Starts/Finishes: Knapp Copse Local Nature Reserve Car Park, Seaton Road, EX10 0QH (GR: SY154957)
Time: 1 hour
Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Very Strenuous (easy partial route possible)
Elevation Gain: 117m
Terrain: Grassy footpaths, can get very muddy. Steps and wooden boardwalk, with gates.
Parking: Free small car park
Knapp Copse Circular Walk
Small but perfectly formed, Knapp Copse Local Nature Reserve is a jigsaw of wildlife habitats boasting one of the best valley views in the area.
Rolling grassland is neatly carved up by a network of hedgerows, and links up with pockets of ancient woodland throughout. The reserve spans
a steep valley, so as you descend towards the Roncombe Stream which splits the site down the middle, the landscape changes again as you encounter marshland and a springline mire.
While birds, dormice, foxgloves and orchids make for a delightful spectacle as you explore, it’s the viewpoints down through the valley and beyond that really steal the show.
Circling the perimeter of the reserve is a 1.6 mile, well-marked permissive path thanks to blue topped route markers, so you can spend more time enjoying the view and less time worrying about your direction.
(1) We recommend walking the route in a clockwise direction, turning left at the first signpost just a few hundred yards from the start. When you walk along the top of the ridge and through gaps in the hedgerows, it won’t be long until you’re presented with a totally jaw-dropping view which should make it clear as to why.
Not up to the steep climbs? You can experience the stunning valley view without taking on the strenuous climbs by simply following this first part of the walk (approx. 450m) and retracing your steps back to the car park.
(2) Take care as you continue on down the steep path through a small, wooded section. Suitable footwear is definitely recommended, especially during winter.
(3) Just under halfway around you’ll cross the East Devon Way and be able to enjoy the relaxing sound of the stream in full flow.
From here, it’s a case of what goes down, must come up. You won’t mind enjoying multiple rest stops as you admire a new perspective. You might even get to marvel at the physics defying livestock that graze in one of the very steep fields near the top!
(4) Once out onto the bridleway, the route soon takes you back into mixed woodland on your right, and this final section takes you up and down steps and slopes to provide a changing landscape to enjoy.
(5) Cross the East Devon Way trail once more and return to the car park.
You’re just a stone’s throw away from a fantastic carvery at the Hare & Hounds – the perfect way to end a winter walking mission!
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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