Are you looking for the best walks in Devon? Read on, as I go into my local favourites!
Devon’s made for country walks.
It’s the only county in the country with two beautiful coastlines, both of which are lined by the South West Coast Path (the lengthiest long-distance footpath in the UK). Plus, it has not one but two moorlands, both of which are brimming with trails and footpaths.
With so much incredible nature, it’s difficult to discern which are the best walks in Devon. How on earth do you choose?
I’ve whittled it down for you in this post. I live in Devon and have completed all of these hikes, plus many others. And in my opinion, these are the best of the best!
So, pull on your hiking shoes and head out to whichever one’s closest!
Top walks in Devon
From coastal walks to river valleys, here are the top walks in Devon – there’s something for everyone!
Valley of Rocks, Lynton and Lynmouth
The Valley of Rocks in Exmoor National Park is a remarkable dry valley filled with ancient rock formations, some of the oldest in North Devon. It was believed to have been shaped by a former tributary of the East Lyn River since the last Ice Age.
The circular walk from Lynton, around the Valley of Rocks, and back, stretches approximately 2.9 miles (4.7 kilometres), with an additional 0.6 miles to reach Lynmouth.
This scenic walk is relatively easy and suitable for various fitness levels – but it’s a bit of a challenge to climb up the rocks themselves!
Expect breathtaking views from the coast’s highest points, overlooking the coastline and interior of the national park!
You’ll find rock formations and native goats who are curiously adept at scaling near-vertical cliffs.
The hike generally takes a couple of hours; you can head to Lynmouth to enjoy a slap-up pub lunch afterwards!
Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton, Jurassic Coast
This is my local hike and one that I do quite frequently!
This fairly easy walk takes around 2.5 hours one way on the Jurassic Coast, although you can make it a circular walk (of about four hours) by linking up with the cycle path.
Start in Exmouth town centre, and enjoy the 2km walk along the beach before ascending up to Orcombe Point.
From Orcombe Point, enjoy the Jurassic Coast cliff views before strolling along the clifftop, through the lush temperate rainforest and then down toward the pebbled beach of Budleigh Salterton.
This is the oldest area of the Jurassic Coast – it’s actually from the Triassic era (before the Jurassic) – the cliffs date back up to 250 million years!
When you reach Budleigh Salterton, you can either take the 357 bus back or walk along the coastal path.
Combe Martin to Ilfracombe
The Combe Martin to Ilfracombe hike leads from the western edge of Exmoor.
This breathtaking 5-mile stretch along North Devon’s rugged coastline is one of my favourite parts of the coastal trail.
This section, renowned for its dramatic cliffs and panoramic views, is postcard-perfect.
Starting at the picturesque Combe Martin Bay, the walk meanders uphill, unwinding through woodlands before revealing the expansive vistas of the North Devon coast.
It’s not too challenging a walk (nothing compared to other sections on the coastal path) and you can take in sandy beaches and glorious clifftops as you go.
Kingswear to Greenway
4.5 miles, moderate
Let’s head up the Dart Estuary!
This walk spans along the Dart Valley Trail and is a must for anyone staying in Kingswear or Dartmoor (you can easily take a water taxi between the two).
It’s a moderately challenging walk, with a few uphill sections – but it’s nothing compared to some of the coastal paths in Devon.
When you arrive in Greenway, pop inside! It was Agatha Christie’s former summer home and the setting where she wrote some of her novels.
There’s also a cafe and woodland trails around here (just in case you haven’t done enough walking!).
Greenway is a National Trust property – if you’re a member, you get in for free! More information here.
Teignmouth to Dawlish Warren
If you’re looking for an easy intro to the South West Coast Path, I bring you the Teignmouth to Dawlish/ Dawlish Warren walk.
This hike begins from Teignmouth, which is accessible from Exeter and Exmouth by train.
It journeys along Teignmouth’s sea wall, so starts off being completely flat and very easy. Only one caveat: don’t attempt this in a storm!
Once the sea wall stops, you join the paths traversing up and down the cliffs.
There’s a bit of a climb here, but it’s nothing compared to other sections of the path (I recently did Teignmouth to Babbacombe, and some of those hills were intense!). Then, you’ll drop down to Dawlish, a quiet town that’s famous for its resident black swans.
I’d definitely recommend a pit stop at Annie’s Tea Room before continuing!
If you want, you can end the walk there. A half-hourly train and bus connects Dawlish with Teignmouth. Or, join another sea wall path to hike to Dawlish Warren.
Widely regarded as one of the best beaches in Devon, Dawlish Warren often receives the Blue Flag Award for its water quality. Here, you’ll find bright orange cliffs, golden sand and a nature reserve.
Take the train back – The Guardian’s called it “Arguably the most beautiful railway journey in the UK”. There’s a station in Dawlish Warren that connects to both Dawlish and Teignmouth, or you can take a train the other way for Exeter and Exmouth.
Two Bridges to Wistman’s Wood
Let’s head to Dartmoor National Park for this next one!
The largest national park in England, it’s no surprise that there are countless incredible walks, ranging from long hikes to short strolls, in this part of the county.
Begin your walk at the Two Bridges Hotel, where there’s a small car park (I’d recommend heading here early in the day as spaces are limited).
Then, hike across the moor to Wistman’s Wood. You’ll follow a path initially (Google Maps location here) and then you should be able to spot Wistman’s Wood, a clump of forest, along the moor. To reach it, simply traverse the open moor – it’s Dartmoor hiking at its best!
Wistman’s Wood is an ancient woodland, with moss-strewn boulders lining the ground and enigmatic trees stretching towards the sky. In fact, it’s often thought of as a Hogwarts-esque Forbidden Forest dupe!
Haytor to Hound Tor walk
The Haytor Vale and Hound Tor Circular Walk is a 7.6 km trail with an elevation gain of 322 meters – it’s no Ben Nevis, but it’s one of the best hikes in Devon to get your heart pumping!
The circular path begins near the iconic Haytor and leads to Hound Tor which is surrounded by the historic remnants of the medieval town of Hundatora. It’s a circular walk between the two.
The lore of Dartmoor is palpable here – read a bit about Hound Tor’s folklore of witches and turned-to-stone hunters to see what I mean!
Nearby, you’ll find Bowerman’s Nose and Jay’s Grave which each have their own tales and historical significance.
The trail’s rocky in places and can be quite challenging, although it’s feasible for anyone with a decent level of fitness.
Calstock to Gunnislake
This underrated walk leads along the Tamar Valley.
While it’s part in Devon and part in Cornwall, it follows the lush River Tamar, with lovely views of the water and trees and greenery on either side. It’s a fairly easy walk, although there are a couple of steeper uphill sections.
You’ll end up in Calstock, home to the beautiful Calstock Viaduct – I recommend lunch at The Tamar Inn (jam first if you’re having a cream tea, you’re in Cornwall now!).
You can take a train between the two settlements (although do check times before you head out, as they only run once every two hours) – this line leads all the way back to Plymouth.
Okehampton to Belstone Walk
Head out from Okehampton station and into the open moorland of one of England’s best national parks.
On this beautiful Devon walk, you’ll leave the station and quickly join a public bridleway, leading under the railway viaduct at Fatherford as you join the moor.
Before Belstone, there’s a detour to the Nine Maidens Stone Circle, and you can also climb up Belstone Tor once you reach the village!
Follow the walk the same way on the way back, terminating at Okehampton, where you can catch a train back to Exeter.
Dartmouth to Blackpool Sands
Dartmouth is one of the most beautiful towns in Devon, and you can enjoy the stunning South Hams scenery by walking to Blackpool Sands. This five-mile route has a bit of road walking, along with some rugged coastal trails.
You’ll journey past Bayard’s Fort and Dartmouth Castle; it’s worth popping into Dartmouth Castle if you have time (if you’re an English Heritage member, you get entry for free!).
Then, you’ll turn away from the River Dart and onto the coast. There are a few climbs here – the highest point is around 116 metres – and you’ll pass the village of Stoke Flemming.
Ultimately, you’ll reach Blackpool (not that one!), which is home to a stunning South Devon Beach that’s loved by locals and tourists alike.
The 93 bus connects Blackpool Sands with Dartmouth for the return journey.
Instow to Westward Ho! walk
This North Devon hike is one of my favourite segments of the Tarka Trail.
From the riverside village of Instow, an underrated village in Devon, take in glorious views across the water before turning onto old cycle paths which lead up to Bideford.
Bideford’s a sizable town (rare in North Devon), and from here you’ll walk the other side of the River Torridge to reach Appledore – one of my favourite villages in the area.
Don’t miss walking down Irsha Street, a road lined with colourful terrace houses, and if you’re looking for a pub lunch, I highly recommend The Seagate.
Continuing the walk, trek across Northam Burrows to reach Westward Ho!
One of only two places in the world with an exclamation mark in its name, Westward Ho! was actually named after a book of the same name. It’s a popular seaside resort; while it’s a bit lacking in culture, it’s one of the best places for surfing in Devon.
From Westward Ho! jump on the number 21 bus which leads to both Bideford and Instow.
Watersmeet to Ash Bridge circular walk
One of the best walks in Devon with kids, this short walk is only 2.2 kilometres in length, but it packs a punch with beautiful views and points of interest.
This family-friendly walk traverses along the East Lyn River. Enjoy the zig-zag path to reach Watersmeet House and see the meeting place between Hoar Oak Water and East Lyn River.
There are some steps, along with a few inclines, but as it’s such a short walk its not too taxing!
Look out for herons and otters as you go.
Keep following the river upstream, walk through Barton Wood and then cross Ash Bridge.
Once you’ve crossed the river, head downstream and you’ll eventually reach Watersmeet House again. The cream teas are excellent here…
Branscombe to Beer walk
Amazing views await on the Branscombe to Beer walk!
Beginning in the quaint setting of Branscombe – one of my favourite fishing villages in Devon – the Branscombe to Beer hike takes in both Jurassic Cliffs and Beer’s signature chalk formations. It’s definitely one of the best hikes in Devon!
It’s a fairly challenging hike, with a climb up to Beer Head and a traverse through the Hooken Landslip; but if you only go one way it’s quite short (around three miles or 1 hour 20 minutes walking) – and there are excellent pubs at both ends! (I recommend the Mason’s Arms in Branscombe and the appropriately named Barrel O Beer in Beer).
If you want to walk back, you can either go the same way – walking either along the cliffs or through the Hooken Landslip – or make it a circular walk by walking past the Beer Quarry Caves and Beer YHA. Directions here.
Teign Gorge walk
4.1 miles, moderate difficulty. 2 hours 30 minutes.
This Teign Gorge circuit walk is one of the best in Dartmoor.
Beginning at Castle Drogo, England’s last castle to be built, this trail climbs above the River Teign and takes in the extraordinary scenery of the Teign Valley.
You’ll pass by Sharp Tor, the 13th-century Fingle Bridge and Drogo Weir before terminating in the same spot – Castle Drogo Car Park.
It’s a fantastic add-on to visiting the castle (run by the National Trust).
Hartland Quay to Welcombe (or Bude!)
Are you up for a challenge?
The Hartland Quay to Welcombe walk, takes on the first part of the most challenging (in my opinion) South West Coast Path walk, Hartland Quay to Bude.
The full hike, which is 15 miles long and spans across the North Devon/ Cornwall border, is a rollercoaster of paths soaring high up into the sky and plummeting down back towards the beach.
Good news? The Hartland Quay to Welcombe walk doesn’t start off so difficult. In fact, I found the part just after that to be the most challenging.
You could park at Hartland Quay – which has a lot of maritime heritage – and head from there to Welcombe on the South West Coast Path (about 5 miles). Welcombe Mouth is the Devon/ Cornwall border.
Unfortunatley there are not really any feasible bus links from Welcombe Mouth back to Hartland Quay, so this is an out-and-back, challenging 10-mile walk. It may well take you all day!
Long-distance hiking paths in Devon
Looking for a longer hike in Devon?
Thanks to its rural nature, county’s peppered with long-distance paths. These will all take at least a few days to complete (and some will take a few weeks); but of course you can dip in and out as you please!
- The South West Coast Path: This spans along the North Coast of Devon (from County Gate to Welcombe, or Lynmouth to Hartland Quay if you’re looking for more tangible start and end points) and the South Coast (from Seaton to Plymouth). The North Coast section is 90 miles and the South Coast is 115. Allow 8-12 days for each.
- Tarka Trail: A 180-mile loop in North Devon, inspired by the journey of Tarka the Otter, primarily following the Taw and Torridge rivers; offers serene riverside sceneries and is suitable for walking and cycling, with an estimated completion time of 6-9 days.
- The Two Moors Way: Spanning 117 miles across Devon, linking Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, this trail presents a variety of terrains including moorlands, valleys, and rural landscapes; suitable for seasoned hikers, it typically takes 7-11 days to complete.
- East Devon Way: Connecting Lyme Regis to Exmouth over 40 miles, this trail passes through the scenic East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, combining coastal views with heathland and charming villages; it’s an easier route, perfect for casual hikers, taking 3-5 days.
- Tamara Coast to Coast Way: Following the River Tamar for 60 miles along the Devon-Cornwall border, this path meanders through historical landscapes and ancient woodlands; it offers a mix of cultural and natural experiences, suitable for all walking levels, and can be completed in 4-7 days.
Are you ready for these hikes in Devon?
Whether you’re looking for a quick walk or a long, full-day hike, there’s no doubt about it – Devon’s a great place for hikers and walkers of any ability.
So, next time you’re looking for an outdoor activity in Devon, take a look at this list of hikes and walks to see which is best for you!