AVON VALLEY WOODS
This is a lovely 2 3/4 mile walk that starts at the large car park (GR SX740493) just beyond the village of Woodleigh. We like this walk because it is usually less windy than coastal walks and when it is very hot and sunny in Summer it offers a lot of shade and the River Avon for a drink or a swim. The woods are managed by The Woodland Trust (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk) who do a brilliant job looking after the woods and ensuring access is available.
Today's walk was in dry overcast conditions, although very little wind. There were a few cows grazing in the woods at the start of the walk and you should watch out for these if your dog isn't used to large animals. The track winds across a couple of fields, through a gate and then down a "ride" to another gate into Woodleigh woods. This morning it was lovely in the woods, I heard blackbirds singing, the rat-at-at of a Woodpecker and pigeons were about. There are loads of bluebell leaves in evidence as you go down the hill to the river but they won't appear until later in April when the hillside is covered in them. This morning it was dry underfoot, it has been very muddy this winter though and Frankie has been washed off after every walk, much to her distaste!
The path winds its way down the hill until coming out above the cutting where the old Kingsbridge railway line ran. Turn left and walk past the old railway bridge and along the banks of the river. Today the banks were covered in wild garlic and daffodils, forget-me-nots and primroses were in evidence. the walk meanders along the bank of the river to the next bridge, at which point the path follows the old railway line, where the ballast is still in evidence. As befits an old railway this part of the walk is flat, the going on most of the rest make it unsuitable for anyone with mobility issues, although there is an entrance to the woods at the bottom of the hill which is wheelchair friendly. Today the woods were very quiet in terms of other walkers, although they are well used. If you're lucky, and keep still, there are kingfishers to be found flying along the river, today we didn't see them, although a couple of interesting ducks did catch my eye. Frankie is always on the alert for a squirrel to chase in the woods, and will go haring off after them when she hears one.
Arriving back at the first bridge you cross over and back to the bottom of the hill, where you now have a 350 feet climb back up to the top. Always a nice way to get the heart pumping, although the path does climb in easy stages, with plenty of places for a pause for a picture stop if required. Arriving at the top it's through the gate and left back towards the car park. This morning it took us around 50 minutes but it could easily be 90 minutes if you add a swim and a play for the dog in your life.
After a very pleasant walk, we stopped on the way home at Aune Valley Meat Ltd (www.aunevalleymeat.co.uk), which is renowned locally for the quality of its meat, but which also has good stocks of other locally produced artisan products. Aune Valley also has an excellent cafe, which is opening again shortly and which produces great food, including an award winning breakfast! We are very keen to promote our local suppliers as part of our web site and Aune Valley is a wonderful example of the range and quality available in Devon.
Hope for lunch and Frankie to a well earned snooze.