By: Blonde Two

We are very lucky here in Devon to have some of the UK’s most beautiful spaces right on our actual and almost doorsteps. With Dartmoor National Park in the south and Exmoor National Park in the north, we are one of only two counties to have two National Parks. We also have some of the most astounding and varied coastline you could wish to visit.

Coronavirus hasn’t changed that but it has changed, for now, the way we visit our outdoor spaces. We all need to balance our desire to be outside against the latest government advice to keep our distance and stay alert. All this week, police have been reporting problems with overcrowding and inconsiderate parking. The problem is of course that we all want to walk, cycle and relax in our favourite spot, which is so often exactly where other people want to be.

The National Parks and coastal regions are doing their best to keep everybody, their visitors, their staff and their locals safe. You can find the latest coronavirus updates for the National Trust, Dartmoor National Park and Exmoor National Park here but our advice would be to stay away from popular inland and coastal locations for now. The plea from our tourism organisations and police is not to travel into the area or too far from home but, if you are a Devon local, we have some top tips for getting outside safely and avoiding the crowds this weekend.

Look at local routes first

If you live in Devon, the good news is that you probably aren’t too far away from a lovely outdoor spot. Walking from your doorstep has lots of advantages, the most obvious one being that, if we all did that, we would be fairly well spaced out. With many toilets and car parks still closed, driving to a location might end up being more fraught than fun. To help you find local routes we can really recommend Ordnance Survey’s OS Maps app. You can access the basic street map and green space layers without a subscription and OS are offering a 7-day free trial should you require access to more detailed information. Don’t forget that exploring local footpaths and alleyways can be exciting and perhaps even encourage you to walk more in the future.

Find close-to-home outdoor spaces

Avoiding the crowds can be difficult if you don’t know where they are going to be but we do have a few tips to help you. The first thing to do is turn your back on the internet for a few minutes (we promise, you will survive). The problem with internet searches is that they share their information with lots of people so you can bet that the ‘lonely wood’ that appears on your screen will also be on hundreds of other screens. You will find the same problem with sat nav apps such as Google Maps. Instead how about digging out your local A to Z and paper maps and having a look.

Driving to outdoor locations at the moment has multiple issues, the main one being that many car parks are closed and the ones that are open are quickly becoming too crowded for safety. To keep yourself and people around you safe, try to plan an outing with ‘exploration’ rather than ‘destination’ in mind. That way you will be far less likely to end up in the same place as everybody else. If you are short on local outdoor space ideas how about:

  • Looking for footpaths and bridleways near your home (green dotted lines on an Ordnance Survey map)
  • Exploring some of Devon’s fascinating and beautiful green lanes (stick to those that are rights of way)
  • Finding local waterways (canal tow paths are often beautiful)
  • Walking a lesser known section of the South West Coast Path (you might be surprised how close this is to your front door)
  • Turning your outing into a walking game (home made bingo cards are a lot of fun)
  • Finding a local woodland (lying underneath trees gives you a whole new perspective)
  • Trying to walk as far north, east, south or west as you can from your doorstep

Keep moving

This one goes further into the idea of exploration rather than destination, and is really a bit of common sense. If we all keep moving, we are far more likely to spread ourselves out than if we congregate together (especially at beauty spots). Sitting in the sunshine is lovely but several short breaks in lesser known spots are far more likely to keep you safely away from other people than a longer one in a hotspot. If you usually plan your walks around cafes, we can definitely recommend taking a flask with you.

Stay at home

You might be fed up of life in the house but if you are lucky enough to have a garden, you could well find that a weekend there is far more relaxing than one out and about getting frustrated and trying to avoid the crowds. If you haven’t tried garden camping yet we Blondes can recommend it, and of course, taking your camp stoves into the garden is a great alternative to lighting a fire. If it rains (which seems unlikely) consider practicing your tarp pitching or make yourself a den.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend we hope you find some time to Get Outside and enjoy our lovely UK green spaces safely.

Dartmoor Tors – Quiz Tor

The blonde guide to local lockdown travel

Torquay beach walks – Anstey’s Cove circular