A Circular Walk from Landkey to Birch via Harford, East Bradninch and Gunn

This is a walk my husband and I discovered during the Coronavirus lockdown and it has now become one of our favourites.  I’m ashamed to admit that although I was born in Landkey and have lived here for many years I did not know of this walk until last year.

There are a few gentle inclines, but no huge hills so it’s not a very demanding walk in that way, but it’s around seven miles so a fair distance.  There are also eight stiles to climb.  We take our time and it usually takes us around two and a half hours.  We have walked the route in both directions and indeed, the first time, ended up taking quite a detour which added a couple of miles onto the journey because we couldn’t find the right way.  More about this later on.  Anyway, this is the route we prefer. The walk starts and finishes at The Castle Inn in the centre of Landkey.  There is a public car park at the back of the pub which can be used for the walk.  The food in the Castle is excellent so maybe a treat to look forward to at the end of the walk.  The gate in the far corner of the car park takes you into the Millennium Green, a much loved and well used facility and well worth a visit in its own right.

Here you will find the Landkey football ground, a picnic area and 65 mazzard trees, which look absolutely beautiful when in blossom around April/May.  Mazzards are a kind of cherry, native to North Devon.  The delicious black or red fruit is abundant in July, but birds are also partial to the cherries and often strip the trees in a matter of days.

Taking the lower path through the Millennium Green make your way to the far corner where the first stile takes you into a field.  Cross this field, climb over the second stile and across another field.  There are sometimes cows or sheep in these fields so dogs must be kept on a lead. At the far side of the field you will encounter the third stile which takes you onto a lane.  Turn right down the slight hill and in a short distance you will see a bridge which carries the busy A361 link road. 

Before the road was improved this bridge carried the railway.  The bridge was built of stone and had three arches.  It was known unsurprisingly, as “three arch bridge” or “cuckoo bridge”, because if you went under it and called “cuckoo” there was an echo.  Sadly, no more.  Go under the bridge and immediately turn left onto a track to Harford.

Here you will encounter two stiles in quick succession.  Make your way across the field in the direction of the hamlet of Harford which you can see in the distance.  Leave the field through a wooden gate and turn left along a lane for a short distance until you come to a metal gate on the right.  Go through the gate and across two fields. Again keep dogs on leads as there are often sheep or cows in these fields. In the distance you will see another stile leading into Harford woods, also known as Bluebell Woods locally for the carpet of bluebells that can be seen in the spring.  A truly beautiful sight.  In the spring there are other flowers in the hedgerows including wild garlic, stitchwort, primroses and violets.  There are also a lot of squirrels often seen running across the path and up the nearest tree.

This is a beautiful spot so please keep to the footpaths.

Continue along the woodland path until you come to a metal gate.  Go through and down a slope and across a shallow stream.  There are stepping stones to get across.  Make your way across the field until you come to a wooden bridge which takes you into another large field. 

Keeping the stream to your left make your way along the bottom of the field along a well-worn path.  Walking is slightly difficult across this sloping field.  At the other side you will come to yet another stile taking you into a large field. This is where we went wrong on our first attempt at this walk and we went all around this huge field trying to find the way out. Fortunately, we saw two people in their garden and they let us climb over their wall and make our way to the road.  The next time we did the walk the path across the field was better marked and easy to follow.  Just go across the field in the direction of the buildings and chimneys that you can see in the distance, obviously taking care not to walk across any crops.

When you reach the far hedge turn left and after a short distance uphill you will find the last stile of the walk which can be a bit difficult to spot until you are right beside it.  This is the one we missed the first time.

If you turn around and look back towards Harford this is the view that you will see.  Note Codden Hill in the distance.

Follow the path which takes you through a private garden, but with a right of way.  Walk through the garden, taking a moment to admire a lovely lake down to the right, then out via a gravel driveway and onto a lane in East Bradninch.

Turn left and walk to a road junction.  If you want to shorten the walk you could turn left towards Acland Hill and back to Landkey village.  There is another footpath across the fields in front of you that will take you to Goodleigh.  However, to continue this walk, turn right along the lane towards Gunn.  The lane meanders on for a mile or so up a gentle incline.  When we walked this way we had to stop for a good 10 – 15 minutes for a flock of sheep to pass.  There were so many we didn’t think they would ever stop coming.

Continue through the village of Gunn and down a grassy lane past Berry Farm, from where there are more lovely views. Continue down the lane and through a gate into a field and then turn right along the hedge.  In the far corner, maybe slightly overgrown is the footpath that will take you to Birch.  You need to be careful not to miss this.

The path can be slightly muddy, but in the spring it is covered in a profusion of primroses and violets.  Eventually you will come to a gate into a field.  Make your way across the top hedge of this field to another small gate on the far side.

This will take you into the small hamlet of Birch.  From here make your way down a road, through Birch Woods.  When we did this walk we were lucky enough to see a herd of deer on the far hillside so keep a look out.  The woods are beautiful, though I always think slightly creepy! 

This road will eventually take you back to the A361 road bridge you went under earlier.  Going under the bridge you have a choice of ways back to Landkey.  You can retrace your steps and go back over the fields to the Millennium Green car park and this is probably the quickest way.  However, if you turn to the left this will take you towards Landkey bridge where you can either re-enter the Millennium Green through a small park, or continue on and turn right up the main road to the Castle.  Alternatively, after you have gone under the A361 road bridge you could turn right and then first left which again will take you back to the village.


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