21 Best National Trust Walks in Devon to Experience Nature and Wildlife

National Trust Walks Devon

See a majestic stag red deer and an abundance of nature and wildlife on the best National Trust walks in Devon

If you’re looking for a list of the best National Trust Devon walks to experience the great outdoors, you’re at the right place.

I’ve researched 125 walks and chosen the best for experiencing nature, wildlife, breathtaking landscapes and coastal scenery.

The National Trust supports conservation work and restoration of natural habits, and members get free parking in their coast and countryside places. Enjoy National Trust membership discount offers and free binoculars today.

Let’s dive straight in!

National Trust Walks Devon: Quick Links

The list of walks start from southeast Devon, go along the south coast and inland, and finish on the North Devon coast.

  1. Branscombe to Beer Coastal Walk
  2. Salcombe Hill to Sidmouth Circular Walk
  3. Coastal Circular Walk from Woodhuish
  4. Froward Point Walk
  5. Greenway Boathouse walk
  6. A Circular Walk from Little Dartmouth
  7. Prawle Point Walk
  8. Piddledown Common Walk
  9. Teign Gorge Classic Circuit
  10. Bolberry Down and Soar Mill Cove Walk
  11. Ringmore to Ayrmer Cove Walk
  12. Wembury Strandline Walk
  13. Woodland Wander Along the River Plym
  14. Cadover Bridge and the Dewerstone
  15. Lydford Gorge Waterfall Trail
  16. Lundy Island Wildlife Walk
  17. Baggy Point to Woolacombe Circular Walk
  18. Morte Point and Bull Point Walk
  19. Heddon’s Mouth Circular Walk
  20. Heddon Valley to Woody Bay Walk
  21. Countisbury to Watersmeet Circular Walk

See my best National Trust walks in Cornwall for additional trips in the South West for nature lovers. And for more great days out in the outdoors, see my National Trust Isle of Wight experiences.

Spectacular coastal view from Hooken cliffs, Devon

Enjoy spectacular coastal views from Hooken cliffs and explore the unique habitat at the undercliff – image: Philip Halling

1. Branscombe to Beer Coastal Walk

A 6 miles (9.6 km) circuit along the South West Coast Path with stunning views of the Jurassic Coast and surrounding countryside. Starting at the National Trust car park, the path takes some steep inclines before the beautiful scenery from Hooken Cliffs.

Explore the rock pools at Beer Beach for prawns, crabs and fish, and take a dip in the crystal-clear water. On the way back, Hooken Undercliff is a naturally-formed nature reserve with various wildflowers, butterflies, and birds, including goldfinches and blackcaps.

Nature lovers will enjoy the Branscombe to Beer coastal walk in the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Stunning Jurassic coast scenery from Salcombe Hill, Devon

View west along the Jurassic Coast from Salcombe Hill above Sidmouth East Devon – © National Trust Images / Lucy Buckingham

2. Salcombe Hill to Sidmouth Circular Walk

This spectacular 5 miles (8 km) walk starts with breathtaking views of the Devon Jurassic Coast and Sidmouth. Salcombe Hill’s woods and grassy slopes have a carpet of wildflowers like bluebells, buttercups, forget-me-not, greater stitchwort, purple orchids, and ramson in spring and summer.

Look out for dippers and grey wagtails along the tranquil Byes Riverside Park, and if you’re lucky, you may spot a kingfisher, tawny owl or otter.

The Salcombe Hill to Sidmouth circular walk is ideal for nature and wildlife enthusiasts.

Spot a barn owl at Woodhuish, Devon

Spot a barn owl and ducks and wading birds on a birdwatcher’s walk from Woodhuish – image: Andy Chilton

3. Coastal Circular Walk from Woodhuish

A birdwatcher’s dream, this 3-mile (4.8-mile) trip takes you to brackish marshlands at Man Sands, a haven for wildlife. National Trust rangers have allowed a natural process to flood the area to encourage ducks and waders.

Look out for gadwall, snipe, teal and shoveller, and tufted ducks from the National Trust bird hide at Man Sands. In the reed beds, you’ll see Cetti’s and reed warblers, and you may spot grass snakes in the lagoon.

The organic farm at Woodhuish supports barn owls and greater horseshoe bats whose numbers have diminished, with Devon being one of their last strongholds.

Take in views of the stunning coastline, and you may encounter Dartmoor ponies grazing on this circular coastal walk from Woodhuish.

Rugged coastline and rocks off Froward Point, Devon

A view of the rugged coastline at Froward Point, Devon, where the growth of wild flora, is encouraged under the stewardship of the National Trust – image: © National Trust Images / David Noton

4. Froward Point Walk

Binoculars are a must on this 3 miles (4.8 km) ramble. At Froward Point, the rocky outcrops are excellent to spot seals basking and seabirds like guillemots and razorbills. While looking out across Pudcombe Cove, you may be lucky and see peregrine falcons hunting along the cliffs.

In the fields, keep an eye out for cirl buntings and the beautiful song of the skylark. Among the rare plants, you’ll see blue cornflower and pink lesser snapdragon.

The Froward Point walk is an excellent way to experience nature.

There’s a garden full of exotic and rare plants at nearby Coleton Fishacre and lots of fun things to do for children.

Children playing in the gardens at Greenway, Devon

Children playing in the garden during a spring rain shower at Greenway, Devon – image: © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

5. Greenway Boathouse Walk

One of the best walks at Greenway is this mile-long (1.6 km) stroll through woodland and along a riverbank. A short family-friendly trip with a garden that children will love to explore.

There are beautiful views of the River Dart from the boathouse, as well as wildlife. In the trees here, grey herons nest and form the largest heronry on the River Dart.

The Greenway Boathouse walk offers a wonderful setting for enjoying nature along the river.

Cirl bunting in Devon, England

See colourful cirl buntings in Dartmouth, which are only found in South Devon and the close surrounding area in the UK – image: Jacob Spinks

6. A Circular Walk from Little Dartmouth

A beautiful 4 mile (6.4 km) walk with stunning views of the South Devon coastline and green rolling hills inland. The scene across to Dartmouth is awe-inspiring and dotted along the cliffs, and you’ll see picturesque coves from gorse-covered outcrops.

The coastal grassland is home to thriving birds — such as cirl buntings, Dartford warblers, linnets, stonechats, whitethroats and yellowhammers — butterflies, crickets and grasshoppers. And on the rocks below, you may see basking grey seals.

The Little Dartmouth circular walk is located in the South Devon AONB and is well worth it if you’re in the area.

Scenic view of Elendor Cove and Gammon Head, South Devon

Enjoy a swim at picturesque Elendor Cove and admire the views of Gammon Head on a National Trust Devon walk – image: Martin Bodman

7. Prawle Point Walk

At Devon’s most southerly point, this 3 miles (4.8 km) walk boasts abundant wildlife and beautiful plants with dramatic rocks and spectacular views.

Look out for cormorants, fulmars and razorbills, and little owls that breed here from the clifftops. Out at sea, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins as sightings are common on this shoreline.

Dark green fritillaries, green hairstreak, and red admiral butterflies dance among flowers with fancy names like autumn squills, birdsfoot trefoils, butcher’s broom, sea mayweed and sea spleenwort.

Take a dip at Elender Cove, a charming little beach nestled into the rugged coastline. The Prawle Point Walk is one of Devon’s best National Trust walks to experience nature and wildlife.

Dartmoor ponies conservation grazing at Castle Drogo, Devon

Dartmoor ponies conservation grazing at the beautiful countryside at the National Trust’s Castle Drogo in Devon – image: © National Trust Images / Mick Jones

8. Piddledown Common Walk

Explore Piddledown Common in Dartmoor National Park for a 1 mile (1.6 km) short walk that offers gorgeous views of Teign Gorge and across to Chagford from Sharp Tor. Amongst the gorse and oak trees, wildflowers like St John’s Wort thrive on rocky outcrops.

On the heath, you can find all three UK woodpecker species, as well as meadow pipits and stonechats. 23 species of butterflies have been recorded in the area, including the rare high brown and pearl-bordered fritillaries.

Take the short family-friendly Piddledown Common walk from Castle Drogo car park and explore nature at its finest.

Visitors crossing a footbridge over the River Teign with their dogs in Dartmoor National Park, Devon

A visitor walking dogs on a footbridge over the River Teign on the estate at Castle Drogo, Dartmouth National Park, Devon – image: © National Trust Images / John Millar

9. Teign Gorge Classic Circuit

One of Dartmoor’s favourite walks, with breathtaking countryside views and abundant wildlife. The scenic route from the National Trust Car park at Castle Drogo takes Hunter’s Path’s high ground and the charming River Teign.

At Fingle Bridge and below Drogo, the autumn is a spectacular time of year for spotting Atlantic salmon and brown trout leaping through the weirs. Along the riverside, you can spot dippers, herons, kingfishers, wagtails and elusive otters.

Dartmoor’s 4.1 miles (6.6 km) Teign Gorge classic circuit is a must-do walk, and the winding paths are excellent places to see wildlife.

Scenic Soar Mill Cove, South Devon

Take a dip at scenic Soar Mill Cove in Devon and enjoy the beautiful surrounding AONB – image: Tony Atkin

10. Bolberry Down and Soar Mill Cove Walk

Explore some of South Devon’s most scenic and unspoilt coastline and discover a secret beach on this 4.4 miles (7.2 km) hike. Located within an AONB, the route is also part of an area of special scientific interest for its wildlife, plants, and insects.

At low tide, explore Soar Mill Cove’s beach and rocks and look out for the small colony of seals bobbing in the sea. And if you’re lucky, you may see dolphins and porpoises as you soak up the views and sunsets on a detour to the Iron Age hill fort at Bolt Tail.

A hidden paradise with wildflowers and wildlife galore, you’ll love the exhilarating Bolberry Down and Soar Mill Cove walk.

Emperor dragonfly on National Trust walks Devon

A male emperor dragonfly is one of many wildlife you can see while walking at the beautiful Ringmore Valley

11. Ringmore to Ayrmer Cove Walk

In Devon’s South Hams, discover the beautiful Ringmore Valley on this 3 miles (4.8 km) loop over fields and along the coast path. In an AONB, it offers breathtaking views and plenty of wildlife.

Adders and slow worms bask on the stone walls and grass in the valley. The hedgerows are home to nesting birds such as the rare cirl bunting. In summer, colourful dragonflies, including emperor dragonflies, dart between the streams.

Ayrmer Cove’s stunning rock formations, sandy beach, and crystal-clear water make it an ideal place for swimming and relaxing. In addition, the rock pools are full of sea life at low tide.

The Ringmore to Ayrmer Cove circuit is one of the National Trust’s great walks in Devon to experience nature.

Children rockpooling at Wembury Beach, South Devon

Children rockpooling at Wembury, a shoreline walk, is one of the best places for exploring rock pools in Devon – image: © National Trust Images / Megan Taylor

12. Wembury Strandline Walk

Marine life abounds at Wembury, one of the best places in South Devon for rockpooling. Explore the shoreline and tide pools on this 2 miles (3.2 km) family-friendly walk.

Keep an eye out for mermaid’s purses (egg cases of dogfish, rays, and skate) on the seashore, cuttlefish bones, and various seaweeds. In the rock pools, you’ll find shanny, rock goby, crabs, sea anemone, sea urchins, shellfish, starfish, and more.

Take the Wembury shoreline walk and discover hidden treasures and enjoy sea views.

Learn about Wembury’s sea life and upcoming rockpool safari events at Wembury Marine Centre. And get acquainted with shore species and seaweed with the Devon Wildlife Trust’s guide.

The picturesque River Plym and surrounding woodland, Devon

Savour the scenic woodland and riverside setting on a walk along the River Plym – image: Natural England

13. Woodland Wander Along the River Plym

Take a 1 mile (1.6 km) stroll through beautiful oak woodland and along a scenic river. Look for wildlife along the way, including butterflies, damselflies, deer, dippers, lesser woodpeckers, and kingfishers if you’re lucky.

Plymbridge Woods is famous for the nesting peregrine falcons that live here between March and July. Telescopes are available at the viaduct so you can see these wonderful birds. Learn how the National Trust Peregrine Project here works to conserve and engage the community.

Experience the great outdoors on this woodland walk alongside the River Plym.

Kingfisher at Shaugh Bridge, Dartmoor National Park, Devon

Look out for kingfishers around Shaugh Bridge on a National Trust walk at Dartmoor National Park – image: James West

14. Cadover Bridge and the Dewerstone

Get your walking boots on for an exhilarating 3.4 miles (5.4 km) hike through ancient woodlands, mossy boulders, downs and moorland. Starting from the quaint Cadover Bridge, you follow part of the Dartmoor Way and onto incredible views from the Dewerstone.

Shaugh Bridge is a good place to spot wildlife. Be on the lookout for the turquoise flash of a kingfisher. You’ll also find pied flycatchers and wood warblers, as well as stoats.

Enjoy Dartmoor National Park on a circuit walk from Cadover Bridge via the Dewerstone.

Visitors admiring the view of the Whitelady Waterfall at Lydford Gorge, Devon

Visitors enjoying the picturesque Whitelady Waterfall on a walk at Lydford Gorge, Dartmoor National Park, Devon – image: © National Trust Images / John Millar

15. Lydford Gorge Waterfall trail

Picturesque Lydford Gorge and the dramatic 28.2 m (92.5 ft) Whitelady Waterfall has attracted visitors for generations. Located on the River Lyd, at the South West’s deepest river gorge, the 1 mile (1.6 km) walk makes for a memorable experience.

This circular route leads you to the waterfall and back through semi-ancient woodland, enticing glimpses of the river below. National Trust projects at Lydford involve pied flycatcher and dormouse conservation.

Enjoy a cream tea at the Waterfall Tea Room after your waterfall walk in Lydford Gorge.

Puffin on Lundy Island, Devon

Lundy Island is famous for its puffins, and you’ll enjoy lots more nature on a wildlife walk – image: lubker

16. Lundy Island Wildlife Walk

Lundy Island is brimming with wildlife, with most of the island forming the Lundy Marine National Nature Reserve. Pack your binoculars for an unforgettable 4 miles (6.4 km) nature ramble.

Lundy is a birdwatcher’s paradise, and its most iconic resident is the puffin. Along with other seabirds like guillemots, gulls, fulmars, kittiwakes, Manx shearwaters and razorbills. It’s also home chaffinches, stonechats, wrens and the beautiful sound of the skylark, and butterflies like the red admiral too.

The island is also a haven for marine life with basking sharks, bottlenose and common dolphins and porpoises frequent visitors. Rarer sightings include exotic sunfish and leatherback turtles, and occasionally orcas too.

Atlantic grey seal at Lundy Island, Devon

Lundy’s colony of grey seals are just some of the incredible sea life you can see from the island – image: James West

Lundy is home to nearly 200 grey seals which you can see all around the island, and you can get up close to them on snorkelling safaris. On rocky ledges, you’ll see brightly coloured corals and sponges, and there’s plenty of rockpools to explore.

On land, sika deer and wild goats roam freely amongst dozens of wildflowers, fungi, lichens and even the carnivorous sundew plants.

Lundy Island’s wildlife walk is a strong contender for Devon’s best National Trust walk for nature.

Get to know Lundy Island’s diverse habitats and species, as well as how to get and stay there.

View over Woolacombe Beach and coastline, North Devon

View of Woolacombe with stunning views on one of the best National Trust walks Devon – image: © National Trust Images/John Millar

17. Baggy Point to Woolacombe Circular Walk

Experience an invigorating 10 mile (16 km) hike along a spectacular part of the North Devon coast. The route follows the South West Coast Path through an AONB with breathtaking coastal views.

Woolacombe and Croyde have beautiful golden dunes, with both of them surrounded by rolling green Devon hills. Both beaches are popular with surfers, and there are lifeguards at both for swimmers.

Keep an eye out for grey seals and seabirds such as cormorants, fulmars, and shags, and if you’re lucky, a peregrine falcon. Towards Woolacombe, rare plants such as Portland spurge, sea holly and sea spurge grow in the dunes.

The Baggy Point to Woolacombe circular walk is the longest of many scenic walks in the area.

National Trust Beach Ranger with Crab, Woolacombe, Devon

A National Trust beach ranger showing a crab to visitors on a rockpool ramble event on the beach at Woolacombe, Devon – image: ©National Trust Images / Mel Peters

Rockpooling at Woolacombe

Just north of Woolacombe Beach, the rocks stretching out to sea are teeming with sea life. Barricane Beach and Combesgate Beach are both excellent for rockpooling and snorkelling. And there are many rocky inlets and small coves as far as Grunta Beach to explore.

Look out for crabs, fish, prawns, sea anemones, shellfish and starfish, and you’ll find lots of different shells.

Find more of the best places for rockpooling in North Devon.

Spectacular coastal view of Bull Point from Morte Point, North Devon

The jagged North Devon coastline view of Bull Point from Morte Point on one of the best National Trust coastal walks in Devon – image: © National Trust Images / Joe Cornish

18. Morte Point and Bull Point Walk

Enjoy dramatic North Devon coast from rugged headlands to sandy bays on this 6 miles (9.6 km) coastal loop. From the clifftops, watch out for grey seals, harbour porpoises, and dolphins.

During low tide, explore Bennett’s Mouth’s rock pools for crabs, fish, sea anemones, starfish, and shellfish. Also, be on the lookout for oystercatchers and gannets on the rocky outcrops.

Butterflies and birds thrive in the maritime grasslands and heathlands through a designated AONB on the Morte Point to Bull Point walk.

Discover more National Trust trails around Morthoe and Woolacombe.

High brown fritillary male at Heddon Valley, Devon

A rare high brown fritillary male butterfly on bracken at Heddon Valley, Exmoor National Park, Devon – image: © National Trust Images / Matthew Oates

19. Heddon’s Mouth Circular Walk

A beautiful walk along the River Heddon in Exmoor National Park through a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There are many species of wildlife here, including otters and the rare high brown fritillary butterfly.

Starting from the Heddon Valley National Trust car park, it follows the river through ancient woodland. Towards the mouth, you’re surrounded by some of the tallest cliffs in England.

Finish off the Heddon’s Mouth circular walk with a refreshment at the Hunter’s Inn pub. Mobility scooters are available for the route by booking in advance.

Extending your trip takes you to picturesque Heddon’s Mouth Beach, which is excellent for skimmers.

Walker Enjoying the View Cliffs near Heddon Valley, Exmoor National Park, Devon

Enjoying the view of towering cliffs on the Heddon Valley to Woody Bay walk, which also includes coves and a wooded valley within Exmoor National Park – image: © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

20. Heddon Valley to Woody Bay Walk

Enjoy some of England’s highest and most dramatic cliffs on this challenging 6 miles (9.6 km) walk along part of the South West Coast Path. The coastal and inland views are breathtaking, and on a clear day, you may see Wales across the Bristol Channel.

Seabirds like fulmars, guillemots, gulls, kittiwakes, Manx shearwaters and razorbills frequent the cliffs and rocks during the warmer months. Peregrine falcons and buzzards also breed here, which makes it a great spot for bird watching.

The Heddon Valley to Woody Bay hike boasts ancient oak woodlands and the Hollow Brook Combe waterfall, cascading 200 meters (219 yards) to the sea below.

Discover more picturesque walks around Heddon Valley.

Otter at Exmoor National Park, Devon

Spot an otter on one of the best National Trust walks in Devon on the trip from Countisbury to Watersmeet at Exmoor National Park – image: Bernard Landgraf

21. Countisbury to Watersmeet Circular Walk

An interesting 3.5 miles (5.6 km) hike with rich wildlife, diverse habitats, and various landscapes. There are wonderful views of the East Lyn Valley, moorland and on a clear day across the Bristol Channel to Wales.

You can see salmon, trout, herons, wagtails, dippers, and occasionally otters on the river. The woodland is home to jays, sparrow hawks, tree creepers, wood warblers, and many butterflies, fungi, and wildflowers.

And listen out for the majestic red deer’s booming roar during autumn’s rutting season.

Wear sturdy footwear as there are steep inclines and muddy and slippery terrain. The Countisbury to Watersmeet walk is located in one of Exmoor National Park’s prettiest areas.

From short trails with the family to longer trips, there are walks for everyone around Watersmeet.

If you’re a local or just visiting, there’s never been a better time to explore the best National Trust Devon walks. By joining the National Trust today, you can support their work and enjoy free access to their places and car parks.

Image credits and thanks: Hooken cliffs (edit) Philip Halling, barn owl (edit) Andy Chilton, cirl bunting (edit) Jacob Spinks, Elendor Cove and Gammon Head (edit) – Martin Bodman, Soar Mill Cove (edit) – Tony Atkin, River Plym – Natural England, kingfisher – James West, puffin (edit) – lubker, Lundy Island seal (edit) – Lewis Clarke and otter – Bernard Landgraf.