Hidden gems: Finding new green spaces to explore

Lockdown has been difficult for everyone and over the past few weeks and months, we've all appreciated our exercise in many of Plymouth's outdoor spaces that little bit more.

But we know that there are some places can be a little more crowded than others and so sometimes, you need to get off the beaten track. 

And who better to ask about some of our less well known spaces than the people who know them best? Staff from our Green Estate team.

Each week, we'll be adding a new story to the list below, so keep checking back! 

Kinterbury Creek
Emmie Readman, Green Minds Engagement and Campaigns Officer

Plymouth’s coast is incredible; with so many twists and turns, there are plenty of hidden gems ready for an adventure, a wander, or a picnic.

The place I’d like to share with you today is Kinterbury Creek, on the west coast of the city, nestled in St Budeaux, right on the River Tamar.

The first time I went to the creek, I remember arriving in a place which was surrounded by houses, little shops, and roads and wondering if I was in the wrong place!

I then followed a leafy path (and a windy stream) from Fegen Road down to something completely unexpected… In front of me was a beautiful spot; an ancient woodland filled with old trees on my left and a watery wonder to my right, I couldn’t believe it.

When you’re in Kinterbury Creek, you don’t feel like you’re in a city. You can watch boats bob, anchored in the river in the distance; sift through the squelchy mud to find creeping crabs; and watch so many different types of bird swoop for their lunch. There’s also a play area at the top of the path, and plenty of trees where you can either play hide and seek, or wander through and unwind.

Whenever anyone mentions Kinterbury Creek, I always find a smile on my face, and if you choose to go and explore it, I hope that you find a smile on your face, too!

If Emmie's story has inspired you to explore, you can find out more about Kinterbury Creek here

Ernesettle Creek 
Kieran Shaw-Flatch, Natural Infrastructure Officer

I want to tell you all about Ernesettle Creek, which is my favourite place to go in Plymouth.

Its right next to the River Tamar and wraps around the top of Ernesettle and is one of those places that doesn’t feel like it’s in a big city.

You can walk along the headland path towards Warren Point passing through the trees and catching glimpses of the estuary. There are nice places to sit and stare across the water at the green Cornish hills and also hidden coves to have adventures in.

Off of the main paths there are also woods to explore, with ancient trees. In the spring there are bluebells and the air is thick with the smell of wild garlic.

The sticky mud of the estuary is teeming with birds busily snacking away. If you watch closely you might see the blue blur of a kingfisher or a white egret.

There’s loads of space to run about, kick a ball or to walk your dog.

In the summer it’s a great place to play games on the grass and explore the wildflower meadows looking for insects.

Southway Valley Local Nature Reserve
Jemma Sharman, Natural Infrastructure Manager

Several years ago, I was able to spend a memorable day in Southway Valley nature reserve working with 70 residents to plant an orchard next to the entrance off Pendeen Crescent.

I have to confess that I didn’t know too much about the woods until then, but I’ve certainly never forgotten it.

There are an amazing variety of old Devon and Cornish apple varieties, and wildflowers planted around the site. Whilst it’s nice to visit all year around, I recommend returning in the autumn to pick some apples!

There is a lovely level, 600m circular walk from the Pendeen Crescent entrance. Kids old  and young can enjoy searching for bugs and listening to bird song.

Or you can walk down through the valley through in the woodland to Frontfield Crescent, playing in the trees, spotting signs of spring (lookout for white snowdrops popping up) and having a kickabout in the field at the bottom.

It’s a lovely sheltered spot, with plenty of plenty of seating and picnic benches to take a rest.

Find out more from the maps and information boards at the main entrances or on the Southway Valley LNR webpage

Efford Local Nature Reserve
Ashley Tod, Poole Farm Manager

Knowingly or not everyone has seen Efford Marsh LNR when they drive in, out, or past Marsh Mills roundabout, but how many people have actually been?

It rises up like a giant green volcano in the spring, splashed with the pink highlights of wild cherry blossom. It’s one our biggest LNRs, yet it's one of the less well known. 

In the summer, the wildflower meadows come alive with the sounds of crickets and bird song, and with many benches and secluded spots, it’s a great place to escape and lose yourself in nature. 

I think Efford's my favourite place because of the incredible wildlife. If you're really lucky you will see herons, the Plymbridge peregrines (who sometimes hunt there) and it is one of the only places I've ever seen a kingfisher in the city. Otters are even known to be in the stream there, too. 

Check out this amazing picture of a frog who hopped on to my watch while I was there doing an event with children a few years ago!

To top it all, access is great; there's free on street parking next to its three entrances and it offers a little something for everyone. Be that hidden interactive sculptures, nature trails, woodland walks, wildflower meadows, pond dipping or whatever other adventure you fancy, Efford LNR has got the lot!

Has Ashley's story got you in the mood? If so, you can find out more about the Efford Local Nature Reserve page



Woodland Woods 
Chris Avent, Green Estates Manager

My favourite place to go for a walk in Plymouth is at the Woodland Woods Local Nature Reserve.

Tucked in between Whitleigh, Honicknowle and West Park, I am always surprised by the tranquillity that can be found in here and how much there is to explore.

Over the years, I have been really lucky to spend lots of time here, leading sessions with a number of different of school groups. We once had over 400 kids visit these woods in one day and I think that’s why this place is my favourite; I associate it with the memories of helping people to explore and enjoy the outdoors.

There are loads of entrances around the edge of the woods, with some information boards to show you the way, things to look out for and pathways leading through the woods. It's great for everyone because it isn’t too steep.

Once you're in the woods, the paths lead to some unexpected adventures for children (and, of course, childish adults!). You can den build with branches, look for mini-beasts among the fallen leaves and practice balancing along fallen logs.

There's a bit of history in these woods, too. If you look carefully, you might be able to see the stripy cracked bark of the hornbeam trees - the descendants of the trees used to build navy and merchant ships at the dockyard many years ago.

Beside the meadow there is a great natural play area and picnic spot which is a great spot to aim for - acting as a great motivation for tired little legs and little voices asking “are we nearly there yet!”

It is always good to remember to leave these natural spaces in a nicer state than when you got there but remember to take away fond memories. Have fun!

Details including where to park, how to get in, a walking route and much, much more is available on the Woodlands Wood LNR page.