Walk - Combe Martin to Woolacombe

14.1 miles (22.6 km)

Combe Martin - EX34 0DH Woolacombe

Challenging - Moderate to strenuous in parts

This is a truly spectacularly wild and beautiful section of the South West Coast Path, which includes some easy cliff paths across windswept farmland around Ilfracombe and Woolacombe and some more strenuous ascents, especially between Lee Bay and Morte Point. The area around Morte is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its beautiful maritime heathland and grasses, however its contrastingly vicious rock formations has led to a local saying that Morte is ‘the place which heaven made last and the devil will take first'.

Interactive Elevation

Highlights

  • The spectacular views to Lundy and the Welsh coast.
  • Bull Point Lighthouse first constructed in 1879.
  • Seal spotting at Rockham Beach. This was also a site of many wrecks and in fact the propeller and boiler of the 1914 wreck of the SS Collier can still be seen on the beach at low tide.
  • The historic lime kilns at the beautifully secluded Lee Bay.
  • The jagged, rocky headland of Morte Point with views to Baggy Point and Woolacombe.
  • You may spot gannets and grey seals around the dreaded Morte Stone, otherwise known to sailors of old as the Death Stone, for obvious reasons.
  • In summer it is possible to see dolphins, sunfish and basking sharks.
  • The Coast Path is also part of the Tarka Trail and references to a number of features along this walk can be found in Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter. For example the wrecks at Morte Point and Bull Point are described as being where Tarka first picks up the scent of his mate White-tip.
  • Spotting the many references to a past of smuggling and wrecking in the names, such as Breakneck Point, Damage Cliffs and Brandy Cove.
  • Breathtaking displays of wild flowers and grasses such as bird's-foot-trefoil, wild thyme, common bent, sweet vernal and orchids. These grasslands provide vegetation for many birds and butterflies, such as stonechats and the dark green fritillary butterfly.

Places of interest

  • The restored chapel of St Nicholas perched upon Lantern Hill, Ilfracombe, dating from the 13th century. It has an operational lantern mounted on the top and is reputed to be the oldest lighthouse in the UK.
  • The small Norman church of St Mary, Mortehoe, with its fantastic collection of grotesque sea monsters carved on some of the bench-ends.
  • Even further afield… take a boat trip from Ilfracombe to Lundy and walk the 3 mile long island.

Shorter option

Walk to Ilfracombe (5.3 miles, 8.6 km).

Longer option

Continue to Croyde (an additional 6 miles, 9.6 km).

Nearby refreshments

Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe have a wide range of pubs, shops, restaurants and cafes. There are also refreshments available at Hele Bay, Lee Bay and the inland village of Morthoe.

Public transport

First Great Western trains run from Exeter to Barnstaple. National Express coach number 502 runs between Taunton bus station and Ilfracombe via Barnstaple. Buses number 300 and number 3 run between Combe Martin and Ilfracombe. The 3B First North Devon Service runs hourly between Ilfracombe and Woolacombe and the
35 runs 4 journeys between Ilfracombe and Lee Bay. For further details visit Traveline or phone 0870 6082608.

Parking

Combe Martin (Postcode for Sat Navs: EX34 0DH), Hele Bay, Ilfracombe, Mortehoe and Woolacombe.

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