5 lockdown walks in Exeter
Updated: May 3, 2021
We've been in Lockdown 3.0 for over two weeks now, once again confined to the local area. What a weird world it is right now! Prevented from traveling further afield, we want to use this time to properly explore Exeter and local green spaces. Brett has just returned from California, so we're currently in our 10-day quarantine period. While we're missing being outside, we've pulled together this short list of walks to do in Exeter in the hopes it can inspire you to explore new places on your *government approved* daily exercise.
1. Mincinglake Valley
One of our favourite locations for a walk or run is the gorgeous Mincinglake Valley Park. Starting at the top of Sidwell Street, this 6.8 km (4.2 mile) walk heads up Stoke Hill before doing a loop around Mincinglake Valley Park. There are lots of areas to explore in the park, but it can get quite muddy so wear wellies or hiking boots! After walking through the forest, cross the road and follow the stream until you turn left along a tree-lined path. A short climb later, you'll come to a street which connects to the top of Pennsylvania Road, which you can follow back down into the city centre.
2. Barley Valley Nature Reserve
With great views out over the Exeter city centre, this is a perfect walk if you're looking to check out somewhere new on the other side of the river. This 4.6 km (2.8 mile) walk starts at the Flowerpot fields across the river from Mill on the Exe. Follow Okehampton Road until you reach the Co-Op, where you turn left onto Isleworth Road. At the top of the road you'll enter into the Barley Valley Nature Reserve, composed of a patchwork of meadows and woods. After exploring the park, follow the footpath that hugs the edge of the Exwick Cemetery. Once you've reached the main road, it's just a short walk back to the start!
3. Stoke Woods
If you're looking for something a little longer to stretch your legs after days inside, this 9.2 km (5.7 mile) walk could be the perfect option. With stunning views out over the countryside, footpaths arched with trees and the dramatic Stoke Woods to explore, this is definitely a new favourite walk in Exeter. Starting at the top of Sidwell Street, this walk shares some stretches with the Mincinglake one, but continues further North to explore Stoke Woods. There are over 4 km (2.5 miles) of walking trails through the forest so you can explore different areas each time you return. At this time of year, parts of the trail can be very muddy – not Dartmoor-fall-in-a-mud-pit muddy – but it's definitely worth wearing hiking boots or trainers you don't mind getting dirty. To get back to the city centre, just follow Pennsylvania Road!
4. Riverside Valley Park
This list wouldn't be complete without the classic Exeter riverside walk. Starting and finishing at the quay, this 4.1 km (2.5 mile) walk is one of the easiest ways to escape the city and experience a taste of nature. This area can get quite busy on nice days, so it might be worth bringing your mask with you.
5. Exeter Green Circle
If you're looking for more of a challenge, look no further than the Exeter Green Circle. At over 22 km (13.6 miles), this well-marked trail circles around the whole city, passing through many of Exeter's green spaces. The Green Circle encompasses a lot of the walks we've alread mentioned, including sections of the Riverside Valley Walk, Mincinglake Valley Park and Barley Valley Nature Reserve. When we walked this route back in November, our favourite section was up in the hills past Alphington, where we hiked along a ridge-top, tree-lined footpath, with views out towards the picturesque village of Ide. Walking the whole circle took us most of the day, so make sure you time it right to prevent getting caught out after dark. And just be mindful of the current coronavirus regulations – it might be best to do this hike in sections over multiple days to be safe.
We hope this list helps inspire you to adventure further afield on your daily exercise. If you give any of these walks a go, let us know! And if you have any other suggestions for good locations for lockdown walks, please get in touch. We're always looking for new local places to explore!