Plymbridge Woods, near Plympton, Devon PL7 4SRRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This is a gentle circular walk through ancient oak woodlands, beside the beautiful River Plym. Within the woods are remains of the area’s industrial past and there are breathtaking views across the valley from the viaduct. Along the way you may see kingfishers, sea trout, dippers, peregrine falcon, deer and other wildlife.
- Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder)
- Type of walk: 'Waterside Walks', 'Historical Footsteps'
- Bus stop
Start: Plymbridge Woods car park, grid ref: SX524585
From the car park walk up the incline, passing the new railway platform built by Plym Valley Railway. Go over the bridge onto the tarmac path.
Plymbridge is a typical example of the western oak woodland found around the Dartmoor fringes. The tree canopy is almost entirely oak as a result of past management practices that favoured its use for ship building, pit props and charcoal burning. Most of the trees have undergone a process called coppicing, where they get cut close to ground level leaving stumps which are left to re-sprout. They then get cut again when the new growth reaches the desired size. This accounts for the multi-stemmed growth form that is still visible within parts of the woodland.
Walking along the track look down to the canal below. It was constructed in 1829 to transport slate from the quarry using box-shaped barges pulled by horses.
After walking under a stone bridge on the right you'll see the ruins of railway cottages, built to house quarry workers. The buildings were converted to a single cottage at the beginning of the 20th century.
The now ruined railway cottages, originally built for quarry workers, were first mentioned in 1795 in a lease for Cann Quarry. In 1896, Edward Gullett, the tenant of Cann Quarry, converted the two remaining cottages into one large home for his family. Behind the cottages were a range of pig sties and around the front and sides were gardens where tea was served to day trippers.
Continue along the track onto the viaduct at Cann Quarry, which was built in 1907 to replace an earlier version engineered by Augustus Bampton and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The stone bases of the original can still be seen.
Look up from the viaduct through the telescopes and you might just see the resident peregrine falcons on a ledge above you. Their breeding season is from March to July.
This large, greyish-blue falcon almost became extinct in the 1960s following persecution by gamekeepers and egg collectors and through the impact of agricultural pesticides that poisoned its prey and reduced successful breeding. In recent years improved legal protection and control of chemicals has enabled the bird population to recover and they are once again widespread in the uplands and rocky coastal areas of north and west Britain. Falcons have even been spotted nesting in urban areas including the spire of St Davids Church in Exeter.
Retrace your steps and turn left before the railway cottages. Go down the flight of steps and in front of you are the remains of a wheel house. The huge wheel was driven by water, providing power to the cottages.
Pass under the viaduct and turn left onto a narrow path beside the River Plym. The path will move away from the river and follow the canal.
At the end of the track, go under the stone bridge and through the kissing gate. Opposite is the car park from where you started.
We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
End: Plymbridge Woods car park, grid ref: SX524585
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
- Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
- OS Map: Landranger OS201; Explorer OL20
The terrain is mainly flat with just one flight of uneven steps. On wet days some of the path can be muddy so wear sensible footwear. This is a nice stroll for dog-walkers, part of which runs along a canal.
- How to get here:
By bus: Bus 21 from Plymouth’s city centre, Royal Parade bus stop A11. From bus stop walk down Longbridge Road and over bridge across river. Follow path past Park and Ride car park and along cycle route for approximately 20 minutes
By train: Plymouth Central, 7 miles (11.2km)
By car: Take A38 exit for Plympton. Join dual carriageway, passing a petrol station on left. At end of carriageway take first exit off a mini-roundabout, and then first exit off a second mini-roundabout and over a narrow railway bridge. Continue along Plymbridge Road. Car park is on left at end of road
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