2/5, There are no stiles but there are several kissing gates throughout the route.
Difficulty – Moderate
A linear walk from Venn Ottery in the north of the Pebblebed Heaths to Dalditch Plantation in the south. To walk the whole route, a car at the beginning and end is necessary although it is perfectly possible to walk just part of the route along the many footpaths that traverse the heath. The map ‘Explore the Pebblebed Heaths & Mutters Moor’ which you find here has all the footpaths shown.
- The walk begins at Venn Ottery, a reserve joint-managed by Devon Wildlife Trust and RSPB, where dogs must be on a lead throughout the year. This reserve supports wet and dry heath as well as 40 species of bird. It can be wet and muddy here even in the summer.
- A bit of road walking along a quiet country lane is necessary to get to the East Devon Way, shown by a pink arrow on a finger post. The East Devon Way leads into Aylesbeare Common and Hawkerland Common. These reserves are managed by the RSPB and dogs must be on lead between the beginning of March and the end of August when birds are nesting. The pink bell and cross-leaved heathers were flowering when we did this walk in July and we heard many pairs of stonechats calling to each other, sounding just like stones being struck together. The paths are wide but may not be accessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs as they are rough and very stony. *These reserves are bisected by the A3052, this is the busy main road from Exeter to Lyme Regis and care needs to be taken when crossing. *
- The East Devon Way continues through Colaton Raleigh Common and Woodbury Common which are managed by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust. Dogs must be kept on the paths but don’t have to be on a lead providing your dog has good recall. Woodbury Castle hill fort is an excellent place to go if it’s very hot as the beech trees offer a shady refuge or to shelter from the rain as we found useful! After Woodbury Castle, the East Devon way continues south along the edge of black hill quarry, there is no public access to the quarry but the view across the heaths in all directions are quite a sight to see.
- Crossing over the road into East Budleigh Common, we stop following the East Devon Way and instead take a footpath towards Bystock Pools. This reserve is managed by Devon Wildlife Trust and as with Venn Ottery, dogs must be on lead. Bystock Pools is a great place to look for dragonflies skimming over the water as well as common lizards scuttling through the heath, sometimes you might be too late to see the lizard but just hear the rustling leaves as they scatter into hiding.
- The final part of the walk goes past Squabmoor reservoir and the into broadleaved and coniferous woodland of Dalditch plantation, before crossing over the road and heading back to the car for a well-earned rest.