Walking is hands-down one of the most popular pastimes in my newly adopted home of Britain, and since I was recently in South Devon (easily one of its most ravishing regions), I figured it was time to get out there and give it a whirl.
While great British walks take many forms, from treks along peaks and rocky coasts to gentle ambles through magnificent middles of nowhere, there was only one type of walk that I wanted to tackle first: the pub walk.
Yes, the venerable pub walk is the art of strolling for a few hours in the countryside and then settling in for a pint and a hearty meal, and I assure you, you’re definitely going to want to take one when you come here next.
Luckily for all of us, there is an extensive network of trails here, making it easy to plan a stroll that passes right by a cozy, inviting, and ‘pinch-me-I’m-in-Britain’ pub. We chose to walk from the lovely riverside town of Totnes to the Watermans Arms at Bow Bridge, and it went a little something like this:
After observing how the Totnes locals live (rather eclectically as it turns out), we bid farewell and gently climbed into the hills, being immediately covered by a canopy of greenery – a much welcome shelter on a sunny day.
It only took a few minutes for the other reason we chose this walk to come into focus on the left: the River Dart. The path we were trodding on, The Dart Valley Trail, mostly follows right along this river, offering vistas down to the water and the idyllic hills opposite. Docked sailboats dominated the scene at first, but soon gave way to serene scenes of slow-moving water and marsh.
We snapped a few photos, continued on our path, and before we knew it, were surrounded by a field full of furry beasts. They’re called sheep, and while this may seem unusual, public foothpaths in Britain make their way across all sorts of privately-owned farms; but as long as you close the gate behind you, you are welcome and, most importantly, legally allowed.
After that, it was a bit of an ascent to Ashprington, a quaint-as-can-be village filled with cottages, a 14th Century church, and no visible signs to Bow Bridge, where the Watermans Arms is located.
Undeterred, we pressed on, and after a few minutes and one “if we don’t see it around this corner, we’re turning back”, we heard water burbling from behind a thicket of trees, and turned the corner to find the Watermans Arms in all its glory. We crossed the medieval stone bridge and claimed a table right by the creek, where we relaxed, dined, and Instagrammed in travel heaven.
Residing in a rustic 17th Century cottage-style inn adorned with flowers besides a babbling brook, even if they had served average food here it would have been a trip-making experience. Far from it though, as we were impressed with the Watermans Arms fare from start to finish, and for a first pub walk, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
We couldn’t linger too long though, as a decadent Devonshire Cream Tea back in quirky and cool Totnes was waiting for us.
Yep, I think I am going to like this walking thing.
Good To Know If You Go:
Length: Approximately 6.5 miles or two hours (ish) round-trip. Map and more info here.
Steepness – 3/10 (one 10 minute uphill stretch).
What to Order: We loved our lobster & crab burgers, and they pair perfectly with a glass of white wine from the Watermans Arms’ impressive list or a fresh-poured pint of real ale.
An earlier version of this post appeared on TravelPulse