Transport yourself back in time to a more rural Devon countryside as you pass through open meadows, small sections of woodlands and discover one of the South West’s last remaining watermills.
Length: 2.5 miles
Time: Approximately 1 – 2 hours
Terrain: Hard-packed gravel path, lanes and farm tracks plus fields with stiles and gate access. Can be muddy after rainfall.
The route starts from the triangle green near the front of the church in the heart of Broadclyst. Follow the lane passing the Red Lion pub on the right as it winds past an example of some of the iconic yellow stone and thatch-roofed cottages that the village is known for before turning into a public footpath. Follow the footpath slightly uphill and between two wooden farm gates as it narrows and goes steadily downhill into a small area of copse. This area is home to nesting birds which you’ll hear chirping as you go and it’s also covered in lovely wildflowers – primroses, buttercups and more – which instantly sets a relaxing tone for the route ahead.
Continue across the small wooden bridge over the River Clyst and through the gate into the open field ahead. Follow this, keeping the fence on your right, and admire the 360 degree views over the East Devon countryside as you go, enjoying the gentle buzz from the pylons overhead which serve as a backing track to the mids and high notes of the birds tweeting from the trees. You may also see Devon Ruby Red Cows and their spring calves if you’re lucky.
Once through the field you’ll need to go over the stile and turn right on the cycle track. Follow this hard-packed gravel path as it bends 90 degrees left and climbs steadily uphill for a short while. You’ll have plenty of time along here to admire the views all around you – what landmarks can you spot as you go?
After a little while you’ll carry straight on through a gate into a picturesque, working farm. Be sure to close the gate properly behind you and be respectful as you travel straight ahead along the farm track. Follow the track as it goes around the perimeter of the farmhouse. You’ll see a huge field open out on your left full of sheep grazing in the sun as you admire the countryside once more. Once through the next gate, take the track/lane to your left and follow this as it bends around to the left (ignoring the public footpath sign on your right taking you over a small wooden bridge).
You’ll come to a National Trust marked gate. Go through this gate and continue ahead, along the long track taking you towards the motorway in the distance. This track skirts along the edge of another small wooded area. You’ll feel like you’re miles away from anyone else at this point, just you and the countryside – ultimate relaxation. I was even lucky enough to spot a fox darting through the long grass!
Go through the wooden gate at the end of this track, out into another vast, open field. Continue the same direction you have been travelling and aim for the perimeter fence. Then, turn left and follow this perimeter fence aiming towards the tower of Broadclyst Church which you can see in the distance. You’ll notice another National Trust footpath marker on the fence as you go to let you know you’re going the right way.
After some time, go through the metal gate and into the next field for a short while before you go through the next gate opposite into yet another field. Now you will need to keep the fence to your left as you start to follow the well worn path towards a wooden gate ahead on your left. Through this gate, follow the well trodden path once more as you go diagonally through this field towards a final gate which will put you back onto the cycle path. Turn right here and go through another wooden gate, taking you back over the river.
Here you will reach the beautiful orchard attached to the National Trust owned Clyston Mill. Picnic benches are scattered amongst these striking apple trees and have a view of the waterwheel turning making a perfect place for a stop off point if you’ve brought your own lunch. Otherwise, enjoy walking through as you make your way to this water powered corn mill where corn is still ground today! You can find out opening times to see the mill in action at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clyston-mill
Once done, continue on the cycle path until you reach a tarmac lane opposite a bungalow. Turn left and follow this lane until it turns into a track leading to the church gate. Walk through the quaint grounds and admire the 15th century church before returning to your start point outside of the Red Lion Pub. If you didn’t bring a picnic, here’s your chance to enjoy some delicious pub food inside or outside of this 16th century rustic inn before setting off home.
Images: Jake Tucker