Enjoy dense woodland and wide open hay meadows on this circular walk in the River Lemon Valley.
Starts/Finishes: Bakers Park Car Park, Steppes Meadow, Newton Abbot, TQ12 1LP
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Distance: Approx. 2 miles
Terrain: Packed gravel/dirt paths – one moderate uphill section with steps and roots on the west side of the river (can be avoided if taking the shorter route).
Facilities: Coffee van sometimes at Bakers Park
Parking: Free – maximum stay of 3 hours. Otherwise you can pay to park on the Bradley Estate itself.
This month’s walk is a simple ‘up and down’ the river walk with an added opportunity to visit a medieval National Trust property. You can park for free at Bakers Park Car Park where there is a fair amount of parking for around 20 cars. Once you’re done with your walk it makes for a lovely place to sit and relax while the little ones burn off any excess energy in the play park or on the playing fields.
From the car park, make your way along the gravel path coming from the far end leading you through the playing field towards the wooden gate at the other end. Once through, cross the road and continue along the footpath straight ahead to a wooden bridge where you will then cross over a small stream.
As you come back under the tree cover of this ancient woodland you’ll continue along the path keeping the River Lemon on your right. The River Lemon provides a home to spawning salmon, brown trout and kingfishers too.
As you continue along the river you’ll notice the paths splitting and merging back together further along. This happens for the majority of this stretch and all the paths take you to the same place so families can have fun racing each other on the different lines. There are also plenty of opportunities to access the small river beaches – perfect for dogs as the water isn’t very deep or fast flowing here.
You’ll realise you’re starting to ascend as the banks of the river rise and you start to move further from the water. As this begins to happen you’ll see a narrow metal-railed bridge on your right that crosses the river. For those wanting to make a shorter walk of less than a mile, you can take this bridge and then continue back along the river in the direction you came. Otherwise, to complete the full route, continue as normal as you start the moderate climb uphill through the woodland. This part of the walk makes it not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs, and the steps and roots can be a bit tricky if you’re not so confident on your feet.
At the top, make your way over the stile and then enjoy a level section high up in the trees. You’ll come to a junction and go straight ahead. The path will continue level for a few hundred metres before beginning to descend back down to water level where you will reach a ford and, just past this, a bridge where you can cross to make your way back down the other side.
Go through the two gates and continue along the hard-packed path through the first hay meadow on the estate, admiring the towering trees that line the river bank. The hay meadows offer a look back in time at areas of lowlands that were so common across England but have largely now been turned into farmland.
Continuing through the next gate, you will be greeted by the sound of fast flowing water as you stop and enjoy a small waterfall and as a small tributary joins the river. This large pooled area again makes another safe spot to play in the water.
From this point onwards you can amble your way along the track back towards Bradley Manor as the meadows open out once again. As you near the two stone bridges from where you started on the estate, you’ll see the entrance to Bradley Manor signposted on your left.
Bradley Manor is still used as a family home, but guests are allowed to wander through many of the rooms that have been left to become a time warp thanks to preserved original ceilings and medieval cat holes. You can also bask in the tranquillity of the beautiful gardens that surround the property.
Once done, simply cross the two stone bridges and head back through the gate towards the car park where you started to complete your walk.