East Devon Walks: Holyford Woods

Holyford Woods map

Holyford Woods map - Credit: Archant

Christmas times offers the chance to get out in the East Devon countryside

Walking in East Devon

Walking in East Devon - Credit: Archant

If you fancy becoming fully immersed in a tranquil woodland setting for an afternoon, then Holyford Woods is just the place.

Nestled in a picturesque valley near Seaton and Colyford, this beautiful woodland site is the 1,000th Local Nature Reserve to be designated in England. In fact, it is one of the oldest natural woods in existence in the UK with a wide variety of tree species, including oak, ash and hazel.

The site is managed by the Countryside Team at East Devon District Council in partnership with the Holyford Woodland Trust, which helped to raise funds to buy the site in 2001.

The woodland habitat supports a wide variety of wildlife throughout the year as birds nest in the tree canopy, bats roost in hidden crevices and tangled roots provide shelter for weasels and wood mice.


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The goyle, or sunken stream, provides a source of water for the multitude of different creatures that live in the woods and eventually runs into the Axe estuary at the nearby Colyford Common Local Nature Reserve.

During springtime, the woods are filled with the scent of wild garlic and the carpets of bluebells are magnificent. There is even an annual Bluebell Day. Go along and explore the woods, learn about their history whilst on a guided walk and browse the selection of stalls at Holyford Farm.

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There are various walking routes throughout the site, based on both public and permissive footpaths. Park at the Seaton Down picnic site near the Seaton Tower garage on Seaton Down Hill road, and walk back to the A3052. Cross the road carefully and follow the sign marked ‘Holyford Woods Local Nature Reserve’ down a steep field and through the entrance gate and into the woods. For the circular walk, follow the path and take the left hand fork along a wide vehicle track, which skirts along the edge of the woodland.

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