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10 of the Most Scenic One Day Walks in Devon, England by Hike Bike Travel

This is a guest blog post by Kevin Darvill, marketing manager at Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks, who offer campsites in Devon as well as four caravan holiday parks.

A lot of people travel to Devon to make the most of the countryside, but if you don’t really know the area, it’s very easy to bite off more than you can chew when it comes to walking. It’s disappointing setting out on a circular walk which ends up being too long to complete, and all too disappointing when your walk finishes just when you are getting going!  With this in mind, we’ve highlighted some of our favourite walks in Devon which are all manageable in a day.

Dart Valley Trail

The Dart Valley Trail takes in some of the prettiest villages in Devon. Dittisham is a real rural idyll, and both the starting point of Totnes and finishing point of Dartmouth offer plenty in the way of scenery. If you walk both ways it’s a challenging 24 miles, but it’s flat and easy going in most places. Public transport from either end is also available should you feel that 12 miles is enough for you.

Coastal walking at Dittisham on the Dart Valley Trail.

Bere Peninsula Circular

This fantastic little walk is quite manageable and at only 8 miles in distance, you should be able to conclude in a few hours, depending on your pace. This circular walk kicks off beside the Bere Ferrers, takes you alongside the River Tamar and gives offers at times spellbinding views of the expansive Tamar Valley.

Dartmoor ponies – a horse that has lived in the area for centuries

Exe Valley Ride

This is a lovely little 7 mile walk that is as leisurely as it is fascinating. Following the River Exe and the Exeter Canal, you will only find a variance in altitude of ten metres during the whole route. Exeter’s pretty quay is a particular highlight, but being able to look out across both the Canal and River together is an unusual and rewarding sight.

The River Exe at Exwick

Erne Plym Trail

The Erne Plym Trail doesn’t take in too much in the way of coastal scenery, but Devon is beautiful on the inside and out! This trail takes you through the lovely Ivybridge area, with worthwhile stopping points in Brixton and Combe. The Trail is 17 miles long, so it’s a good route to split into two.

Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton Railway Path

This is a 4 mile walk that most should find manageable in a day. It’s perfect for families too because it is flat for its duration. For the most part this walk follows the old and now disused railway that ran from Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton, and also takes in  some really beautiful rolling countryside. This peaceful walk is a delight.

Aerial map showing points of interest along the way

See the full details here.

Granite Way 

The Granite Way is what walking in Devon is all about. This incredible 112 mile walk takes you through the awe inspiring Dartmoor National Park, starting in Okehampton and finishing at the incredible Lydford Gorge which includes a spectacular waterfall with whirlpools at the bottom known as the ‘Devil’s Cauldron’, this is definitely one for the kids!

The lake viaduct on the Granite Way

Ilfracombe to Ossaborough Railway path

This is just a short 5 mile walk and it’s another unused railway line that provides the route. Start at the pier in Ilfracombe, and head south, where you will pass the impressive Slade Reservoirs and the remarkable rural scenery that is associated with this part of Devon.

Little Dart Ridge and Valley Walk

This walk following the river Dart is more challenging than some might anticipate, with some big hills to negotiate, but if you roll your sleeves up you will be rewarded with some of Devon’s most beautiful sights. Start off at Eggesford Barton and then head west out to Leigh Bridge and the river Dart. You will finish up at Witheridge 12 miles later, ready for a well earned rest!

View over the River Dart

Plymouth’s Waterfront Walkway

Plymouth is not always the first choice when you are looking to discover the really beautiful parts of Devon, but you only have to travel a mile or two out of the city to discover some truly incredible sights. From the Cremyll Ferry Landing spot on the Tamar shore to Jennyclif on the eastern side of Plymouth Sound, this incredible waterfront walk really does show you a side to Plymouth that you might never have known existed.

Teignmouth to Dawlish

This is a really popular walk in Devon. Connected by two delightful coastal towns, this is a fairly challenging 17 mile circular walk. If you want to reduce the distance, you can simply walk from one town to the other, but you will miss some beautiful sights, such as the rolling hills above Dawlish and the staggering views over the town of Teignmouth from an elevated inland vantage point midway through this lovely walk.

The view from the path, looking down onto Teignmouth

Devon is a beautiful County, but by many it is characterised by its two coastlines. The coastal areas of Devon are indeed beautiful, but discovering what Devon has to offer inland is a real treat. The beauty of these walks is that many of them will take the average walker from coast to valley, through woodland and back again, without having to break too much of a sweat!

Credit: This awesome post is by Hike Bike Travel and can be seen with pictures HERE.

A Guide to Living in a Camper Van by Darren on campervanlife.com

Living in a camper van or motorhome is a cheap and convenient way to see lots of locations. If you are looking to explore in comfort then it is a great option.

I lived in my camper van for 9 months, and loved it. My vehicle was a converted small Mercedes Sprinter which I converted into a camper van. I spent almost all of my time free camping, with occasional visits to camp sites when in built up areas, and also in rural areas to refresh water supplies and empty toilets, etc.

I travelled in France, Belgium, Spain and Portugal from September to June. I had no problems at all. I know free camping in these areas is more difficult during June, July and August as the police do not like too many people taking up car parks when there are lots of visitors to the beaches.

My camper van looked like an ordinary van from the outside, and so did not attract much attention.

But, If I were going to spend a lot of time living in a vehicle I would consider buying a motorhome as these are more comfortable. But a well converted camper van can be just as comfortable.

For a long period of time I would suggest that you have a wash room, with a toilet and perhaps a simple shower. Toilets are easy to empty with occasional visits to campsites, but showers require a lot of water to be carried. You can generally let the waste water just run onto the ground, but you may have to collect the water if you intend to camp on hard surfaces such as car parks.

If you intend to spend time in northern Europe, or anywhere else that is cold uring winter, I would suggest a heating system of some kind. There are special camper van/motorhome heaters that live outside of the vehicle, run on diesel, and pump heat into the vehicle. These take a bit of work to fit and make some noise with their diesel engine. A simpler option is to get a gas heater that sits on top of a gas bottle, but you need to have some sort of ventilation in the vehicle such as an open window, to allow the burnt gases to escape. You should also insulate the vehicle to ensure that the heat stays in and the cold stays out. Also thick curtains that fit the windows well will keep a lot of heat in.

I would consider a high-top vehicle necessary, to allow standing all of the time in the vehicle. During bad weather, which could last several days, you need to be able to stand comfortably and move around.

Having at least a small area where you can walk around is also good for stretching legs. Typical VW layouts, with the seating across the van is not good for living in a van, and is really only meant for weekend use.

Expenses can be kept to a minimum with free camping, limited driving and buy stocking up at supermarkets. LPG is cheaper to buy in large quantities, so having large gas bottles means you can save money there.

Electrical power is also a consideration. A vehicle for living in should have a good 12v electrical circuit. You would need 1 or maybe more leisure batteries. These should be charged when the engine is running, as this is the quickest way to charge them. Also consider solar panels which will provide a small amount of power during daylight hours. If you need lots of power, for a TV or laptop when consider having several leisure batteries. If you will be free camping away from other people you can get a generator to provide 240v electricity. Wind turbines, like those on yachts, can also provide reasonable levels of 12v electricity, but they can be expensive and need to be taken down from the roof every time you drive the vehicle.

Good things

You always have your home with you

You don’t have to plan your day looking for accommodation, or end your day short because you need to find a hotel.

You always have a form of transport

You don’t have to use public transport. You can drive where you want, when you want. If you are exploring a lot of locations you will save lots of time and money by not using public transport. You do not have to get up early, or wait around for a public transport connection or flight. If you do not like somewhere you just dive on. If you do like somewhere you can stay. You can save lots of time this way

You can stay in beautiful locations

Most campsites are situated in lovely locations, and many have great facilities. However, if you are keen to try free camping (wild camping) then you can stay, for free, in many beautiful locations. There are few things better than watching the sun go down at the beach, and then wake up in the same location in the morning. All just by stepping out of your camper van or motorhome.

Ability to carry possessions

With a camper van you can carry much more than if relying on public transport for a trip. This is great if your trip will incorporate sports such as surfing, wind surfing or cycling.

Bad things

Security

Camper vans and motorhomes are easy to spot and are a target for thieves. If you are careful you can reduce the chances of theft or damage. Stealth campers can help greatly in making your vehicle ‘blend in’ to the normal traffic.

Initial cost and maintenance costs of the vehicle

Of course you have to purchase or build a camper van or motorhome, and these generally cost a lot of money. However you can trade in your existing vehicle. If you sleep in the camper van you will save accommodation costs and on a long trip this will work out much cheaper than using public transport and hotels. All vehicles need maintaining, and this can be expensive. Careful driving and good maintenance will keep your costs down.

More difficult to drive and park than a car

Camper vans and motorhomes are bigger and generally more difficult to drive than a car. All modern vehicles will have power steering, big mirrors and more expensive models will have reversing sensors or cameras. But the vehicles are large and require a good deal of care. High or wide vehicles will be limited to where they can go. Many car parks now have height restrictions. There is always somewhere else to park, and pop-top models get around this problem.

A problem when visiting islands

If visiting islands for a day or more taking a vehicle is often not an option. Sometimes taking a vehicle on a ferry is expensive, and often not an option. This can be overcome by finding somewhere secure to park the vehicle and then relying on public transport. Secure parking areas are available in a lot of areas. It is worth asking at campsites if they are able to store the vehicle for you during your separation from it. Campsites often store caravans for people.

Toilets and showers

Most camper vans and motorhomes do not have toilets and showers. This is because they take up a lot of room inside the vehicle, toilets can smell and showers require a lot of fresh and waste water be carried. Bigger motorhomes tend to have a toilet and a shower. It is easy to add a portable toilet to a camper van, but storing it is often a problem, and it will almost certainly smell. Most people tend to use campsites at night, which have showers and toilets. It is normally easy to find a toilet in any area where there are people, even at the beach. Cold water showers are available to most popular beaches in Europe. Whilst cold water showers are not ideal they are free. Solar showers are an option, and it is easy to rig up a simple shower for outdoor use with a camper. Most people rely on campsites and beaches though.

Credits: This awesome article is by Darren here.

That Time I Was Mildly Underwhelmed by Stonehenge by JustVisitingBlog

When my mom and aunt flew over to London we took a day trip out to Newbury to see where my aunt had lived when she met and married my uncle. Of course, once I looked at a map and realized that Newbury was only about a 45 minute drive from Stonehenge, I immediately volunteered my aunt as our personal chauffeur/tour guide.

We spent the morning touring the English countryside from the warmth of a car, and had the most incredibly delicious Sunday roast at The Star Inn.

Perfectly moist meat, veggies and potatoes. And yummy Yorkshire pudding, that completely redefined the word “pudding.”

The Star Inn in Kingsclere

There wasn’t much to see during the drive. The skies were grey and the windshield wipers moved across the glass the entire time. But there in the middle of the rolling fields of meandering sheep and more than 200 mysterious burial mounds, the stones arose from Salisbury Plain. They looked smaller than I’d expected, arranged in a circle that seemed tiny compared to the massive space of openness surrounding them. But the sheer fact that their construction began in 3100 BC, 300 years before the Egyptian pyramids were built was astounding.

Stones on one side, sheep on the other

We parked the car and hesitantly made our way to pay £8 at the entrance. It was cold, windy, and we were going in at the same time as about 200 French students. Not exactly the best circumstances for a leisurely sightseeing stroll.

Since the actual stones were roped off in the 1970′s to prevent damage and erosion, tons of people (including myself) have complained about the inability to go into the circle of rocks and see it up close. If you just show up like we did, the closest you’re able to get is right at the entrance where you’re still at least 30 feet away, if not more. Then you can walk in a circle well beyond the ditch that surrounds it, while the exaggerated loop around the far side takes you even further from the stones. If you plan on taking pictures, you’d better pack a decent zoom lens.

This shot gives you a pretty realistic idea of how far back the rope keeps you from the stones.

This was the closest we were able to get, right at the entrance.

Between the frigid, nonstop wind and the fact that we were constantly moving so that we didn’t find ourselves hopelessly absorbed into the mass of students, it was nearly impossible to truly appreciate everything around us. Of course visiting Stonehenge left me bewildered with the usual questions like “how did they transport such large stones from as far as 240 miles away?” “How were they lifted upright using such primitive tools?” “Why was it built?” “If I jump over the rope and run towards the stones at full speed, how many good pictures can I realistically snap before security escorts me out?” “Can I lick the stones? Just one?”

But I also found myself curious about the restoration efforts, and how they’ve altered the way the giant stones were first discovered and originally intended. They’ve been lifted, straightened, and put into cement since then, which always leaves me curious on where they draw the line between preserving and reconstructing.

An illustration of what they believe Stonehenge looked like back in the day.

Just over a mile from the stones, English Heritage is working on building a £27 million centre that will not only teach visitors more about Stonehenge, but allow them to digitally go inside the site as well. They say it’s meant to “give people a sense of what it is like to stand in the middle of Stonehenge because most people just won’t be able to do that.” Seems weird to me. Travel all that way to Stonehenge just to explore it in a virtual reality type experience? I think you’re better off planning in advance to go into the circle.

SHOULD YOU VISIT?

Obviously if you’re a thrill-seeker Stonehenge isn’t the most enthralling experience unless you plan to jump on a random sheep and ride it through the stones like an obstacle course.

Sure it’s a bit underwhelming, but it’s still Stonehenge. And for that reason alone it’s worth it. I’d imagine with a little planning you could spend an awesome sunrise or sunset inside the stones and it’d be an unforgettable experience. Add a few pit stops along the way to check out some nearby towns or even Avebury and it’d really make for an awesome day. But if you can help it, don’t go during the “coldest winter in 50 years” like we did.

Credit: Written by JustVisitingBlog.