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Photo credits anticlockwise: Andreas Byrne, Trevor Jones, Elizabeth Harris, Shirley Turner and Michaela Delaney. Cover photo Chris Spracklen.
This itinerary is available as 3, 5 and 7 days. To download the .pdf please visit southwestcoastpath.org.uk
The Wilderness Coast Exmoor: Minehead to Combe Martin
FIVE-DAY ITINERARY Explore Exmoor and North Devon’s wild side on a breathtaking tour of high sea cliffs, remote moors, steep-sided gorges and isolated beaches, and enjoy outdoor activities and delicious treats.
Day One AM Exmoor National Park looms above the North Devon coast. This vast area of moorland, with steep, wooded valleys and rugged coastal terrain, offers a wilderness of remote walks and adventures. From Minehead, drive (or book the Moor Rover minibus, or a taxi) to Burgundy Chapel Combe car park (15 minutes) for the 6.9 mile (11.2km) Brockholes walk. You’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views across gorse-covered hills and cliffs to Porlock in the valley below. This walk tops out at Selworthy Beacon before returning to the starting point. This is a long walk, so make sure you take a good lunch with you. PM Travel to the pretty seaside village of Porlock Weir (30 minutes by car or taxi). Stop at one of the cafés for a tea or coffee and freshly baked cake to enjoy on the quayside surrounded by dramatic coastal scenery. Porlock Weir is a lovely place to while away an afternoon. Soon you’ll be ready for dinner in one of the village pubs or restaurants. While here, take the opportunity to sample Porlock Bay Oysters - these oysters are freshly harvested from the bay and considered to be among the best in the world. Rest your weary head at one of the fine hotels or bed and breakfasts in or around Porlock Weir.
AM Lace up your boots and pack plenty of snacks for the challenging 7.3 mile (11.7km) Robbers Bridge trail (25 minutes from Porlock Weir by car, taxi or Moor Rover). This route climbs and descends steep, tree-lined ‘combes’ which cut through England’s highest coastal hills. This area has strong literary connections – RD Blackmore’s novel Lorna Doone was set here; romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, wrote his most famous poem, Kubla Khan, while staying at Ash Farm, which the trail passes. As a walking enthusiast, Coleridge was known to tramp for miles around the area to draw inspiration for his poetry. His influence here gives name to the Coleridge Way, a longdistance footpath which cuts across Exmoor and the Quantock Hills from Nether Stowey (where the poet lived for several years) to Lynton.
AM Eat well for breakfast. You’re going to need the energy for the 5.1 mile (8.2km) Foreland Point Adventurous Walk (15 minutes by car, taxi or Moor Rover from Lynton). This area features the longest stretch of coastal woodland in England and Wales, so this route is very green indeed. After tackling many steep, wooded valleys and hills, this walk reaches the dramatic Exmoor coast. Enjoy the sea views across the Bristol Channel to Wales at Foreland Point Lighthouse. Take care on this trail as there are steep paths and exposed ridges, although there are gentler shortcuts if desired.
PM Head from here to Lynmouth (20 minutes by car, taxi or Moor Rover), a picturesque coastal village at the mouth of the river Lyn. For lunch, make a beeline for the harbour for some of the best fish and chips you’re ever likely to taste. Then climb aboard the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway - a water-powered funicular railway, established in 1888, which chugs up the steep track to the twin village of Lynton. Stop to admire the far-reaching views of the Exmoor coast before checking in to one of the many hotels or guest houses in this adorable tourist destination. Woody Bay
PM Return to Lynton (15 minutes by car, taxi or Moor Rover) for lunch, then relax. Or join a red deer safari. Exmoor is teeming with wildlife, including birds of prey, foxes and moorland ponies, but is most famous for red deer. A guide will help you find the best locations for viewing these majestic beasts. The autumn rutting season is the most dramatic time to visit, when stags with huge antlers go head-tohead in fierce battle. While on the moor (if you have your own transport) be sure to pop into one of the ancient village pubs or hotels for hearty food and a pint of excellent Exmoor Ale. Return to Lynton for a well-earned rest.
Day Four AM This morning’s walk is one of the jewels of coastal Exmoor: the 2.7 mile (4.3 km) Lynton and the Valley of the Rocks route. Leaving the streets of Lynton behind, the craggy outcrops and rock towers rise from the coast, forming a ‘dry’ valley with the high hills of the moors. Continue through this valley, passing the Ragged Jack and Castle Rock formations. Test your head for heights by climbing to the top for far-reaching views along the coast, before returning to Lynton.
PM Stop for lunch or a cream tea at one of the cafés or tea rooms in Lynton, then walk or catch the railway down to Lynmouth. From here there’s an easy 2.5 mile (4km) walk along the East Lyn river to its confluence with Hoar Oak Water at Watersmeet. Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of this picturesque location, before heading back the way you came. As an alternative, take a boat trip from the harbour on a sightseeing tour of towering sea cliffs and learn about the area’s coastal marine life.
Day Five AM The next morning travel to Combe Martin (25 minutes by car, taxi or Moor Rover from Lynton). From this seaside village hike up the steep cliff path towards Little Hangman on the 4.7 mile (7.5km) Hangman Hills walk. The coastal views get better and better the higher you climb towards Great Hangman, which, at 800 feet (244 metres), is the tallest sea cliff in England and Wales. Take a few minutes to catch your breath, then continue along the loop back to Combe Martin. PM As well as walking, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy on Exmoor. One thrilling activity to try is coasteering. This involves scrambling over rocks, jumping off ledges and swimming through caves, while admiring the coastal scenery and marine wildlife. Popular coasteering spots in Exmoor include Lee Bay and Hele Bay near Ilfracombe. Book in advance with local activity providers. If rock-hopping doesn’t take your fancy, go kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding from the beach at Combe Martin. After all that fresh air, you’ll be grateful of a good night’s sleep.
Accommodation: Quality accommodation in hotels, guest houses and bed & breakfasts can be found at the key tourism destinations along the coast – at Minehead, Porlock, Lynton, Lynmouth and Combe Martin. Food & drink: While in Exmoor you can sample delicacies like Porlock Oysters, freshly caught trout and venison. Local farm shops and delis are useful for picking up fresh produce and treats. There are many fine restaurants, gastro pubs and fish and chip shops throughout the area. For beer drinkers there are some tasty local ales. Transport: It really pays to have a car here. Getting to and from walks, villages and local attractions will be difficult and timeconsuming without your own transport. There are limited bus services here, however, it is possible to pre-book a lift with the Moor Rover minibus or with local taxi services. For more travel information around Exmoor visit:
Contours Walking Holidays are the specialists in self-guided walking holidays (hiking tours) in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. They provide packages covering the whole of the South West Coast Path, with comfortable accommodation, maps, guidebooks, transportation of luggage and a choice of itineraries, every detail is taken care of, leaving you free to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Coast Path. Prices start from £245 for a short break. Further details can be found at contours.co.uk or by calling +44 (0)1629821900. Please quote COASTPATH when contacting us.
For more information visit
www.visit-exmoor.co.uk www.visitdevon.co.uk Valley of Rocks
Encounter Walking Holidays provide walking holidays and short breaks on every section of the Coast Path. We specialise in helping with the requests that others struggle with or don’t want to take on - whether you are a small group looking for the best prices, walking with your dogs, have an unusual itinerary idea or are just arriving from overseas and are new to UK Walking Routes. We provide detailed quotes for walkers with no commitment to book so get in touch with your ideas and questions! Prices start from £75 per person per day. Find out more at encounterwalkingholidays.com or call +44 (0)1208 871066 quoting COASTPATH.
Membership You are sure to fall in love with the South West Coast Path when you walk it, you may even be hooked while planning your adventure. If you’d like to support the South West Coast Path Association and protect and promote this beautiful trail, we have an Overseas Membership for just £29 that gives you masses more information about the Path including the Complete Guide to the South West Coast Path in your language. Please join us! Find more information at southwestcoastpath.org.uk
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Photo credits left to right: Audrey Rowlatt, Shirley Turner, Jaap Gaasenbeek and Adam Burton. Reg Charity Number 1163422