the best visitor guide
www.ScenicExmoor.co.uk Produced by the Lyn Association of Commerce and Tourism
Welcome to Lynton & Lynmouth Lynton & Lynmouth is one of the prettiest and most unspoilt coastal locations in England. It offers some of the most breathtaking places to visit and provides some of the best opportunities to admire the sheer rugged beauty of Exmoor’s coast and countryside.
footpaths can be explored, including stretches of the longest and most attractive National Trail, the South West Coast Path. Rivers tumble from colourful heather clad moors down Devon’s deep tree lined combes and through Somerset vales into the finest unspoilt countryside you can find.
Whatever your interests, you will be stunned and seduced by spectacular Scenic Exmoor where you can enjoy a wealth of experiences amidst magnificent landscapes and majestic seascapes.
A wealth of wildlife abounds including the magnificent red deer, the rare and hardy Exmoor pony, wild birds, rare butterflies, lichens and trees not found growing or living anywhere else in the world.
So spectacular, the area is designated as a National Park to protect it for you and future generations to enjoy. Its timeless beauty has been shaped by thousands of years of history and an ever present passion to sustain its qualities for the future.
Winding leafy lanes lead you to charming villages and hamlets, unspoilt as if lost in time, where cultural charms, true hospitality and the special flavour of local food can be sampled.
Experience one of England’s last remaining tranquil areas and discover the dramatic North Devon coast and the charms of the West Somerset coast that Exmoor straddles. There is nowhere else like it: stunning scenery, magnificent wildlife, views to remember forever, unspoilt villages, unique local characters, delicious local food and genuine hospitality that will entice you back for more. Take a break from modern day pressures discover Exmoor’s hidden treasures. England’s highest sea cliffs reach up into the radiant blue sky and plunge down to meet the refreshing sun kissed sea. Ancient rocky outcrops, hidden Atlantic coves and miles of coastal
Clean pure air freshly blown in from across the Atlantic Ocean nurtures both land and life, the sounds of nature are free from the noise of modern life, the sun sets over the spectacular landscape and dark night skies light up with countless stars. This magical area steeped in great mysteries, legend and romance, has captivated its many visitors and preserved an environment from past generations lost elsewhere forever. A rare and romantic retreat for a relaxing respite, an exhilarating environment for exciting outdoor exploits, a paradise for painters and photographers, a haven for historians and writers, a warren of paths for walkers and a wonderland for wildlife lovers. There’s no better place to be!
Valley of Rocks This ‘dry valley’ is unique in that unlike other combes on the North Devon coast it runs parallel with the sea. Probably created during the Ice Age, both Iron and Bronze Age human settlements have been discovered together with the remains of stone circles. It is an extraordinary area of strangely weathered rock formations with names such as The Devil’s Cheesewring, Castle Rock, Ragged Jack and Mother Meldrum’s Cave; home of the soothsayer in R. D.Blackmore’s novel ‘Lorna Doone’. Exmoor ponies and feral goats can often be seen scrambling amongst the rocky outcrops and grazing precariously on the steep slopes, while birds of prey circle overhead.
SPECTACULAR AND MAGNIFICIENT, the Valley of Rocks is one of the most breathtaking places to visit with some of the best opportunities to admire the sheer rugged beauty of the Exmoor coast and countryside. Follow North Walk, which forms part of the South West Coast Path, along the top of some of England’s highest sea cliffs to take in the spectacular sea views across Lynmouth Bay and the Bristol Channel. Alternatively, you can take Lee Road inland from Lynton; both routes take you to the Valley of Rocks.
On the return journey you can walk over Hollerday Hill and pause to see where the mansion of Tit – Bits and Strand magazine publisher Sir George Newnes stood until destroyed by fire in 1913. For a longer walk you can continue westward along the dramatic coastline to the enchanting coves of Lee Bay, Woody Bay and the glorious Heddon Valley beyond. This is wonderful country to explore; where woods provide shade and shelter, and nature provides outstanding views and beautiful countryside.
Rivers of Watersmeet One of North Devonâ€™s most popular walks from Lynmouth takes you along the banks of the East Lyn River through some of Britainâ€™s deepest river gorges to Watersmeet. This is an ideal location to relax, stroll and enjoy the natural beauty of the largest remaining semi-natural ancient woodland in South West England. Parts of the Watersmeet estate owned by the National Trust are designated sites of special scientific interest because of the geology, plants and wildlife found throughout the area and there is always the possibility of glimpsing otters, deer or rare birds and butterflies. A wide choice of paths let you follow the river banks or trek through the woodland and up to the top of the moors taking in a remarkable variety of different environments and views. Then at the heart of the estate you can discover Watersmeet House, a fishing lodge built in 1832, which now provides an excellent stopping off place to take refreshments in the tea room and garden.
Even though the valleys seem tranquil now they were once a hive of industry. The woodland was coppiced on a twenty five year cycle of cutting and re-growth for pit props, fencing and charcoal with wood burning kilns providing lime to the surrounding farmland to sweeten the acidic Exmoor soil. Hydro-electric power harnessed the power of the river to light Lynton and Lynmouth and with a keen eye you might spot the stoneware bottle that marks where mineral water was once bottled. Sporting activities flourish where the industry once dominated and the East Lyn is known for opportunities to fish for trout and salmon. Canoeing is the more energetic sport between October and March when the river provides a challenging route for experienced canoeists. Above all, though, this is an outstanding place to walk; from easy afternoon strolls to more demanding hikes, this is not a place to miss!
Short Strolls & Village Views Lynton, Lynmouth and Lynbridge. 3 Village Strolls The Early Bird
The Zig-Zag Walk
River, Sea & Gardens
An early morning stroll from Lynton
Lynton to Lynmouth or vice versa
An afternoon stroll in Lynmouth
Time - 60 minutes Mainly a flat walk with 2 short uphill inclines.
Time - 20 minutes starting in Lynton, all down hill very steep, or reversing the walk from Lynmouth 35 minutes, all uphill very steep.
Time 50 minutes Mainly a flat walk with a short incline at the start.
Starting at St. Mary’s Church in Lynton, cross over the road and take the narrow pathway known as Pigs Lane down to Queen Street and the old village. At the end of Queen Street turn right into Lydiate Lane following the road to the top of the village turning sharp left into Station Hill.
Starting at St Mary’s Church in Lynton proceed down North Walk Hill to the start of the historic Westerway - the old smugglers’ route, clearly signposted to Lynmouth after the first hotel on the right. This steep descent offers three exits into Lynmouth, each presenting numerous opportunities to enjoy the stunning views of Lynmouth Bay and across to Wales.
Starting from the Rhenish Tower in Lynmouth cross over the road and take the pathway alongside the Rising Sun Hotel called Mars Hill Way bearing left at the top of the path heading inland to Lynmouth Hill. Look down on the views of Lynmouth Harbour and the river across the town. At the end of the path turn left down to Lynmouth crossing the West Lyn River that runs down from the Glen Lyn Gorge on your right and follow on to the next bridge. At the bridge cross the road and turn right onto the footpath alongside the car park and follow the East Lyn River passing by the white foot bridge (without crossing) until you come to the tranquil memorial garden restored from the little hamlet of Middleham lost in the flood of 1952. At the end of the gardens cross over the wooden bridge and return towards the sea along the east bank of the river, this time crossing over the white footbridge back to the foot path to the road bridge. Turn right crossing the river again and cross the road to enter the Manor Green taking the driveway to the right that leads to the sea past the back of the Manor House. As you approach the sea front turn left and follow the path alongside the sea through the Manor Green to the Rock House Hotel and the footbridge back across the river to the Rhenish Tower.
Just where the road turns sharp left, there is a small public garden, the view from the bench gives you a wonderful glimpse towards the sea of the rock formations at the Valley of Rocks. 100 yards up Station Hill turn left into Normans Cleave and proceed downhill into Alford Terrace. Take in the views of Lynmouth Bay, and across to Wales and see sleepy Lynton from above. At the bottom of the terrace cross straight into the Lynway and enjoy the peaceful walk through the woods to Lynbridge. The only sounds you will hear will be the early morning bird songs. Stop by the Bridge Inn, turn right and walk through to the little bridge where often you will see dippers on the rocks. Re-trace your steps back past the Inn, bear right and follow the road towards Lynton and Lynmouth. Follow the path with the sounds of the tumbling waters of the West Lyn River all the way to the road junction where the pathway ends.Turn left and walk up Castle Hill to St Mary’s Church.
Your options are: bear left at the first pathway junction sign posted ‘Coastal Path’ to continue all the way down the Westerway, traversing the famous Cliff Railway, to the harbour near the Cliff Railway: or continue straight on at the first pathway junction taking the steep narrow roadway named Clooneavin Path, leading into Lynmouth by the bridge over the river; or after following the Westerway by bearing left at the first pathway junction take a right at the next pathway junction and then immediately left onto Mars Hill Way past the Rising Sun Hotel arriving in Lynmouth near the harbour. Should you choose not to return to your starting point on foot via the 3 paths available, take the Cliff Railway in season, a local bus (weekends only in winter) or local taxi.
Take care when walking on or crossing roads.
Lynton & Lynmouth offer a fine choice of attractions with something for each and everyone to enjoy. Fine cafes and restaurants, small local shops, great galleries to view and taxis to greet. A short venture away, you’ll find gardens for all, fun at the zoo and steam trains round Exmoor, whatever you choose there’s something to give you all, a great holiday treat.
Around & About
Lynton & Lynmouth
Lynton & Lynmouth will tempt you away from the car for a great day out and about with plenty for both young and old to enjoy. Enjoy an afternoon browsing the good variety of shops with something of interest for everyone and for all your holiday needs. For art lovers there are galleries to peruse and don’t miss the Arts and Crafts centre with a wide variety of wares from artisans and crafts people across Exmoor. There’s discovery and intrigue at the local Lyn & Exmoor Museum where historians will enjoy discovering our past and all will be intrigued by its tale of a ghost. Learn all about the tragic flood of 1952; with a visit to the Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall; and a short walk up the river to Middleham Gardens, a memorial to the hamlet lost in the flood. For pure entertainment in the outdoors do not miss a cricket match played on possibly the most picturesque cricket pitch in the country, in the Valley of Rocks. Enjoy another great tradition watching the local Morris dancers or while away an evening enjoying the more
contemporary Lyn Line Dancers weekly throughout the summer. For something inside, there’s big screen entertainment with a warm small town welcome at Lynton Cinema, open daily and screening the latest releases. Activities for young and old alike, activities for all: the children will just love the Manor Grounds with its play area, tennis court and putting green, while there are several excellent golf courses nearby for the little more mature. The ‘big kids’ among us will want to ride on the narrow gauge steam train from Woody Bay Station and all will be fascinated by the water powered Cliff Railway travelling between Lynton and Lynmouth. Our shores and seas have a wealth of wildlife and on Lynmouth beach there’s great fun to have for everyone young and old alike: strolling the seafront, beachcombing and rockpooling, with regular ‘Seaside Safaris’ organised by Exmoor National Park during the summer. Please make sure you take care and be aware of the tide.
Whatever you choose we hope you enjoy your stay and come back again soon.
Exmoor Outdoors & Active Exmoor provides a great base to enjoy so many outdoor activities, thereâ€™s an endless list: from wildlife spotting on foot to 4 x 4 safari: from photo shoots to clay and game shoots: exploring Exmoorâ€™s landscape by foot, on 2 wheels or on horseback: or experiencing its wild terrain by fishing, surfing, abseiling, rock climbing or canoeing. Exmoor for walking: Walks for all Long walks for walkers, short walks for pleasure and easy access trails, Exmoor has them all! There are two walks from Lynton & Lynmouth that are a must for nature lovers and those preferring a short walk. Both have car parking at or nearby enabling all to enjoy these famous beauty spots: - the Victorian North Walk path from Lynton to the Valley of Rocks with breathtaking views of the cliffs and sea across to the Welsh coast.
- the riverside walk from Lynmouth along the deeply wooded East Lyn river to Watersmeet where beautiful waterfalls can be seen. For those with limited mobility, nearby Wistlandpound at Blackmoor Gate and Weir Water at Robbers Bridge offer wheelchair accessible trails for all to enjoy. Details of long distance trails, a long walk route and short village strolls are included on further pages.
Exmoor for fishing: Hook line & sinker Fishing along some of Exmoor’s most stunning rivers, the East Lyn, Exe and Barle you may be rewarded with a trout or even a salmon, while locally well stocked fisheries include Wistlandpound at nearby Blackmoor Gate. Good sea fishing can be had at the right tides from Lynmouth harbour with grey mullet, sea bass and wrasse to be landed and also at nearby Woody Bay and Heddon’s Mouth. Please always be aware of the changing tides - they are some of the fastest in the country.
Exmoor Extreme: The Ex in Exmoor? If you like excitement and real adrenalin thrills Exmoor gives you the chance to try something a little more adventurous! When the right conditions prevail Lynmouth Bay provides excellent surfing for the experienced surfer whilst the sandy beaches at Croyde and Woolacombe are popular for the professional and beginner alike. Sea kayaking is also a popular sport in the waters along the stunning Exmoor coast. Hang-gliding and paragliding are both possible off Countisbury Hill near Lynmouth and Exmoor’s rugged coastline and remote hills are an ideal environment for coasteering and rock climbing. During autumn and winter the East Lyn River provides excellent and challenging conditions for canoeing. Whitewater kayakers frequently run this river when seeking the thrill of a Grade 4 paddle.
Exmoor for cycling: Cycling and mountain bike trails If wheels are your thing Exmoor has some of the most varied and exciting cycle and mountain bike trails in the country, with challenging steep climbs and heart stopping downhills set amid the most spectacular scenery. For a challenging ride follow the Exmoor Cycle Route, a 56 mile Tour of Britain circuit, or the Culbone Way, Regional Route 51, a popular trail from Minehead over Exmoor to Ilfracombe. For pleasure and a little more genteel exercise then take to the Tarka Trail along the estuary from Barnstaple to Braunton or Bideford.
Exmoor for riding: The riding playground of England Exmoor offers some of the best riding stables for the novice or the experienced rider with spectacular views to take in and miles of bridleways to explore. Individuals, groups or families are welcomed with short or long rides tailored for beginners, experienced or mixed ability groups. From small children’s ponies for parents to lead and walk, tuition and instruction, or a quiet trek through the woodlands to an exhilarating canter across heather-clad open moors and stunning scenery, everyone can enjoy Exmoor on horseback. Short and long term livery is also offered by some of the stables including breaking or schooling if required.
Exploring Exmoor 50 mile scenic driving tour of ‘Exmoor National Park’ This drive takes you through the heart of Exmoor National Park, that like R D Blackmore’s heroine Lorna Dorne, is both wild and gentle. Our route begins in “Little Switzerland”, the beautiful coastal twin villages of Lynton & Lynmouth, a picturesque place worth exploring with its famous Victorian waterpowered cliff railway. Drive due south briefly stopping at Watersmeet before climbing up across the roof of Exmoor heading for Simonsbath, Exford and Wheddon Cross, one of the best ways for visitors to view the fantastic countryside. Voted by the Caterham 7 sports car club as one of Britain’s Best Driving Roads, the B3223/4 is one of the finest; stunning views of coast and country, challenging hills, good visibility and graceful corners make for a wonderful few miles of driving. Carrying on swiftly through Simonsbath and Exford you arrive at Dunkery Beacon where you can take in spectacular 360° panoramic views of Exmoor from its highest point.
After Wheddon Cross, the route along the A396 winds down towards Dunster, its fine medieval buildings include a castle and yarn market. After visiting Minehead continue on to the picture postcard hamlets of Allerford and Bossington and then the bustling little village of Porlock where, if you time your journey right, you can pop down to Porlock Weir to watch the sun setting over the bay. By now you should be used to steep hills, the long and steep climb up Porlock Hill is perhaps the most challenging of all, but one of the highlights of this trip is the drive back along the A39 towards Lynton & Lynmouth where you’re spoilt for choice for breathtaking scenery.
Please observe the speed limits, watch out for animals.
Enjoy the 21 mile drive ~ Discover ‘Little Switzerland’ Where Exmoor meets the sea, words and pictures can only tell part of the story, experience the thrill of this scenic tour and discover its magic as you explore the beauty of “Little Switzerland”. Narrow lanes twisting and turning along the cliff edge, deeply wooded valleys, dashing streams and breathtakingly dramatic views. Enjoy small villages, tiny hamlets with welcoming pubs and tearooms, and some lovely short walks to Heddon’s Mouth, Watersmeet and Foreland Point to make for a glorious afternoon’s drive.
Down again to Lynmouth heading out to Watersmeet (NT) then Hillsford Bridge and through the beautiful Brendon Valley before returning down the hill via Countisbury. Unsuitable for camper vans and similar larger vehicles.
Climbing out of Lynmouth to Barbrook at the start this ‘figure of eight’ tour, stop off at the Lynton & Barnstaple narrow gauge railway at Woody Bay Station prior to Parracombe, before turning down the deeply wooded Heddon Valley (NT) to Hunters Inn. Then twist and turn running along the contour of the wooded cliffs of Woody Bay to the Valley of Rocks and Lynton.
The Rise & Fall of Sir George Newnes Tit-Bits & Town Halls
Browse through books that describe the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth and you should come across the name of George Newnes. He loved to visit the villages and was the area’s greatest benefactor in the latter half of the 19th century. His wealth, energy and enthusiasm helped transform the villages into a popular Victorian tourist destination and his patronage provided the outstanding town hall, Congregational church building and cliff railway. He was born in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire in 1851 into the family of a church minister at the Glenorchy Chapel and was educated at Silcoates School and City of London School. His first profession was as a Manchester haberdasher, but in 1881 he had an instant publishing success when he launched a popular penny magazine of short items called Tit-Bits. His interests in publishing grew as he added new magazines including Country Life and The Strand Magazine where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was first able to publish his Sherlock Holmes mystery series. His publishing empire expanded rapidly making him a very wealthy and powerful man; he served as MP for Newmarket from 1885 and became a baronet in 1895. Sir George frequently spent holidays with his wife Priscilla and family in Lynton & Lynmouth and was keen to develop the area known as “Little Switzerland” for the benefit of the wealthier classes. At that time the steep gradient between Lynton & Lynmouth had been a deterrent to visitors but he saw that there was an opportunity using a recently patented invention by a local engineer to lay track up the 1 in 1.75 gradient. The innovative water powered cliff railway cost £8,000 and opened in 1890. In the same year he purchased Hollerday Hill where he
had a house constructed over the next three years for his family. His enthusiasm and efforts continued and as a result the 19-mile Lynton & Barnstaple Railway opened on 11 May 1898. Sir George and Lady Newnes arrived at Lynton station on the first official train and formally opened the Railway. A horse-drawn coach then took them to Lee Road where Sir George laid a foundation stone for the Town Hall which was completed and opened by Sir George on 15 August 1900.
of Sir George set into a stone arch. Then take a walk up picturesque Hollerday Hill to visit the site where Sir George’s house stood. A short drive or quick bus journey will take you to see where the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust are once again carrying passengers aboard steam trains from Woody Bay Station along part of the old route of Sir George’s railway.
There seemed no end to his generosity yet by 1908 his businesses were failing. The financial worries affected his health and by 1910 his fortune had gone and he died a broken man at Hollerday House. To their surprise the Newnes family were saddled with debts, the mansion was put up for sale and stood empty for three years before it burnt to the ground in 1913 in very mysterious circumstances. The allegiance that Sir George Newnes gave to Lynton & Lynmouth in the late 19th century led to the popularity and success of the resorts – a success that continues to this day. The splendour and history are still there to enjoy today. You can still travel on the cliff railway between Lynmouth and Lynton to admire the views. Take a short stroll to the town hall that continues to captivate visitors, including a bust
Lynton & Lynmouth
The Walking Capital of Exmoor
Lynton & Lynmouth is an excellent base for walking. Four National walking trails arrive or pass through to take advantage of the spectacular coastal and moorland scenery. The walks not only give access to the beauty and tranquility of Exmoor’s landscapes, but they bring to life the legends, great stories and romance of the area’s history and intrigues. Many of these walks retain the atmosphere of earlier centuries letting you retrace the footsteps of the inhabitants of those times and feel the magic that has inspired so many visitors, artists and writers.
Experience part of one or more of these four famous National Walking Trails: • The South West Coast Path - ‘Created through history by fishermen, farmers, miners, smugglers, coastguards and soldiers’ - Visit stretches of this magnificent 630 mile South West walk stretching from Minehead to Poole. Join it at Lynton or Lynmouth to enjoy the spectacular coastline towards Porlock or Heddon Valley and Combe Martin. • The Samaritans Way South West - A journey through the countryside, 100 miles from Bristol to Lynton. From the Brendon Hills, the route heads into the heart of Exmoor, picking up stretches of the river Exe to Exford and then through the famous Doone Valley and Badgeworthy Water on to Lynton. The Doone Valley is the legendary
setting for the savage deeds of the outlaw Doone family and the story of the beautiful hostage Lorna Doone wooed by the heroic local wrestler John Ridd. • The Tarka Trail - Pick up the trail of ‘Tarka the Otter’ from the classic novel by Henry Williamson first published in 1927. A 180 mile epic journey through Dartmoor, Exmoor and North Devon, where some areas have changed little since Williamson’s descriptions of the 1920s. The route picks up the local highlights from the moorlands towards Hillsford Bridge, up onto Lynton’s high cleaves above the gorges of Lynmouth and on to the coastal path. • The Two Moors Way - Linking Southern England’s two National Parks, Exmoor and Dartmoor, in a 102 mile walk finishing at Lynmouth. Climb from Lynmouth to enjoy the views above the Lynmouth gorge and later ‘the unspoilt rural scenery with a remote and tranquil feel difficult to find elsewhere in modern times’, on the moorland towards Simonsbath. • The Coleridge Way - Follow in the footsteps of Coleridge’s travels in the South West - The official ‘Coleridge Way’ covers ground from Nether Stowey to Porlock. Closer to Lynton and Lynmouth, walk the stretches that inspired the poems: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and the Kubla Khan.
These boots are made for walking Hidden valleys, dancing streams, views to remember forever, amazing wildlife and refreshments en-route... what more could you ask for? Lynton - Summerhouse Hill Starting at Lynton Town Hall turn left walking towards Lynton village, at the church turn right and go all the way down Queen Street then up 100 yards of steep Sinai Hill. Turn left onto the Lynway signposted to Lynbridge and follow this all the way to the road. Cross the road, go past the Inn, cross the bridge over the West Lyn river and turn left where signposted to Watersmeet to follow the path that climbs and zig-zags up to a clearing. On the way up there are fascinating views of Lynbridge with its houses and hotels on the opposite side of the river and of the gorge and river below. At the top, WOW, here it is, one of the most vibrant and panoramic views in the Southwest. The Two Moors Way, the Tarka Trail and the Samaritans Way South West all converge upon this section of the path to take in the spectacular views including the village of Lynton across the valley, Lynmouth and the harbour down below, Wales across the sea and Countisbury to the right.
Sit or stand on the bench, take pictures, enjoy the moment…one of the most stunning and inspiring views you may ever see. Now you will see why poets artists and visitors have frequented the area for so many years... for inspiration.
Summerhouse Hill Myrtlebury Cleave - Watersmeet Carry on along the main path straight ahead ignoring the signposts directed left to Lynmouth. As Lynton and Lynmouth fade from view new vistas appear, the whole of the East Lyn valley seen from above and Wind Hill towards Countisbury across the valley. Then the path goes down, down, down past Oxen Tor, over a brook, and back up to the valley top. Follow the sign to Watersmeet, ignore the signpost to Hillsford Bridge and turn left downhill down steep steps through Myrtleberry Cleave. Go past the old Iron Age settlement and a field that is full of wonderful bluebells in spring. Then it’s just a short walk, down some steps to the road, crossing over and taking the footpath through the National Trust employees’ car park down and over the bridge to Watersmeet. This famous beauty spot is managed by the National Trust, the glade of the
valley is a wonderful place to pause for a while, to watch the waterfalls, enjoy refreshments served from the former fishing lodge and soak in the atmosphere. Now you can choose which route to take back to Lynton and Lynmouth: the full route via Rockford, Brendon and Countisbury: a shorter route up steep Trilly Path via Countisbury, or the shortest route straight back along the riverside.
Watersmeet - Rockford On leaving Watersmeet glade cross the bridge, turn left and follow the signs to Rockford with the river on your left. You will pass a cave and a bit further on you will find an old stone building, which once housed an important local industry; a lime kiln. Proceed through Barton Wood then cross the river by the wooden bridge, again following the signs to Rockford. After some beautiful riverside walking the picturesque hamlet of Rockford comes into view ahead and can be reached by crossing the footbridge over the river. Here you can enjoy refreshments at the Inn and choose whether to do the full route taking in the picture postcard village of Brendon or go directly via Countisbury.
Approx 10.75 miles with optional shorter 5 mile route. Circular. Lynton to Watersmeet via Summerhouse Hill and Myrtleberry Cleave - (2.75 miles)
To go directly to Countisbury pick up the route from the section headed Rockford – Wilsham - Countisbury
Rockford – Brendon – Rockford For Brendon turn left having crossed the footbridge, or on leaving the Inn turn right and follow the quiet wooded riverside road for about a mile to the village. Here you can stop for refreshments at the Inn or the village tea gardens near the small road bridge across the river. To return to Rockford turn left over the road bridge and after 100 yards, look out for a track forking off to the left and follow the line of the river. Leaving the houses behind continue along the path by the river through Mill Wood until you arrive back at the footbridge at Rockford
Rockford - Wilsham Countisbury At the footbridge on the footpath side, not the road side, follow the path back in the direction of Watersmeet for 50 yards and turn right onto the path signposted to Wilsham. This gradient is long and unrelenting so take a break, sit down and recharge the batteries! The woodland scenery is captivating. Once you come out of the wooded canopies at the top of the hill you come upon green fields and open views again.
Optional return via riverside walk to Lynmouth & Lynton - (2.25 miles)
Watersmeet to Countisbury via Rockford and Brendon - (5.5 miles)
Countisbury to Lynton via Lynmouth - (2.5 miles)
On entering a field which says “cross at your own risk” you wonder what may be the problem .... charging bulls, rampant adders, or scary locals ..... but when this was walked recently a herd of 15 deer appeared over the crest of the field, what a wonderful sight! Past Wilsham Farm, down a gulley, cross the small stream, and up the other side over Holden Head and continue over the crest of the hill. Looking opposite you can see Myrtleberry Iron Age Settlement and the path which was taken down to Watersmeet earlier in the day. Another “grand view” as they say, looking over Watersmeet, Summerhouse, Countisbury and back towards Rockford and Brendon. A little further on you arrive at the cattle grid on the A39, with the signpost “Countisbury Hill, Gradient 1 in 4 at bottom.” Turn right past the cattle grid and carefully cross the road and walk via the entrance to Barna Barrow car park, through the car park bearing left by the
stone wall towards the church. Then take the path bearing left, away from the radio mast, to the church.
Countisbury - Lynmouth - Lynton Arriving at Countisbury church you can also visit the local hostelry on the other side of the church to take refreshments before the descent to Lynmouth. Return back to Lynmouth from the back of the church, follow the wall going away to your left, Lynton & Lynmouth are down in front of you. Follow the South West Coast Path which offers marvellous views all the way down to Lynmouth. Arriving in Lynmouth cross the river and make your way to the sea front and the Esplanade. Now, a decision has to be made, be a true walker and walk up the zig-zag path to Lynton, or take the train, it’s up to you! 2 recommended maps are Lynton & Lynmouth Walking Map, printed by CroydeCycle, and the OS Map OL9 which are available at The Studio in Lynton and all good shops.
Read All About it!
Exmoor inspires authors to put pen to paper Follow in the footsteps of writers such as Coleridge, Shelley, Blackmore and Williamson - writers of all kinds lave long been attracted to Exmoor. The ‘Romantic’ poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey and Percy Bysshe Shelley all came around the turn of the nineteenth century. Coleridge who lived at Nether Stowey, and Wordsworth nearby at Alfoxden often took long walking tours along the rugged and wild Exmoor coast. In autumn 1797 as they journeyed together along the coast to Lynton and the Valley of Rocks, they jointly planned Coleridge’s most famous and epic poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Southey came to Exmoor on family visits, also walking the coastal path to Lynton and Lynmouth, which he likened to Switzerland – ‘Little Switzerland’. He never forgot the area and returned in later life when he wrote the sonnet To Porlock while at the village’s Ship Inn.
Essayist Charles Lamb and critic William Hazlitt also often visited Coleridge and walked with him to the Valley of Rocks travelling for ‘miles and miles on darkbrown heaths overlooking the Channel, with the Welsh hills beyond’. Returning from another visit to Lynmouth, Coleridge broke his journey, retiring to a lonely farmhouse near Culbone and there, in an opium induced state, the poem Kubla Khan came to him. In summer 1812 the poet Shelley honeymooned in Lynmouth at Mrs Hooper’s Lodgings, now known as Shelley’s Hotel. Here he tried to set up a small community of free spirits and composed early radical poetry such as Queen Mab and wrote seditious pamphlets including Declaration of Rights. He was seen distributing copies and fled Lynmouth after being watched by government spies because of his radical activities and writings. Richard Doddridge Blackmore’s story of the tragic heroine Lorna Doone was set in the valleys of Exmoor. It is a romantic tale of love, honour, bravery and treachery during the time of James II and the Monmouth Rebellion. R.D.Blackmore’s grandfather was vicar of Oare and Combe Martin and his uncle the rector of Charles near Lynton. Educated at Blundells School at Tiverton the future novelist spent many holidays with his Exmoor relatives, exploring the countryside of his famous story. Drawing heavily on his Exmoor family background his research into Lorna Doone took him to Lynton, Porlock and Withypool. The book was finally published in spring 1869. It is still in print today. Former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, always regarded as a nature poet, lived close by and his poem The Stag And Roe-Deer on Exmoor and An Otter, ‘rescued from a windswept lane on Exmoor before dawn in winter by a postman’, is a personal and touching work.
Over the years Exmoor has inspired many wildlife writers including a trio of famous naturalists, Richard Jefferies, Henry Williamson and W.H. Hudson, as well as the historian John Fortescue. Part of Williamson’s international award-winning classic Tarka the Otter is set on Exmoor as was his Wild Red Deer Of Exmoor and Gale of the World, which was influenced by the 1952 Lynmouth flood disaster. To this day the area has continued to inspire writers. From Dick Francis’ Shattered where part of the detective novel takes the reader to Lynton; James Herbert’s novel The Secret of Crickley Hall exploring the darker more obtuse territories with brooding menace and rising tension. Crickley Hall’s fictional location, the bottom of Devil’s Cleave, a massive tree-lined gorge in Hollow Bay Lynmouth, is based on the real gorges of Lynmouth; to Ray Connolly’s romantic novel Love Out of Season, where the setting is wholly based on Lynton & Lynmouth, fictionally referred to as the ‘North Devon Riviera’. Exmoor is also ‘home’ for other authors. Johnny Kingdom television wildlife presenter has spent his whole life in Exmoor, A Wild Life on Exmoor and Bambi and Me are about his life and love for Exmoor and its wildlife. Margaret Drabble lives near Porlock, The Witch of Exmoor is a gothic tale about a mad old matriarch upsetting her relatives in a remote house on Exmoor’s coast.
Flood Devastates Devon Village Friday 15th August 1952 Jan Mazzoni lived on Exmoor and returns as often as she can, The Snow Fox Diaries is a novel of life and love that tells of an albino vixen’s struggle to survive. Paddy King-Fretts grew up and, after more than 40 years as a soldier and traveller, has returned to live in Exmoor. Evoking the mystery, beauty and history of the area Larkbarrow is a tale of two young lives on Exmoor affected by World War II and the Jack Tucker of Exmoor trilogy is a family saga set between 1815 – 1875 incorporating the many tales of the Knight family, landowners of the Forest of Exmoor around that time. Titles include The Wild Red Dawn, Softly Cries the Curlew and Neither Hope Nor Fear. Christopher Tull has retired from the church in a rural Devon parish. In Pastures Green? Greener Grows the Grass and The Green Grass of Summer are thoughtful and humorous writings, drawing from his life’s experiences. Victoria Eveleigh lives near Lynton, Katy’s Exmoor is a great favourite for children, telling the story of 9 year old Katy Squires and an Exmoor pony whose adventures continue in Katy’s Exmoor Adventures and Katy’s Exmoor Friends. Midnight on Lundy, tells the story of Jenny who lives on Lundy in the 1960s befriending Midnight a Lundy Island pony.
Lynmouth is surrounded by stunning natural beauty but in 1952 it also experienced the awesome destructive power of nature. On August 15th there had been 12 days of above average rainfall when a thunderstorm dropped a further 9 inches (230mm) of rain in just over 24 hours. The steep valleys leading into the village concentrated the water from the moors into the East and West Lyn Rivers resulting in narrow torrents powerful enough to sweep huge boulders into the heart of Lynmouth. At Lyn Bridge an old packhorse bridge with an opening of 75 square feet was washed away by a wall of water ten times this size. Meanwhile the much more solid bridge over the West Lyn did not give way, but collected flood debris and acted as a barrier that
diverted the West Lyn down the main street of Lynmouth. The Victorian popularity of Lynmouth had encouraged buildings to encroach onto the old river beds and the West Lyn River had been altered around a meandering route to allow this. The force of the flood took the river back to its original direct course through the village. The flood devastated people’s lives and in total 34 people died but great bravery was also shown. A local policeman, Derek Harper, was awarded the George Medal for his bravery in rescuing people while Reg Freeman and Charlie Postles at the hydroelectric power station struggled to maintain the electricity supply until forced to evacuate. Over a dozen received bravery awards. Their stories and the tragic events of that day are remembered at The Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall which contains a scale model of the village at the time of the flood and photographs showing the devastation.
There are excellent books that capture the beauty of Exmoor and North Devon in photographs including collections by the photographers Neville Stanikk, Peter Hendrie and Adam Burton. The publication ‘Unforgotten Exmoor’, now in 3 volumes, is a collection by David Ramsay of reminiscences of Exmoor people in their own words together with family photographs.
Wild & Wonderful
Unique wildlife to be seen on Exmoor Exmoor’s spectacular and varied landscape provides a truly special home for many forms of wildlife, some are extremely rare and others are not found growing or living freely anywhere else in the world! The Exmoor Pony still runs free living on Exmoor and is, to most people’s surprise, rarer than the Giant Panda! It is one of Britain’s oldest breeds of pony and the nearest breed to the original wild horses of Europe. Stocks fell dramatically close to extinction in the 1940’s to only 50 ponies and just four stallions; stocks have increased to 1000 but this rare animal is still classified as endangered by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Before the 1950’s almost all of the Exmoor ponies lived on Exmoor, however current day grazing limitations restrict the number that can stay here. The pony has been recruited for habitat management outside of Exmoor, helping to conserve the breed, and small numbers have also been exported, including the most famous of our Exmoor emigrants that formed part of the ’Noah’s Ark’ shipment of livestock sent to the Falklands after the war in 1983. The Exmoor herds of fewer than 200 ponies that roam freely and breed in their natural habitat, are truly unique. Each one has a name, branding marks, and an owner. Each autumn the herds are
brought in from the moor for inspection and branding of foals that meet the pure breed requirements. There is a small herd at The Valley of Rocks and other free living herds nearby include those at Countisbury, on Porlock Common and on Lanacombe towards Simonsbath. See them in action at the Exmoor Show in August, or get really close to them at the Exmoor Pony Centre that works with the Moorland Mousie Trust to help conserve the breed. Always approach free living ponies quietly and slowly. Please never feed or try to handle the ponies.
The Red Deer of Exmoor forms the largest concentration of red deer in Britain, living in the only place where they have roamed truly wild since pre-historic times, surviving here through their protection as Royal Game in Exmoor Forest. Descriptions by the naturalist and writer Richard Jeffries, from his book Red Deer, published in 1884, are still as fitting today. ‘There is no more beautiful creature than a stag in his pride of antler, his coat of ruddy gold, his grace of form and motion... The branching antlers accord so well with the deep shadowy boughs and the broad fronds of the brake; the golden red of his coat fits to the foxglove, the purple heather, and later on to the orange and red of the beech; his easy bounding motion springs from the elastic sward; his limbs climb the steep hill as if it were level; his speed covers the distances, and he goes from place to place as the wind. He not only lives in the wild, wild woods and moors he grows out of them, as the oak grows from the ground. The noble stag in his pride of antler is lord and monarch of all the creatures left to us in English forests and on English hills.’
Catch a glimpse of these wild and shy creatures in the early morning or at dusk in wooded areas; in summer grazing on the moors; in October when the rutting season starts and stags compete for the control of a group of hinds, this is the time to watch out for them bolting across the open roads. After the stags shed their antlers in March April and the hinds start to have their calves, they hide away, and will be hard to spot. Join one of the deer walks with a National Park Ranger or take an Exmoor 4x4 Safari with its knowledgeable guide, to spot this wonderful creature.
The Valley of Rocks is the home to a colourful herd of Horned Feral Roaming Goats, whose history goes back to Neolithic times. The Valley’s high and exposed cliffs also provide a sanctuary for much sea bird life, including guillemot, razorbill, and the rare peregrine falcon. The goats are rarely intimidated by people, but please keep dogs under control. The sea birds are best seen by boat from Lynmouth. The protected High Brown Fritillary, and the Marsh and Heath Fritillary are some of the most endangered British butterflies; Exmoor’s habitat is one of its last bastions. There are National Park Butterfly walks in June and July. Four of the British varieties of Whitebeam Trees are found nowhere else in the world.
A new species of tree only confirmed in 2009 has been named the No Parking Whitebeam after the sign found nailed to its trunk. Its Latin name is Sorbus admonitor, meaning to admonish or tell off. Related to Rowan berries, the Whitebeam berries are edible and were once sold in local markets under the name of ‘French Hales’. Some varieties can be seen around Watersmeet. There is also one other creature yet to be fully identified - the legendary Exmoor Beast. Thought to have been responsible for the high level of sheep found killed in the 1980’s the army was called in to shoot or capture the animal. Never caught, tracks continued to be found and sightings made, usually described as a black cat-like creature about four feet long with a long tail and looking like a puma. To this day, events that occur in the wild of Exmoor, that cannot be fully explained, are often believed to be the exploits of the mysterious Beast of Exmoor! The only guide line here is ‘Watch Out!
Brendon Valley One of Exmoor’s hidden treasures Brendon Valley is one of Exmoor’s hidden treasures that, once discovered beguiles the visitors drawing them back time and time again to enjoy its spectacular setting, tranquillity and special hospitality. Encompassing the former hamlets of Leeford, Rockford and extending out towards Malmsmead in the east, the start of ‘Doone Country’, Brendon meanders along the steep sided valley bottom alongside the rapid flowing East Lyn River as it speeds its way to the sea at Lynmouth. The river is home to wild brown trout, salmon and sea trout for which fishing permits can be purchased locally. The darting flashes of kingfishers can be regularly seen and if you are really lucky you will spot dippers as they swim underwater particularly near the road bridge at Leeford and the ford at Malmsmead. The slow ponderous flight of herons on their search for a tasty fish dinner adds to the daily bird life activity on the river, while circling buzzards and Britain’s largest wild mammal, the proud red deer, are also common sights. Brendon Valley is at the very heart of the Exmoor National Park and sits at the intersection of a network of walks, which encompass a wide variety of land and seascapes. On a circular trek one can enjoy woodland, river, moorland, rugged coastline with views across the channel to Wales and traditional Exmoor farmland walks. It is possible to plan a
variety of circular walks ranging from a relaxing couple of miles amble, through to an all day hike building an appetite for a hearty meal in one of the local hostelries, restaurants or award winning tea gardens. The Brendon Valley also lies on a national cycle route along quiet lanes suitable for families while there are also challenging off-road tracks for more adventurous mountain bikers. For the more ambitious there is horse riding and pony trekking with local stables catering for all abilities. Brendon, or “the valley” as it is referred to locally is renowned for its friendly welcome and hospitality. There is a wide variety of accommodation available ranging from B&B’s and self-catering holiday cottages to country guesthouses and inns. Be you young or old, looking to take part in the activities of the countryside or just wanting to relax and unwind “the valley” can provide, but beware once bitten by its hidden charms you will not be able to resist returning!
KINGDOM’S EXMOOR Johnny Kingdom - ‘Exmoor personified’ It might well be claimed by those who know him that Johnny Kingdom epitomises Exmoor. His native passion for the area, his variety of knowledge, his personal background and experiences, his depth of understanding as revealed in his photography and writings all contribute to that mystery and uniqueness of this much loved area. Johnny Kingdom is the Exmoor countryside made ‘flesh’, his work shows how integral both the landscape and the creatures of Exmoor have been to his life. His T.V. presentations, with his natural humour and local dialect have served to confirm such an opinion. Johnny has lived his whole life on Exmoor, he has been a farm worker, a quarry man, a lumberjack, a poacher and his local parish grave digger. He firmly believes his remarkable career progression to wildlife photographer, film maker and popular television wildlife presenter was shaped by one event, one unforgettable loan from a friend and the inspiration provided by Exmoor. Johnny writes: ‘Exmoor, North Devon and the wildlife within this unique unspoilt area have always held a very special place in my life ever since I was a young boy growing up in High Bray, a small village in North Devon near Brayford. One of my earliest memories of Lynton and Lynmouth is the awesome views of the prehistoric looking Valley of Rocks. When I was a boy I was there with my brother in law Derek Sharp scrambling along the 600 foot high cliffs trying to spot as many different birds and animals as we could. The magnificent towering cliffs, the blue sea crashing hundreds of feet below, the birds squawking so loudly and the views across the channel and along to Woody Bay are some of my earliest memories of my first love of Exmoor. From those days in my youth when visitors to Exmoor and its special places like Lynton and Lynmouth mostly came on holiday to the area by bus and
conservation and wildlife photography was in its infancy, to now, the whole area still remains an unspoilt haven for people to enjoy. I thoroughly recommend Exmoor to anyone with an interest in the outdoors, especially for the spectacular scenery, wooded valleys, a great coastline and the chance to see the magnificent red deer. Many people do not know that my work to help promote Exmoor, its people and wildlife, and which started my journey to become a wildlife photographer and film maker, developed as a result of my nearly being killed. When I was a selfemployed lumberjack I had a terrible accident when a chain that holds the anchor broke causing the anchor to go to ground and the hydraulic arm to smash through my cab and hit me in the face. I was working alone at the time and after regaining consciousness was fortunate to be able to stagger to my vehicle and drive out of the
Exmoor is a unique and fantastic area to visit, as unique and fantastic as is the loveable character – Johnny Kingdom www.ScenicExmoor.com
lonely woodland for help. My road to recovery was long, but whilst I was getting better I was lent a video camera by my friend Roger Gregory to give me something to focus on. With this and the opportunity of time, I watched Exmoor’s magnificent wildlife, which I have loved since being a small boy. The loan of the video camera and these times, I will never forget and they shaped my life. I continued from those days to gain more and more experience videoing and photographing animals on Exmoor, working then, to provide some form of income, digging graves in the local parish. I learnt that time and patience was key to understanding the behaviour of Exmoor’s wildlife and to getting that great shot. Realising these demands on my time and patience, I am sure enabled me to now work as a wildlife film maker and photographer of Exmoor. Work that I thoroughly love and relish. This has been the best thing I have ever done and achieved. Exmoor is my home, where I have lived all of my life and the place I love. Some people ask me what the best things about living on Exmoor are, and I say there are so many things that come to mind, it is just such a
wonderful place and the people are so friendly. The landscape of Exmoor, with rivers running through the moors that you can see for miles and miles, it’s just wonderful. I think one of the best views on Exmoor is when you are driving towards Simonsbath, a small village near the centre of Exmoor, and coming from the South Molton direction, cast your eye over to the left to see the River Barle, you get one of the best views of a mile up the river. Of course living on Exmoor has another special aspect that means so much to me, its unique wildlife. I love the hardy and unique Exmoor Pony and their autumn round up, filming wild boar, the red deer, foxes, badgers, falcons, stoats, sparrow hawks, and all the fascinating wildlife in Exmoor. My main love has to be the red deer of Exmoor and these are so special and important to the area. They have a beautiful russet colour to blend in with the autumnal beech and bracken in my favourite season when you can watch the rutting stags. Anyone walking on Exmoor has the chance to see one of these red deer
if they are observant and patient. My most exciting encounter on Exmoor was at Anstey Common with a big stag: I had been following him for about three days and he eventually decided he was not too happy being filmed. I ended up in an awkward position with a pheasant pen behind me and a wire fence in front. The stag jumped the fence with his hinds following, landing next to where I was. Without me being able to move anywhere the stag gave a deafening roar and came right up to my face. I was still filming! I had some great shots but it was extremely frightening. Now I hope I have conveyed to you a little of the essence of Exmoor and hopefully you can understand why I love the area and its wildlife so much. If you are staying on Exmoor or just passing through, I hope this short introduction to Exmoor will provide some insight to what you can expect and that I have given a helpful snapshot of this unique environment.’
Getting To and About Lynton & Lynmouth Airports:
Nearest airports are at Bristol and Exeter.
The nearest railway station is Barnstaple This connects to the main line at Exeter
There is a regular bus service to Barnstaple. Service 309 goes to Barnstaple via Shirwell and Arlington. Service 310 goes to Barnstaple via Bratton Flemming. Both routes pass Woody Bay Station. Service 300 The Exmoor Coast Link runs between Minehead and Ilfracombe and serves the villages of Porlock and Combe Martin.
Timetables are available from the Tourist Information Centre and are displayed at the bus stops.
Coach services operate to and from Barnstaple.
Operates from mid February to mid November continuously
10:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs and to 20:00 hrs in the high season.
Lynton & Lynmouth Village Map www.ScenicExmoor.com
A little bit of Devon... a little bit of heaven A hidden gem of the English seaside brings out the romantic in Ray Connolly who uses it as the setting for his own love story.
You won’t find a place called the North Devon Riviera on any map or in a guidebook because it doesn’t actually exist. I made the name up to describe a beautiful stretch of the coast for a novel I’ve written called Love Out Of Season. I didn’t want to upset the people of Lynmouth by reordering their beautiful little town so that it fitted my story. Novelists do this all the time. Usually, though, we don’t own up to it. But when I first visited Lynmouth and walked the surrounding cliffs and moors, it seemed to me to be the most perfect place for a romantic story. I think it’s one of the prettiest and most unspoilt seaside places in England. I say unspoilt, meaning in the commercial sense, of course. Because, as the older people of Lynmouth remember to their distress, it was very badly spoiled in 1952 when, after 24 hours and 9in of rain on the Exmoor hills, roaring torrents of water and tumbling boulders ripped the village apart. In a night the place known as England’s Little Switzerland because of its neat, steep,
wooded beauty was totally vandalised by nature. The massive damage was repaired decades ago, and now Lynmouth once again enjoys the relationship that it always had with water - the water that wrecked it but which also makes it so special. Because quite apart from Lynmouth being a little port, water also created and still contributes to the extraordinary beauty of the hills and gorges, provides some of the local electricity and made possible a staggering piece of Victorian engineering which must be ridden to be appreciated. The characters in my story visit the North Devon Riviera in the winter, chosen by one of them because it seems a bleak, inaccessible hideaway, tucked under Exmoor, peeping out at the Bristol Channel. The perfect place for a quiet weekend. But in summer it’s completely different, almost Neapolitan from some angles. With the forest dropping straight down to the sea to the west of the town, Lynmouth, with its white hotels set in the woods, seems to stroll with late Victorian/ Edwardian ambience - a sparkling splinter of that tranquil England which was left behind when the modern
world flew off to sunnier climes in charter jets. What fascinated me when I first visited were the gorges cut deep by the two rivers which converge in Lynmouth itself - the East Lyn, wide and babbling and made-for-picnics at Watersmeet a couple of miles upstream; and the West Lyn which charges through the narrower Glen Lyn Gorge. If you have children the Glen Lyn Gorge should not be missed. There they can generate their own hydroelectric power on a tiny model and even make their own rainbows. No less interesting, however, are the walks through the woods in Glen Lyn and all around Lynmouth, where the spray from the waterfalls and the abundant rainfall has created something of a microclimate and with it a dense forest, where giant ferns, larches, beeches, oaks and Spanish chestnuts wrestle upwards. All the walks around Lynmouth are spectacular - whether you venture inland to Exmoor and to what’s become known as the Doone Valley, after the novel Lorna Doone by R.D.Blackmore, or concentrate entirely on the cliff paths, which at 800ft are some of the highest in Britain. Why didn’t I know more about this area, I always ask myself as I gaze out at the Valley of Rocks, a prehistoric looking place just behind the cliffs, where the exposed granite stones look like a line of huge ragged teeth? I don’t know. But I didn’t. It’s been a well kept secret.
To fully appreciate Lynmouth, you have to visualise the geography of the place, to understand that it’s really less than half a settlement, the greater proportion of the place, Lynton, being a pretty village of grey and pastel walls and roofs 500ft above the little port. There are three ways to get from Lynmouth to Lynton: a winding road for cars; a crippling zigzagging climb through the wet woods; and the third method - one of the most interesting tourist attractions you’re likely to find in Britain, the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. For this, we are all indebted to the 19th Century popular magazine publisher and millionaire philanthropist George Newnes. Having apparently fallen in love with Lynmouth on a visit, he was appalled to see the plight of the pack horses as they struggled up the steep and winding road from the port to Lynton. So when someone appeared with a revolutionary plan for a cliff railway, he agreed to fund its development. Well over one hundred years later, and without a single serious accident, the railway is still running. Powered by steam, diesel, gas or electricity, it would have been a remarkable engineering feat. But what was and remains unique is that it works entirely by water. The basic plan is simplicity itself - a see-saw involving two equally balanced cars connected by a cable but always at opposite ends of the railway
system from each other, each with a 700 gallon tank between the wheels. Using the water which runs freely off the East Lyn, the tank on the car at the top is filled. On a signal the car 800ft away at the bottom of the railway begins to release its water from its tank, whereupon the now heavier weight of the top car pushes it down the track, simultaneously pulling up the now lighter lower car. When the lower car reaches the top, now empty of water, it is filled up, and the whole procedure begins again. To see this brilliant Victorian invention, one which is totally ecologically clean, still carrying passengers up and down the cliffside, is thrilling. So, don’t go to Lynmouth if all you want is a beach - they are pebbly and not too easy to get to unless you’re a mountain goat. But if you’re interested in a quiet place for romance or looking for a tiny version of what holidays used to be like in the days of Enid Blyton, Lynmouth will take some beating.
Ray Connolly’s novel, Love Out Of Season, was published on February 1st 2007 by Quercus Books.
Hidden Gems and Treasures from the Past... The National Trust looks after extensive areas of the North Devon and WEST Somerset coastline and countryside, stately homes and even a castle! You can enjoy unlimited visits and free parking to all these places when you become a member of The National Trust. Join today at any of the places mentioned below. Most people that visit Exmoor and stay in or around Lynton and Lynmouth are soon aware of the spectacular scenery in this area. The areas of land around Watersmeet and Countisbury vary from rocky cliffs and open moorland to steep wooded valleys and dramatic coastlines. Walking is popular and there are routes to suit all abilities. The focal point is Watersmeet House, originally a nineteenth century fishing lodge, but now a very popular tea garden and shop. A welcome rest with a mouth-watering, home baked, cream tea or cake is definitely something not to be missed! There is another National Trust shop in the tranquil Heddon Valley, another wonderful walking area nearby. Just a short drive from Watersmeet into West Somerset you can discover Dunster Castle with its fine interiors, breathtaking views across Exmoor and delightful terraced gardens. Home to the Luttrell family for over 600 years, the Castle has witnessed siege and surrender and has changed from medieval fortress to comfortable Victorian home. Enjoy a relaxing stroll through the gardens, look out for the Bats of Tenants Hall, find signs of the supernatural on our Ghostbusters Trail or enjoy a spot of retail therapy in our Stables Shop. The events programme includes Easter Trails, re-enactments of English civil war battles and the chance to try your hand at archery.
Carriage rides available most days, weather permitting.
Then take a unique journey into the past at Arlington Court, where you can experience a ride in our traditional horse-drawn carriage. Hidden in a valley on the edge of Exmoor, this Regency house is crowded with the treasures of the Chichester family. There is a Victorian formal garden and walled kitchen garden, which produces fruit and vegetables for the tearoom and cutflowers for the house. The Stable Block contains the National Trust’s collection of over 50 horse-drawn carriages and a working stable. The parkland has its own natural riches, from rare lichens to a colony of Lesser Horseshoe bats, which you can spy on using our ‘bat-cam’ (May-August).
Dunster Castle Ancient castle with fine interiors and subtropical gardens.
Fantastic walking along miles of towering cliffs and secluded coves, wooded river valleys and heather moorland in Exmoor National Park.
Intimate and intriguing Regency house, set in extensive estate, and impressive collection of horse-drawn vehicles.
• The National Trust’s Carriage Collection. • Varied collections of eccentric traveller Rosalie Chichester. • View Devon’s largest colony of Lesser Horseshoe bats via the ‘Bat Cam’ . • Carriage rides around the grounds.
• Romantic castle with turrets and towers. • Remodelled in the 19th cent. but an important fortress for over 1,000 years. • Terraced gardens with sub-tropical plants. • Home to the National Collection of strawberry trees.
Tel: 01271 850296
Tel: 01643 821314
Arlington, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 4LP
Endless walking opportunites within this peaceful valley!
Dunster, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 6SL
• Heddon Valley shop and information centre • Highest sea cliffs in southern England. • A favourite landscape of the Romantic poets and smugglers too! • A haven for coastal and woodland birds. • Roman fortlet to Victorian limekiln remains.
Tel: 01598 763402 Parracombe, Lynton, Devon, EX31 4PY
Where the lush valleys of Hoar Oak Water and the East Lyn river tumble together, sits Watersmeet House, a 19th C fishing lodge, now a National Trust shop and tea room.
One of Englands oldest tea-rooms set amid ancient woodlands.
• Great spot for woodland walks taking in waterfalls and boulderfilled streams. • One of Britain’s deepest river gorges. • Setting for an Edwardian tea-room and gardens. • Haven for butterflies, otters, birds and salmon. • The starting-off point for some 40 miles/65 km of woodland, riverside and coastal walks.
Tel: 01598 752648 Lynton and Lynmouth Devon, EX35 6NT
Go Fishing! Hook, line and sinker Sea fishing... Lynmouth: At first glance the foreshore is a mass of boulders that will ensnare tackle on every cast. This is a little misleading, however, for there is good fishing to be had nearby.
high water on a spring tide, but inspect at low tide to find clear patches amongst the rocks. Dogfish abound after dark all year, grey mullet and wrasse can be tempted in daylight.
Lynmouth Harbour dries out but is productive over high tide. The river mouth is good for grey mullet, five pounders are caught every year, paternostered bread flake is useful bait. Big bass can also be caught in the river mouth using free-lined mackerel, squid or trout, with conventional beach-casting tactics 2 hours either side of high water at the Rhenish tower.
Woody Bay: A beautiful bay, west of Lynmouth, the old stone jetty on the left of the beach can be fished for 1Â˝ hours each side of low water on spring tides. Take great care here to avoid being cut off and never fish here during rough conditions, as big waves will sweep over this jetty. The sea bed is a mixture of rock and in summer lobster pots can be a problem. Big bass, bay, tope and other species are caught here most years.
Eastwards towards Sillery Sand is a beach called Blacklands. This is cut off at high water and should only be fished in calm weather, the rocks can be treacherous here when wet. Grey mullet abound, bass can be tempted using plugs or by bottom fishing with peeler crab and wrasse can also be found. In winter codling and dogfish can provide good sport. The Esplanade car park can be fished over
Heddonâ€™s Mouth: A steep shelving beach of rocky pebbles, best two hours either side of high water after dark. Large bass can be caught here during the summer months along with the occasional huss or conger. Thanks to Combe Martin Sea Angling Club www.cmsac.co.uk
freshwater fishing... The scenery is stunning with both open and wooded valleys and a variety of waters. The key rivers are the East Lyn flowing to the sea at Lynmouth and the rivers Barle and Exe flowing south east by way of Simonsbath and Exford. Because Exmoor is not well known for game fishing the banks areusually quiet and the fishing relaxed. The most important fish are the wild brown trout, rainbow andsea trout and salmon, with grayling and sometimes pike found on the River Exe. In addition to the rivers there are several well stocked fisheries in the area with Wistlandpound at nearby Blackmoor Gate. Fishing permits can be bought from the Tourist Information Centre at Lynmouth and tackle and bait are readily available from local shops.
Queen Street in Lynton Old Village One of the oldest and most charming streets in Lynton, Queen Street, is a must see for the visitor... Access is most easily gained off Lee Road opposite St Mary’s Church, with two entrances to this steep, narrow and evocative lane. It was once the main street of Lynton and was called Pigs Lane as the pigs, once kept in fields around the church, were seen trotting up and down the lane whenever they needed to be moved. A stream once ran down the middle of the street providing the main water supply for the village, and the early dwellings built in the 1600’s were thatched, and included a wool spinner’s cottage and a farm. One of the farm’s barns, now the village library, was converted to provide an enclosed market place for local farmers to come and sell their produce. Today’s modern equivalent is the Farmer’s Market which takes place in the Town Hall on the first Saturday morning of each month. Another popular village event that took place in Queen Street, in the yard at the back of The Globe, were the wrestling matches every Friday night. The winner of the annual midsummer wrestling match, known as the Lynton Revel, was presented with silver spoons that he would proudly wear in his hat on a Sunday. A little further from the Globe, next to the Crown Hotel, there was once a picture house, the ‘Picturedome’ showing silent movies. The new cinema, with the latest film releases, is now housed at the back of the Arts and Crafts Centre next to the Town Hall.
From the Crown Hotel, Queen Street leads into Lydiate Lane, the former main road into Queen Street from the Barnstaple direction, or up Sinai Hill to the old railway station. Sinai Hill provides a magnificent viewpoint and the start of the popular Victorian walk along the Lyn Way path through woodland to Lynbridge. Sinai Hill, when the railway was open, bustled with very fit porters and horses carrying luggage and passengers up and down this steep hill to arrive in Queen Street! Just off Queen Street, in Market Street, is St Vincent’s Cottage; Lynton’s oldest surviving dwelling, with its very own resident ghost! The cottage is now the Exmoor Museum, where more of Lynton’s and the surrounding district’s local history is recorded and illustrated. Today thriving Queen Street offers the visitor a variety of interesting shops and services. So whenever you are in Lynton and Lynmouth be sure to take time out to visit Queen Street, a unique and interesting street.
Heroic Journey of the Louisa Thursday 12th January 1899 On the evening of Thursday 12th January 1899 a telegram was received for the coxswain of the Lynmouth lifeboat, the Louisa. A large ship on its way from Bristol to Liverpool, the 1900 ton 18 man three masted Forrest Hall, was drifting ashore at Porlock. Watchet reported that the severe weather prevented them from launching their boat, so the Lynmouth boat was the ship’s only hope. One of the severest gales ever had been blowing all day, it was clear that the Louisa could not be launched at Lynmouth. Not to be beaten the decision was taken, the coxswain proposed taking the lifeboat by road up Countisbury Hill, over Exmoor and down Porlock Hill, a total of nearly 14 miles, to the more sheltered harbour at Porlock Weir. The combined efforts of some 20 horses and 100 local men eventually brought the boat to the top of Countisbury. Most of the helpers exhausted from their efforts gave up here, leaving only 20 men to help the crew for the rest of the journey. After navigating many dangerous and hazardous obstacles pulling and pushing the Louisa they eventually reached Porlock Weir almost 12 hours later at 6:30am the following morning. The crew, although exhausted and hungry, immediately launched their lifeboat. It took an hour to reach the Forrest Hall, which had drifted perilously close to the rocks. The lifeboat escorted the ship to a safe haven before finally returning by sea some 41 hours later to Lynmouth, arriving at 11.30am on Saturday January 14th so completing one of the most remarkable events in the annals of the RNLI. On January 12th, 1999, the centenary of this epic episode, the communities of Lynton and Lynmouth in celebration of their forefathers re-enacted this celebrated event hauling an historic replica lifeboat to Porlock.
Lynton Cinema BIG SCREEN ENTERTAINMENT WITH A WARM SMALL TOWN WELCOME www.lyntoncinema.co.uk Enquiries: 01598 753397 Booking Line: 01598 753243 Lynton’s first cinema, the “Picturedrome”, opened in the Foresters’ Hall in 1916 and showed silent movies until 1930. With the advent of talking pictures the location of the cinema moved to the former Congregational Church and became known as the “B.B. Cinema”. When the owner Major Blackhurst died in 1961, the cinema closed and the property was sold off for £2950. Thereafter films were screened for many years on a part-time basis at Lynton Town Hall. This was far from ideal and it was felt that the only way forward, would be to have a seven-day a week operation showing up to date films in its own premises. In 1999 the Methodist Chapel in Lee Road closed and was purchased by North Devon District Council. The Council offered part of the grade 2 listed building as a venue for a new cinema. Money was raised through obtaining various grants and the sponsoring of seats and equipment. After months of hard work, by dedicated groups of people, the Lynton Cinema finally opened its doors on Friday the 1st June 2001 with the film Bridget Jones Diary. The cinema has a seating capacity of about 70, creating a unique intimate atmosphere. The auditorium is heated, air conditioned and is one of very few in the West Country to have full digital surround sound. We screen the latest films approximately two weeks after their first release date. One feature of Lynton Cinema is the comfortable seating and the very generous amount of leg room. Lynton’s cinema is a huge achievement to all those involved and well worth a visit. A warm welcome awaits you at Lynton Cinema...