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Top woodland walks for autumn colour around Tavistock

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

As the nights turn colder and leaves drop from the trees, Tavistock’s enviable location nestled between the vast moorland that is Dartmoor and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty of the Tamar Valley means there are plenty of places to walk and enjoy Autumn colour and crisp November air.

We don’t know about you, but we find the misty mornings, the fresh feeling on your face and the sound as you crunch through leaves on the ground so heart-warming, so evocative and exhilarating.

Here are our top places to enjoy the outdoors in late Autumn while you are here in Tavistock.

Tavistock Canal – Tavistock | W3W precautions.entry.region | Grid Ref SX 48220 74332

The abundance of deciduous trees make this walk a beauty in autumn. The colourful leaves glint serenely in the still water of the Tavistock Canal. A simple, flat route of about 4 miles, you can turn back at any point but it’s so peaceful, why would you?

Starting in the town centre, this walk follows the River Tavy, passing by the remains of the town’s medieval abbey and through The Meadows, an attractive park which includes a popular children’s playground, tennis courts and bowling green. Crossing over the Meadows you join the canal, built during the early 1800s to transport copper from the rich mines around Tavistock to the bustling port of Morwellham on the River Tamar. The walk continues along the flat through quiet woodlands, taking in Crowndale Farm, the birth place of Sir Francis Drake and as far as the Grade-2 listed viaduct over the River Lumburn. Built in 1889, the viaduct spans 700 feet to a maximum height of 100 feet courtesy of 12 arches (Williams, 1973; Historic England, 2019). It’s an impressive sight and testament to the workmanship of those who built it 130 years ago.


Lydford Gorge – Lydford | W3W view.cello.landscape | Grid Ref SX 50097 83222

This walk takes in the deepest river gorge in the South West and the 30m high Whitelady Waterfall. It’s an astonishing sight to behold. The river is surrounded on all sides by ancient oak woodland, which makes for some truly spectacular autumn colour. Alongside the orange carpet of leaves, you may see different fungi popping up when the conditions are just right.

Starting at Lydford Gorge Waterfall Car Park, pass through a small wooden gate, down round a sharp right-hand bend and left to go under the old railway bridge. Continue on the path which bends to the left, past the no entry gate on your right until you come to where the path splits into two. Take the path on the right which will take you down over 200 uneven steps that zig zag down the side of the gorge to get to the base of Whitelady Waterfall. Return the way you came.

A relatively short walk of 1 mile but the steps are not for the faint-hearted! The sights, smells and sounds of this ancient woodland are well worth the effort. Please be careful as the ground and rocks can be slippery.


Hill Bridge - Horndon | W3W nation.gratuity.hops | Grid Ref SX 52400 80700

The area around Tavistock is rich with industrial heritage and this splendid autumn walk takes you through pretty woodland littered with reminders of the past and up onto open moorland with some terrific views. The walk is about 4 miles on a mixture of lanes, tracks and moorland. Park on the roadside opposite a row of old cottages with a track off to the left.

Leaving the row of old miners’ cottages on your left, walk down the road towards Horndon. Go over the cattle grid and past a former chapel, with a huge monkey puzzle tree. Turn left at the T-junction by the post box and left again after Furzemans Farm. The tarmac road gives way to a rough, rocky lane. Continue down until you reach the Hill Bridge Leat, which once served the copper mines of Wheal Friendship and now provides water for the Mary Tavy Hydro Electric power station. Go left over the stile to walk up the leat towards Hill Bridge itself. Once you reach Hill Bridge, climb up the ladder at the weir and walk left up the lane and around a sharp bend. Continue on past Hilltown Farm and bear left at a road junction signed for Horndon. Go straight on until the lane goes sharp left. Here you continue straight ahead on a public bridleway. Go through the moor gate, bearing left along the wall. Once through another gateway and past a fenced-off shaft, head towards the Wheal Jewell Reservoir building which gets its name from an old tin and arsenic mine last worked in WWI. There is a stony track that takes you back to the car.

Credit: Tavistock Ramblers


Pew Tor & Sampford Spiney | W3W dairies.bypassed.keys | SX 51700 71900

Starting on open moorland, this walk follows the Grimstone and Sortridge leat, climbs up to Pew Tor and brings you back through the village of Sampford Spiney, where you can enjoy quiet country lanes protected by canopies of ancient trees. This is a walk of contrasts – from wild, open moorland to sheltered, colourful lanes. A true breath of fresh air!

Walking away from the car park with Pew Tor ahead of you, follow the leat on the left. Continue walking across Plasterdown, crossing two roads and through a small ford in the leat, until you reach the bottom of Pew Tor. The vista from the top of this tor is stunning and well worth a climb, with Tavistock nestled in the valley below and far-reaching views towards Cornwall. Once you have collected your breath, head south towards Sampford Spiney, with Plymouth Sound in the distance (on a fine day, of course!). You can take a small detour to see if you can spot the elusive goldfish in the flooded quarry on your right. Head down towards a pair of houses to reach a lane. Turn left, then right following the lane into Sampford Spiney. Be sure to visit the Church before walking down past the old village cross and Tudor manor house. Cross the lane and follow the public footpath across two fields until you reach another lane. Here you turn right, walk up the hill and then turn left at open moorland back to your car.

Credit: Tavistock Ramblers


Double Waters - Grenofen | W3W films.prosper.bead | Grid Ref SX 48966 70942

This is woodland at its best and there is simply no better place than to breathe in the wonder of nature. Where the River Walkham meets the mighty River Tavy, the river is relatively shallow and slow moving. Dappled sunlight streams through a forest of wild oak to create a magical experience. You feel a sense of wonder in the woodland, as though time stands still, and you have entered the realm of fairies! The walk from the car park takes about 45 minutes but it is very easy going and a pleasant hike. This is a perfect family-friendly outing. Even the fairies would agree!

From the car park, cross over the bridge to take the footpath on the left down the other side of the river. Follow the well-trodden trail through the woodland until you reach Double Waters. Return to the car park on the same path.


Burrator Reservoir |W3W bars.lots.gossiped | Grid Ref SX 55071 68033

There is so much to see and do at Burrator so we recommend popping into the Burrator Discovery Centre to pick up some leaflets on all the walks on offer. Burrator is full of atmosphere from dramatic tors, open moorland, historic settlements to a Nature Reserve. There is no shortage of trees here to bring joy and wonder.

The Burrator Reservoir Circular walk is flat and easy along road and forest pathways. You can start this walk at any point but the best places for parking are at the dam or Norsworthy Bridge. It takes about 2 hours.

Head east along the spectacular dam wall and follow the road until you come to a path on your left that passes through a gate and along the Sheepstor dam wall. The view is spectacular with the autumn colours reflecting off the still water - you may even think you are in Scotland! Once on the other side, the path follows the edge of the reservoir to the ruins of Longstone Manor. Continue on the path, turning left until you reach Narrator Brook and the banks of the River Meavy. Follow the path slightly uphill to cross the river and arrive at Norsworthy Bridge. Before the bridge, take the footpath on the left into the woodland towards the edge of the reservoir. The trail continues on here, with great views of the water, until it takes you up and back to the road. Follow the road, past the Discovery Centre on your left, until you return to the dam.


Denham Woods – Bere Ferrers | W3W lyricist.matrons.figure| Grid Ref SX 47503 67679

Denham Wood circles the River Tavy near Bere Alston and there are a number of unmarked trails for you to explore. The contrast of the autumn colours with the peaty water of the river, makes this a very picturesque walk and peaceful way to spend to a few hours. Denham Bridge, which crosses the River Tavy, is thought to date from the 17th century and is a popular local beauty spot.

Park your car at Denham Wood Forestry Commission car park and follow the main road down until just before the bridge when you take the path on the right. Follow the river until you come across an unmarked path on your left which continues to skirt along the river. Eventually the path starts to upwards into the forest and away from the river, taking a rather sharp right turn. Follow this track now for 1 mile until you return to the car park.

This 3-mile circular walk takes about 2 hours.

Before you leave town, be sure to check out Dolvin Road Cemetery (W3W pest.flip.drip | SX 48290 74396) for some easy access colour with some history thrown in.

And if trees are your thing, or you simply fancy finding out a bit more about the terrific trees of Tavistock (and there are many) pick up our Branch Out trail from the Visitor Information Centre. It's jam-packed full of things you didn't know about the green space that surrounds us right in the heart of town.

And that's it for now! Plenty of open spaces to enjoy and feel alive. Afterwards, be sure to warm up at one of the cosy places to eat in town!

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