Hembury Woods Circular Walk, Buckfast, Dartmoor National Park

Hembury Woods Circular Walk, Buckfast, Dartmoor National Park

Hembury Woods (National Trust) are situated near Ashburton and Buckfastleigh on the south eastern border of Dartmoor National Park. Managed by the National Trust, the woods are easily accessible and there are a number of beautiful circular walks to enjoy.

The following route takes you to the top of the woods at Hembury Hillfort before dropping down to a stunning section of the River Dart. The initial uphill section that climbs through the woods gets the heart pumping but it's not particularly demanding. It's then a pleasant descent to the river. This is a short circular walk taking in the central and southern sections of Hembury Woods.


Start at the parking and picnic area in the southern section of the woods 

Head for Buckfastleigh and Buckfast just off the A38 Exeter to Plymouth road. Drive past Buckfast Abbey and take the first right. This takes you past houses on your left and Buckfast Abbey to your right. Very shortly, you'll come to another road. Turn left. Drive for about half a kilometre and then turn right. You'll come to the edge of Hembury Woods. The road climbs to a parking and picnic area in the southern section of the woods. We've positioned this parking area on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see its location.


Follow the path up the hill to Hembury Hillfort

On the other side of the road from the parking area is a wide forestry track. Walk along this for a short distance and you'll see a path on your left that climbs up the side of the woods. As you trudge up the path, you'll see signposts with the word 'FORT' (see photos) carved into them and arrows pointing you in the right direction. This path winds its way up through the woods and cuts across upper forestry tracks until you come to Hembury Hillfort.

Having explored the hillfort, head for the exit on the north side of the enclosure. There's a gate and information board telling the story of the fort. A forestry track runs north west to an upper car park. The track turns north and descends to another forestry track to your right. Follow this track all the way down to the bottom of the woods. You walk with a stream to your left and trees tower above you. It's stunning.


The River Dart

At the bottom of the woods, you'll see another signpost with the word 'RIVER' (see photos) carved into it and an arrow showing you the way to the water. Drop down to the River Dart. Spring and Autumn here are amazing.

Follow the river south and the path leaves the river and climbs through the woods. The National Trust have built steps to help. This path connects with the forestry track you used when first entering the woods. Wander back to the car parking area.


Extending the walk in Hembury Woods

For a longer circular walk, follow the above route but extend into the northern section of the woods. So, yomp up to Hembury Hillfort and follow the forestry track north west to the upper car park. From there, walk the track as it turns north but instead of turning right, continue past Hembury Barn (ruin). Walk north and then east along the track. There are several routes you can take. Consult the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map to see your choices. It's fun to follow the track around the edge of the woods and then drop down to the far north eastern corner by the River Dart. Notices tell you to keep off private land to the north. Just follow the bank of the River Dart south all the way back to the car park as described above.