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Ancient bridges, serene woodlands and rushing water — Exe Valley Way

Neil Theasby (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Ancient bridges, serene woodlands and rushing water — Exe Valley Way

Hiking Collection by Kit P

4-8

days

3-6 h

/ day

56.1 mi

4,675 ft

3,800 ft

The Exe Valley Way is a stunning long-distance hiking trail that stretches from the Exe Estuary in the south of Devon, all the way to Exford in the heart of Exmoor National Park. While the River Exe is certainly at the core of this trail, you’ll spend plenty of time alongside its tributaries; in deep wooded valleys with glorious ancient bridges around every bend.

The official route is 52 miles long (84 km) but there are a couple of sights that I couldn’t help but add into this Collection because they’re close by and fantastic; these include the Tarr Steps, an ancient clapper bridge north of Hawkridge. As a result, this Collection totals 56.1 miles (90.2 km). Of course, you can skip my little deviations if you’d prefer.

I’ve planned this Collection to start in the south and work its way upriver but it’ll work just as well in reverse. The first stage from Starcross to Brampford Speke is more or less flat, near-faithfully following the Exe. Each subsequent stage gets hillier as you hike into the Mid Devon and Somerset countryside, with its myriad valleys and steep hills.

I’ve divided the trail into four stages, each averaging 14 miles (22 km), which start and end in settlements with reasonable amenities. You can cover the distance in more or less time if you’d prefer and either way, it’s always best to book accommodation in advance.

Both the Devon and Somerset sections of this walk involve a wonderful blend of riverside paths, winding country lanes and patchwork hills. You’ll pass more rural villages than you can count and a great deal of historic bridges that span the rivers and streams en route. You don’t need anything specific to complete this walk and it works in all seasons. However, some sections can get very muddy in winter.

Starting in Starcross, a little village on the Exe Estuary, you’ll pass the Roman city of Exeter before winding through lovely countryside to the old market town of Tiverton. Then, you’ll head into more rural and remote landscapes, where lanes are empty but for the sound of bleating sheep and the low rumble of tractors. You’re never too far from a local store or a pub though.

Getting to Starcross is easy as it’s served by a mainline train station with connections to Exeter, Bristol, London and the North. Returning from Exford requires slightly more planning; the simplest option is to take the number 467 bus to Dunster which has a rail link to Bristol, or the 198 to Dulverton and then the 25 to Taunton, which has a mainline rail link to Bristol and Exeter.

This trail shares sections with the Two Moors Way so if you’re looking to do a giant loop, returning to the south of the county via this historic trail would make an excellent an adventure: komoot.com/collection/907224/wild-coast-to-coast-over-dartmoor-and-exmoor-two-moors-way

On The Map

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Exe Valley Way

51.5 mi

4,150 ft

3,275 ft

Last updated: November 4, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    05:58
    14.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    350 ft
    250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage of the Exe Valley Way has a little bit of everything; flat valley floor, soaring views from hilltops and slices of history mixed into it. There’s a steep hill involved in this Tour, beginning as you climb out of Thorverton and rise above the Exe. It’s more than worth the ascent, especially

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:57
    13.7 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,025 ft
    850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage of the Exe Valley Way has a little bit of everything; flat valley floor, soaring views from hilltops and slices of history mixed into it. There’s a steep hill involved in this Tour, beginning as you climb out of Thorverton and rise above the Exe. It’s more than worth the ascent, especially

    by Kit P

    View
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  • Difficult
    06:09
    13.9 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,300 ft
    1,075 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This hike leads you north through remote countryside; over hills and through valleys to Somerset. The trail undulates, often hugging the edges of hills and leaves the Exe behind for a stretch. Woods, fields and historic stone bridges are the central themes of this stage.

    

    The route begins in Tiverton

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    06:33
    14.1 mi
    2.1 mph
    2,025 ft
    1,625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This final stage is entirely within Exmoor National Park and enjoys both deep, wooded river valleys and excellent views from its high points. The trail feels remote but does pass through a couple of lovely Exmoor villages. With 2,205 feet (617 m) of elevation gain, this is the most strenuous section

    by Kit P

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    4
  • Distance
    56.1 mi
  • Duration
    24:37 h
  • Elevation
    4,675 ft3,800 ft

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Ancient bridges, serene woodlands and rushing water — Exe Valley Way

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