Due to ‘sprout’ in the spring, a new project will plant trees and improve traffic-free trails in East Devon.

‘Routes for Roots’ will improve countryside paths and lanes in and around  Cranbrook, Broadclyst and Pinhoe, creating a network of walking and cycling routes to link up green spaces in  the surrounding countryside. The project is another step towards bringing the Clyst Valley Regional Park to life. The Regional Park is half the size of Exeter and will be a vital breathing space, encouraging local people to get active outside and discover hidden gems on their doorstep. The Clyst Valley Trail will form the backbone of this network, linking the Exe Estuary Trail with the Exe Valley Way.

With funding of £98,800 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, East Devon District Council, LiveWest, Move More Cranbrook, National Trust, Active Devon and Devon County Council, the project will:

  • encourage people to ‘get out there’ and discover the countryside with an exciting range of guided walks on a variety of different themes including wildlife, art, history and archaeology
  • encourage communities to explore and record their own historic routes, with a series of local history roadshows and the creation of community maps
  • get young people playing and socialising outdoors through activities like bushcraft, archery, and live action role-play
  • train volunteers to monitor conditions of paths and routes so they can be prioritised for maintenance and improvement
  • create new permissive paths
  • plant a new generation of trees to reduce flooding, improve water and air quality and protect crucial wildlife habitats
  • install improved signs, gates and path surfaces
  • record historical features such as routes, mills, leats and water meadows
  • install new public art showing the history of the area, such as the Cranbrook archer

Councillor Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the Environment, said:

We are delighted to increase momentum towards delivering a major new breathing space for the people of East Devon and Exeter. The numbers of organisations financially supporting the Regional Park has grown to 17* and many more are pledging in-kind support.

With ‘Routes for Roots’, we’ve thought carefully and creatively about how we can help people explore wonderful places such as Cranbrook Country Park and Ashclyst Forest: young parents need to feel confident to let their children play wild; live action role-play is a powerful way to re-engage teenagers; story-telling, performance and art are creative pathways of discovery; and for more isolated people, we hope that by coupling research of parish history with sociable walks, it will help them re-navigate their rapidly changing home environment and make new friends.

Following on from Great Trees in the Clyst Valley, where volunteers planted 2700 trees, we hope that many people will become Friends of the Clyst Valley and realise our shared ambition for this new breathing space.

For more information and to become a friend of the Clyst Valley, visit www.clystvalleypark.org.uk