The Secrets Behind Devon’s Green Lanes

‘As long as the length of the Green Lane, is the story it will cry’

Mysterious, wild, and old as the hills, the much loved green lanes of Devon are waiting to be discovered when you book one of our holiday cottages in the countryside.

Also referred to as ridgeways, drovers roads or hollow ways, Devon’s network of green lanes are havens for flora and fauna; foxglove and stitchwort, nightjar and woodlark, names to be found along these hidden byways.


South Devon alone has five hundred miles of green lanes, each with its own unique history; Runaway Lane, near Modbury, named after the fleeing Royalist soldiers who used it during the English Civil War, while a green lane in Ugborough is said to date back to the Bronze Age. Many of the lanes running near the coast were once used by smugglers who ran their illicit trade inland, hauled up from secluded coves under the cover of darkness.

The term ‘green lane’ isn’t recognised under public rights-of-way law, adding to its rustic and colloquial charm, instead classified as anything from footpaths to private roads. Many of the lanes are well maintained and offer a wonderful opportunity to explore the heart of the Devon countryside. It’s true that some are also overgrown or have become gullied out by storm water, but money pledged by The Heritage Lottery Fund continues to help restore them for the enjoyment of everyone, whether you’re travelling by boot, by pedal, or by hoof.


One of the best ways of finding and navigating the green lanes is to use an Ordnance Survey Explorer Map, or you might invest in a walking companion guidebook. Many green lane walks are circular and encounter a wide variety of countryside and coastline, and if you’re lucky, the odd pub garden!

Discover the green lanes, each with its own story to tell, as well as beautiful beaches and coastal path with a stay in one our South Devon holiday cottages.