Indulge yourself in peaceful woodland, marshland and beautiful lakes on this family-friendly circular route.
The 114 acre site of special scientific interest at Stover Country Park features a 10 acre lake surrounded by marsh, woodland and heath creating a beautiful area that is teeming with wildlife everywhere you look. Stover is also home to the Ted Hughes Poetry Trail – a series of attractively designed posts with wildlife themed poems to enjoy. With so much to learn and discover in such a captivating environment, you’ll never want to leave.
Starting from the car park, head towards the visitor centre – with toilets and other facilities – and, passing it on your right, continue along the wide gravel path into the deciduous woodland. Immediately you will be greeted by inquisitive squirrels scurrying up and down the tall trees. Continue on this path until you get to a wooden marker with paths going off to the left and right. Take the path to the right and continue alongside the woodland. You will see picnic benches dotted amongst the trees – the first of many opportunities to stop for an outdoor lunch!
As you continue the path opens up and you see the beautiful lake in front of you. Keep left and cross the small bridge keeping the lake on your right. There are plenty of outlooks over the lake with interesting, hand-crafted benches allowing you to sit down, relax and enjoy watching the ducks, kingfishers and swans that go about their business on the water.
Keeping the lake on your right, continue along the path. While Stover is dog-friendly it’s important to remember that dogs are strictly forbidden from entering the lake. You will then notice another lake on your left, creating a single footpath between the two bodies of water. There were many ducks crossing between the lakes over the path which offered a chance to get up close with the wildlife. Duck feed can be purchased at the visitor centre and makes for a fun way to interact with these animals. Avoid bringing your own bread as this can damage their health!
You will come to another junction. Continue the path across the bridge, admiring the views as you do, before turning right immediately and continuing along the trail. The lake will now be on your right.
Shortly after, you will see a sign marking the children’s trail going into the woodland on the left. Here children can find wooden statues of otters, squirrels and other animals to help them learn about the variety of wildlife in the park. There are a number of picnic tables in this area and, as it marks roughly the halfway point, it makes a good spot for families to stop and have lunch while the children continue running around exploring!
This area returns you to the main route so, once you’re ready, continue along the trail with the lake on your right and over another very small wooden platform bridge. On the left is a pond life area where you can spot dragonflies, pond skaters and all sorts of pond creatures.
At the end of this path turn right before heading over another wooden bridge where you will turn immediately right. The path ahead of you forks, so make sure to keep to the right on the path closest to the lake. From this path you can access Stover’s unique aerial walkway for a tree top perspective of the woodland and ponds below.
The aerial walkway will return you back to your original path where you can continue along the gravel path to a wooden decking area over the marshland where you can discover even more wildlife up close. Turn right from here and continue along the path to be taken back to the visitor centre where you started.
Starts/Finishes: Stover Country Park Car Park
Distance: 1.5 miles
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Terrain: Flat path – pram and wheelchair friendly
Parking: £1.50 for 2 hours or £3 for the day
For more walking routes or to learn more about the country park, visit: www.new.devon.gov.uk/stovercountrypark
Words & images: Jake Tucker