My favourite local walk is along the River Otter from Budleigh Salterton to Otterton and back. The environment is beautiful and the birds and wildlife abundant. Occasionally we are lucky enough to see Otters, though this is more likely in the early morning. Most days there are Egrets, Swans, ducks and often a Cormorant fishing, Kingfisher zooming past and the ubiquitous Rooks. Alongside the walk there are a variety of trees and vegetation and at least two areas where one can get close to the river, as well as various benches along the route. There are a number of ways to approach the walk but here are my two favourites :
Starting in Lime Kiln Car Park
- You can start by parking in Lime Kiln car park at the East end of Budleigh promenade – yes you do have to pay I’m afraid, but believe me it’s worth it and if you take a car full, you can share the cost!
- Then pause while you admire the beautiful views out to sea, to the east where the iconic row of trees decorate the headland and west across the town to the red cliffs stretching to Sandy Bay and Exmouth.
- Head inland following the signed footpath on the west side of the estuary and simply stay on that path for just under 3 miles till you reach Otterton, where you will find a choice of eating places (Otterton Mill and the Kings Arms are both recommended.)
- If you want to leave your refreshment stop till the return trip, there are a selection of eating places in Budleigh Salterton, including in the summer months, the Long Boat cafe on the promenade and the Kiosk at the Lime Kiln end.
Starting from White Bridge
- If that sounds too much, take your car to White Bridge. This involves driving from Budleigh Salterton towards East Budleigh along East Budleigh Road and just before you pass the end of the 30 mph area, turn right into Granary Lane and immediately left into South Farm road. Drive carefully along the single track –though it is wide and has plenty of passing places – until you come over the bridge.
- Find yourself a parking space which does not impede vehicles delivering to the Farm Shop (also worth a visit.) You can walk from there along the footpath mentioned above to Otterton – or take the path on the eastern side of the river and walk through the tree lined walk till you reach the next bridge, known as Clammer Bridge, reached via a set of steps on your left.
- I advise you to cross and continue up the river on the western side till you reach Otterton. (Another alternative is to head back to White Bridge along the lower path – a modest 2 mile round walk.)
Both options are on fairly easy walking surfaces, option 1 being flat all the way and option 2 only slightly up and downhill, though the steps down to Clammer Bridge might test anyone with “bad knees.” Once you reach the Otterton end, you can continue across the road and follow the footpath signs to extend your walk in the direction of Colaton Raleigh. This stretch is often quieter, includes a weir, lovely river cliffs in typical red sandstone and plenty of good picnic spots. The famous Otter beavers might even put in an appearance! The footpaths along the Otter can be busy at weekends – and are popular with dogwalkers and joggers, so I prefer to walk on weekdays and in the mornings – in fact if you are around about 8-9 am I might even see you.
Featured Image by George Norman