National Trust walks in Devon

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

5 min read

The National Trust is Europe’s largest conservation charity. It cares for many miles of coastline, woodland and countryside, conserving the wildlife that call these places home, as well as hundreds of historic buildings, glorious gardens and important collections. It’s been over 125 years since its creation and today, supported by its members, staff and volunteers, it continues to protect precious green spaces and habitats for all who visit. Choose any National Trust site and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful walk in nature. Here are a few of our favourites in Devon.

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Lake walk at Arlington Court

Arlington Court is an impressive Regency house set in picturesque gardens on the edge of Exmoor. Stroll along meandering footpaths, there are 20 miles in total, or opt for the popular lake walk. At just under two miles with a bird hide and ancient heronry to discover, it’s an easy-breezy level walk. There’s nature all around, including two species of bat roosting in the cellars. Wander through the formal Victorian garden and conservatory spilling over with exotic species and the walled garden, bursting with vegetables that feed the tea-room and flowers that bring scent and colour to the house. The house itself is a treasure trove of family heirlooms collected over 500 years and the impressive carriage museum displays everything from elegant carriages to humble carts. 

Stay a 20-minute drive away at The Stables >

Knightshayes Parkland

With its grand 262 acres of designed and landscaped 19th-century parkland, you could wander happily around Knightshayes for hours. The formal and woodland garden is blessed with an outstanding botanical collection of over 1200 plant species and includes one of the most important collections of Douglas fir in the country. Introduced from North America, some firs were planted in the 1870s and now count amongst the tallest in England. From the top right corner of the walled kitchen garden, go through the iron gate and onto the Douglas fir walk, following the mown grass paths through the trees as the scent of pine fills the air. The superb Gothic Revival house is well worth a visit and you can finish up in the Stables Café tasting some of the homegrown garden produce with a cup of tea.

Stay in Tiverton at Loyton Lodge >


Get back to nature on this delightful ancient tree circular walk around Killerton, a Georgian house set in 6,400 acres of working farmland, woods, parkland and orchards. Starting from the visitor reception area, the walk takes in stunning views over the estate, ancient oak trees, some of which are over 600 years old and ancient birches, redwoods and thorns, one which dates back to the early 1800s. Some of the gnarled sweet chestnuts were planted some 250 years ago. The trees provide an important habitat for birds and insects, fungi and lichen, and the estate is also home to more than 12 species of bat. You’ll also discover an Iron Age hill fort and a listed chapel on this charming stroll. The house is open to visitors, there’s a café for refreshments and a curious structure in the garden which once housed the family’s pet bear!

Stay a 30-minute drive away at Brook Farmhouse >

Saltram Pillars Walk

On the edge of the Plym Estuary, the Saltram estate includes a Georgian mansion surrounded by the remains of 18th-century landscape parkland. Discover an 18th-century orangery and follies, tropical planting and specimen trees providing year-round colour and interest. Sweep across manicured lawns, down an ancient lime tree avenue, or try the 40-minute Saltram Pillars amble. Start from the entrance and enjoy panoramic views of the parkland, the house and the Plym estuary, with the city beyond and Mount Edgcumbe in the distance. Continue to the stables, the Parker family were keen racehorse breeders, and on to The Dell with its semi-formal planting including rhododendrons and palm trees, before tracing an avenue of limes back to your start point. 

Stay a 30-minute drive away at South Hooe Count House >

Piddledown Common Walk

On splendid and idyllic Dartmoor, there’s a one-mile walk across Piddledown Common that takes in dramatic views of the Teign Gorge and the crags of Sharp Tor. Start from the main car park next to Castle Drogo – the last castle to be built in England – then follow the signs to Teign Valley. Meander through woodland and onto the open common. Across the deep gorge you’ll spot Whiddon Deer Park, before looping around and back to your start point. The area is a haven for flora and fauna and you might spot stonechat, meadow pipit and woodpeckers, gorse, oak trees and blankets of wildflowers in season. 

Stay nearby at The Old Piggery >

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

Carmen is a freelance writer specialising in travel. She once lived in a bus in north Wales, skipped off to study in Barcelona, and now calls Bristol home. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found reading (a lot), lake swimming (a little), and pottering on the allotment with husband and two kiddos. She’s currently dreaming about cold cerveza and torta in Mexico.

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