Fancy a trek? Here are the eight best day trips for Exeter University students

Taking ‘I know a spot’ to the extreme


As the sun is increasingly making more appearances (once a month), the weekend becomes open to far more activities than just freezing outside a packed Old Timers and being regretfully in the pits the following day. With the weather getting less gloomy, you might want to make the most of the sun and if you do I can certainly help out with some recommendations. As someone who has explored Devon for the past three years, I am constantly badgered by my friends for weekend trip recommendations. Honestly, I’ve had enough (sorry Jess).

I have decided to make everyone’s lives easier and compile a list of some of the best weekend trips you can do with your housemates, friends or even solo: Tried and tested by yours truly. Some of these places are well-known (no, not Dartmoor or Exmouth) and some are lesser known, I’m refusing to gatekeep. Here’s a range of some wholesome weekend activities that you can have at the ready when people ask “what do you even do in Exeter, I heard the nightlife is terrible”.

1. The Hunstman and Fisherman path at Castle Drogo for a Sunday roast and a long walk

Starting strong with one of the best spots in my wheelhouse, 30 minutes by car or an hour and a half by bus, this trip is certainly worth a visit if you can manage to gather the troops on a Sunday. Castle Drogo, the newest castle in England, offers a circular path that starts and ends at a free car park. This path offers a range of experiences, from beautiful hilltop views to a lush forest following a river and even a beautiful riverside pub. There truly isn’t anything to dislike (except the small incline at the end of the path, don’t say I didn’t warn you) and if you go on an especially hot summer day, there are some great wild swimming spots. I would suggest coming here on a Sunday so you can stop at the pub halfway along the path for a cheeky pint and Sunday roast.

Postcode: EX6 6PB

2. Mamhead Forest for a picnic

I’ve kept this spot hidden throughout my three years but as I’m graduating soon I think its free game from here on out. Only reachable by car, this spot boasts the best view of Exmouth estuary and all it takes is a five minute walk from the carpark, I think we can all manage that right? Not to mention there is an incredible coffee van at the entrance. This place is especially good for a wholesome picnic, walk, run, or dog watching (seriously it seems everyone and their mothers walk their dogs here). This is suited to a shorter day trip for the more busy students out there who frequent the library on a weekend but still need a break like the rest of us. Trust me on this and go here on a clear and sunny day. Small word of caution, I did get bitten by a dog here once. It was a cute dog though, and I still go back… that’s how great it is.

Postcode: EX6 3HG

3. Start Point for the best sunrise

This one is definitely for the early birds: If you want to start your morning with a life changing view, Start Point is where you need to go. I recommend getting there 30-45 minutes before sunrise as there is a short coastal walk down to a lighthouse where you can get the best view of the sunrise and the south coast. Bring some snacks, coffee and a blanket (maybe even some relaxing tunes) and enjoy being some of the only people for miles. I don’t want to ruin it by saying too much, and honestly, it’s hard to put this one into words, but sacrificing the lie-in is worth it for the view alone.

Postcode: TQ7 2ET

4. Fishermans Cot for a scenic pub trip

A pub with a thatched roof, on the river, with a pub garden, lit by fairy lights: What’s not to like? A 20 minute drive or 30 minute bus will deliver you to the most wholesome drinks spot near Exeter, I recommend coming here at sunset and ordering the house wine (sadly not for the designated driver) and enjoying the river. It makes for an unforgettable evening and a nice change from The Vic or The Black Horse.

Postcode: EX16 8RW

5. Wimbleball Lake for a walk

The resident rowers might already know this spot, but bear with me. Only accessible by car (find yourself a friend with a car because this one is a must), this lake sits one hour away from Exeter. With a huge dam, a café, and a considerably large amount of bird watchers who will always say hello when you walk past, this lake is a great place to have a breather from the fast pace of uni life. To walk around the whole lake takes around four hours, but I recommend just walking from the carpark to the dam if you want a good idea of the lake, I mean lakes pretty much look the same from all angles surely!?

Postcode: TA4 2DS

6. Lynton and Lynmouth for a village adventure

An adorable village that sits in a valley with something you have probably never seen before, an old steam train that scales an incredibly steep cliff to another village. Possibly one to avoid if you are scared of heights, but visiting this spot is a perfect day trip. Both villages contain a host of local shops and some of the best sausage rolls around. If you have more of an adventurous side there is a cliff path (The South West Coast Path) to a secret beach that will honestly make you question if you have ever see true nature before. This is certainly one to do with all your friends, bring a packed lunch and enjoy the peaceful and breathtaking little villages of Lynton and Lynmouth and the odd choice of cliff transport between them.

Postcode: EX35 6AR

7. Woolacombe for a beach trip that isn’t Exmouth

One and a half hours by car, three hours by bus; I know it seems like a trek but it’s worth it for the longest and widest beach I’ve ever seen. There are two adorable towns in walking distance and a great walk along the coastline. Woolacombe Beach has everything from hot lifeguards to surfers, aggressive seagulls to overpriced ice cream. Despite those last two I really suggest going here and exploring on a Saturday or Sunday. Swimming, reading, and walking, are all suited to Woolacombe and I can promise you that coming here will save you from running into people you know, a prerequisite of Exmouth beach trips.

Postcode: EX34 7BW

8. Spekes mill at Heartland Quay for a waterfall, beach trip and pub day out

The triple threat. This has it all, if you want to feel like you are in Bali come here (this is coming from someone who has never been to Bali). With empty beaches, an adorable pub and scenic views, this is another great day trip. Just under two hours by car (no bus sorry), this is a great place for a long day in the sun with your mates. I briefly remember seeing some horses too, but that could have been the dehydration from going in June with no water… please go here (and bring water), it makes for some of the best experiences, and of course the best photos.

Postcode: EX39 6DB

Now that I have officially handed over my secret spots, don’t make me regret it. I really hope that the sun lets you try them out. However, independent of how the sun is acting, you can always keep these in your back pocket for when uni life gets boring, or you just need to get away from it all for a day. I hope you have found this inspirational and please, remember to make the most of what Devon has to offer whilst you are down here!

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