Bluebells in Timbridge Wood

Hollocombe, looking down to Timbridge Wood This is a great walk when the bluebells are out in late May, but lovely at other times of the year too.

Getting there
This Devon walk starts about a mile from the cottage and lodges. You can borrow a bike, walk or drive – just take care not to park blocking the gates where the walk starts. Turn left out of our drive, go past the farm shop, then right, down towards Hollocombe (before you reach the main road). Enjoy the flowers in the hedges! You’ll see a footpath sign on your right. There’s room to park a car opposite it – you set off through the gate. If you’re taking a dog, take a lead too, because you’ll be going across pasture where there may be livestock. OS Explorer map 127.

You’ll set off across glorious grassland, rich with clover, and campion, sometimes awash with a snow of white dandelion clocks and in late spring dotted with stichtwort in the hedgerows. The path is well-marked though there are a couple of heavy farm gates.

Follow the map and the signs, passing a fallen down cob barn and another building that now seems to be just a chimney stack. You go down a lane between these 2 buildings and out onto another, turning right before strking off across another field.

In spring the flowers are like a garden border here in the hedgerows and fill them up with vibrant colours. Need a bit of garlic? Ransomes grow along one side of the track.

Look out for the laid hedges too – with young hedgerow trees left standing. Managing hedges this way is much better for wildlife, particularly blossom and the insects that depend on it.

You’ll come to a gate into woodland. There’s a lovely barrel of a path through a deep-sided track overhung with trees. And this is where the bluebells start in May. These are the beautiful delicate native bluebells, not the larger more robust Spanish incomers.
You’ll soon hit a path running close to the stream, Hollocombe Water. Turn left for a bit, continuing through woodland.

Then there’s another well-marked track heading back up the wooded hillside. It comes out on the road, past patches of primroses lighting up the bank.

On the road, turn left and head back up hill to the start point. A bit of a slog at the end here, but you’re nearly there. And you can always call in at Fiona’s farm shop for refreshments on the way home.

A dose of history at Cobbaton Combat collection

The Cobbaton Combat CollectionNot just war toys for boys, this collection of military equipment, some of which is still used in films today, focusses on the second world war and is dedicated to the memory of those who fought in it. The collection ranges from military surplus tanks, guns, helmets, artillery, grenades, and bombs, to Home Front ration books, gas masks, ARP and Home Guard uniforms, and blackout lamps.
Cobbaton Combat's home front
This is real equipment that people used – the sherman tank in the car park has genuine shell holes in it – all food for thought. The main collection is housed in 2 large hangers, so it’s good for a rainy day. Best to ring ahead (01769 540740) to check opening hours. In the winter the collection opens on some weekends. In the summer opening hours are broader.
Costs: Adults £6, senior citizens £5, schoolchildren £4, under fives go free.
Check out their website for up to date information.

Chittlehampton is about 15 miles from our eco lodges and cottage.

Cobbaton Combat Collection, Chittlehampton, Umberleigh, North Devon, EX37 9RZ,
Phone 01769 540740

Bold Try riding stables

Bold Try Riding Stables, ChulmleighJust a few miles from our cottage and ecolodges you’ll find Bold Try stables, on the outskirts of Chulmleigh.

Whether you’re a learner like Holly here or a experienced rider, they’ll look after you well. They’re cheaper than stables on Dartmoor and know lots of local rides. Some of our guests have come back specifically to ride here again. Telephone 01769 580366.

Bold Try Stables
Leigh Road
Chulmleigh
Devon
EX18 7JW

Halsdon Nature Reserve

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. Continue reading “Halsdon Nature Reserve”

Puffing Billy to East Yarde

The Tarka Trail between Puffing Billy Cafe and East Yarde is a lovely woodland walk or cycle crossing the Torridge.

While the surface isn’t as good as other parts of the trail it’s still fairly easy going. Bear in mind you’re following the Torridge upstream now, so that means gently uphill almost all the way, but a much easier coast back, and there’s excellent coffee and cake at the Puffing Billy Station Cafe! Continue reading “Puffing Billy to East Yarde”

Finch Foundry

Finch Foundry - fireThe National Trust’s Finch Foundry is the last working water-powered forge in the country. On one of their regular guided tours you can find out what it really means to have your nose to the grind stone or to be pole axed.


Finch Foundry hammerFinch Foundry is in the village of Sticklepath, on the edge of Dartmoor. When it’s raining, this will show you what all that water was used for! The leat would originally have driven up to 10 water mills.

The forge made argricultural tools right up until the 1960s and is a sight to behold. They say the vibrations were powerful enough to shake glasses off the shelves in the next door pub. If you catch one of the guided tours you’ll see one of the hammers in action.

This is a small National Trust property, but well worth a visit. There’s a tea room in the grounds, and also Thomas Pearse’s summer house. That’s the Tom Pearse from the Widdecombe Fair song (plus Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all). He was a local serge maker, making the red material used to dress the British army.
Water wheel at Finch Foundry, Devon
There are also lovely woodland walks from the Forge. One takes you to Okehampton, where you can visit the Museum of Dartmoor Life. Or you can follow the river valley along to the village of Belstone (where there’s a pub that does food). Every November the Forge hosts the Sticklepath Fire show – a performance on a huge set which is burnt at the end of a fabulous fireworks display. The Foundry is usually open from mid-March until early November between 11:00 and 17:00 every day except Tuesday. There are tours about once an hour.

Finch Foundry is about 13 miles from our eco lodges and cottage. This National Trust property sometimes puts on events – check out our what’s on listing for details…

Finch Foundry
Sticklepath, Okehampton, Devon EX20 2NW
Telephone: 01837 840046

Puffing Billy to Bideford on the Tarka Trail

This gently down-hill walk or bike ride crosses the Torridge at Beam Weir, made famous in Henry Williamson’s book Tarka the Otter, before meandering along the valley, through a long tunnel, across another bridge and into the former station at Bideford, where there’s a cafe in an old railway carriage.  Bike back again, or if on foot, cross Bideford’s famous long Bridge and come back on the bus… Continue reading “Puffing Billy to Bideford on the Tarka Trail”

Big tree walk

'The Big Tree' in Heywood Woods, EggesfordThis is why we call it the big tree walk! This douglas fir was planted around 1840 and is to be found in the Heywood Forestry Commission woodland about 4 miles from Wheatland Farm. This is an easy going walk which you can do with a push chair. But it’s better if you can cope with a scramble because then you can get down to the River Taw and climb to the top of a Norman Motte and Bailey castle.


Heywood is between Eggesford Station and Wembworthy – about 4 miles from the eco lodges. Just ask us to point it out on the map. You can cycle there on our free bikes. If you take the car there’s easy parking. Trails are marked. The Forestry Commission say their circular walk takes 1.5 hours, and it might at an amble. Follow the red posts, turning right at one by a downhill woodland path off the main track. You’ll soon come across the ‘big tree’. Hard to miss it! It was part of the Egggesford estate and was planted around 1840.

Push chairs and anyone with limited mobility should go straight on after the tree to the motte and bailey….

If you take the tiny path just beside the tree and head downhill some more you’ll come to a steep scramble or slide through bushes and rhododendrons. It takes you to the bank of the Taw. There’s a little river-shingle beach – a fabulous picnic spot in the summer and an essential ‘stone chucking’ spot. It’s not deep enough to swim, but suitably attired you can certainly cool off!

Skimming stones on the Taw at Eggesford
Then either retrace your steps or walk down stream along another path that goes alongside the river until you come almost to a stone bridge. This bit can be muddy. Zig zag back up hill on another well trodden path, and when you rejoin the main track, turn right and walk on to the motte and bailey castle. There are steps up to the top and you get some good views of the surrouning countryside.


There are 3 paths back from here – the one you came on, the next one which will take you back to where you turned off to get to the big tree (and then back to the car par), or one the other side of the mound which goes on through woodland and ends up on a quiet stretch of road. From here you walk for a couple of hundred metres back uphill along the road until you get back to the car park.

RHS Rosemoor gardens

RHS Rosemoor is just 11 miles from our cottage and lodges, and makes a relaxing day out, or you can combine it with other attractions in nearby Torrington (walks, exploring the Tarka Trail at Puffing Billy, Dartington crystal, The Plough Arts Centre). You can get there by bus from Winkleigh – the stagecoach 5B service stops right at the gate. Continue reading “RHS Rosemoor gardens”

Bondleigh the Taw and Devon lanes

Bondleigh lanes
This walk starts in Bondleigh, crosses fields to a bridge over the Taw, follows the river, then returns to the village along Devon lanes crowded only with wildflowers.


You start near the church and set off along a footpath weaving between the houses and then crossing fields to the River Taw. There are some lovely country views, an old stone bridge, and winding lanes. This walk has a couple of stiles and some gentle hills but is not particularly challenging.


Bondleigh is about 5 miles from our cottage and lodges. This charming walk might make a good 1.5 hour dawdle.