A Word From Amanda Jones, New Wellbeing & Lifestyle Editor
I thought I’d take my first article for the Real Riviera as an opportunity to introduce myself. I hale from East London, inhabiting haunts throughout trendy Shoreditch and its neighbouring boroughs. My love for the city runs very deep; whether single or in company there is never a dull moment, and the constant stream of stimulation, diversity and world class talent that the city has to offer is a total pleasure to be immersed in.
The past year of lockdown has had a tremendous impact on everyone, and perhaps most of all those who live in cities. As my beloved restaurants, theatres, bars and galleries began to shut their doors, I found myself temporarily relocating to my family home in Devon.
Few things compare to the London lifestyle. But one thing that does come close is swinging full circle, leaving behind the cocktail dresses (yes, even my favourite silk wrap dress had to be abandoned…) and taking to the great outdoors. In terms of walking, camping, swimming and just about any outdoor activity you can think of, Devon has so much to offer. While I’m here I aim to bring you a selection of the best days out, eateries and hidden gems in the South West.
Famous for its ancient history, varied geography, and rich wildlife, no experience of Devon would be complete without a trip to Dartmoor National Park. One of my favourite walks on Dartmoor follows the River Teign, and incorporates a castle, a wild swimming spot and several stunning view points.
The walk begins at the Fingle Bridge car park, right beside a country pub called The Fingle Bridge Inn. From here walk over the bridge and turn right, through a grass picnic area and onto the footpath. You’ll be walking closely beside the river. Keep following this path. It meanders along with the river, and is hidden in the thickly wooded valley. The forest smells of pine, and in the summer months dragonflies can be spotted on the riverbanks. This continues for over a mile, and is a fairly flat and easy part of the walk.
You will then come to a stone stile, which should be signposted to Castle Drogo. Walk over this, and you will see the Iron Bridge in front of you. The bridge is located right beside a still pool which is a great place for wild swimming.
From the bridge you can see Drogo Wier as you look downstream. Turn left and then right, and continue to rejoin the ‘Fishermans’ footpath, following signs for the castle and the Two Moors Way. This leads you to a driveway near Gibb House and Coombe. Follow the drive uphill, and when you reach a wooden gate to the right, go through it following signs to Hunters Path.
From hunters path (which is a fairly steep climb at first) you can choose to take a left up a set of steps. This will lead you up to the castle. It’s well worth taking in, and as a National Trust property, visitors are allowed to take a tour of the castle. There is also a tearoom for refreshments.
Alternatively, continue along hunters path. This path has several viewpoints which look out over the dramatic river valley and out over Devon. The path follows midway up the forested valley, and will eventually take you right back to the carpark where you started. Here you can enjoy a well deserved drink at the Fingle Bridge Inn!
The views on this walk are truly breathtaking. If you get a chance to do this walk at sunrise, it will surely leave you with memories to last a lifetime.