The South West Coast Path is England’s longest waymarked path, and a National Trail. The path is 630 miles long, running from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, finishing at Poole Harbour in Dorset.
One of the most popular sections of the South West Coast Path with BCH Camping
customers is from Lynmouth to Hunter’s Inn via Heddon’s Mouth. This stretch of the path is made up of a remarkable, rocky coastline, beautiful beaches, deep valleys and some of the most impressive high cliffs in the UK.
In this blog we bring you the highlights of the Lynmouth to Hunter’s Inn walk.
Distance and terrain
The distance is approximately 6 miles, and the terrain is very exposed coastal walking. You should ensure that you have sturdy footwear
to keep a strong hold.
Lynmouth and Lynton
Lynmouth is a harbour village on the northern edge of Exmoor. Lynmouth and the nearby village of Lynton form a parish which the South West Coast Path and Tarka Trail pass through. Other notable walks that lead to the parish are the Two Moors Way, the Samaritans Way and the Coleridge Way. It really is a haven for walkers!
The famous artist, Thomas Gainsborough, described Lynmouth as “the most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast”.
If you’re looking for things to do before setting off on your walk to Hunter’s Inn, you could take a ride on the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway which is the steepest water-powered Victorian railway in the world. The steam train at Woody Bay Station is another popular visitor attraction. The station is run as an educational charity that focuses on transport systems of the past, and their effect on the rural community.
To begin your walk to Hunter’s Inn, you should set off from Lynton, and follow the South West Coast Path along North Walk towards the Valley of the Rocks. This starts out as a wide tarmac path with open sea views.
Valley of the Rocks
The Valley of the Rocks is a U-shaped dry valley that runs along the north Devon coast, parallel to the sea, just half a mile from Lynton. It’s known for its feral goats that roam freely and teeter dangerously on the edge of the jagged cliff edges.
It is thought that during the Ice Age the East Lyn River was prevented from reaching the sea on its normal route by the ice sheet. Instead, it was diverted westwards. When the ice sheet retreated, the river was able to resume its original path, the result of which was that the valley was left without a river.
The area has always been popular with literary types. In 1797, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth visited the valley together to write some prose that was never completed.
Today, the Valley of the Rocks is known for its unusual rock formations, boulders and caves.
After you pass The Beacon Activity Centre and Lee Abbey you will find yourself at Lee Bay where there is a small rocky cove with a stunning secluded beach. At low water, even in the height of the summer, it remains a tranquil spot. There are lots of rock pools and a small sandy beach that has a very gentle slope. As the tide goes out an expanse of sand emerges from among the rocks. A way through the cliffs also appears westwards that leads to a large shingle beach called Sandy Cove or Bath Beach.
Further along the route you will reach Woody Bay where a waterfall cascades down the cliffs. There is a harbour wall, and a deep tidal pool, created by a manmade wall that has been built between two rocks on the shore.
In the late 19th century, there were plans to develop the bay into an exclusive resort. For this reason, the Lynton and Barnstaple railway has a station for the beach about 1½ miles away. Take care, however, because the lanes leading to Woody Bay are extremely narrow with steep gradients and hairpin bends.
Great Burland Rocks and Heddon’s Mouth
The South West Coast Path opens up after Woody Bay to pass above Great Burland Rocks and reach Highveer Point where Heddon’s Mouth Beach can be seen below.
Heddon’s Mouth is a rocky cove that was once popular with smugglers but is now a top destination for scramblers. This part of the path offers the most spectacular views, but it is also narrow and the sea side of the path is quite sheer in places.
When the path reaches the top of Heddon’s Mouth it begins to descend towards the floor of the Heddon Valley, with the Hunter’s Inn a short distance away.
The Hunter’s Inn
The Hunter’s Inn is popular with walkers, scramblers, beach goers and sightseers. Owned by the National Trust, this is a great spot for food, home-brewed ale and 4 acres of gardens that look out onto the valley.
The surrounding area is a haven for wildlife, particularly red deer and otters, and the endangered High Brown Fritillary butterfly.
Most importantly it’s the perfect place for removing your walking boots and enjoying some much-deserved refreshment after a 6 mile hike!
Should you feel sufficiently recharged to take on the return part of the walk, you can follow the Roman bridal way towards Woody Bay, and then retrace your steps back to Lynton. The path runs approximately 80ft above the coastal path, and you are rewarded with stunning views and truly beautiful scenery.
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