Whether you’re heading out on a solo trek, with family and friends, or with your lovable canine companion, the following dreamy destinations are perfect for switching off from the buzz of your daily routine and reconnecting with nature. Better still, we’ve paired each of our favourite woodland walks in the South West with a pub, inn, or hotel that offers a delectable menu for satisfying those post-walk cravings.
CARDINHAM WOODS, BODMIN
An outdoor adventure awaits at Cardinham Woods. Found in central Cornwall, this diverse patch of woodland offers a slice of everything you could ask for when it comes to bliss beneath the treetops. You’ll find peace among secret glades, paths that wind along streams, far-reaching views, and a plethora of cycling trails.
Head to Dunmere, on the fringes of Bodmin and The Camel Trail, for a hearty roast at the Borough Arms. Choose from a selection of roasted joints of meats or a vegetarian alternative, accompanied by fresh seasonal vegetables, a choice of potatoes, real gravy, and a Yorkshire pudding.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: Deviock Loop
DISTANCE: 4.3 miles (approx. 1h 15)
RALEIGH ESTATE, NEAR DARTMOUTH
This tranquil estate lies in the South Hams, with much of it sitting within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Become immersed in steep wooded valleys, rolling countryside, and soothing sights of Devonshire farmland. Part of the Raleigh Estate fronts onto the River Dart and Old Mill Creek, with boat moorings available for those who wish to complement their woodland trek with a jaunt across the water.
What better way to round off the day than with a trip to Dartmouth itself? Indulge in a delicious meal at the Royal Castle, a landmark 17th-century hotel and restaurant with enviable views from the water’s edge. Enjoy a menu that champions fresh local produce throughout the seasons.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: Dartmouth to Dittisham walk, via Greenway
DISTANCE: 10 - 12 miles depending on the exact route (approx. 3h)
KENNALL VALE NATURE RESERVE, PONSANOOTH
One of our favourite woodland walks in the South West, this fascinating forest is home to a water-filled quarry and is the site of Kennel Vale’s former gunpowder factory, which was closed and abandoned in the 1910s. As you tread past the stream’s gently tumbling waters, it’s staggering to believe that this used to be such a dangerous place. Uncover the ruins and marvel at an abundance of wildlife that has since reclaimed the site.
Falmouth is just a short drive away. For a scrumptious Sunday lunch, you can’t go wrong at the Chain Locker. Plated roasts are served from midday until 6pm and feature a choice of three meats and a tasty vegan option.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: Family Route
DISTANCE: 1.3 miles (approx. 45 mins)
DARTINGTON HALL ESTATE, NEAR TOTNES
Explore over 880 acres of flourishing forest with rivers that run crystal clear. There is a variety of walking trails to suit all abilities, but among the most treasured are the deer park trails. These will take you on a historic journey that traverses picture-perfect woodland beside the River Dart, arriving at a medieval viewing platform. Keep your eyes peeled for the charming deer that call the place home.
Nearby Totnes is just the spot for a bite to eat. The Royal Seven Stars serves as the perfect base camp for the area and champions a flavoursome menu of reimagined pub classics and enticing specials. Wash it all down with a pint of our award-winning beer.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: Totnes-Dartington access for all path
DISTANCE: 2 miles (approx. 1h)
GOLITHA FALLS, FOWEY
This magical location is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest on account of its woodland flora. Ancient woodland borders a captivating series of cascades and waterfalls that form an unforgettable stretch of the River Fowey. The wildlife is rich here. You could glimpse everything from rare bats to otters, salmon, and dormice.
It’s only right to see where the fast-flowing waters end up, and Fowey’s picturesque scenery is a must. While you’re there, grab a table at Havener’s, which occupies a commanding vantage point overlooking the surroundings. A gorgeous roast is served on Sundays from midday to 5pm.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: Yellow route
DISTANCE: 0.75 miles (approx. 1h)
CHARMOUTH FOREST, NEAR LYME REGIS
Despite the name, these woods actually reside a few miles from Charmouth, on the edge of Wootton Fitzpaine in West Dorset. It’s a must for spectacular bluebell displays and you’ll be treated to fantastic views of its namesake coastal village. Coney’s Castle is a short distance away. This ancient hill fort offers an alluring woodland walk of its own with views over the Marshwood Vale.
There’s a lot to see and do in this pretty patch of the West Country. Lyme Regis is an ideal spot for replenishing after your travels. Find out why this seaside haven is known as ‘The Pearl of Dorset’ with a meal at the Rock Point – a scenic and characterful inn on the harbour, overlooking the bay and Jurassic coastline.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: Forest Loop
DISTANCE: 5 miles (approx. 1h)
THE LOE, HELSTON
Cornwall’s largest freshwater lake is blessed with one of the South West’s most beautiful circular walks. The 6.2-mile stretch carves through woodland, open countryside, and along the coast at Loe Bar Beach. You’ll also pass the Penrose Estate and Wheal Pool engine house. Note that while the ocean may appear inviting, it’s extremely treacherous and must only be admired from the shore.
Porthleven is a short distance away; those feeling particularly adventurous can extend their walk to reach it. The Harbour Inn looks out over the bobbing boats and is renowned for its Sunday carvery. It’s served from midday until 6pm and features a choice of three meats and a vegan option.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: Penrose to Loe Pool
DISTANCE: 6 miles (approx. 2h)