This wonderful hiking trail rambles through Mid Devon’s glorious, rural countryside, taking in hidden sights and passing through tiny villages. Starting on the very edge of Dartmoor, the 45-mile (72 km) trail winds through forgotten landscapes and follows ancient footpaths for a serene adventure.
Starting at Okehampton, a Dartmoor border town with a quarrying history, the Way sticks to undulating, pastoral paths through old farming communities until it reaches Stoke Canon, just north of the Roman city of Exeter. There’s nothing particularly challenging on this hike although few sections are flat. Instead, it’s a peaceful way to pass a long weekend.
I’ve split this Collection into three stages to align with settlements and amenities. The middle stage is the longest, at 19.6 miles (31.5 km), to link North Tawton with Crediton. You could split this in two, by staying at Coleford around the stage’s halfway mark. I’ve also planned the hike from west to east but you could just as easily walk in the opposite direction.
You start from Okehampton, a historic market town on the very northern edge of Dartmoor National Park. The town has a good choice of supermarkets, restaurants and accommodation, and is a hub for hikers and cyclists in the warmer months.
The first stage ends in North Tawton, the former home village of the poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. A delightful little settlement, it embodies the tranquillity of the Devonshire Heartland Way. In the second stage, you hike through verdant farmland to reach the River Yeo (one of the many rivers of this name) and hike into Crediton. This thriving community has seen many industries in its history and you’ll find it snuggled in the Creedy Vale.
The third stage is the shortest at just 11.1 miles (17.8 km) and first skirts the stunning Shobrooke Park with its glorious lakes and peaceful views. You then follow the River Creedy briefly before heading to the ancient village of Brampford Speke and on to Stoke Canon.
Medieval churches, thatched cottages, old manor houses and sweeping parkland are all highlights on this hike. It’s an adventure for daydreamers and best completed in the late spring to early autumn months, where the hedgerows burst with life, the woodlands are most verdant and the skies are full of birdsong.
Largely rural, there are enough village pubs to keep you fed but all accommodation should be booked in advance. It’s worth noting that there’s a youth hostel in Okehampton, usefully at the exact location of the hike’s start: the train station.
While getting to the beginning by train sounds logical, Okehampton station hasn't benefitted from regular services in decades. However, in March 2021, the government announced plans to restart services as soon as possible. If the station isn't open by the time you want to hike, take the number 6 bus from Exeter Bus Station to Okehampton; it’s an hour-long journey. Exeter itself has a mainline train station serving London, Bristol and Penzance.
Crediton, at the end of stage 2, has a branch line train station a short distance from Exeter. Use the number 55 and 55B buses from Stoke Canon to return to Exeter city centre. Should you want to hike the stages individually, you can also utilise the 5B bus from North Tawton to Exeter, which takes around one hour and 20 minutes.
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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.
This first stage meanders north east from the market town of Okehampton, up across undulating farmland and past gorgeous old hamlets. Pass through the charming Sampford Courtenay and cross the serene River Taw to finish in pretty North Tawton.
Start at Okehampton train station. A set of steps lead down…
by Kit P
This stage is almost 20 miles long (32 km) to make the most of the excellent amenities at Crediton. However, you can easily cut it in half if you’d prefer, and stay in Coleford, just north of the trail. With only one option for accommodation there though, booking is crucial. You could also stop at Yeoford…
by Kit P
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The final stage of the Way meanders across the rural landscape from Crediton to Stoke Canon, taking in both the Rivers Creedy and Exe on the way. This is a gentle ending to an already peaceful expedition, with quaint villages and serene fields the main sights.
Head out from Crediton to the north east…
by Kit P
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