Halsdon Nature Reserve is one of the nearest of the Devon Wildlife Trust’s reserves to Wheatland Farm. Otters are sometimes to be seen from the hide overlooking the River Torridge, and orchids and bluebells abound in the woods in spring.
The 57 hectare reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with mixed deciduous river valley woodland, riverside meadows, marsh and including 2.4km of the River Torridge.
It’s mostly oak woodland, but rarer trees, including the Devon whitebeam (Sorbus devoniensis) and the wild service tree (an unusual-looking tree with greyish brown, flaky bark) are also here.
In 2009 the Trust started an ambitious programme to improve access an manage the woodland more actively.
You can do a circular walk from either of the two car parks – of if you’re car free, take the 5B bus to Dolton and walk along part of the Tarka Trail (local lanes here) to the bottom end of the reserve, up through the woodland, then back to Dolton on a footpath. There are a couple of pubs in Dolton if you need refreshments.
There are a few fields at the valley bottom that you’re asked not to go through in the summer without a permit, but that’s a relatively small part of the reserve. In the winter you don’t need a permit – but please don’t take your dogs into this area.
The paths a pretty variable – sometimes steep and muddy. But from the car park at the southern end of the reserve there’s a fairly flat smooth section with a well-made surface for nearly a kilometre, as far as the riverside.
Halsdon is about 8 miles from our eco lodges and cottage.
There are sometimes events and workparties at Halsdon – check out our events listing for details…