Starts/Finishes: Pynes Hill Entrance, EX2 5AZ. (GR: SX950909)
Distance: 1 – 1.5 miles
Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate with a short but strenuous final climb (can be avoided)
Terrain: Grassy footpaths
Parking: Free parking on roadside at Pynes Hill
Ludwell Valley Park Walk
Ludwell Valley Park is now managed by Devon Wildlife Trust, who took over the management of the park from Exeter City Council just a few months ago in May of this year. But alongside them is the independent community group – Ludwell Life – whose main aim is to ‘protect and increase the social and environmental value of Ludwell Valley Park for people and for wildlife.’ With the hopes of the park becoming a natural conservation area, it’s the work that the Ludwell Life team put in to support keeping the site clean, safe and well-managed that is vital and will benefit all visitors who are coming to spend time here.
Wildlife spotters are in for a treat as there have been many sightings – although some far less common than others – throughout the park. From Devon Dippers, Lapwings, Tawny Owls and Kingfishers, to otters, badgers, and foxes.
There are numerous walking routes available that vary in length and take you to the different features and areas of wildlife that the park has to offer.
While you can’t go too wrong just ambling around the park this little 1.5 mile walk offers some of the highlights that Ludwell Valley Park has to offer and will give any new visitor a good taster.
You can park up along the road at Pynes Hill – there’s lots of free parking especially at weekends. Enter the park here using the gated path between Redrow Homes and Aston Court. Entering this part of the park immediately sets you high up on the ridge.
Ignore the signposted route on the board as you enter the field, and instead head diagonally right to the towards the end of the line of trees in front of you. Follow this around to the left, keeping the trees on your left, through the gate and then keep going through this field along the tree line, still on your left.
As you walk along this field, and through into the next, you can marvel at the views over the city while cows graze alongside you. See what landmarks you can spot over the tops of the terraced rooftops of Wonford and St. Loyes – the Cathedral, the university, the various churches of the wards and more.
Head through the next gate and continue on this bit of old, tarmac path ignoring the gate on your left and continuing ahead. Bring a basket as this area is teeming with blackberries at this time of year – perfect for making a crumble when you get home.
Once at the fork, you can stop and take in the views once again – this time for a slightly different angle as you get to see further out over Devon with Haldon’s striking belvedere in the far distance. This open, rolling terrain here, coupled with the stunning views, makes it an excellent spot to picnic.
Take the left path steadily descending down through the trees and keep left, close to the hedge, as you near the bottom. There’s a hidden gate in the corner which you’ll need to head through and turn right. Follow this path through the more dense foliage and listen as the sound of the water running along the brook intensifies.
Turn right through the gate before you get to the bridge over the brook, then immediately left before following the path diagonally right across the field to the gate on the other side. Go left through this gate, and then follow the same diagonal path across the next field too. Continue into the field with the pylon and follow the path straight ahead into the next field – the cherry orchard, planted in 1830. Here you might even be lucky to spot a buzzard as you walk through the wildflowers.
Follow the perimeter path around the next field opposite until you reach a gate. Here you’ll turn right as you enter a dark, holly covered track that turns 90 degrees left before climbing uphill to some steps – a more mysterious bit of scenery from the rolling meadows previously.
Go through this gate and you’ll be met with the final challenge – and it’s a strenuous one! The climb back up to the ridge. There are routes around this if it’s too much to manage.
Once you’ve conquered the mighty climb, you’ll be back on the ridge and ready to return to the car.
If you enjoyed your time here then consider giving something back. The Ludwell Life team are always keen to welcome new volunteers who are happy to lend a hand. To find out more contact email@example.com or visit www.ludwelllife.org.uk