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Exeter City Walk

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Exeter City Walk
Author: Richard, Published: 08 Jul 2012 Walk Rating:star1 Exeter City Walk Walking Guide star1 Exeter City Walk Walking Guide star1 Exeter City Walk Walking Guide star1 Exeter City Walk Walking Guide star0 Exeter City Walk Walking Guide
Walk Type: Town or city
Exeter City Walk
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Exeter City Walk Walking Guide
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A short walk of 3 miles through the ancient city of Exeter following, in part, the city wall of which 70% is still standing. The walk starts at the popular quayside area and passes by the cathedral and through the spectacular Northernhay Gardens with its many statues and Norman castle.

A city in the location of Exeter probably existed before 250BC, with a Roman city founded in AD 50. It has always been an important city for trading and commerce through Saxon, Norman, Elizabethan, the industrial revolution and modern times when it has been described as one of the ten most profitable places for a business to be located in the UK.

Previously regarded as second only to Bath as an architectural site, since the bombing of World War II and subsequent reconstruction Exeter has been a city with some beautiful buildings rather than a beautiful city.

The walk is mostly flat except for the ascent and decent to the quay, and follows well made tarmac paths. There are several road crossings which can be quite busy with traffic. Public toilets are available at the quay at the start of the walk. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

Parking is in the cathedral and quay, pay and display, multi-storey car park. Approximate post code EX1 1DX.

Walk Sections

Start to Chain Ferry
Start to Chain Ferry

Start point: 50.7186 lat, -3.5312 long
End point: 50.7178 lat, -3.5301 long

Leave the cathedral and quay, pay and display, multi-storey car park and make your way down the steps and slope to the quay side and start the walk from the Custom House.

Exeter's historic quayside is one of the most attractive areas of the city, popular with locals and visitors alike for its fascinating history, interesting architecture and lively pubs and restaurants.

There has been a quay in Exeter since Roman times. However, by the 14th century boats could not get up the river to unload, because of weirs built across the river, so in the 1560s John Trew built a canal to provide access to the quayside. Exeter became a wealthy city because of the woollen cloth industry. Cloth produced in the local area was finished at Cricklepit Mill on Exe Island and loaded onto ships at the quay. In 1680 the Custom House was built to house the officials who collected taxes on traded goods.

With your back to the Custom House, walk directly ahead to reach a small inlet of the river. Turn left along the water’s edge and the immediately right over a wooden bridge. Follow the tarmac path under the suspension bridge along the banks of the Exe. Take the next right hand fork to climb the slope to the road bridge. Turn left over the bridge and then left down the steps on the opposite side of the river and then left up the slope to the top and immediately left again back down the path to reach the river. Turn right and walk back towards the quay with the river on your left.

Continue through the park and look for views of the cathedral ahead and to the left. Continue past the suspension bridge and make your way to Butts Chain Ferry that is your return transport across the river. (Adults 30p, Children 20p, dogs free - July 2012). NOTE: If the ferry is not running at the time of your visit, you will need to cross the river via the suspension bridge instead.

Chain Ferry to South Street
Chain Ferry to South Street

Start point: 50.7178 lat, -3.5301 long
End point: 50.7202 lat, -3.5296 long

When reaching the opposite bank turn right and take some time to visit the various craft shops and small cafes housed within the arches of the embankment overlooking the Exe.
The river's name derives from the Celtic word Isca meaning, simply, water.

Pass by some flats and take a left by way of a tarmac lane, Colleton Hill, swinging uphill immediately after Clipper Quay.

At the top of this hill fork right, passing to the left of the Hour Glass Inn. Turn left on to the pavement heading up hill and then cross to the right hand side using the traffic islands. Follow Holloway Street as it swings right then cross over the pedestrian crossings first left then right to meet the Exeter City Council Magdalen car park. Go across the next pedestrian crossing, turn left and enter South Street. Look for the footpath to the right signed city wall walk and visitor centre.

South Street to Cathedral
South Street to Cathedral

Start point: 50.7202 lat, -3.5296 long
End point: 50.7228 lat, -3.529 long

Walk along the footpath known as Little Southern Hay Lane with the city wall on your left. Go up the steps at the end to reach a T-junction with a road. Turn left here to pass under the 1814 wrought iron foot bridge. Walking straight ahead you will emerge into Cathedral Close with Exeter Cathedral on your left.

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter at Exeter was completed by about 1400, and has several notable features, including an early set of misericords, an astronomical clock and the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England. The cathedral was founded in c.1050.

Cathedral to Northernhay Gardens
Cathedral to Northernhay Gardens

Start point: 50.7228 lat, -3.529 long
End point: 50.7263 lat, -3.5286 long

From the cathedral continue straight ahead and from the cobbled street enter the narrow alleyway of Matin’s Lane and pass The Ship Inn on the right. Cross over the High Street and continue ahead into Queen Street. Then turn right into Little Queen Street and continue as it becomes Musgrove Row. Pass by the central library and follow the street as it bends right and then left. Continue straight ahead into Bailey Street and then left into Northernhay Place which is the oldest public open space in England, being originally laid out in 1612

Northernhay Gardens to North Street
Northernhay Gardens to North Street

Start point: 50.7263 lat, -3.5286 long
End point: 50.7235 lat, -3.5344 long

Pass through the gated entrance to the gardens. Continue ahead and take the left fork to follow the walls on your left. Looking at the city walls in Northernhay Gardens you can clearly see the diffrent types of stone used during different building periods from Roman times through Saxon, Norman and 17th Century.

Keep on the level tarmac path passing the statues and beautiful flower beds. Turn left opposite the band stand and look for the information board that provides information about the wall and its building materials. Climb the steps ahead of the information board, also take a chance to look at the views across Exeter from here. After emerging from the tower built into the wall take the right hand fork heading back down.

At the bottom on the left you will be at the Norman Gatehouse of Castle Rougemont built in 1068. This gatehouse is the oldest standing castle building in Britain.
Follow the path as it bends sharp right into another section of the garden. At the fork keep right pass under the arch in the wall and then turn left through Nothernhay Gardens and follow the path down hill to leave the gardens. Cross over Queen Street and travel down Northernhay Street. After a short distance after an 1804 Chapel now used as a cafe turn left down Maddocks Row. Turn right here again following the line of city wall as you head down hill.

Large areas of Exeter were damaged during the second world war. In the 1950s rebuilding started but it has been criticised for being unsympathetic to the history of the city with partly damaged building being demolished instead of repaired. At the T-junction turn right into Paul Street.

North Street to End
North Street to End

Start point: 50.7235 lat, -3.5344 long
End point: 50.7191 lat, -3.5313 long

At the crossroads turn left uphill into North Street and then cross over the High Street and straight ahead into South Street.

As South Street reaches the junction turn right over the first pair of crossings and the left over the set of three crossings. Turn right along the pavement past some flats on the left.

The city provides strong industries and services for example The Met Office, the main weather forecasting organisation for the UK and one of the most significant in the world, relocated from Bracknell in Berkshire to Exeter in early 2004. It is one of the three largest employers in the area (together with the University of Exeter and Devon County Council).

Just before you reach the bridge over the road turn left down the tarmac footway with a stretch of the all running on your right. Continue down this park to reach the quay side, and the car park on your right.

Remember...the best way of following our walking guides is to use the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) where you will have all the information in the palm of your hand and see your exact location on the live map as you travel. You can also add comments, photos, ratings and track your own routes.

Check out these resources for your walk

hotels Hostel Directory GetMap Rail

network Exeter City Walk Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by iFootpath and the author Richard and may not be reproduced without permission.

2 Comments for: "Exeter City Walk"

We walked the majority of the walk, which we enjoyed. However the ferry mentioned only runs part of the year and cannot be relied on. We used the nearby bridge to complete that portion of the walk.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thank you for letting us know about the chain ferry. We have added a note within the walk directions, to let people know that they may need to use a bridge instead.

By lesleyb21 on 13 May 2017

Thanks to this suggested walk we really make the most of our 4h staying in Exeter. My 3 children truly enjoy it.

By mgastaut on 11 Apr 2016

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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