The vision for the Clyst Valley Trail is for a predominantly traffic-free route connecting the Exe Estuary Trail with Killerton House. The trail will be built as four sections, each of which will connect into the existing Rights of Way network.
At Clyst St Mary the trail will link to the Exeter traffic-free network via the medieval bridge, a historic crossing over the river. The preferred alignment would cross floodplain meadows to the tranquil village of Sowton. At Blackhorse Inn, there are links west to the Science Park and east to the airport, Skypark and onwards to Cranbrook.
This walk follows the preferred route of the Clyst Valley Trail across flower-strewn water-meadows from the Half Moon Inn at Clyst St Mary to Sowton and then to Blackhorse Inn.
Like a braided river, there are some other routes that you could travel. If the water-meadows are flooded you could follow Bishops Court Lane to Sowton. If you are travelling by train you could start the walk at Digby & Sowton Station.
Starting the walk at the Half Moon Inn, Clyst St Mary
4. Walk up Frog Lane to Newhouse Farm. You have a choice of routes at the grade II listed Newhouse Farm. The best route follows the footpath north across the water-meadows and flood plains of the River Clyst. If the fields are flooded, right turn and head along Bishop's Court Lane (take care with traffic) and through 7. Bishop's Court Park to Sowton.
5. The River Clyst meanders across the flood plain. These fields were reclaimed from marsh land and are criss-crossed with drainage ditches that provide habitats for a diversity of plants and animals.
6. Sowton village retains its historic character only a stone's throw from Exeter. The parish church of St Michael and All Angels is built from ‘Heavitree Breccia’.
Here you have a choice of paths:
7. Turn right and follow the old carriage drive through a tunnel of leaves towards Bishop's Court. Bird song returns you to Andrew Marvell's 'green thought in a green shade'. Passing over the Clyst and into Bishop's Court Park you can imagine the deer that may have grazed here before the field reverted to farming. Bishop's Court Lane (take care with traffic) will take you back to Clyst St Mary for a circular walk.
8. From Sowton, carry straight along the road to the Blackhorse Inn. This is the proposed route of the Clyst Valley Trail. The route will eventually continue to Killerton via Mosshayes and West Clyst. From Blackhorse Inn you can get the 44A bus to Honiton or Axminster or the 4,4A,or 44A to Exeter. You could also walk to Exeter Science Park.
9. From Sowton, turn left either along the road or along the footpath to Taylor's Brake. Cross the A30 at the pedestrian crossings and walk up to Exeter Science Park. There is a cafe and toilets are available for visitors. From here you can catch the 4, 4A or 44A buses to Exeter or the 44A bus to Honiton or Axminster.
Starting the walk at Digby and Sowton Railway Station
1. Walk to Sidmouth Road and take time to examine the sandstone cliff at the Bishop's Court play area. This cliff was built up from sand dunes in the desert that covered this area of Devon during the Permian and Triassic around 250 million years ago.
2. Carefully follow the footpaths around the north side of Sandygate Roundabout. To the of the roundabout is Clyst Heath, the site of a battle during the Prayerbook Rebellion in 1549
3. Clyst St Mary Bridge with its causeway is considered to be the oldest surviving medieval bridge in Devon outside the city of Exeter.
How to get here without a car
- Car parking
Sowton or Digby Park and Ride
Facilities are available for customers of the Half Moon Inn, Blackhorse Inn and Exeter Science Park Cafe
Traffic: Bishop's Court Lane may not be suitable for families with young children.
Water levels: The River Clyst is tidal as far as Newcourt Barton. There is an river level monitoring station just north of Newhouse Farm