Distance: 2 1/2 to 3 miles
Terrain: Steep and boggy
Amenities: Small car parks at both Blackbury Camp and Knapp Copse.
Our intention was to walk at the wonderful donkey sanctuary near Sidmouth (see here for a walk we did two years ago), but were seduced by the English Heritage sign for Blackbury Camp before we got there. We knew it was a hillfort, but that was all – it is actually Iron Age.
It is a stunning location, and you can clearly see the ramparts as you drive up to the car park. The ground is scattered with flints which were used to both build the ramparts and as tools. If you are interested, you can read more about the history here.
We had a little wander around – no obvious walks signposted, but we had not brought a map so didn’t want to go off-piste! It’s a very pretty area, perfect for picnics and small children. I am definitely planning to come back in the spring when it is reputed to be awash with bluebells.
Heading back on the main A375 road towards Honiton, we stopped off at Knapp Copse Nature Reserve to see if we could get a proper walk in. I think we got more than we bargained for!
Knapp Copse is at the site of a former council tip which ceased in the 1980s and has been a nature reserve for about ten years. The East Devon Way passes through the nature reserve.
We started to follow the circular route, with blue waymarkers not knowing how far the circular route was. We decided that if the route didn’t seem to be turning back on itself after half an hour, then we would retrace our steps. The actual route we followed was the permissive path (marked in an orange dashed line here).The car park is at the top of a hill, so we descended diagonally down into the valley through fields which were becoming ever boggier. The water collecting in the mud had frozen in places so it felt as though we were breaking glass with each step. Despite the waymarks, there was no obvious path.
At the bottom of the valley, the blue signs disappear and in their place, several other footpaths are marked. After a little retracing of our steps we turned right along the bridlepath before crossing the stream and picking up the path again.
If we thought the first part was a steep descent, this was nothing in comparison to the ascent of the other side of the valley. Let it be said here, that I am no mountain goat!! Again, the ground was very wet – so wet that there were some boardwalks in place – and I am sorry to say that where there weren’t, the only grip I could get was by treading on the rushes. As much as I moan about the hills, these were very pretty parts of the walk.
At the top of the hill, there is a short walk right along a track on the edge of the nature reserve before descending again and meeting up with another track which is the short hike back up hill to the car park.