The GlenThe Glen


Honiton, an East Devon market town whose Market Charter was granted in 1257, has the southern part of its parish in the valley of the River Gissage. A tributary, the Glen Stream, flows down a side valley or goyle and into the Gissage.

The Honiton development plan of' the 1960s proposed up to 12.5 acres of public gardens in the valley of' the Glen Stream. The nucleus was to be the 2.5 acre Lower Glen that had been given to the people of Honiton by Major H. H. Lilley to commemorate the 1935 Silver Jubilee. Major Lilley's hope that the Higher Glen would be added to the Lower Glen has recently been achieved. The Higher Glen, once described as a fine example of' a horticultural wild garden, together with adjoining land, has been acquired

WoodsHigher Glen

The Glen has many notable heritage features which can be seen on postcards from a hundred years ago depicting the Higher Glen. These cards are of especial value as visual aids to restoring the various paths, waterfalls and cascades which can still be seen in the Glen today. The Glen is associated with one of Honiton's leading families, the Ashleys of Pine Park House on Parsonage Lane. The lane separated the Pine Park Estate from the grounds of' a former Honiton rectory.

WaterfallVictorian Water Gardens

The former rectory just south of the Glen's present boundary also had a formidable water garden which led on to the Higher Glen's cascades, weirs and rustic bridges. A feasibility study and conservation management plan was produced in 2004 with the aim of restoring the area. The Higher Glen has steep sided banks and is at present inaccessible. A centuries-old leat  in the Lower Glen provided water for the town centre until the 1970s.

Millenium Green & Other Green Spaces

The Millennium Green, although not within the Glen's boundary, is part of the open recreational space adjacent to the Higher Glen and has served to help protect the area from development. The Green hosts many events including band concerts. Honiton Town Council invites you to visit two other green sites in our town, Roundball Wood and the adjacent Nature trail. Further details from the Tourist Information Centre in Lace Walk car park.
RiverLower Glen

This part of the Glen was opened to the public in 1937 commemorating the coronation of' King George VI. Trees were planted by local school children to mark the occasion and several still stand today. Additional pieces of land have been acquired and a large open sloping site on the south west side is a welcome addition. The leat which fed the town gully from New Street to Dowell Street terminates here and the water diverted into the main stream which then goes underground.

In 2007 a group of local residents, with support from the Town Council, formed The Friends of The Glen' with the aim of' regenerating the Glen. Funding has been secured and volunteer working parties have been clearing the grossly overgrown laurels, aided by two workers from EDDC Parks Department, letting light into the valley for the first time in many years.

The Glen is a haven for wildlife and among the species seen and recorded are:

  • Wood Mouse, Bank Vole and Shrew; all of whose tunnels can be seen in the earth banks and stone walls
  • Foxes are present
  • Grey squirrels are responsible for opening the hazelnuts
  • There is a rockery in the tops of the large trees and other bird species you may see are Thrush, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Goldcrest (the UK's smallest bird), Nuthatch, Wagtails, Magpie, Kingfisher and Greater Spotted Woodpecker
  • The ecological survey carried out in 2004 from which this data is taken said that the `watercourses are heavily shaded for much of their length through the site and thus have a relatively poor aquatic fauna'. More good reason to regenerate and let the light in, but there are likely to be frogs, toads and newts
  • Slowworms are also present, one of the Friends of The Glen volunteers found one in a discarded drinks can!
  • Bats to be seen at dusk


Many plant species are to be found from mighty oaks to tiny ferns. The plants visible will of course change from season to season. Some of the more interesting ones are listed below, see how many you can spot when you visit.

  • Along the water courses: Fool's Water Cress, Hemlock Water Dropwort, Water Figwort, Water Mint, Brooklime and Meadowsweet
  • In the drier grassland areas more than ten species can be found from the Common Daisy to Pignut
  • Mosses, Ferns, Lords and Ladies and Primroses are abundant in the shadier areas
  • Larger trees are mentioned below but the Glen is home to a lot of woody shrubs, the most common being Laurel and Holly followed by plenty of Rhododendrons mostly the common and invasive R.ponticum but there are some other more rare ornamental Rhododendrons to be found along with some pretty Camellias
  • Bluebells and Wood Anemone show in late spring
  • Ferns are abundant along the banks including Hart's-tongue and Soft Shield-fern
  • Some garden plants have found their way there including the mighty Gunnera




The Glen is home to many different species of tree including Pine, Larch, Ash, Oak, Beech, Horse Chestnut and Sycamore some of which, indicated by size, are around 200 years old. These venerable trees are home to many more animal species including insects and bats.

This robin was being very friendly on the day our photographer visited. He is resident in the Glen along with many other birds that we are used to seeing in our parks and gardens. The buzzard seen soaring overhead probably wouldn't make use of the Glen but is lovely to see. Kingfishers have also been seen using the stream to feed.

The Coronation Gates at the north end of the Glen were erected in 1937 as a commemoration of the opening of the Glen to the public, the coronation of George VI and of Major H. H. Lilley giving the Glen to the people of Honiton in 1935 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.

So Where is it?

The Glen is only 600m or about 5 minutes walk from the town centre. Follow the signs from New Street

Walking Follow signs from the High Street up New Street under the railway bridge and then turn left up Ducks Path. At the top turn right along the path to the Coronation Gates.

Train From the steps out of the station's short stay car park, opposite is Ducks Path. At the top turn right as above.

Car The nearest car park is on New Street opposite the library or the Glen is signed from Lace Walk car park. Please do not park in residential streets if at all possible.
How to help If you would like to be kept in touch with news on the Glen please give your name and address to the Town Clerk (contact the council)
You can also help the Glen by picking litter up an putting it in the bins and using the open space responsibly.

Acknowledgements to EDDC and Allhallows Museum
Published by Honiton Town Council
Funded by the National Lottery ‘Breathing Spaces Programme’ 2008