Gentle summer walks don’t come more scenic than the Exe Estuary Trail, from Exeter to Cockwood, with the option of several places to stop for a drink along the way.
From home it’s a 20 minute walk to the beginning of the historic Exeter Ship canal (1560s) where the trail begins, hugging the glittering waterside throughout its length. I enjoy a reviving cup of tea at the quirky, quaint Topsham Lock Cottage, which opens as a café between 28 June and 25 August, Mondays and Tuesdays excepted.
At Turf Locks the canal joins the wild, sprawling estuary and The Turf, one of the few pubs in the country not accessible by road, sits imposingly on the water’s edge, busy with summer trade. From here you can take a ferry across to the maritime village of Topsham.
At Cockwood (pronounced Cock’ood) by the locals!) I dive into the picturesque Anchor Inn on the harbour front and sink a well deserved pint of Otter ale after my ten mile walk. The Anchor Inn is over 450 years old and was originally opened as a Seamen’s Mission. It was a haven for smugglers and is said to be haunted by a friendly ghost and his dog. The interior is certainly dark and a little gloomy.
From Starcross I take the hourly ferry across to Exmouth and wander to the opening of the Exe Estuary, where conditions are perfect for kite and wind surfing, before hopping on a train back to Exeter.
Buoy 3430, a Class II gas buoy, built in 1922, situated on a narrow spit of land between the River Exe and Exeter Ship Canal at the entrance to Exeter’s Riverside Valley Park.
Double Locks Pub, Exeter
Exe Estuary Trail, with Topsham Lock Cottage in the background
Topsham Lock Cottage
Ahhhh! Nice cuppa tea at Topsham Lock Cottage Café
The remains of Brunel’s Atmospheric Railway pumping house at Starcross
The Anchor Inn at Cockwood
Ferry jetty, Starcross
Starcross to Exmouth Ferry
Sea wall at Exmouth
Kite and wind surfing, Exmouth