General Information About Eggesford

The Taw Valley was a thickly wooded area and there was no history of settlement until Saxon times when valley clearance was generally undertaken. The place names show that the first settlement was determined by the river crossing, the ford near the present Heywood bridge, from which Ford Farm and Ford Cross are named. There are the remains of a Motte & Bailey strategically placed to control this crossing at the north end of Heywood. The later medieval settlement lay a mile up stream where All Saints Church and the original Eggesford House stood, part of which is now the Garden Centre. The oldest part of the Church dates from the late 14th Century and the list of rectors dates from 1259.
The manor was owned by the Copplestone family, but passed by marriage to the Chichesters in 1606. The estate was sold in 1718 to the Fellowes family who pulled down the house in 1832 and built a mansion on the hill west of the Church. The house eventually fell into disrepair and lay derelict for some time, it is now under renovation and privately owned.
The Eggesford district was finally opened up by the building of the coach road in 1829 from Exeter to Barnstaple and was followed by the North Devon Railway along the same route in 1854.
The Forestry Commission was formed in 1919
and promptly acquired the woodlands after the break up of the Eggesford Estate. The very first tree planting by the Commission was
carried out on December 8th 1919 at Flashdown Wood where a plaque to commemorate this historic event is sited. By 1956, the Commission had planted 1 million acres in Great Britain and a second plaque to commemorate this was unveiled by HM Queen Elizabeth II and is sited at Hilltown Wood.

The Forestry Commission manages the forest estate owned by the nation. Its aim is to create and
maintain attractive and productive woodlands and to manage them for public benefit and enjoyment. It markets timber and forest products, provides recreational opportunities and actively conserves and safeguards the wildlife in the forests.
Our forests are in a unique position to supply these multiple benefits. With an increase in leisure time and in mobility we hope that more people are aware and will enjoy this valuable national asset.
It is with pleasure that Peninsula Forest District welcomes you to explore the beautiful Eggesford woodlands.

The Tarka Line is one of Devons most scenic rail routes. Opened in 1854, the branch line runs for 39 miles between the Cathedral city of Exeter and the North Devon market town of Barnstaple.
Running through the rural heart of mid and North Devon, the route follows the river valleys of the rivers Yeo and Taw. It takes its name from Henry Williamson’s classic novel ‘Tarka the Otter’ which is based on actual locations in Devon.
Joining the city of Exeter with the commercial centre of North Devon at Barnstaple, this line runs through many rural towns and villages.

North Devon Rail Users Group
Anyone who enjoys travelling on the scenic “Tarka Line” from Barnstaple to Exeter, may like to join this group. With over 200 members from Devon and around the world, it publishes quarterly newsletters and hold regular meetings.


The Taw Valley provides a very rich and diverse habitat for a wide variety of birds, mammals and insects.
The wildlife of Eggesford is all around you; high above the tree tops you may see a buzzard circling whilst amongst the trees, great spotted and green woodpecker, treecreeper and nuthatch can be seen. Down by the waters edge you may be lucky enough to spot a kingfisher or dipper.

Winding its way through the valley, the river Taw is home to the most charismatic of its inhabitants, the wild otter of Tarka fame, this is a shy animal seldom seen during daylight hours.
In the woodlands at early morning and late evening you may see red and roe deer. There are dormice present that live in the tangled vegetation and hedgerows. You may even be lucky to see a fox or a badger.