Distance: 1 mile approx.
Time: 1 hour
Terrain: Grassy footpaths, can be muddy when wet
Parking: Barley Lane (but also see full article for other options)
Dog-friendly: Yes, on a lead.
Barley Valley Nature Reserve Walk
While local residents – whose residential roads provide access to this hidden gem – will like likely already be familiar with this secluded nature spot, some might not realise what lies upon their doorstep, and certainly those from further afield wouldn’t think that such a place existed within the city boundary.
The views from the nature reserve are spectacular. You’ll be able to spot a number of iconic Exeter city landmarks with Exeter Cathedral taking centre stage. As you begin to look further afield, on a clear day, you will be able to look beyond and spot Woodbury Common in the far distance.
Little ones will love how the landscape varies as they explore the fallen trees, winding paths, and small wooden bridges that can be found.
The reserve is popular for those who like birdwatching as a number of different birds call this area home, including woodpeckers and even buzzards. Other wildlife you can expect to find include foxes, dormice and a variety of other insects and critters.
Barley Valley also marks the location of a downed German WW2 bomber which crashed here during an air raid.
Entry to the nature reserve can be made from multiple locations; from the end of Antonine Crescent, via Bowhay Lane – a bridleway from High Meadows, and via a footpath from Higher Barley Mount. Do make sure to park appropriately as these are residential roads. There is also an access point on Barley Lane.
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This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum