Access to the countryside

Devon has an extensive network of recreational routes that cover the County. These routes have been developed by Devon County Council, working with local partners, over the last 30 years. In addition there are also a number of countryside sites that provide further opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy Devon’s outstanding natural environment.

  • Walking routes

    Historically, routes were chosen and developed for a range of reasons. Some, such as the Templar Way, have heritage foundations, the Tarka Trail has a literary association, yet others have economic reasons, for example, the Ruby Trails or strategic geographical reasons, such as the East Devon Way. Whatever their background, there is now a good interlinking network allowing access throughout the county. These routes are primarily comprised of public rights of way, but have been augmented where necessary by the use of Unclassified County Roads and permissive access. This network of routes enables users to devise their own pick-and-mix walk based on some or all of individual routes in the network, tailored to their own choice.

    This network is supplemented at the local level by the extensive public rights of way network.

  • Multi-use routes

    A similar set of connecting routes are being established for cycling in Devon including routes such as the Devon Coast to Coast and the Exe Estuary Trail. Routes are based on the National Cycle Network (NCN) with currently over 150 miles of NCN routes available to use in Devon. These routes form part of the 10,000 mile national network based on an initiative developed by Sustrans, working with local authorities and others to develop and construct. Again, these are promoted for recreational use in order to maximise economic benefits to the rural areas through which they pass. The routes are designed to be safe for novice cyclists, useful for local journeys and a memorable experience for visitors.

  • Horse riding

    A long term goal is to establish a series of safe long-distance routes for horse riders, including bridleways and quiet minor roads. However, there are currently very few dedicated linear horse riding routes within the County and because of this we promote horse riding ‘areas’. These include Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, Woodbury Common, Ruby Country, the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstandng Natural Beauty (AONB) and several Forestry Commission sites.

  • Strategy for Devon’s recreational route network

    In 2009, a Strategy for Devon’s Recreational Route Network was published which was later updated in 2011. This sets out management and promotional guidance for the routes.

    This strategy covers recreational routes in Devon used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Aside from the nationally significant South West Coast Path National Trail on the north and south coasts of Devon, the majority of the strategic route network in Devon is comprised of trails of regional route status. Regional routes have been designated locally by the County Council, a district council or a partnership between various authorities.

    In Devon, most routes have a local management group in place with officers from Devon County Council (PRoW), district councils, and AONBs where relevant, who monitor and develop routes according to each individual management plans.

  • Explore Devon

    For further information on all these routes please visit Explore Devon. This website is aimed at both residents and tourists and encourages people to make the most of what is on the doorstep and explore all that Devon has to offer. Not only does it have details of the longer regional routes and the off-road multi-use routes for safe and easier walking or cycling, it also includes shorter accessible walks suitable for families with young children and pushchairs or the elderly and those who use wheelchairs. Additionally, it details specific sites and areas to visit where you can see some of the glorious Devon wildlife or explore the geology.