently rolling farmland.
After three fields, the path turned sharp left through a gate and wound downhill through light and airy woodland. I was pleased I had my walking boots on, as the mud was thick and soggy in places. Rosie doesn’t like mud and will always choose the driest route, leaving me to sink into the soft stuff.
Soon we came to a lane, which we turned left onto and followed for short while until a footpath appeared on our left, through the pretty stone buildings of Thorn farm. In the peace, I could hear the crowing of a cockerel and whinnying from a few horses in the fields beyond the farm. It seemed like a scene that had changed little over the past few hundred years.
Skirting another pasture, we came to a stile into a little woodland. Luckily the stile had an opening for dogs to walk through – essential when your four-legged friend is too big to pick up. There was a stile on the way out of the woodland too but Rosie was able to climb through the bars quite easily.
From there, we wound back down to Bridford Wood, via Burnicombe farm. Being a bridleway, the path was quite muddy in places, but crossing a stream gave us a chance wash off the worst of it.
Once back in Bridford Wood, we enjoyed a slow walk down to Steps Bridge, where you can park for free. A scattering of bluebells meant I kept stopping to take photos, and the carpet of wild garlic filled the air with an appetising fragrance that reminded me it was time for lunch.
The walk took about an hour and a half – though I did stop a lot for photos. Perfect, however, for a quick getaway from Exeter. And with a network of other walks from the same car park, there’s plenty still left for me to explore.