Harpford Common and Fire Beacon Hill East Devon Way Walk
When I started this blog I knew that it would encourage me to get out and explore my local area. Walks, cream teas, local attractions and even a bit of shopping. New things I could do with my family. I am surprised that I am always finding out about different places and that keeps me wanting to discover more.
Writing a blog is a lot more involved that I ever imagined, there are so many elements to it that I had not really given much thought to. I did do some research before starting it but couldn’t really find anyone else doing the same thing locally, so off I went. A year on it turns out I am far from alone! Devon is full of bloggers – some write about their children and the challenges of parenting, others about food, home decor, holidays, fashion or like me about the area they live in.
What I did not expect from blogging was to make new friends. We chat mainly online over the trials and tribulations of blogging, sharing what we are passionate about, supporting each other in all manner of ways. However these are not just virtual social media friends, they’re proper, flesh and blood ones too!
Every so often we get a chance to meet up, and this was one of those days. Hannah also lives in East Devon and blogs at Devon Daze. We bonded in the car park with our Ordnance Survey maps and set off to explore.
A Walk in East Devon
We turned off by the Bowd Inn just off the A3052 near Sidmouth and headed inland towards Ottery St Mary. After 1/2 mile there is a parking place on the left which is one entrance to Harpford Wood. If you are not in the mood for a hike up a hill this looks like a great option, with lots of footpaths and the route of an old railway track through the middle making it a good route with little ones in tow – I’m not sure about pushchairs.
I have to be honest I’m never quite sure how much detail to give you when I write about a walk. I’m lucky enough to be able to read a map but I know not everyone is confident. This walk mainly followed the East Devon Way, up Harpford Common and a loop around Fire Beacon Hill which is an East Devon Nature Reserve.
The East Devon Way footpath actually crosses the road 200 meters back from where we were parked (we saw the sign as we drove past it). We discovered there is a path running parallel to the road in the woods – from the car park down some wooden steps into Harpford Wood and then left, so you can avoid walking on the road.
Follow the path to the road and cross it at the footpath signs to Fire Beacon Hill. The route headed straight up through two fields – a steady climb. Hannah spotted two young deer in the second field so I quickly put our dog on the lead before she bolted. It was lovely to watch them bound down the hill.
Then we spotted a field full of donkeys. It appears that there is an over-spill from the local Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary for the healthy donkeys. Later they started their unique braying which really confused the dogs!
The view looking back down was lovely.
Once we reach the tree line the map became pretty redundant. There are footpath signs for the East Devon Way and Fire Beacon Hill. We followed these and our noses up the hill and around the top.
Fire Beacon Hill
One thing East Devon certainly has in abundance is views. Fire Beacon Hill did not disappoint. Our day wasn’t the clearest but there was a sweeping view of Lyme Bay and the Jurassic Coast. There is a trig point height of 224 meters.
The top was a mixture of heath land and woods with paths criss-crossing. We explored a bit and I will go back with my own tribe to see more. A great spot for bird watchers and nature lovers.
If you are a fan of Geo caching then there is a route here for you too. There’s lots of space for running around (dogs and children)! It would be a great spot for a small picnic if you felt like carrying one!
Or you can do what we did and head back to The Bowd Inn for a sandwich!
So thank you to my new walking friend, her little boy and Maisie the dog for sharing this walk with me.
Our walk, which included lots of photo stops, took about an hour. If you want an easier walk or an extension to this one then head for Harpford Woods – the East Devon Way takes you through the woods to the village of Harpford, over the River Otter and close to Newton Poppleford. There is also an option to park nearer the top of the hill if you follow the directions on the East Devon Countryside web page.
I would certainly recommend the route we took and 2 minute drive back for a pub lunch at The Bowd Inn was ideal. There is a children’s play area, benches outside and it is dog friendly so was a great way to end our morning out.
More Walks like This
I’m building up quite a good record of walks now. They vary from woodland walks to coast paths and others like this with great views. Follow this link for 2 pages of other ideas across East Devon and West Dorset.
Please let me know in the comments box below if you’ve got any favourites you think I could share or feedback on this or any other post. Happy walking.