If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Exeter city centre then this is a great place to come and walk your dog and explore the woods following the two way-marked trails. It also contains some of the oldest and largest trees in Exeter.
Over the next few years we will be removing the non-native conifer to allow native broadleaved trees to reclaim the entire wood. This work has already begun, bringing about a dramatic change in the look of the woods.
Situated on top of Stoke Hill, above the present-day reaches of Stoke Woods, was once a Roman signal station or fortlet. The Roman fortress at Exeter, Isca Dumnoniorum, was founded by the Roman army in the first century. The line of the old Roman road linking it to the signal station is thought to follow what is now Longbrook Street and Pennsylvania Road. Tiverton also had a fort, and there is significant evidence from the Roman period of both a military and civilian presence along the Exe valley.
Stoke Woods has provided valuable building timber over the centuries. Boundary banks can still be seen at various intervals cutting through the wood. These are the remains of medieval coppice boundary banks, which were built when the woodlands would have been well organised to take advantage of the woodland’s productivity, with wooded commons, wood pasture for stock feeding and timber, and enclosed woods for timber and fuel.
In Anglo-Saxon times, Stoke Woods was part of the manor of Duryard, and the kings would ride out to hunt here whenever they visited Exeter. King Athelstan made a gift of the manor to the Church in 953AD. At that time wolves still roamed the British countryside, and Stoke Woods had such a thriving population that Edgar the Peaceful offered to accept 300 wolves' heads in lieu of the city's tribute!
What do other visitors say?
5 StarsLucy, 27/Aug/2015
Lovely walk this afternoon, brilliant spot to get away from the hustle of the city. It is quite the workout though as some of the paths off the main drag are steep. Fabulous view over the Exe Valley make it worth the effort though!