My greyhound Rosie and I are lucky enough to have some great walking in our local area of East Devon, from woodlands for wet days, to the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast, heathland, wildlife-rich river trails and hidden valleys.
I’m always keen to explore new places, but when I just want a good walk, we often head to one of our favourite spots…
This National Trust property north east of Exeter has 6,400 acres of grounds, from ancient woodland to rolling parkland and farmland. In spring, bluebells sweep through the woods, followed by carpets of wild garlic, with their frothy white flowers and appetising fragrance.
In the autumn, squirrels dart about in the branches, collecting chestnuts from the heaps on the floor. Down by the house, the trees in the orchard become filled with apples, which are harvested for the Killerton Cider Festival.
There’s plenty of trails around the grounds, so whether you want to walk for half an hour or half a day, you can. And if you need any sustenance to keep you going, pop down to the cafe at the property entrance.
With towering cliffs, peaceful valleys and quiet beaches, this spectacular coastline is a popular place to walk.
There are various free car parks along the coast, with access straight on to the South West Coast Path. My favourite spots include walking eastwards from Budleigh Salterton, and either westwards or eastwards from Sidmouth.
The River Otter from the village of Colaton Raleigh to where it meets the sea at Budleigh Salterton offers some very pretty and peaceful walking along the riverbank footpath. It’s a superb place for seeing wildlife: there’s a beaver breeding programme, a nature reserve at Budleigh, and last time I walked along the river I glimpsed a kingfisher.
The river flows past Otterton, which is worth a visit. Particularly Otterton Mill, which has a working water mill, a shop selling art, crafts and homewares, a food shop full of locally made goodies and a cafe-restaurant.
One of the best things about this hidden valley is that the Donkey Sanctuary’s located at the top. Not only is this a lovely place to spend an hour or two (and get a bite to eat), it means the sound of braying accompanies you on your walk – probably the only noise you’ll hear in this secluded valley.
You can park at Weston and follow the coast path up on to the cliffs either side (just beware in some places the path is close to the cliff edge). Alternatively, head along the inland footpaths to the hamlet of Salcombe Regis, from where you can loop back to the coast.