Exeter is a city with and intriguing past around every corner: old buildings, impressive churches, or the historic quayside. Also the museums display the history of Exeter in an exciting and interactive way. But sometimes, you just want to wander around and explore a new city on foot. If you feel like that, then the self-guided heritage trails are perfect for you. There are three of them: the City Wall Trail, the Medieval Trail and the Woollen Trail. All of them have their starting point in the city centre and are between one (the Medieval Trail) and two (City Wall Trail/Woollen Trail) miles long. Learn about the three trails in this blog and find out which one is the best for you.

  1. The Medieval Trail

The Medieval Trail is the shortest of the three self-guided heritage trails. Being approximately one mile long, it took me about 45 minutes to finish it while walking in a really relaxed pace. Its starting point is at Castle Street. It shows you many important places of Exeter’s medieval past: the Cathedral, Southernhay, St. Stephens and many more.

Because more or less every part of the trail is located in the centre of Exeter, it is a good way of getting to know Exeter’s past as well as Exeter today, especially when you are new in town or only staying for a short time. Panels at every stop explain a lot about the meaning of the places you are seeing. The Medieval Trail in Exeter is definitely suitable for children and therefore also a nice opportunity for an afternoon with your whole family.

  1. The City Wall Trail

Covering a distance of approximately two miles, the City Wall Trail is a bit longer than the Medieval Trail. It also has its starting point at Castle Street in the centre of Exeter. What I especially liked about this trail was the beautiful things you get to see. Northernhay Gardens (the oldest public gardens in England) invite you to have a break and enjoy the calmness of this little park directly in the centre of the city. The magnificent remains of Exeter’s city wall being part of Northernhay Gardens make it even more beautiful.

Also walking the City Wall Trail gives you a really good impression of how big Exeter was in earlier times. I would recommend this trail to people who are more familiar with Exeter’s city centre and want to explore some new areas. And if you like old and romantic buildings, this trail is definitely the right thing for you.

  1. The Woollen Trail

In my opinion, the Woollen Trail in Exeter is the most beautiful of the three self-guided heritage trails. Starting in the city centre and then going along Exeter’s Quayside, it shows you some of the most wonderful places in the city. If the weather is fine, many restaurants and bars on the Quayside invite you to take a break along the trail to enjoy this amazing place.

The remarkable thing about the Woollen Trail is that most of the buildings still exist today, and you can really learn about the history of woollen trade and why it made Exeter one of the richest cities in England.

Doing the self-guided heritage trails in Exeter is a good idea if you would like to get to know the city and its surroundings a little better. The trails tell you a lot about the fascinating history of Exeter and are definitely suitable for the whole family. And with fine weather, you will learn about Exeter’s history as well as enjoying a sunny day outside at the same time. Remember to take a pencil and paper with you, so younger members of the family can solve the puzzles and quizzes along the way.


Exeter Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral roof top tour

Medieval cathedral. Fine example of Gothic Decorated style. Longest unbroken stretch of Gothic vaulting in the world. Image screen on West Front, Minstrels' Gallery and tombs. Expert guided tours, trails and activities for the family

Northernhay Gardens
War statue in Exeter Nothernhay Gardens

The site of Northernhay Gardens was quarried in Roman times for stone from which to build the adjacent city walls.

Exeter City Wall Trail
Walking Tour
City Wall Trail at the bottom of South Street

A self-guided tour exploring Exeter's ancient city wall.

Exeter Medieval Trail
Waymarked Trail
Part of Exeter Medieval Trail

Discover Exeter's medieval past, find out about many of Exeter's surviving gems and the events that helped to shape this period of Exeter's past.

The Woollen Trail
Walking Route
The Woollen Trail panel at St Nicholas Priory

A self-guided tour exploring the buildings and history of Exeter's woollen trade.

Exeter Quayside
Historic Site
Monolith at Exeter Quayside. Copyright: DOminic Lowther

Exeter's Historic Quayside is the most attractive area in the city, popular with locals & visitors for its fascinating history, pubs & restaurants.



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