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Things to do at Hembury and Holne Woods

A woodland path scattered with autumn leaves though Holne Woods, Devon.
A trail through Holne Woods | © Mick Jones/National Trust Images

Hembury and Holne Woods have a huge variety of trails and paths to follow. From a gentle walk to something a bit more strenuous, there is always something to discover on a visit.

Take a walk through Hembury woods

There's a network of paths through this woodland. Although there's a deliberate lack of signposted routes and trails, you'll find the pathways obvious to use and navigate – you choose whether to go right or left. There are plenty of routes to choose from. You could take a gentle walk there and back along the river or, if you feel you'd like more exercise, go uphill to the hillfort.

There are also various paths which make some good circuits. Going deeper into the woodland, you're more likely to encounter species such as pied flycatchers and hear the elusive wood warbler singing in the top of the canopy.

Stroll down by the river

Along the riverbank there are old mine adits and workings, with evidence of the silver, lead and copper mining that once occurred here. Dippers and grey wagtails are regular visitors to the water’s edge, and you may be lucky enough to see a flash of blue as a kingfisher flies by.

A brown and white dipper bird above water at Quarry Bank Mill
A dipper at the water's edge | © National Trust Images/Derek Hatton

See Hembury Castle

Hembury Castle was built in two phases. First an Iron Age hillfort was built, then the construction of a Norman motte (mound) and bailey (enclosure) castle followed. The name Hembur ymeans 'high castle' and is an apt description of this great earthwork. This more open woodland edge habitat here is great for seeing garden warblers and blackcaps. There's always the chance of seeing and hearing a lesser spotted woodpecker too.

Discover Holne Woods

This ancient western oak woodland is a great place to leave behind the pressures of everyday life. The path goes from one end of the woods to the other, with the sound of the river's many rapids and cascades ever present.

Whatever time of year, there's always something beautiful to see, whether it's trees dripping with lichens and mosses, abundant birdlife, or the excitement of the river in spate or in idyll when it's a mere trickle in the summer months.

If you're feeling fit, there are strenuous walks up out of the woodland and on to the open moor. Walkthrough Holne Woods to White Wood and then venture up to Bench Tor and Venford reservoir. Alternatively, crossing to the other side of the River Dart and after a stiff climb, another popular walk is on Dr Blackalls Drive, going towards Sharp Tor.

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