The Discovery Trail at Haldon has long been a favourite of ours and has always been popular with many due to its surfaced, reasonably flat paths, great views and play provisions en route. There are wooden musical instruments, benches, viewing platforms, dens and huts, all of which mean little legs can be encouraged to get to the next one before a snack and a sit down.
The addition of the Gruffalo trail and, more recently, the Gruffalo Spotter app have made it an even more fun route. There are clues as to which animal you will see next and then opportunities to use the app to ‘see’ and photograph yourself with that creature. (Whilst the app is fun and an exciting novelty, it is by no means essential and the walk works well without it as well.)
To start the walk you can park at the main ‘hub’ at Haldon. There is a parking charge (£3 for 2 hours off peak, more at peak times or for longer) or you can buy a parking permit from the Rangers Office. This can be good value if you plan to visit a lot or for whole days. It also allows you free parking at the wonderful Bellever on Dartmoor. There are toilets, dog bins, a huge play/sand pit and a fab café The Ridge, all also situated near the car park.
The Discovery Trail begins by crossing the road opposite the entrance to the car park and is clearly sign posted from here. There is another road crossing further round (to bring you back) so those taking children on bikes and letting dogs off lead should bear that in mind. This route is incredibly popular and also intersects with other routes on the way round, so care is needed particularly at busy times to ensure children/dogs and bikes don’t get tangled up or obstruct each other.
On clear days there are wonderful views across the hills, out to the Haldon Belvedere and over the estuary out to sea. Whilst is the path is a good accessible route, there are also plenty of wooded areas close by for children to explore and hide in too. All the wooden instruments and structures and all the Gruffalo Trail clues are very close to the path so can be found and enjoyed by very young children without too much help.
The route brings you in a loop to the play clearing where there are swings, a mini climbing wall, picnic tables and a…. ‘oh help….oh no…a…a….Gruffalo!’ He’s actually very relaxed and happy to pose for pictures! If you look closely, nearby his friend The Stick Man is also to be found and posed with too.
From here it’s a short way back to the car park for the toilets and café before heading home. If you would prefer a longer, more challenging walk you could try one of the other routes. Read more about our exploration on The Raptor Trail here. If you fancy something a bit less popular but with a similar feel to the Discovery Trail, you will find Mamhead a quieter route. Let us know what your favourite bit of Haldon is!