Stroll through rolling East Devon countryside awash with purple wild flowers, taking in ponds, picturesque paths, enticing orchards and wondrous woodland.
Starts/Finishes: Escot House Car Park
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Distance: 2 – 2.5 miles
Terrain: Lanes, gravel tracks, narrow paths and grassy fields
Facilities: Toilets and café available at Wildwood Escot
Parking: Ample free parking
Accessibility: Not suitable for prams or wheelchairs
From the main car parking area, head towards the Coachhouse Restaurant and take the track to the right of the entrance, signposted to the activity area. The lane starts with a fairly steep climb as you make your way up and underneath a picturesque archway after passing the Ice House on your right – Escot’s restored 17th – 19th century estate freezer, used for preserving meat and fish, that is over 5 metres deep!
Continue up the lane until it begins to level off and turns from tarmac into a gravel track, passing through the gate into the open. Pass the activity area on your left and continue directly ahead (not the path bearing right) as the track continues straight before beginning to descend and splitting into three. Take the middle track at this point.
Here the path will bear round to the right before levelling out and inviting you to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the pond to your left. Look out for wildlife who call this pond their home – if you’re quiet enough you might meet some new friends! In the summer months this area is awash with vibrant purple hues from Purple Velvet and other seasonal wild flowers.
Make your way along this track, passing two tracks on your left and through a wooden gate. Enjoy marvelling at the large, towering trees that line the hill to your right giving depth to the scenic views across the fields ahead. Just before the track comes to an end you’ll need to bear right onto the flattened grass track that sweeps around the base of the hill, keeping close to the perimeter fence to your left. Continue along this grassy section before reaching an intersection ahead of Escot House just peeking through the trees in the distance.
The Escot estate has belonged to the Kennaway family since 1794, but the original house itself was lost in a fire in the early 19th century. The Georgian house you see today was rebuilt in 1837. Today it serves as a family home but is additionally used for weddings and private functions on request.
Take the track opposite, towards the house, aiming for the second red brick bridge that you’ll see in the distance to your left. Don’t get confused by the public footpath sign you’ll see on the closest red brick bridge, this route is no longer in use!
Take the lane to the left, crossing the wooden pedestrian footbridge and make your way to the 19th century bridge over the River Tale. The bridge was originally built in 1844 but was destroyed during a flash flood in 2008 and was restored a year later; the original date marked stone put back in its rightful place.
Follow the lane as it bears left and, at the fork, keep left and then hug the right boundary as you head past a farm and uphill around to the right. Be respectful of the farm owners while passing this section.
As the lane levels off again, you’ll rejoin a concrete lane and pass a beautiful English orchard on your left – planted for the millenium in January 2000 – filled with grazing sheep.
A short while along this lane you’ll see an opening on your right signposted Back Aller Wood and a public footpath sign and stile to lead you in. Here, as you walk along this long straight track, keep your eyes peeled for scampering grey squirrels that live amongst the mixture of broadleaf woodland including ash, oak and chestnut trees – providing wood for estate fencing, firewood and milling. You’ll also be treated to the gorgeous sound of birdsong as you amble your way through.
The path will curve to the right before leading you to a kissing gate. Here you’ll be treated to views across the rolling East Devon countryside and be able to see the A30 to your left. Take the gate immediately to the left once through, and then follow the gravel trail to the right downhill through the field.
Head through the kissing gate on your right into the next field and then take the worn, grass path diagonally across to a metal gate on the other side. Here you can cross a picturesque half-log carved bridge over the small River Tale before turning immediately right along the narrow trail along the river bank.
This path will bring you back to the 19th century brick bridge you crossed previously. Simply turn left and follow the road back towards the house and parking area where you started. Stop off in the restaurant for some well-earned tea and cake before heading home.