Our top 5 walks on the Blackdown Hills

Explore our local area on foot

This article was written on 2 February 2024
and is a 3 minute read

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Situated in a forest clearing in 300 acres of pine forest Forest Glade is in an AONB, the Blackdown Hills.  There are several lovely walks from the park itself if you are looking for a car-free day out, or why not head off for the day, park up and explore the beautiful Devon countryside.



One of the walks just had to be to a pub!  The Drewe Arms in Broadhembury is a pretty thatched pub in an equally pretty village.  The walk takes you up through the forest and across the common to the gliding field.  Devon and Somerset Gliding Club is based here and you can watch the gliders from the park.  They offer trial lessons if you fancy a go.

From the gliding field drop down off the plateau and across the fields into Broadhembury.  The Drewe family purchased the pub and half the village in the early 20th century and still live in the village, in Broadhembury House.  Thanks to influential members of the family much of the village remains virtually unchanged with cottages dating back to the 16th century.

The Drewe Arms, Broadhembury

Otterhead Lakes

Once part of a series of ornamental lakes in the garden of a grand Victorian house, long since demolished, this is now a nature reserve.  There is a circular route around the lakes and woodland which provide a range of habitats for wild birds, animals and plants.  Dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads.  The paths are uneven and can get muddy so the walk isn’t suitable for pushchairs.

The lakes form part of the headwaters of the River Otter.

Otterhead Lakes – Alison Day, Flickr, February 2020


Rhodedendron Wood

Although many of the rhodedendrons (an invasive shrub first introduced to gardens by the Victorians) have been cleared you can still spot some of the highly coloured flowers dotted around the forest around May-time.  This circular walk takes you down through Rhododendron Wood and along the bridleway which winds it’s way along the side of the hill towards Blackborough.  There are glorious views out across the valley.  About an hour in length this walk isn’t suitable for pushchairs unless you have an ‘all-terrain’ version but older children will enjoy the adventure.  The walk is the longest one available in our short walks leaflet.

Rhododendron Woods - Things to do

Culm Valley

The river Culm winds its way down through 100 square miles of countryside from its source at Culmhead to join the River Exe just north of Exeter.  You can walk along the river starting at Culmstock, where the Strand Stores is a popular stop for walkers and cyclists.  There’s also a river beach here, ideal for dogs (and children) to cool off in hot weather.  There is much to see on the walk down through the valley and some excellent local pubs to provide refreshment.   Coldharbour Mill in Uffculme is a working wool museum, built as a factory in the 18th century.  A walk leaflet is available from Reception.

Culmstock River Beach at Forest Glade
Culmstock River Beach (M Thorne)
Coldharbour Mill at Uffculme
Coldharbour Mill at Uffculme

Hartridge Common and Dumpdon Hill

This walk explores the countryside around an Iron Age hill fort.  Starting in the Otter valley, at Rawridge, you cross the river and climb up to Hartridge and then on to Dumpdon Hill, where there are lovely views out across the countryside.   Long horn cattle may be grazing here so keep dogs on leads.  The cattle help manage the land and increase biodiversity.