Walking in North Devon and Exmoor
If you want to experience some of the best walking in the UK (yes, I mean that from experience) then the North Devon coast and the Exmoor National Park have some of the most challenging and scenic walking you could wish for. Because the South West Coast Path passes right through this area, the quality of the coastal footpath is kept high. The National Park also maintain its 300 miles of footpaths and bridleways to a high standard. What you will be impressed by is the standard of signage across the whole area. All the signs, bridle gates and stiles are made locally in the parks own workshops.
So, you are in for a walkers’ treat. All the Tourist Information Centres and National Park Centres have a good selection of walks leaflets to choose from. These are often written by locals who know the paths very well, so the routes taken are usually the best for that area. Overall, there should be very little road and field walking.
Where to find walks online
If you want to plan before coming on holiday, then try these websites. You may need to use the websites search facilities to pin the walks down to North Devon or Exmoor.
https://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/walking/exmoor-walking-map and then click the map icons to get full details.
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/watersmeet/lists/the-best-walks-across-north-devon offers some great walks in North Devon.
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/heddon-valley/features/best-picnic-spots-in-north-devon offers some stunning picnic spots close to good walking country.
https://www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk/explore and then click the ‘Walks’ tab for the map to show the walks icons. Click the relevant icon(s) to get the full details of the walk.
https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/ and click on Walks in the header and then use the search.
http://www.walkingworld.com/ and then use ‘Find a walk’ section and the ‘Area’ tab which does have ‘Devon’ and then ‘Exmoor’ in the dropdowns.
Advice for walking in this area
Always wear quality walking boots with good grips
Always take waterproofs or windproofs with you
Always take plenty of water with you, and snacks or sandwiches if the walk does not have somewhere to get refreshments along the way
Always take a walker’s OS map with you, Explorer OL9 for Exmoor, Explorer 139 for Bideford, Barnstaple and Ilfracombe
Be aware of ticks. Check yourself over after a walk. Ideally wear long trousers tucked into your socks. You can get good tick removers from most of the Tourist Information Centres
This whole area is hilly, so a 9-mile walk is like a 12-14 mile walk in much of the rest of the country
Remember that mobile signals are very patchy in this whole area, so you might have to search for a signal
Don’t forget your camera, it is very scenic around here
Do not wild camp or light fires or BBQ’s
Take all your litter home, leave only footprints, take away memories.
How to Map Read
Get more enjoyment out of walking by being proficient at map-reading. Learning to map-read will allow you to know what something is that you can see a little way off. I have been guiding and writing walks around Exmoor and North Devon for many years. So, I am sharing my knowledge of reading a walkers map to help you be more safe and enjoy our beautiful countryside more fully. Download my Map-Reading Instructions (pdf, 355kb).
Get Walking Boots that Fit
In my years of guiding walkers, it concerns me how many people get blisters. Here are my recommendations for getting walking boots that fit properly and comfortably, so you end a walk without sore feet. Download my Get Walking Boots that Fit instructions here (pdf, 143kb).
The Easy-Release Locking Bow
While guiding a group of walkers who included an 80 year old gentleman called Horry (short for Horace), while taking a break at Pinkery Pond, he showed me the bow he and all his companions use to tie their boots with. It is far better than tying a standard knot and then locking it with a granny-knot, that once wet is impossible to undo. They called it the 'Horry Knot' which I have been using since 2004. It undoes with ease however wet it has got. Download my Easy-Release Locking Bow instructions here (pdf, 251kb).