by Sarah Birbeck
Here at Helpful Holidays we get to trek across many beautiful places and as such have created a small guide on some of our best walks for New Years Day and Boxing Day. We all know over Christmas, we like to get out and stretch the legs to fend off an ever-growing sense of ‘cabin fever’. This year, look no further, we have put together a list of our favourite hidden gems walks across Devon and Somerset for you to enjoy with your family and four-legged friends.
Wistmans Woods is a magical place full of beautiful and twisted old oak trees. The woods are home to many different varieties of creepy moss with lichen growing from the branches and granite rocks. Because of this, Wistmans is one of the oldest dwarf woods in England and is considered to be a place of magic, attracting many tourists including druids.
Park at the Two Bridges Hotel (making sure to pay any parking charges) and walk across the road. Be careful to follow the footpath with the stone wall and later the West River Dart on your left. You will see the woods from a distance. The route is a gentle ¼ mile walk from the car park to the woods. From here you can wander around the 3.5 hectares of woods or as an additional part of a further route. Beware, during and after a period of rain, areas around the woods may become boggy, so do take care.
Our Helpful Hint: Head to the woods first thing in the morning and get some amazing photographs of the mist wrapping around the trees.
Located on South Dartmoor, Avon Dam gives walkers the opportunity to see some of the dramatic wilderness Dartmoor has to offer. This walk is 3.5km and is considered an easy route which is suitable for people of all walking abilities with much of the route tracked. Park at Shipley Bridge and follow the River Avon upstream.
Along the route you will walk past the remains of Brent Moor House which was demolished in 1962 before witnessing the wild Dartmoor scenery. To finish the walk, you will come across the picture-perfect vantage point for Avon Dam before following the signs heading back.
Our Helpful Hint: This is a great walk for kids!
Located near Castle Drogo, Fingle Bridge is a stunning scenic walk along the River Dart. Due to the steepness and the rocky and sometimes slippy terrain, this walk requires individuals to be of a moderate walking ability and preferably wearing good quality walking shoes. There are two main routes available to explore at your leisure.
Arrive and park at Fingle Bridge car park. With limited space available, busy or peak times, the car park might be full. Walk over the bridge and here you will see a map highlighting the main routes available.
Our Helpful Hint: This walk is unforgettable any time of year. Perhaps visit again during the autumnal months as the leaves are changing colour.
Sitting at the base of the Buckland Beacons is Ten Commandment Stones, carved in 1928. These unusual stones offer a picture-perfect opportunity with striking wilderness behind them.
Park at Cold East Cross Car park, a walk out to the stones is a gentle walk that is suitable to everyone. This walk comprises a two-mile round trip.
Our Helpful Hint: If you have time, visit Buckland Abbey, and see the stunning stain glass window- you will not regret it!
Following along the coastal path in East Devon, this route offers completely different scenery to that of Dartmoor. This walk is about 6.44Km long and is very steep.
There are many car parks available to start your walk from (please beware of any parking charges), and the route can be walked in either directions as well as being extended for those who want to push themselves. The walking route offers some fantastic coastal scenery along parts of the Jurassic Coast.
Amble along the ancient bridge and discover wildlife in the nature reserve. There are many footpaths that will take you to a whole host of different areas to explore. You will be amazed by all the different plant life and animals you will find. Beware, the paths may be slippery when wet and muddy.
Our Helpful Hint: If you have time, wonder round Dulverton, there is some lovely shops and tearooms to explore.
Made up of a 13km route, taking an average of 5 hours, this walk suits those of a moderate walking ability. This walk will incorporate the highest point on Exmoor, Dunkery Hill as well as plenty of moorland and woodlands.
Park at Wheddon Car Park. To start the walk, leave the car park turning left toward the war memorial. Once at the memorial, turn right, follow this route for 250 meters, turning left after the quill waymark which has a sign posted on Dunkery Hill. From here, follow the path along the stream.
Our Helpful Hint: If you are lucky, you will catch sight of the famous Exmoor ponies.
Consider visiting one of England’s largest gorges, reaching almost a whopping 122m in depth and 4.8km in length! Adventure around one of the 11 available walking routes and witness a cave, crags and pinnacles. Cheddar Gorge really does have something for everyone! We recommend starting at Cliff Street Car Park for a loop that will include a cheesehole, some unforgettable views both along the walk and the top of the lookout tower. This route is a 3.9km loop and is accessible for walkers of all abilities.
Our Helpful Hint: If you have time, visit the Yeo Valley Farm Shop to enjoy a delicious lunch or purchase some local produce.
Walk up this iconic hill to enjoy the 360 panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. There are a few different walks to include Glastonbury tor, all varying in lengths. Including ones starting at Cheddar Gorge and Tarr Steps. There is no parking available at
Glastonbury Tor. We recommend parking near the Abbey, to create your own ‘spiritual’ journey to the top of the tor. This route is roughly 4.2km long and is a stunning amble suitable for walkers of all abilities.
Our Helpful Hint: Why not observe a sunrise or sunset for an unforgettable photo opportunity.
A 5.1km loop, this unforgettable route will offer breathtaking views of the Bristol Channel, beaches along the Jurassic coast and moorland. This walk is suitable for people of all experience levels with easy paths to follow.
The walk starts and finishes in the small village of Kilve, making this a good area to leave your car. Please follow any local parking restrictions.
Our Helpful Hint: If you have time, spend some time wandering across the beach. You may get lucky and spot some fossils!
We are so lucky to have many fantastic walks across Devon and Somerset to enjoy. It should be noted that ahead of setting off on your adventures we advise seeking further advice from Adventure Smart. We also suggest looking at local routes so you have a clear idea on where you are going.
Please check government guidance on exercise and travel; during the national lockdown, exercise is permitted but you must not travel outside of your local area. If you are visiting these beauty spots please respect your surroundings.
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