Devon famously has so many beautiful places to visit but, when you’re living and working here, it’s easy to take things for granted. Caroline Cook shares some of her favourite locations right on your doorstep that are not to be missed…

Cadbury Castle
The footpath approach to Cadbury Castle, near to Bickleigh in Tiverton, is a leafy tunnel of over-hanging trees and soft earth underfoot, with occasional teasing glimpses of the beautiful views to come. The path opens out between sweeping crop fields, leading you through a kissing gate and up to the ancient iron age fort entrance at the top of the hill. There is something thrilling about passing though the grassy gateway that has seen soldiers and villagers alike cross its boundary. Everyone from Romans to Cromwell’s Parliamentarians have set up camp there over several millennia, maximising the incredible look-out that would have afforded you quite the advantage over your enemies.

Today those stunning views offer more in the way of the perfect picnic spot, 250 metres above sea level overlooking the Exe valley. On a clear day, you can drink in Exmoor from one slope and Dartmoor from another across rolling hills. A gorgeous spot to eat your sandwiches as you imagine Celts in their homestead, archaeological finds of glittering glass beads and tales of civil war siege between Cavaliers and Roundheads.

Impey Walk – Knightshayes
If you’ve only ever made a beeline for the National Trust property, you may have missed the delights hidden in its extensive parkland. The impey walk takes you on a gentle circuit through woodland and bush-craft spots, across the sweeping fields dotted with majestic oaks, sycamores and horse chestnuts, past the beautiful view of Knighthayes house itself and back up an idyllic valley nestling between fruit orchards, rhododendrons and flocks of grazing sheep. Depending on how long you have to wander there are many treats to take in on the way. The playground hewn from fallen trees, the thwack of leather on willow if you fancy taking in a cricket match, or tucked away behind tiered stone walls and cinderella-esque towers – the exquisite kitchen garden.

Orcombe Rocks
Exmouth beach is a well-known must. With its miles of glorious golden sand it is loved by kite surfers and dog walkers alike. At low tide however, there is another beauty spot you may have missed. Just beyond the dog-friendly stretch of the beach, walk around the corner and you will find Orcombe rocks. They intersect Exmouth beach and Sandy Bay in a cluster of fossil finds and miniature rock pools. It’s a heritage site on the Western end of the Jurassic coast line that is a photographer’s dream, best enjoyed as the crowds begin to disappear. With its glowing red cliffs and lurid sea weed coating the rocks it looks glorious reflected in wet sand captured in the setting evening sun.

East Dartmoor Woodland
The East Dartmoor Woodland is a precious place, thick with bluebells in Spring and a refreshing retreat from crowds in Summer. There is also great variety of woodland to choose from, a trail of glittering jade scattered along the river valley. By now the woodland canopy closes over your head, creating a lightly dappled floor and cooling shelter from the heat. The lush foliage, abundant fungi and lime green mosses are spectacular come rain or shine and the area provides a protective habitat for butterflies, many species of warbling birdlife and if you’re very lucky, grazing deer. It’s also a place steeped in folklore and heritage. There’s a Tolkien-like feel as the woodland opens here and there to granite boulders, picturesque farmland and ancient stone round ash houses.

Braunton Burrows
Saunton Sands is one the most breath-taking beaches in Devon but it can get extremely busy in Summer. To avoid the tourists and traffic there is a secret short cut; turn off before the jams and take a quieter stroll in via Braunton Burrows. The walk takes about 30 minutes but it passes a perfect picnic spot in the centre of an enormous, other-worldly sand dune where you can eat your sandwiches and watch the children sand-surfing down its slopes. Another twenty minutes across grassier dunes and you come out on to the most perfect stretch of golden sands and gentle waves with only the few other Devonians in the know for company. A far cry from the other end of the beach where you can barely get a whisker between the windbreaks!

The Anchor Inn – Exebridge
Right on the Devon and Somerset border there is a handy base point for anyone exploring Exmoor. It’s also equally lovely for locals who fancy stretching their legs. From the Anchor Inn car park a foot path leads you along the river Exe past green rolling hills so perfect they appear as if they have been turned out from jelly-moulds. Horses idly swish their tails and anglers cast their rods on one side of the river while the footpath takes you round to a little spot by the water’s edge. It’s perfect for skimming the odd pebble or cooling down dogs in the summer heat. It also offers the welcome excuse to stop off at the Anchor Inn itself for a pie and a pint on the river bank whilst admiring the beautiful 14th century arched stone bridge.

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