Free things to do in Exeter: Parks and the Exeter Green Circle
Looking for some inspiration for free things to do outside, in and around Exeter? Look no further we have parks galore!
When we moved to our new place, I was reliably informed that meat bingo and fetes are all the rage in the country villages. But no one told me about the plant sales and cake baking competitions! A few weeks ago we experienced one such event in a local village hall (Alan Ayckbourn eat your heart out). There we discovered locals selling plants from their gardens, so much cheaper than the garden centres, I thought hubby was going to burst with excitement.
While he was happily revelling in plant heaven, hankering over the fuschias and bartering for the amaryllis I was coveting, the kids were busy tearing around the hall. Rather too close to the table bearing the cake competition for my and the lady carefully peeling the cling film off the cakes being carried in proudly by their creators liking. So instead of constantly telling them off, I took one for the team and decided to take them outside where I made the most fantastic discovery!
Said village hall is around four miles west of Exeter City, in a small village called Whitestone, pronounced (for the newbies like me) Whit-stone. It is just off the main road that runs from Exeter through Redhills and Nadderwater to Tedburn St Mary. Tucked away behind the hall, on top of a hill is Whitestone Park, a rather lovely park (full blog here) where the backdrop to the swings, wooden climbing frame, football pitch and other apparatus is the most breathtaking view of the Redhill section of the city’s ‘Green Circle’.
But there’s more!
One of the wonderful things about living in Exeter, is the abundance of green space and parks, we love that we can choose from so many nature rich places to run, walk, cycle and play.
The Exeter Green Circle
The aforementioned Exeter Green Circle runs within the boundaries of the city and is a twelve mile walk which includes; Alphin Brook, Hoopern Valley, Ludwell Valley (incorporating Ludwell Valley Park), Mincinglake (incorporating Mincinglake Valley Park) and Redhills, from picturesque valley parks to quiet leafy suburbs, it’s all part of Exeter’s charm as a country-city. Some of the path is easy going and some isn’t accessible for all, a friend of mine has walked all of it and we have touched on some of it, but it is on my hit list to complete. You can read more about the Exeter Green Circle on Exeter City Council’s website.
Mincinglake Valley Park
We had a great time during June half term at Devon Wildlife Trust’s event at Mincinglake Valley park. It is down from Stoke Hill between Mincinglake Road and Mile Lane. It is a very beautiful place with streams, meadows, woodlands and an abundance of wildlife.
There are plenty of parks to choose from across the city, the King George V Playing Fields off the Topsham Road in Countess Weir is home to The Playpark, a highly acclaimed park. Billed on their website as the “6th most accessible and inclusive play park in the world”. Almost all of the equipment in the playground is specially designed to be wheelchair accessible, there is sensory equipment, tactile signs for partially sighted visitors and pictorial signs for people with learning difficulties.
Now that the summer holidays are almost upon us, we are looking forward to hanging out in the city’s splash pools. Situated in Heavitree and St Thomas pleasure grounds, the pools open in May (might have been a bit optimistic this year)! Heavitree Pleasure Grounds also boasts a mud track for BMXing, a big playpark with apparatus and plenty of green space for dog walking.
Heavitree Pleasure Grounds also have a very active community and plenty of events on their website.
Bull Meadow and Belle Isle Park
We love Bull Meadow Park in St Leonards and Belle Isle Park is one of my personal favourites, it has no play equipment but it’s a great park for sitting and watching the world go by. Overlooking the beautiful and serene River Exe, it’s a great spot for picnicking and bird watching. Ive seen herons, cormorants, and swallows and I have been told there have been woodpeckers spotted here too.
We still have plenty of green Exeter to explore, where are your favourites?
For more inspiration see my summer in the city blog for things to do in Exeter.
*Part of this blog was originally included in my column for Exeter LifeTags: Devon Wildlife Trust, Exeter Green Circle, Heavitree pleasure grounds, Ludwell Valley Park, Mincinglake Valley park, St Thomas pleasure grounds, Stoke Hill, The Playpark, whitestone, whitestone park