Discover giant redwoods, darting deer and carpets of bluebells on a number of routes through this National Trust owned forest.
Starts/Finishes: Forest Gate Car Park
Time: 20 mins – 1 hour
Distance: 1 – 2 miles
Facilities: Toilets, café and other facilities nearby at Killerton House
National Trust owned conifer forest, Ashclyst Forest, was created nearly two centuries ago as a result of the 7th Baronet of Killerton Sir Thomas Acland’s plan to plant the trees to provide timber for the Killerton Estate. It is now one of the largest areas of woodland in East Devon and has since become a home for a large variety of butterflies, birds and a whole array of other wildlife – there’s even a good chance of spotting deer darting between the trees. As you stroll around the forest, keep your eyes peeled for the forest giants at Sprydon Beacon. These are some of the first giant redwoods brought to the country around 200 years ago. Ashclyst Forest is also an ideal location for basking in the beauty of bluebells that colour the woodland floor at this time of year.
There are a number of sign-posted trails with easy to follow, coloured waymarkers that guide you along the well maintained paths that wind their way through the forest. Trails vary in length from the 20 minute easy loop that is suitable for buggies to the approximately 1 hour moderate terrain loop that takes you out to the southern edge of the forest.
The paths are suitable for both walkers and cyclists and there is a good amount of parking for visitors, especially at the largest car park of Forest Gate. Do remember to lock your valuables out of sight! While there are no facilities at this location, toilets and other facilities are available at Killerton House nearby.
The yellow route starts from the hard to miss visitor information sign in the middle of Forest Gate car park. Turn around 180 degrees from the trail map sign and you will see a waymarker post with the yellow, red and purple trails marked pointing to the right. Follow this path and then look out for the marker on the right again as you go into the forest.
The trail will twist and turn through the trees before you come to a cross road. Here you need to take the fire road track on the right that climbs steadily uphill. Relax to the sound of birdsong as you begin to see bluebells around you.
Once you meet the main tarmac road, go straight across and into the small car park marked Sprydon Beacon. Make your way through the right of the two gates, following the markers still, and up into a grassy clearing where you can look up in awe at the tall Wellingtonias with their vibrant red bark. This marks just over the halfway point of the easy yellow route and makes for a lovely picnic area – especially in bluebell season!
Shortly after leaving this clearing and going into thicker forest you will notice that the yellow and green routes split. This is your chance to opt for the slightly longer green route if you’re feeling full of energy and want to spend longer in the forest. Along the green route we saw deer darting through the thicker forest on three occasions, so be sure to head that way if you don’t want to miss them!
Otherwise, carry on along the yellow route back to Forest Gate car park where you started. Just before you reach the car park there is another little area with benches and large logs for sitting and resting to give another picnic opportunity.
For more information on Ashclyst Forest, visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ashclyst-forest
© National Trust Images