26. Raleigh's Devon: East Budleigh - Shortwood Common (circular) - 4 miles - OS Landranger 192
Like many villages, and towns like Sidmouth, East Budleigh has Saxon origins (c.700 CE). But that was the Dark Ages and, as usual, there’s nothing obvious remaining of the period. A pretty place, it's also the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh, hero villain adventurer and founder of the first English settlement in America. An information board in the village car park gives you lots lots more. That’s where this walk starts.
Exiting the car park entrance, turn right. Hayes Barton, Walter’s first home, is a mile ahead along this quiet and pleasant lane.
East Devon, with its rich soil, is a rewarding place to farm, and Hayes Barton, private but visible from the lane, has all the signs that the good times aren’t over. It looks lovely.
Now retrace your steps a few yard and turn right up a drive to Hayeswood Cottage, entering Hayes Wood as you pass it. Keep to the signposted path.
Usually pine plantations are regimented dull affairs but these trees are tall mature and impressive. I could get poetic but why ruin your day.
Coming out at a Hayeswood track, turn right. After a hundred yards or so, another track on your left appears. A footpath sign points straight on here but ignore it and take the left one (Shortwood Track).
This track is deeply rutted in parts but easy walking when dry.
At a four-way junction about a quarter of a mile along keep straight on. Shortwood Common is to your left. Where the track veers right, away from the common, there's a choice of two lefts. Go sharp left, climbing through more pine and keeping straight ahead to eventually reach a clearing. Keeping straight, go through a gate and into a field leading back to Hayeswood track. Cross over the track to a footpath leading back to East Budleigh.
The path/track continues alongside grazing land, overflowing when I was there with contented-looking cows.
Coming to a T junction, go left, then right at Hayes Lane to return to the car park.
Before returning to your car, have a look around the village. It has uniquely daft thatch signatures everywhere, as if Disney paid a visit and couldn't resist interfering. Oh well.
More tasteful is the statue of Walter by the church. The local pub looks good too.
Not tried it yet, but I will. And when I do I'll update you.