Starts/Finishes: Strathculm Road,
Hele Village, EX5 4PR
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Distance: 2.9 miles
Terrain: Field footpaths, quiet lanes, single track footpath
Parking: Limited parking available on Strathculm Road, just off Station Road
Hele Circular Ramble
Walk along the pavement on Station Road, heading east over the River Culm, for 200 yards. Before the railway crossing, (1) turn left to take the public footpath between the metal fences.
From here, you’ll continue across the fields between the River Culm (and River Weaver tributary) on your left and the railway line and M5 motorway on your right. I was lucky enough to see a bank of swans casually floating their way along the water as I passed, the sound of birdsong in the air and wildflowers adorning the hedgerows.
(2) After a section close by the water, the path will turn 90 degrees left with the water course. Continue along the track as you cross the smaller River Weaver and shortly after, the larger River Culm. It’s a great opportunity to stop and take a peaceful moment listening to the sound of the water and spotting any wildlife.
(3) Go through the gate and follow the track around to the right and through the farm, being mindful of landowners.
At the junction, it’s time for your ascent. (4) Turn left up the steep winding hill, continuing further uphill along the lane past Parklands Residential Home on your left.
After the lane bends around to the left, keep your eyes peeled for a public footpath sign on your left opposite Bradninch Football Club. (5)
Those with little ones in tow might want to to stop off at Bradninch playpark here on the corner (over the stile), equipped with zip line and slides, or to just use the benches for a breather.
(6) Otherwise, continue along the hedged track, skirting beside the Charwell Wetlands nature reserve. It will get narrower as you go, turning into a footpath crossing fields once more, giving views back over the Culm Valley from your newly gained elevation.
The path takes you through some light woodland as it drops down and back up, (7) emerging opposite Westfield Road.
Continue straight over up Westfield Road. (8) Turn left at the top to walk along the lane for 100 yards before turning left again at the crossroads. (9) Follow the lane downhill and enjoy views over the village and beyond until you reach Hele Road. (10) Turn right to return to where you began.
Why not tie your day out with a trip to The Antique Village just on the B3181 junction outside of Hele? Open 10am – 4pm, Monday to Saturday, it’s a real treasure trove of vintage, retro and salvage antiques, also serving coffee, cakes and light lunches from the on-site Dovetail Café.
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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