Ottery St Mary and the surrounding Parish has many miles of public footpaths, including along the River Otter. Having a footpath alongside the river is a wonderful way to see the river and all the wildlife that live around it, such as heron, kingfishers, beavers, and the ever-elusive otter that gave the river its name.
Sadly, we have lost a few river footpaths over the years, from the river meandering.
Footpath 46, that starts in Tipton St John and heads north, has proved unwalkable and closed in parts due to meandering erosion from the river. A recent storm closed footpath 23 in the centre of Ottery by St Saviours Bridge, again due to erosion of the riverbank. And now footpath 24 is potentially suffering the same fate.
These footpaths have not been removed from the Devon County Council Definitive Map (and DCC will never seek to do so) and if the river continues shifting back it is possible that the paths will again become walkable and legally exist. DCC are monitoring this situation and will reopen as soon as it becomes possible.
For now, it is important to stress that walkers must keep to the legal line of the path as to stray from this is trespass and potentially dangerous. You are technically able to use the path up to where it meets the river, but DCC have closed it at the closest suitable places rather than right at the water’s edge.
Ottery Town Council recognise the value of these footpaths and the scenic riverbank walks, plus access to safe routes avoiding roads. The Town Council is also keen to seek a fair solution which takes into account the interests of all parties concerned.
We have two footpath Wardens, Cllr Richard Copus and Cllr Matt Williamson. They are keen to hear of any problems on the miles of footpaths in and around Ottery. This does not have to be erosion; it could be excessive wear or overgrown tress / bushes.
If you are walking or running on one of the footpaths and spot a problem, then please let us know the location of the problem and what it is. This should be emailed to email@example.com with a photo if possible. Our Wardens will then be able to communicate this to Devon County Council and helps them monitor the current state of the paths.
You can find where all the footpaths are on the Devon County Council definitive map, but note this does not highlight if they have been closed.