One of the most beautiful areas in the city of Exeter, the Quay and board-walk along the river Exe area are great places to promenade and enjoy the scenery. Popular mainly amongst locals, these areas are often calm in an otherwise busy city and are ideal for those who like long walks side-by-side with nature, go for a healthy jog in the morning or take a picnic by the river.
Exeter Quay shares the historic past of the city. The area was used as a port even before the Romans arrived but it gained great prominence as one of the main centres for the woolen trade coming from eastern and northern England and going south to France and continental Europe. A historic landmark of the city, the Old Customs House that can be found at one of the ends of the quay is the oldest surviving building of its kind in Britain. Nowadays, small shops can be found at the quay area, with anything from local art to antiques, and a few cafes and restaurants which make for good dining options whether you are looking for lunch or dinner. Bikes and kayaks are available for rent from one of the shops located in the old warehouses, the bikes are particularly popular and it is possible to go south to the town of Topsham or even all the way to the sea at Exmouth!
Getting there is quite easy, one simply needs to walk downhill from Exeter Cathedral, either South Street and Western Way (a route that will take you along a section of the old Roman wall) or Fore street (which has an ancient stone bridge on a green right before the river) will get you there in no more than 15 minutes. Once at the quay area you again, have the option to go two different ways:
Upstream is popular with families as a few playgrounds can be found along the river, there is also a skate park and a sports pitch. The boardwalk along the river is paved and has big steps where people like to sunbathe in the summer months, the pavement continues all the way to the Millstone footbridge which has a sculpture of one of the stone mills that use to exist along the lines of the river Exe. Across the bridge is the Mill on the Exe pub, a place with good food and great ales.
Downstream, on the other hand, is more of a nature walk. Past the docks located on a side canal at the end of the quay, the pavement stops almost completely and gives way to more natural walkways and roads. This area is more relaxing and although it is popular for bikes, hikes and locals with their pets, it remains a quiet and more leisurely walk. There are some pubs along the way but they are far and few in between.
No matter what direction you choose to take, or if you are on foot or on a bike, the sights are beautiful and well worth the trip!