Explore the ancient remains or defensive ramparts and evidence of Neolithic settlements at the finest prehistoric hillfort in Devon.
Forgotten during the mid-20th century due to the outbreak of war, this ancient landmark laid for years overgrown and out of sight of most as tree growth and scrub covered the site and hid its prominence as an East Devon point of interest.
It wasn’t until 2010 that a programme of management was introduced that was focused on Hembury’s archaeological past. This led to the site becoming a scheduled monument – chosen for its national importance – and is looked after by the Hembury Management Team (made up of Historic England, English Nature, Blackdown Hills AONB and more) who work hard to preserve the remains of this ancient fort. With evidence of settlements dating back to the Neolithic period, Hembury Fort is a thriving site that is of real interest to archaeologists, conservationists and ecologists alike.
This exciting, ongoing project offers a stunning chance for walkers to explore an ancient part of Devon and admire stunning views over the immediate towns and villages, such as Payhembury and Feniton, as well as further beyond out towards Exeter and Dartmoor directly ahead in the distance. It’s clear to see why this area was used by the Romans as a signalling beacon!
A walk around Hembury Hillfort is rewarding for both adults and children alike.
Starting from the car park, head out of the entrance and immediately across the road through a clearing. Follow this path to the right and you will come to some information boards showing plenty of history on the site.
Go through the wooden gate and follow the path alongside the tree line, steadily descending as you make your way further into the woodland. As you reach the mound the path becomes a little less clear, but you should still be able to make out a well-worn path straight ahead that goes up, down and back up again before curving around to the right taking you up on the top where the hillfort once resided.
As you enter into what now resembles a grassy meadow, take the path to the left and enjoy ambling through wildflowers and listening to sound of birdsong up in the trees around you. This area is great for dog walkers and picnickers alike.
As you follow this grassy path through into a second area and continue ahead, you’ll come to a sharp corner with a large fallen tree off to the side which can be used for seating. Here marks the highest point of the site allowing you to take it the extensive views across East Devon and beyond. Be careful with little ones as the banks here are very steep.
Once you’re done spotting various towns, villages and landmarks, you can continue around the level, circular path (crossing over a footpath going down to your left) which will take you back to the entry point taking you back down into the woodland. From here it’s a case of retracing your steps along the simple path and bath to the car park.
When you’re back at the car park there’s the chance to do a little more walking by taking one of the two small but varying length loops on this side of the hill that take you through the woods and via some rope swings that children (and big kids!) will enjoy playing on. Both routes are easier if you head up out of the top of the car park in an anti-clockwise direction as opposed to clockwise.
Once you’re done you can enjoy picnic tables and benches to relax before travelling home.
The site is easily accessible from Cullompton and Mid Devon from the north west, and Honiton and the surrounding towns on the A373. Those coming from further afield can easily get onto this road via the A30.
For more information on the work that Hembury Management Team are doing at the site, visit: www.hemburyfort.co.uk