Stage 1: Starcross to Brampford Speke — Exe Valley Way
Includes movable bridges
Check opening times.
Kit P planned a hike.
January 13, 2021
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 if the weather is clear. Once the trail descends, it stays low for the remainder.
Starting in Brampford Speke, the trail crosses the river and ambles along through fields near the Exe until crossing back over at Thorverton. This quaint village is hundreds of years old and has an intriguing history, including becoming home to an American battalion during the Second World War.
From Thorverton, the route leads you steeply up delightfully quiet lanes where you’ll gain fantastic views over the Exe Valley. The patchwork nature of the landscape is truly revealed here, and it’s hard to imagine the thriving city of Exeter is a little way south. The descent is equally steep; passing through a hamlet and flattening as it reaches the river.
Bickleigh Castle is the next point of interest. This castle has a slightly tumultuous history and was partially destroyed during the English Civil War.
Past the castle, the route reaches the Fisherman’s Cot pub; Paul Simon stayed here during the 60s and, after seeing the river running under Bickleigh Bridge opposite, is said to have been inspired to write ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’.
Troubled or not, the trail crosses the water too and wanders up the Exe on the eastern side, all the way to Tiverton, where this stage ends. Tiverton is a historic woollen town and is home to a fascinating museum and an impressive castle. The town has plenty of accommodation,as well as supermarkets, cafes and restaurants.