Walk 2018 - printer friendly version
Saltram Park & Hardwick Wood, Plymouth Walk
Author - John Paterson
Length - 5.0 miles / 8.1 km
Ascent - 200 feet / 61 metres
Grade - easy
Start - OS grid reference SX522556
Lat 50.381671 + Long -4.0801948
Postcode PL7 1UH (approx. location only)
This walk links to walk 2013 at Plym Bridge. The link is mentioned in the text and at the foot of the page.
Saltram House is a National Trust owned property in Plymouth. The house and garden are open to the public at a charge - with a lower charge for admission to the garden only. Surrounding the house and garden is Saltram Park and admission to this park is free on most days of the year. The walk around the park will need no introduction to most Plymothians but the walk as described here extends the distance to 5 miles by including an excursion to Hardwick Wood which was once part of the park until the A38 dual carriageway was built cutting it off. The wood is now owned and managed by the Woodland Trust.
From Marsh Mills roundabout where traffic bound for Plymouth leaves the A38 follow the B3416 signposted Plympton. After just over half a mile turn right at the traffic lights and follow the signs to Saltram. After less than 1 mile the park is entered at Merafield Lodge. Drive down the estate road to park by the duck pond next to the entrance to the house and garden (Grid ref. SX522556). There is also a car park for dog walkers near the Merafield Lodge entrance which may be used if the main car park is full. Note: The car park at Point Cottage (Grid ref. 507553) shown on older maps IS NO LONGER OPEN
From the car park by the duck pond head south to reach an overflow car park. There is a choice of paths: either take the estate road heading east (over the cattle grid) which passes about 250 yards south of the house or, if it is open, you can take the path through farmland and woodland which passes only 50 yards from the front of the house. Either route will bring you to Point Cottage after 1 mile (Grid ref. 507553). Point Cottage lies above a small beach on the tidal estuary of the river Plym and the remains of an old quay can be seen 50 metres south of the cottage.
Take the riverside footpath which passes behind the cottage and you will reach the river bank after about 75 yards. The path now heads north east up river until a folly known as the Amphitheatre is reached after half a mile. The folly now consists of three carved columns and lintels across a quarry face above the river but, in times gone by, it had working cannons to impress visitors to the house as they passed upriver to Blaxton Quay!
About half a mile after the Amphitheatre you reach "Blaxton Meadow". Until 10 years ago this was a meadow of reclaimed land created by building an embankment between it and the river about 200 years ago. In recent years conservation work has created two breaches in the embankment to allow brackish water to flood the meadow which is reverting to saltmarsh. Either: follow the main path back to Saltram House (half a mile) or, turn left off the main path to walk along the embankment with the river to the left and the saltmarsh to the right. This is a great place for birdwatching at low tide with a scramble across the breach in the sea wall at the half way point. At the far (north) end of the embankment (Grid ref. 519562) are the ruins of Blaxton Quay. From here the riverside path goes north and reaches Walk a013 at Plym Bridge after 1.5 miles. Our route turns right (south) and reaches Saltram House after half a mile.
To extend the walk to Hardwick Wood, walk up the estate road back to the Merafield Lodge entrance. Turn right (south east) on to the broad grass verge alongside Merafield Road and after half a mile cross the road when you see the Woodland Trust sign. Enter the wood. There is a choice of ways but the simplest way is to keep to the right and navigate the wood in an anticlockwise direction. When you reach the high point of the wood (about two thirds of the way round) you will notice that most of the trees are young with just the occasional large tree standing (see picture). This is a relic of the great storm which swept across southern England in 1987. Until then the wood was composed almost entirely of mature trees - hundreds were felled by the storm and others were damaged by lightning.
On exiting the wood cross over the road and turn left (south east) following the wide grass verge to the flyover above the A38. Some 200 yards after the flyover you will see Stag Lodge on your right. Pass through the gates and follow the estate road through woodland back to the car park.
Link to Walk 2013 - From Blaxton Quay (Grid ref. 519562) the Plym Valley path can be followed north to reach Plym Bridge (the start of walk 2013) after 1.5 miles. Combined with walks from Shaugh Bridge this gives a walk along the Plym Valley as far as Cadover Bridge on Dartmoor.