Forests in Devon

Forests in Devon

Devon is home to many beautiful woods and forests, each providing tranquil settings for sylvan strolls and invaluable habitats for many species of flora and fauna. From ancient tracts of forest covering sheltered valleys to leafy moorland wealds, woodland wonder resides in every corner of the county.

Whether you are looking for an arboreal backdrop for a walk with your dog, would like to recharge with nature, or are simply hoping to discover somewhere new, we’ve collated some of our favourite forests in Devon. Get ready for magical moments under emerald canopies, weaving memories and leaving nothing but footsteps behind you.

Haldon Forest

Just fifteen minutes from Exeter yet a world away from the activity of the city, the beautiful Haldon Forest Park is one of the largest woodlands in Devon and the South West. Covering an area of more than 3,500 acres, it straddles the 360-million-year-old Haldon Hills and joins up with neighbouring Mamhead Woods for an unparalleled natural playground. Pick up one of the forest’s four waymarked trails and treat yourself to a leisurely stroll, an exhilarating mountain biking experience, or an equestrian adventure between its towering evergreens. Looked after by Forestry England, each trail caters to different abilities and interests, and also includes a well-surfaced, multi-use Discovery Trail suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Take a breather in Haldon’s Ridge Café upon your return, savouring a mug of your favourite blend in the dappled light of the trees.

Mamhead Woods

An aerial view of green and coppher-hued trees at Mamhead Common in Devon

Mamhead Woods comprises an area of stunning Forestry England woodland in South Devon. A picture of wooded perfection, this woodland corner adjoins Haldon Forest and affords a wonderful setting for wanders. So pretty is this woodland, that the nearby Michelin star Lympstone Manor has even named one of its private dining rooms after it. Venture over and immerse yourself in the adumbral surroundings, following one of the woodlands’ two short, looped walks of a mile and a mile and a half over flat, surfaced trails. To practise mindfulness, Mamhead Woods is also home to a wellbeing trail which features themed panels along a mile-long trail, encouraging you to pause, reflect and connect with the enchanting forest around you.

Bellever Forest

A bird's eye view of the woodland and river scenes of Bellever Forest, Dartmoor.

Located in the heart of Dartmoor, the wildly romantic Bellever Forest is one of the stunning pockets of woodland you can find on the moor. One of the best places to visit in Dartmoor throughout the year, it boasts an ever-changing tapestry of colour from the vibrant blossoms of spring to the bronzed gilded depths of autumn. If you are looking for somewhere quiet to soak up the sounds and sights of nature, head over to this idyllic pocket for a while. Adorned with walking boots to traverse the uneven terrain, you can fall into a relaxed pace and savour the tranquillity of the area. For added magic, enjoy a picnic on the banks of the East Dart River, or take an invigorating hike up to the top of Bellever Tor for the most spellbinding views. As you roam, keep a look out for the ancient monuments that pepper the landscapes and the gorgeous Dartmoor ponies that can be found within the forest. 

Ashclyst Forest

Nestled within the vast, 6,400-acre Killerton Estate in Broadclyst, the National Trust managed Ashclyst Forest is one of the biggest woods in East Devon. Only around a hundred years old, this natural woodland pasture covers over 1,700 acres and is made up of conifer plantations, coppice coups, and rare, wet woodland. A haven for wildlife species of all sizes, from tiny ladybirds to regal oaks, it is a fabulous place to while away the hours and look out for hidden gems. Particularly enigmatic residents, Ashclyst is an important sanctuary for rare butterflies, such as white admiral, small pearl-bordered fritillary and purple emperor. Tread the woodland’s waymarked pathways and look out for these delicate woodland residents, who are most likely to be seen in the summer months. To get there, you can park at various places skirting the forest or one of the main car parks, Ashclyst Forest car park and Caddihoe.

Fingle Woods

A riverside trail in Fingle Woods, Devon, with blues skies overhead

Lying within the northern reaches of Dartmoor National Park in the Teign Valley, the organic sprawl of Fingle Woods beckons for adventure. Encompassing more than six hundred acres of stunning mixed habitat, it merges with neighbouring pockets of woodland and is intertwined with nearly thirty miles of trails for sun-dappled strolls. Managed and maintained by the National Trust and the Woodland Trust, it is somewhere that welcomes year-round exploration and encourages dreamy moments in the revitalising forest air. Wend your way between the interlaced rows of ancient, broadleaf and coniferous trees and brush shoulders with grassland, moorland, heathland and wet woodland, all the while listening to the gentle flutter of leaves dancing in the breeze.

Canonteign Falls

Canonteign Falls is an award-winning family-friendly attraction in Christow near Exeter. Promising beautiful woodlands in Devon with a twist, this ninety-acre estate is blanketed in leafy swathes and wildflower meadows, all connected with walkways and tracks. At the centre of the woods, a series of both natural and manmade waterfalls herald their presence with an echoing roar, captivating the imagination and drawing walkers towards fallside viewing platforms. Elsewhere, stunning Victorian fern gardens reside between towering trunks and mossy valleys, while adventure playgrounds await nearby for children of all ages. Head over to this seasonal attraction and fall under the spell of Mother Nature.

Tamar Valley

Situated close to the Devon and Cornwall border, the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a landscape shaped by the flowing rivers of the Tamar, Tavy and Lynher. Home to some of the best forests in Devon for walks, runs and bike rides, the valley offers a wealth of things to see and do. To introduce yourself properly, make way to the Tamar Trails Centre before picking up one of the number of routes. Looping north and south, The Tamar Trails are both family and dog-friendly and can be enjoyed separately or combined for the dreamiest days out. Particularly appealing, the Wheal Maria trail passes through mixed woodland and affords gorgeous views across the Tamar Valley.

Woodbury Common

An aerial view of the woods of Woodbury Common in Devon

A little-known area of woodland in East Devon, Woodbury Common is hemmed by a series of woodland pockets that tempt for gentle hours of exploration. Spanning more than a hundred acres, its mixed habitats of open common, beech woodland and conifer plantation ensure there is something to see at every turn and set an ever-changing backdrop to leisurely saunters. Visit in the morning to catch the early sunrise hues brush the tops of the trees or make your way over in the sun-kissed hours of the afternoon for laidback picnics and promenades. Adding extra intrigue to your walk, look out for the hidden remains of Woodbury Castle, an Iron Age hillfort situated atop the highest point of the common, and admire the commanding views across the common towards the Exe Estuary and Lyme Bay beyond.

Ausewell Wood

A beautiful dog relaxing in rays of sunshine through the trees | Forests in Devon

Brushing the sides of an undulating river valley, the 342-acre, National Trust-run Ausewell Wood SSSI lies within the fairytale depths of Dartmoor National Park. Following the journey of the River Dart for a while and cloaking steep valley slopes, this area of temperate rainforest proposes a wild escape for wanderers looking for somewhere a little off the beaten track. Amongst its bosky embrace, rocky outcrops and impressive granite boulders hint at the area’s rich natural history, while rich mosses, tall grasses and the feather-like branches of trees provide sanctuary for a wealth of wildlife. Step out with a backpack filled with delicious treats to keep you fuelled and fall in love with Ausewell Wood, following the winding trails and lure of the great outdoors.

Cookworthy Forest

A view through the trees | Forests in Devon

Nestled in the heart of Ruby Country, Cookworthy Forest sits between Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park in Devon. Only a short distance from the north coast of Devon and Cornwall, it is managed by the Forestry Commission and the Ruby Country Partnership and is served by a Forest Centre along with a main car park for easy access. Lace up your boots and pick up the flow of the two-mile trail that leads through the trees. Along the way, you can make the most of idyllic picnic spots to sit back, rewarding yourself with an alfresco repast as marshmallow clouds float in blue skies above.

Looking forward to a woodland sojourn? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Devon.


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