Cott Brake walk at Arlington Court
This walk takes you through ancient woodland and parts of the area designated a wildlife reserve by Miss Rosalie Chichester, the Court's former owner.
The walk partly follows the route taken by the Court Canter, the annual 10km run organised by the North Devon Road Runners.
Old Kitchen tea-room, grid ref: SS611405
From the tea-room, follow signs to the Carriage Museum. Before you reach the church, the path goes right and past the Wilderness Pond. From here, head down into the Wilderness. Follow the track down the hill for about 440yd (400m) and take the left-hand fork down a steep slope to a gate.
The Wilderness Pond
This ornamental, yet natural looking pond, was created in the early 1800s as part of Sir John Chichester's (1st Baronet of Arlington Court) extensive remodelling of the gardens. Further into the Wilderness, otters are occasionally spotted in the pools and stream.
Through the gate follow the track to Smallacombe Bridge, cross the bridge and turn left, following signs for Loxhore and Deer Park Wood.
At Tucker's Bridge do not cross the bridge, but take the right-hand fork, signed Shirwell via Cott Wood, and follow the track alongside the river. Go through a gate into a wooded meadow.
This is one of the most important wildlife areas on the estate. It is a mixture of wet woodland and boggy grassland; a habitat for lichens, bats and butterflies. The origin of the name is not known; Tucker is a local name, but may relate to the wool trade.
Follow track for 220yd (200m), go through two gates. After the second gate, immediately turn left and walk up a steep hill with woodland on your left. At top of hill go over the stile on your left. You are now on Cott Brake; look out for the red deer and views back to the Court and the village of Loxhore.
This is the best walk on which to see deer, as you pass over Cott Brake, an area of steep grassland.
Turn right and follow the fence (collapsed hedgebank) on your right, keeping to the brow of the hill, for about 330yd (300m). Climb over the stile at the end of the field into Cott Wood, where you can follow the small woodland track through the wood for about 440yd (400m).
Go over the stile at the end and turn left. After 11yd (10m) turn left down main track; this is steep and rocky in places. At the bottom you join a tarmac road, cross Cott Bridge and then follow the road uphill, bearing left. At the top of the short hill you will see Loxhore Lodge, accessed through large gates marked by herons.
The Lodge house dates from 1870. It marks an entrance to the estate created to enable easy access to the train station that once existed at the village of Snapper.
Go through the gate and onto the wide track. Follow this track for about ¾ mile (1km) until you reach a junction at Tucker's Bridge. Do not cross the bridge, but follow the track uphill signed Arlington Court and Loxhore via Deer Park Wood.
Stay on this track as it winds through the woodland along a stream. At a cross road of paths, stay left and shortly you'll go across an overgrown bridge above the stream. Follow the rocky path uphill and through a gate. The path bears round to the right and continues between a wire fence on the right and hedge on the left. Continue on this path through any gates (these may be open).
In a wooded copse you'll pass a clearing on the left with a picnic bench. From here you can see the stone obelisk. Continue on the path through the woodland.
Marking the site of a bonfire held to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, this is also a wonderful place from which to view the house and garden.
At the end of the path go through the farm gate and turn right, keeping left along the field edge until you come to a gate on your left. Go through the gate and follow a small track through woodland.
You will emerge from the woodland opposite the estate sawmills. Turn left down a concrete slope and then left again along a rough track. You are now at the back of the stables. From here, you can walk down the slope and back into the main gardens and tea-room.
Old Kitchen tea-room, grid ref: SS611405
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