With the festive season drawing to a close, Great Britain is looking for a virtuous start to 2017 and what better way to begin the year than with a revitalising country or coastal winter walk. Visit Plymouth (www.visitplymouth.co.uk) has highlighted its top walking trails with accompanying cosy pubs, cafes and hotels – as no ramble would be complete without a hot chocolate, refreshing pint or comfortable bed on the horizon!
With its stunning waterfront location and the nearby rolling hills of Dartmoor National Park, Britain’s Ocean City, is the perfect place to explore on foot. Plymouth offers some of the best coastal walking in the UK and the South West Coast Path runs right through the city offering spectacular views off the ruggedly beautiful Devonshire cliffs. Meanwhile inland, with 450 miles of public rights of way there Dartmoor is home to an abundance of walking routes for the whole family.
Burrator Reservoir, Dartmoor. Credit to Gary Burge
Dartmoor National Park’s History Revealed walk (eight miles)
Dartmoor National Park is the same size as London, but with a lot more sheep than people! It’s the largest and wildest area of open country in Southern England and has some of the best archaeological sites in Western Europe. Most of it is ‘common land’, with over 450 miles of routes where people are allowed to walk, cycle and ride horses.
Visit Plymouth recommends Dartmoor’s ‘History Revealed’ walk following the River Plym from verdant valley to open moorland, uncovering the area's industrial past. Memories of the china clay industry are visible right from the beginning of the walk up to the current workings above Cadover Bridge. At the Shaugh Bridge car park are the ruins of the old china clay drying kilns. Uphill, walkers will pass a square clay settling tank and on the way back down the path way follows the "pipe track". The landscape at Cadover Bridge is strangely lunar, the silver sand hills are the waste product remaining when the clay has been blasted out by high-pressure hoses — seven tons of it for every ton of clay produced.
There are plenty of cosy pub options on the fringes of Dartmoor for walkers to reward themselves, including the Royal Oak Inn at Meavy, the Plume of Feathers Inn at Princetown, the Peter Tavy Inn and the Burrator Inn at Dousland.
Plymouth’s Waterfront Walkway along the South West Path (nine miles)
The South West Coast Path is a 630-mile trail along the coastline of the southwest peninsula which, at a leisurely pace, takes between seven and eight weeks to walk. The Plymouth Waterfront Walkway section, however, offers a gentle eight-mile journey taking in the city’s stunning oceanfront areas. The modern and historically significant maritime city of Plymouth is an accumulation of several once very separate towns – Plymouth, Stonehouse, Devonport and Plympton as well as numerous villages, including Cattedown, Oreston, Hooe and Turnchapel, each of which this walk passes through.
The walk also takes in Plymouth’s celebrated Hoe, Barbican and Mount Batten breakwater areas, where ramblers will follow in the footsteps of famous explorers, pioneers and artists, encountering iconic naval buildings and ocean views over the natural harbour of Plymouth Sound.
The historic Duke of Cornwall hotel is centrally located with views over Plymouth Sound and offers a great base for exploring the Waterfront Walkway. Those looking for a nice pub to refuel along the way can try the Clovelly Bay Inn at Turnchapel or take a step back in time for a refreshing drink at Seven Stars at Tamerton Foliot, the oldest pub in Plymouth.
River Plym, Credit to Jeffery O'keene Tomkins
Canine caper through Plymbridge Woods (Three miles)
Plymbridge Woods is a wooded valley opening up to the moors of Dartmoor offering plenty of walking routes, including a recommended brisk circular trail perfect for all the family including the dog! Starting at the National Trust car park, this route takes walkers through ancient oak woodlands beside the beautiful River Plym offering an insight into the area’s industrial Victorian era past. The trail offers breath-taking scenery across the valley, and the path varied enough to keep even the liveliest of dogs entertained. Along the way walkers may see kingfishers, sea trout, dippers, peregrine falcons, deer and other wildlife.
Located just 15 minutes away from Plymbridge Woods, the Moorland Garden Hotel welcomes dogs in selected public areas of the hotel including the The Dartmoor Bar where owners and their furry friends can settle in after a long day to enjoy bar snacks and drinks. The hotel has eight dog friendly rooms on the ground floor with garden views and can offer luxury dog beds, bowls and blankets at a small extra charge of £10. A communal drying room is also available for soggy pets and boots.
Plymouth’s family-friendly City Centre Wildlife Trail (Two miles)
Over a third of Plymouth is covered with green spaces including parks, nature reserves and woodlands and the city has eight public nature reserves that can be visited year round. Plymouth Wildlife Trail is a two-mile trail which takes wildlife enthusiasts from the heart of the city around to the waterfront and back and is mainly flat with one gentle hill up onto the Hoe. There are different wildlife species to experience every season including a range of over-wintering birds in winter, frog spawn in the spring, butterflies in the summer and wild mushrooms in the autumn. Those who explore the trail can then test their new knowledge with the Plymouth Wildlife Trail Nature Quiz featuring maps, nature facts and more on Plymouth’s nature conservation.
Plymouth’s cobbled-street Barbican area has some excellent options for families looking for a post-walk pick-me-up. Top choices include the waterfront Rockfish restaurant offering a vast children’s menu and ‘squid packs’ to keep kids entertained with marine-themed games, stickers and puzzles. Meanwhile Chocaccino, with its luxury chocolate afternoon tea featuring hot chocolate and Chocaccino’s famous chocolate chip scones, is the ultimate pit-stop for chocolate-lovers in need of a winter warmer!
For more information on walking and hiking in Plymouth visit: www.visitplymouth.co.uk/things-to-do/activities/walking-and-hiking
Those looking for a city stroll, a country hike or a tranquil coastal walk, Plymouth offers trails to suit all tastes and abilities, here Visit Plymouth highlights four of the best: