This blissfully rural hike explores some of Devon’s most spectacular scenery. From the wild and rugged moorland of west Dartmoor to deep river gorges, waterfalls and estuaries, natural landscapes reign supreme throughout the route.
Whilst this region is famous for exquisite geology and granite outcrops, its human influences are fascinating too. Norman castles, grand country houses, towering viaducts and historic market towns are all to be discovered as you wander along.
Despite passing some of Devon’s highest areas, this is actually a fairly gentle walk in terms of elevation. With disused railways and river valleys, there are few hills to challenge the thighs. However, I have added in a steep, optional detour to Sourton Tors to offer fantastic views and a chance to scramble over some Dartmoor granite.
Largely rural, there are still great towns and plenty of accommodation and dining options along the way. I’ve broken the hike up into three stages with the middle as the longest at 17.4 miles (28 km). Each stage finishes at a town and you’ll find reasonable public transport links should you want to do any of the stages independently.
This hike begins in the market town of Okehampton, on the north west edge of Dartmoor, and travels south along the national park’s border to the coast on the outskirts of Plymouth. A journey of many histories, you’ll find everything from 11th-century ruins to more recent industrial remnants in quarries and old train lines. The walk passes through glorious Lydford with its exquisite gorge and castle; pretty Tavistock with its picturesque river and bridges; exposed Yelverton with its wartime heritage and the River Plym’s vibrant valley.
You can hike throughout the year and in either direction. However, the west edge of Dartmoor is particularly exposed to the prevailing winds and weather that rolls in off the Atlantic. This makes it a rather wet and windy location in winter and changeable in any month.
Late spring to early autumn is the best part of the year to undertake this hike with the summer months often the most settled. Spring brings lambs and foals frolicking on the moor whilst summer is immensely green and glorious. Early autumn is wonderful for golden light and a bleaker, yet evocative, view of the moor.
Reaching Okehampton from the east is easy via the A30 from Exeter. To reach the town by public transport, either take the number 6 bus from Exeter Bus Station or check the train times; after a long period of disuse, Okehampton train station is due to open again to regular services.
At the finish, I’d advise catching a bus into Plymouth to access the city’s mainline train station. Numerous buses leave from Plymstock and Oreston (the suburb the walk finishes in) to the city.
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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 initial section of the West Devon Way rambles about the north west edge of Dartmoor’s wildest areas. Beginning in Okehampton, you hike through the woods below Meldon Viaduct and ascend to the rugged moor before spending the last half exploring fields and tracks through pastoral countryside. The…
by Kit P
Stage 2 explores open moorland, beautiful rivers and pretty towns. While the distance is a lengthy 17.4 miles (28 km), the gently-undulating landscape doesn’t pose anything too challenging. If you want to shorten the hike, stop in Tavistock or Horrabridge instead of continuing to Yelverton.
by Kit P
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The final stage has a watery theme as you hike alongside the River Meavy and then the River Plym. Snaking through pretty gorges and thriving woodlands, these rivers work their way south with the Meavy joining the Plym at Shaugh Bridge. With viaducts, country houses and sea views, this hike is a blend…
by Kit P
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