Hawkerland Valley and Harpford Hill

The heathland between Woodbury and the River Otter, East Devon, is a favourite walking spot for Rosie and me, with lots of trails to explore and birds to see. We usually set off from Woodbury Castle and walk round the middle common. Today we fancied a change so we explored Hawkerland Valley and Harpford Hill to the north. We weren’t disappointed.

With spring on the way, the gorse was a riot of yellow against the still-brown trees. The birds – robins, blue tits and others I couldn’t identify or get close enough to see – were filling the air with song. We walked first round Hawkerland Valley eastwards from the car park along grassy bridleways. Once we got away from the main road all we could really hear was the bird song.

One thing I unexpected thing I have found since I rehomed Rosie and started walking every day is how walking enables you to notice and appreciate the small details.

We often live life so fast – rushing to meetings, round the shops, trying to get lots of things done now – that we don’t notice the tiny but beautiful wonders of the world. Walking, especially when I go out with my camera, means I slow down and appreciate the details. Single brown leaves become bright spots of colour. Dew drops and cobwebs become wonders of nature.

To me, that is all part of slow travel, whether you are in your local area, or on the far side of the world.

Having walked a circle round Hawkerland Valley, Rosie and I crossed the road to Harpford Hill, home of the RSPB Aylesbeare Common Nature Reserve. There are of course lots of bird species here, including the Dartford warbler, stonechat, yellowhammer… I just wish my identification skills were better!

There are two trails, one short and one longer. Rosie and I opted for the former (about 1km) and enjoyed some lovely views over the rolling farmland along the River Otter valley and down to the coast. We’ll definitely be back soon – bird book and binoculars in hand – to explore the longer route too…

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