Devon is one of the best spots to experience an exhilarating walking holiday in the UK. It’s no surprise it’s known as a walker’s paradise, as this captivating location displays some of the finest scenery in not only the South West but the UK as a whole.
With so many coastal pathways and trails to follow, there is an abundance of choice: whether you’re looking for a gentle wander along flat trails, an adventurous hiking experience over steep tors, or a saunter along the coastline for a few hours.
There are so many reasons why walking holidays can be enjoyed by people of all ages. From soaking up the natural beauty of the landscape to breathing in the salty sea air, walking delights the senses time and time again. Walking holidays in Devon give you a real taste of a location and offer you the opportunity to see sights off the beaten track. Hiking adventures are also tons of fun, as you discover new places and explore nature in its rawest form.
With so many walks to choose from, we have selected some fantastic routes in Devon to give you a sample of the walking experiences on offer.
North Devon and Exmoor
This walk starts and ends on the South West Coast Path in Lynmouth and takes you from Watersmeet around the East Lyn River and back again. The East Lyn Valley is home to a variety of bids, including dippers and herons, otters, salmon and trout, while Watersmeet House is a romantic spot for picnics, with beautiful waterfalls.
From there, climbing up and through the woods, there is a chance you'll see deer and there will be views of the Iron Age Fort of Windhill. After crossing the water to return, spectacular views open along the coast and across towards Wales.
The Valley of Rocks (above)
Also found along the South West Coast Path, on the route towards Combe Martin, is the Valley of Rocks. Break away from the main path and lose yourself while walking around this iconic valley. Generally, set in a circular motion, walkers can travel around the cliffs or over them to get the best view.
One side of the valley is green grass and rolling hills, and the other is a giant rock and shingle hill that shoots upwards. Walk around to the cliff on the other side, or to the top of this hill, and the ocean opens up, offering blue views out onto the Bristol Channel. The paths are embedded into the cliff, a narrow walkway on a daunting rock face, yet the views are fantastic, and the mountain goats roam the area at their pleasure, providing an aspect of wildlife watching.
The Tarka Trail
Running in a 163-mile figure of eight through unspoilt countryside described in Henry Williamson’s classic 1927 novel Tarka the Otter, the Tarka Trail is a pedestrian and cycleway in the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. Enjoy a variety of landscapes, including wooded valleys, meandering rivers, rugged moorland, dramatic cliffs and sandy coves, with a huge range of places to stay in North Devon allowing easy access onto the route.
Two Moors Way (above)
Well, this route isn’t solely based in South Devon but links north and south of the county from Ivybridge near Plymouth in the south to Lynmouth in the north. It’s the ultimate Devon walking holiday, showcasing the best of Devon’s natural beauty, with walks through the centre of wild Dartmoor, onto Exmoor and finally ending up on the North Devon coast.
Suitable for both long-distance and day walkers, the route is waymarked and spans a total of 102 miles. However, should you wish to complete a coast to coast walk, you can start at Wembury on the South Devon coast, adding on 15 miles to your journey.
The Dartmoor Way
The second of Devon’s National Parks is equally perfect for hiking, with Tors, Castles, dramatic gorges, prehistoric sites and open moorland all waiting to be explored. If you’re after a wild and rugged walking holiday, the 95-mile long, border-hugging Dartmoor Way is ideal for you.
Ancient woodlands, granite tors, plunging gorges and even the dramatic Castle Drogo all make up the rugged, open landscape, while you’ll be sure to also come across the native Dartmoor ponies and deer wandering across the moors. As well as the main circular route, there’s a 27-mile long High Moorland link, running in a figure of eight, or shorter north or south circular routes.
South West Coast Path
In total, there are 630 miles of the South West Coast Path. Running from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, the path surrounds the South West coast and covers the entirety of the Devon coastline.
The North Devon Coast Path
Covering 101 miles from Lynmouth to the Cornish border, the North Devon section of the South West Coast Path showcases all of North Devon’s natural beauty. Start on the rugged high moors and woodland of Exmoor National Park, you pass the world-class surfing beaches of Woolacombe and Croyde before heading around the Taw and Torridge Estuary to picture-perfect fishing villages, pebble-strewn coastline and dramatic cliffs and waterfalls.
There are eight sections in total, broken down into daily suggestions below:
- Lynmouth to Combe Martin – 13 miles
- Combe Martin to Woolacombe – 13 miles
- Woolacombe to Braunton – 15 miles
- Braunton to Instow – 13 miles
- Instow to Westward Ho! (via Bideford) – 11 miles
- Westward Ho! to Clovelly – 11 miles
- Clovelly to Hartland Quay – 10 miles
- Hartland Quay to Bude – 15 miles
The South Devon Coast Path
Also known as the Ancient Maritime and Estuaries Trail, the stretch of South West Coast Path covering the South Devon coast heads from Plymouth to Brixham, having returned to the county from its Cornwall routes.
Panoramic vistas of the English Channel, golden beaches and stories of great seafarers greet you along the way, while the route, the most isolated part of Devon, will also see you crossing rivers on foot ferries – so ensure your organisation is at a premium before taking it on!
The six, daily sections are as follows:
- Plymouth to River Yealm (river crossing) – 15 miles
- Wembury to Bigbury-on-Sea (river crossing) – 14 miles
- Bigbury-on-Sea to Salcombe (river crossing) – 14 miles
- Salcombe to Torcross – 13 miles
- Torcross to Dartmouth – 10 miles
- Dartmouth to Brixham – 11 miles
The East Devon Coast Path
Covering 58 miles of gorgeous, Mediterranean-style South Devon coastline onto the dramatic red cliffs and headlands of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, it’s fair to say that the East Devon stretch of the South West Coast Path is one of the most beautiful.
Starting on the English Riviera in Brixham, enjoy views of Torbay’s gentle blue bays and woodlands, onto the Exmouth beautiful harbour town of Exmouth, before ending up on the stunning Jurassic Coast, where fossils lie underfoot.
The recommended daily breakdown is as follows:
- Brixham to Babbacombe – 11 miles
- Babbacombe to Exmouth – 16 miles
- Exmouth to Sidmouth – 13 miles
- Sidmouth to Seaton – 11 miles
- Seaton to Seatown – 14 miles
Take a look at our map of Devon to familiarise yourself with the area, before taking a look at our selection of cottages, B&Bs, holiday parks and hotels, ideal for every kind of Devon walking holiday.