Walk: Barley Valley Local Nature Reserve
I don’t know about anybody else, but for me once Christmas is over and we are into the New year, I kind of go into hibernation mode. I usually get thoroughly fed up with the wet and cold weather and I really just cannot wait to hit Spring and then push on through to those gloriously sunny days that we usually start getting around the end of May. The excitement of Christmas long gone and pretty much every other day one of the children presents some new symptom of an illness… Sometimes I wonder if I should take up shares in Kleenex… or just invest in some good old-fashioned hankies!
Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be a moan. One of my favourite days of the year is New Year’s Day. Since we moved to Exeter it’s become a tradition of ours to host a big walk somewhere followed by stew at our house. Anyone we know is welcome and I love starting the new year off with a houseful of amazing people. It helps to remind me how lucky I am to know quite so many people when we’ve lived here for only 5 years. The last couple of years we’ve had to call off the walk as the weather has been torrential and we’ve put a kids movie on the big screen instead.
However, this year the weather was torrential in the morning but calmed down by the time we’d planned to walk. So we actually got to do it! And I am so glad.
We live in St Thomas and I have been aware ever since we moved that there was a nature reserve up the hill behind our house, but with little info online and being a bit of a planner (read I need to know EVERYTHING about somewhere before I will risk visiting!) it had taken us until December to venture up the hill and discover what was up there. Once we had I was so gutted that it had taken us 5 years to go. So when planning our New years day walk I knew this is where I wanted to take our friends.
Barley Valley Local Nature Reserve- the official name on the council website, though lots of friends have laughed at me for calling it such a posh name – is part of the Exeter Green Circle. There are several entrances to the reserve which can be found of Bowhay lane bridlepath, Higher Barley Mount, Barley Mount and Antonine Crescent.
The walk that we have done several times now is to walk up Isleworth Road, head on into higher meadows and take the bridle path on the right as the road bends. This leads to the nature reserve.Where there are absolutely beautiful views of the city. I felt like we were on top of the world.
From here we walked across the fields and then back down the hill using the rather steep exit onto Barley Mount. Alternatively, you can walk up one last incline into another field (with another bench with a beautiful view) and then exit onto Antonine crescent and then down Redhills back to where you started.
The walk is so peaceful, you’d never know you were so close to the city. I’ve been told in the warmer months you are likely to come across cattle in the field, good to know if you’ve got a dog with you! There are some wooded areas, open fields, little wooden bridges and fallen trees to explore. Be warned; if it’s been raining it does get very muddy!
The walk up the hill is very steep, though my three year old managed it just fine. Once on the bridle path, the surface is not pushchair friendly so you will want to sling any non-walkers.
Definitely, one to check out if you want amazing views of the city.
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Tags: Barley Valley Local Nature Reserve, Exeter, walk, walks