Views over the East Devon Way from Fire Beacon Hill

Fire Beacon Hill. Picture: East Devon District Council

Fire Beacon Hill. Picture: East Devon District Council - Credit: Archant

There may a little more time to take a walk over the festive period, so why not consider this one at Fire Beacon Hill?

Map © Crown Copyright and database rights 2018 Ordnance Survey 100023746 getmapping

Map © Crown Copyright and database rights 2018 Ordnance Survey 100023746 getmapping - Credit: Archant

Walk: 4.7miles

Time: 2 hours

Terrain: Some uneven ground and steep inclines and descents. There is some walking along country lanes and crossing roads.

What to bring: sturdy footwear recommended. Why not take some money and treat yourself to lunch at the Bowd Inn afterwards?

Fire Beacon Hill. Picture: East Devon District Council

Fire Beacon Hill. Picture: East Devon District Council - Credit: Archant

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Car park: There is some car parking at the start of the walk at Core Hill Wood (SY118908). To access this car parking take the steep track (Core Hill Road) almost directly opposite Waitrose, Sidmouth and park by the Woodland Trust interpretation board. Alternatively, start the walk from a different point and use lay-by parking.

If you are using public transport the 52A from Exeter to Seaton and the X53 Jurassic Coast bus both stop at Waitrose and the Bowd Inn – so you could start the walk from here.

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The walk: From the car park follow the track up the hill. Follow the path as it levels out, walking ahead for just over half-a-mile until you reach White Cross picnic site/car park. Look left as you reach White Cross, to take in stunning views over the Otter Valley.

Once you’ve enjoyed the scenery, turn around and retrace your steps. At the fork in the path, take the path on the right hand side (rather than the path you came up on), you will pass a gate as you enter Fire Beacon Hill Local Nature Reserve. At the interpretation sign turn left and cross the heathland.

Fire Beacon Hill is an area of lowland heath, which offers a bird’s eye view of the surrounding countryside and coast, on a clear day, you can almost see to Berry Head!

Fire Beacon Hill was the site of one of the beacons used to inform Elizabethan London of the approaching Spanish Armada.

At that time the entire East Hill escarpment would have been covered in lowland heath vegetation, similar to that found here. Unfortunately, just this small patch remains, as lowland heath has disappeared due to forestry plantation and agricultural improvement, making this habitat increasingly uncommon. Species to look out for include the nationally scarce Dartford Warbler which may be found skulking low in the bushes.

Follow the path down a steep hill, then take the sharp turn to the right (opposite another interpretation sign). This path gives you views over the Otter Valley and Newton Poppleford to your left.

Follow the path until you reach road, turn right along the road, keeping a look out for steep steps on your left which are marked with a footpath sign. Take the steps and head across the field. The path takes you out on a road, carefully cross the road and follow the footpath sign into Harpford Wood.

As you walk through the field, look out for grazing donkeys enjoying the sunshine. These belong to the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth.

Harpford Woods is owned and managed by Clinton Devon Estates. This quiet woodland is home to some huge trees and wonderful ferns.

The woodland path will lead you to a disused railway bridge. At the bridge turn right up the steps, at the top of the steps turn left along the track. Follow the track until you come to a road, near the Bowd Inn, a thatched 17th-century pub.

The disused railway line used to serve Sidmouth to Feniton until it finally closed in 1967. As you near the Bowd Inn, why not stop for a spot of lunch, or pick up a menu and head here after your walk?

Cross over the road and take the first right hand turn marked ‘Fire Beacon Lane’, at the fork in the road take the right hand turn on to Saltways Lane. Walk through the farm, passing the stables and farm house on your right. The path leads you to a field, cross through the field and over the stile.

Follow the path around to the left, then take the next right, over another stile and across two fields, leading to a narrow road. Turn left and follow the road up the hill to return to your car.

Kindly produced for Archant by Wild East Devon

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