I chose to walk the East Devon Way in January, I was lucky with the weather – clear cold and frosty on day 1 and then foggy on day 2. No wind or rain to contend with!
I divided the 40 mile route up into 2 days covering 20 miles on each day. This is roughly from Lyme Regis to Sidbury and then from Sidbury to Exmouth.
I left my car in the long stay carpark on Charmouth road in Lyme Regis. This is ideal as you can pay for 24 hours using the JustPark App which cost just £2. Then you can extend the parking each 24 hours as you go using the App. I ended up paying £4 in total.
There is no clear starting point to the route in Lyme Regis so I walked down the shingle beach by the Cobb Gate carpark to start. I then took Anning road out of town named after Mary Anning (1800 – 1847) a famous fossil hunter and resident of Lyme Regis more about her and her story can be found in the Lyme Regis museum.
At the end of Anning road the route takes the footpath to the village of Uplyme. At this point I found the first trail markings which are pink arrows and a pink Foxglove.
The majority of the route between Lyme and Sidbury follows paths and track through farmland and along riverside trails. As I began my walk at 3pm I was now heading towards the sunset and eventually had to stop and put my headtorch on.
Just before 7pm I approached the village of Colyton crossing the Seaton Tramway. I was getting hungry now so I stopped by a bench got out my stove and boiled up some water for my dehydrated pasta carbonara. I tucked the warm pouch of food into the front pocket of my Paramo smock and continued walking while I ate.
By now the temperature was dropping to below freezing. The grass glistened with frost under the light of my headtorch and was crisp and frozen under foot. Unfortunately it was not quite frozen enough for the more boggy areas and I found myself breaking through in many places getting wet and muddy boots and eventually socks. On the road sections I had to be really careful of black ice finding myself suddenly skating more than once!
After about 20 miles and shortly before Sidbury I decided to find a place to bivvy for a few hours. It was around midnight by now so I found myself a reasonably flat spot tucked away in the woods. I put on my Montane prism jacket for a bit of extra warmth and snuggled inside my Alpkit Pipedream 400 sleeping bag and Alpkit Hunka bivvy.
Although it was cold I slept for a good 4 hours waking to what sounded like rain on my bivvy. Closer inspection of the weather revealed that overnight fog had enveloped the area and it was condensation dripping from the trees that woke me up.
Packing away quickly and leaving no trace apart from a flattened area of leaves, I was soon back on the trail and descending into Sidbury.
A few miles after Sidbury the route passes through several woodland areas. Parts of this route are managed by different organisations including Forestry Commision, Woodland Trust, RSPB and East Devon District Council.
The common heathlands are also used by the military for training purposes. As I walked along the track I was aware that there were possibly more people around me than I could actually see!
Just before leaving this area the route passes right through the prehistoric hillfort of Woodbury Castle which is worth taking some time to explore. Unfortunately a modern road was allowed to be built right through the centre of this historic monument.
After Lympstone Common the route takes a turn north just when you expect to be heading down into Exmouth. However this means that you pass the National Trust property A La Ronde, an 18th century, 16 sided property. There is also a cafe here but being January was closed when I passed.
The final stretch is sandwiched between the railway line and the coast to take weary legs into Exmouth. For the last section of this I did have to follow the road as the estuary path is being reconstructed after storm damage.
Again the actual end of the route was hard to find…and the tide was out so I couldn’t dip my feet in the sea at the end without a long walk.
Instead it was off to find coffee and the bus back to Lyme Regis.
I would recommend this route as a scenic alternative to the coast path. The East Devon Way website is informative and interactive with lots of useful information on where to stay, eat and what to see along the way. I would also suggest that you could add to the route by joining the SW coast path at Exmouth and following this back to Lyme Regis. This would make a full circle and total 70 miles.
Please comment below if you would like to know any further information regarding my walk on the East Devon Way or maybe to share anything else about the route.