This is a great circular walk with a bit of something for everyone, and lots of options to link it to longer walks or cut it short if need be. Mostly along a surfaced path it is suitable for pushchairs, but due to current flood structure works, some of the paths are diversions and a bit rough underfoot, so better for an off road buggy.
Whilst you could start this walk in a few places, there is easy and free parking off School lane near Countess Wear and any bus that travels along Topsham Road would drop you nearby. Walk down Mill Road and find the footpath sign on the right that takes you into Mill Lane.
Here you will find the ruins of the old Paper Mill, along with an interesting information board that shows how it would have looked when it was a busy, functioning mill in Victorian times. There is a separate leat for the mill and the footpath continues along a bridge over this.
After passing the mill cottages, the very clearly signposted footpath continues alongside the river on the opposite bank to the rear of the crematorium and Northbrook golf course. The University have playing fields to the left of the path. Whilst popular with dog walkers and close to houses, this is a very quiet and pleasant walk with a sense of taking time out from the busyness of the main routes that are so close by.
There are lots of spots where dogs can enter the river or those with wellies could paddle before you reach the Salmonpool area at the entrance to the University Playing fields at Duckes Marsh. Here to the left are some wooden structures to sit and play on and lots of open space to run around or eat a picnic. Ahead of you is St James’ Weir where Salmon can be spotted at the right time of year.
As you cross the footbridge, there is a play park ahead of you for children to enjoy before you turn back along the river on this side of the river now. Isca school is now to your left and the path turns away from the river after a short while to accommodate building works. here the path is slightly rougher but still surfaced. There is a new play area in the housing estate here that looks worthy of a diversion too. The path is clearly signposted alongside the crematorium ground and you cross the entrance drive before rejoining the river. (A small diversion across grass at the golf course is currently in place here!)
This path returns you to the watermill where you can then retrace your steps to where you started. There are the Tally Ho! and Countess Wear pubs nearby if you’re looking for refreshments afterwards..