Our Top 5 favourite Exmoor walks in Lynton & Lynmouth
It’s been said that Lynton & Lynmouth are a walker’s paradise and we agree. These two picturesque towns, Lynmouth on the Exmoor coast at the mouth of the West Lyn River, and Lynton other perched high on a cliff above, are surrounded by the most beautiful coastline, countryside and moorland.
Highcliffe House stands high above both, with views out over Lynton, down in to Lynmouth and across the Bristol Channel to South Wales. Guests love our panoramic views and are itching to get outdoors to explore them. We’re often asked which our favourite is, and believe it or not, it’s a difficult question to answer because we love them all.
Here’s our top 5 walks around Lynton & Lynmouth …
Valley of Rocks
This is the shortest walk from Highcliffe House and suitable for most people, with the majority of the path being tarmac. However, there is a rather steep drop to one side which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. This circular walk is just under 3-miles from our doorstep.
We love this walk because it offers dramatic coastal views and the most fascinating rock structures. Castle Rock is the ‘monument rock’ of the valley, and it’s worth a climb for the incredible views. Oh, and don’t forget the goats – the Valley of Rocks is famous for its herd of feral goats. In the Summer months, we love to stop half-way for tea and cake at Mother Meldrum’s café and garden.
We walk back to Lynton via Longmead and Lee Road. This is a more direct route but it means we get to stop by Lyn Candles which is always a pleasure, before meandering around Lynton’s shops and cafes.
This has to be our favourite circular river walk, along with Julia Bradbury who also added it to her top walks. This walk totals approximately 5-miles and starts in Lynmouth following the cascading East Lyn River through a dramatic river gorge to Watersmeet House. Along the way are tell-tale signs of the river’s past industry and Victorian popularity, mostly swept away by a devastating flood in 1952.
Watersmeet house sits at the junction of two great rivers, the sound is wonderfully deafening as the icy cold waters collide together. We love sitting here with a Devon Cream Tea, surrounded by ancient woodland and a myriad of wild birds and flora.
We head back to Lynmouth through the Woodland Walk on the opposite bank to which we arrived. Along this path we get to add another to the Money Tree and make more wishes. This path eventually brings to back to Lynmouth for more exploring or last-minute shopping before heading back to Highcliffe House on the Cliff Railway.
Summerhouse Hill to Watersmeet
We love this walk because of the sensational views from Summerhouse Hill all the way along the ridge of the Watersmeet gorge. This 6+ mile, circular walk requires a little more energy to complete with a pit stop at Watersmeet House for tea and cake.
The highlight of this walk, although there are many, is the Iron Age Fort site. This area is a clear area of grass with splendid views all the way back along the gorge to Lynton & Lynmouth. It’s the perfect place on a sunny day to lay back and stare at the vastness and greatness of our universe.
Stopping at Watersmeet is always a pleasure for us, we love listening to the water, sipping our tea and feeding the wild birds. On this walk we like to take the river-side path back to Lynmouth, rather than the woodland walk. It’s really lovely to see the river from a different direction.
Sparrows Path to Countisbury Hill
This winding path is often overlooked as people head towards Watersmeet along the river, but this unassuming little path leads to some breathtaking views over Lynton, Lynmouth and the Bristol Channel. This circular walk starts in Lynmouth as if you were walking towards Watersmeet House, but a cheeky left diversion soon has you ascending The Tors along Countisbury Hill.
For this particular walk we take a left towards Beacon Tor which rewards you with the most incredible views back over our two gorgeous towns. This area is wide open and relatively narrow, and at the right spot you can see the coast and Watersmeet gorge. Our preferred mid-way spot of this walk is a comfort break at the Blue Ball Inn, so after enjoying the views at Beacon Tor we head towards Wind Hill an onward to the pub. On really nice days we like to take a packed lunch from the Picnic Box and lay in the breeze of Wind Hill.
There are several options to bring you back home, some longer via Watersmeet, or in this case through Chiselcombe back towards Sparrows Path via Wester Wood. It’s a wonderful mix of long distance views then enclosed by gnarled leafy trees.
Southcliffe to the Heddon Valley
This the most challenging of our 5 favourite walks and as a circular walk can total over 12-14 miles from our doorstep. We use the Hunters Inn in the Heddon Valley as a midway point for refreshments. There are ways to shorten it so you could enjoy bite-sized sections and spread it over a few days. This walk starts in Lynton and takes you along Southcliffe, which looks down in to the Valley of Rocks and over Hollerday Hill. The views from the top of Southcliffe are absolutely incredible, almost dwarfing the Valley of Rocks. This path takes us through the Lee Valley Estate towards Woody Bay, it’s like a chocolate-box picture.
Walking through Woody Bay towards the Heddon Valley is along the South West Coastal Path. Initially this a leafy woodland walk, but as you ascend and the trees drop back and the sheerness of the cliffs can be seen – it’s quite awe-inspiring. As you head around the cliffs at the Heddon Mouth you’re entering one of the most dramatic parts of the Coastal Path. Follow the valley path down in to the Heddon Valley where you will follow the bubbling river upstream to the Hunter’s Inn.
The walk back is a little easier on the legs, following the Coastal Path is a Bridleway which takes you all the way back to Woody Bay. It’s slightly longer, but a nice leisurely stroll with it being mostly flat with slight inclines. Eventually the path takes you back through the Lee Valley Estate but this time we continue along the road into the Valley of Rocks. Once in the valley we get spoiled for choice for our return home, either; along the Coastal Path, up and through Hollerday Hill or via the road. We describe this as an EPIC walk.