Online Columnist Sophia Imeson gives us a rundown of the 5 best parks to escape to in Exeter now warmer weather is on the way…
Now that the days are getting longer and the weather is warmer, albeit only slightly, it’s time to wake from your winter hibernation and make the most of Exeter’s outdoor spaces.
Although it is only mid-March, in a few weeks, once the sun has started making a more regular appearance and it’s mild enough to leave the house without a snowsuit and thermal undies, it’s time to take a stroll in one of Exeter’s many parks.
At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged member of the W.I, rather than an evening session in the gym surrounded by loud music and treadmills, a spot of exercise in a natural environment is a great way to de-stress and re-boot your happiness batteries. Whether you’re bogged down with exam revision and want to clear your mind, or you’re looking for a place to relax with friends, Exeter has plenty of parks and places to procrastinate outdoors. Some are hidden gems and others are well-known old favourites. Here is my pick of the top five:
- Best park for valley views and location: Northernhay Gardens – This beautiful little park is the oldest and most historical of Exeter’s green spaces and is an attractive floral oasis with views over the city’s surrounding hills. Not only is it pretty and peaceful, its location in the centre of town means that it’s also incredibly easy to get to. Part of Exeter’s Roman wall and a stretch of Saxon town wall runs along the length of the park and there are a number of monuments and memorials standing amongst the trees and flowers. Go on a weekday to avoid crowds of picnickers and scavenging seagulls.
- Best park for escaping the city: Mincinglake Valley Park – Mincinglake consists of a lower wooded valley and meadows with footpaths and bridle paths that lead out on to the Devon hills. If you fancy a jog somewhere other than through the streets and residential areas of Exeter, this is the place for you. Mincinglake is near Morrisons and can be found between Mincinglake Road and Mile Lane. It’s a twenty-minute walk from Vic Street.
- Best park for bluebells and woodland walks: Stoke Woods – OK. So this is technically not a park but it’s definitely worth a visit due to its tranquil trails and tall shady trees, some of which are the oldest and largest in and around Exeter. Stoke Woods is just outside Exeter and about a twenty-minute walk from Birks Grange so it is a better option for those with car. Go along in mid-April to see spring bluebells and other wild flowers.
- Best park for picnics: Belle Isle Park is situated next to the River Exe and is a pretty place for relaxing and lounging around in the sun whilst spotting fluffy ducklings bobbing down the river. If you don’t fancy packing a picnic, Double Locks pub is a twenty-five minute stroll away. It serves good food and has tables overlooking the Exeter Ship Canal.
- Best park for exercising: Heavitree Pleasure Ground – Although its name sounds like something from Victorian England, Heavitree Pleasure Ground is far from old-fashioned. According to Exeter City Council, this park has facilities for “skateboarding, basketball, BMX, tennis, bowls and play”. If you don’t own a cool bike or a basketball shirt, have no fear. Heavitree has plenty of space for almost every type of activity. Just watch out for the elderly lady on a BMX who nearly ran me over a few weeks ago…
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