Starts/Finishes:Woodbury Castle Car Park (SY033872)
Distance: 2 miles approx
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Woodbury Castle Circular Walk
Perched high above the land surrounding it, Woodbury Common is a perfect place to sit back and revel in the beauty of Devon. On a clear day you can see as far as Dartmoor and the views down to the estuary are quite simply breathtaking.
The heather and gorse that make up most of the Common give it a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Walking through it on a sunny day it would be easy to imagine yourself strolling through some distant Spanish plain rather than nestled a few minutes away from Exeter, Honiton or Exmouth.
As the largest continuous heathland in England, the common offers a fantastic place for walkers and cyclists to explore the many neatly mapped pathways spanning the area.
This particular circular walk also takes in Woodbury Castle. The earthen ramparts which make up the walls of this Iron Age hill fort, dating back to 500BC, are still clearly visible and it is easy to imagine the people who made this beautiful land their home. Today the open space that would have housed them is filled with enormous trees giving the fort a beautiful, dramatic feel that is timeless.
Be sure to also keep your eyes out for many types of wildlife that live on the heathland, including the rare Dartford Warbler that can be found in dense gorse as well as low flying Nightjar’s operating at dawn and dusk.
(1) Starting from the Woodbury Castle car park, take the track to the far right of the car park when facing away from the entrance – and follow the narrower gorse-lined path gently down the hill. Keeping the main B3180 on your right, you will continue along until you reach a number of intersecting tracks, just before you reach the B3179.
(2) At this junction, turn left and past the ‘Old Tree’ enclosure. (3) Continue on and cross over another intersecting track as you go slightly uphill towards the corner of a woodland plantation. (4) Here you will follow the firebreak along until you pass a large area of grassland on your left used for flying model aircraft, and past the car park on your right.
(5) Continue downhill along this track and then turn left. Here you will see the path descend and ascend in and out of the steep valley. The sloped path will be very pebbly, so be careful of your footing here. It is best to keep to the edges of the track.
(6) You will then reach a T junction once at the top. Turn left and you will then follow this wide sweeping gravel track back up to Woodbury Castle.
Now’s your chance to spend a bit of time exploring the castle site with its swooping banks and wild shelters hidden amongst the trees. It is the perfect spot to sit and relax while letting the kids run around to burn off any excess energy.
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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