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24 September 2014

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Take a step back in time at Plym Woods
The viaduct and river in Plymbridge Woods
The river under the viaduct in Plymbridge Woods
The Plym Bridge Woods provide a haven of peace for the people of Plymouth - but this area has an industrial past and there are tell-tale signs of the woods' history everywhere you look.
By: Laura Joint.
Take an interactive walk around Plymouth's historic waterfront.
AudioListen to Laura Joint and BBC Radio Devon's Jo Bishop, as they explore the Ply Bridge Woods.
Plym Bridge Woods Walk

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Peregrine falcons return to woods

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The grid reference is SX525586;map is Ordnance Survey South Devon Outdoor Leisure 20.

From the Marsh Mills roundabout in Plymouth, head towards Plympton.

Turn left at a mini-roundabout about one mile on. Plym Woods is signed.

Turn left at a second mini-roundabout. Stay on this road, which goes uphill, then narrows and drops down to the car park.

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If you were feeling particularly energetic, you could walk the entire length of the Plym Trail from Point Cottage, Laira Bridge, Plymouth, to Clearbrook on Dartmoor.

That's 7.5 miles (15 mile round trip), so on this dark, gloomy December day, we decided to keep it short!

We began the walk at Plym Bridge Car Park (for directions, see left) and walked to the viaduct at Cann Quarry. The walk there and back was 2.5 miles and it took around an hour and a half.

Bridge over the trail
A bridge over the trail
The walk from Plym Bridge to Clearbrook (where there's a lovely pub) is 4.75 miles if you want to extend the walk.

From the car park, the walk is sign-posted on the left, near the entrance to the car park. Then, veer right onto the Plym Trail section of the National Cycle network.

This takes you through the higher part of the woods, with the river down below.

The cycle track is a good surface, so is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs - however, take care, as this is a cycle route!

Along this path, you can see why this area was quarried during the industrial revolution, as the cliffs are of slate, covered in ferns, mosses and lichens.

A series of tram and railway lines were built to bring granite down from Dartmoor and to transport the slate from the quarries.

Remains of an old building
The remains of an old house
The latest line to be built was the South Devon and Tavistock Railway, which Brunel worked on. It was later taken over by the Great Western Railway and was closed in 1962 - now, it's the cycle route.

There are other remnants of the quarrying era too, including the shells of old buildings which were probably used by families involved in the industry.

There's one great example just before you reach what is perhaps the most spectacular section of the walk - Cann Viaduct.

From here, you can look down to the river and across to Cann Quarry where peregrine falcons can be seen during the summer months.

The river beside the viaduct
The river, beside the viaduct
We went down the steps at the viaduct and walked under the structure to make our way back on the lower level, beside the river.

Really, the best time to do this walk is in the spring, when there are bluebells, primroses and foxgloves to be seen.

The 200-acre woods are also alive with birds and other wildlife - again, spring time is best.

The woods are maintained by the National Trust, and the charity has carried out a lot of work here in the past few years.

Whether you opt for the long, medium or short walk, this is a lovely place to visit - and it's suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Article published: 21st December 2004.

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