First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
Under a blue sky patched with summer clouds we set out from the hilltop village of Cadeleigh, across grazing meadows and hayfields where the grass lay cut but not yet gathered. A heady scent arose as our boots crushed clover and sweet vernal grass. It was perfect weather for summer walking – warm but not too hot, breezy but not too chill.
The fields plunged high and low. This mid-Devon farming country is steep with tree-crowned hills, the fields conforming their shapes to the roll of the land. The far perspectives were all tumbled between green grazing, yellow cut hayfields and the dense milky pink of ploughland. In a coop at Little Century smallholding, fifteen ducklings seethed around two old hens, their foster-mothers. At Well Town, Tommy the black-and-white terrier came out to bark us off his patch – and quite right, too.
Up at Kingdom’s Corner we found a wonderful old green lane of the kind that has threaded these valleys and hills since men began to move beasts across the land. Overhung with oak, ash, hazel and blackthorn, floored with stones and fallen bird cherries, it swooped and swung above the bends of the River Dart in its thickly wooded valley. A barn beside the lane was footed with stone, with upper works of cob – mud, stones and straw sun-baked into hardness. Rain, wind, mice and martins had burrowed it into a tissue of holes across which spider gossamer glittered in tightly drawn threads.
We reached the valley road near Burn Bridge, and turned along a field lane towards Cadeleigh. The green track skirted East Court, where wooden farm carts shared the hedge with an ancient crimson Commer lorry like great-gran’fer used to drive.
The path led between hedges of horehound, wood sage and flesh-pink centaury. We found ourselves passing through flickering clouds of meadow brown butterflies. They had all hatched at once, drawn out of their chrysalises by the sun’s warmth. The new butterflies blundered about the grasses and danced along the lane before us, whirling giddily round and round one another as though for sheer joy of the summer’s day.
Start: Cadeleigh Parish Hall car park, Cadeleigh, Devon EX16 8HW (OS ref SS 915081)
Getting there: M5 Jct 27, A361 to Tiverton, A396 to Bickleigh Bridge, A3072 (‘Crediton’); in ¼ mile, right (‘Cadeleigh’) to village. Pass Cadeleigh Arms PH on right; immediately right (‘Little Silver’). In 200m, Parish Hall on right; park opposite.
Walk (7 miles, strenuous, OS Explorer 114): Turn up Glebelands drive (‘footpath’). Through farmyard and on, following yellow arrows/YA along field edges. In 3rd field, go steeply downhill with trees on left, then bear right along bottom of field to driveway (911087, YA). Left; in 40m, left over stile (YA). Up track, then cross to right-hand hedge (YA). Continue, to go through hedge gap (YA). Down to cross stile under trees; over 2nd stile and cross stream (911088, YA).
Steeply up right-hand hedge to cross stile into Round Wood; left and follow YAs/red blobs through wood, to cross stream by stile (908091). Half left, steeply up field; through hedge (YA); up field with hedge on left. Half left across next field (YA) to cross farm road (906094). On through gate (YA); half left across field to skirt to right of house and garden at Well Town. Through gate (YA) onto drive; right for 350m to road at Kingdom’s Corner (905099).
Right along road, immediately right (‘Bridleway’). Follow green lane east for ¾ mile to tarmac lane; ahead for 100m to road (917096). Right; in 50m, fork left up stony lane. In 500m, descend through gate by barn (blue arrow/BA); right in front of cottage to road (921092). Left; in 50 m, right (‘Bridleway’) along lane. In ⅔ mile pass Dart Cottages (928085); at ford beyond, fork right (BA) along right bank of River Dart. Ignore YAs and continue along stony lane for ⅓ mile to road (931079).
Right; in 200m, opposite steps of The Coach House, fork left (‘footpath’) along lane. In ¼ mile, beyond barns, take right or upper fork (927077, YA; diversion notice on gatepost) past East Court. In another 150m take lower fork (‘footpath’) past barn and follow green lane. At gate into field before reaching Cadeleigh Court (922075, YA) aim half right across field to gate (hidden at first, soon in view, YA). On along track that skirts anticlockwise round farm. At T-junction by Manor House garden wall, right (919074, YA) on lane for ½ mile to road (911073). Right uphill for ½ mile into Cadeleigh.
Lunch: Cadeleigh Arms, Cadeleigh (01884-855238, cadeleigh.com) – excellent community-owned pub
Accommodation: East Dunster Deer Farm, Cadeleigh, EX16 8HR (01884-855386, airbnb.co.uk)
Info: Tiverton TIC (01884-230878); Cadeleigh village website, cadeleigh.com