Walk - Lorna Doone Walk

5.4 miles (8.7 km)

County Gate - EX35 6NQ County Gate

Challenging - Footpaths, tracks, bridleways, quiet lanes, some steep ascent and descent

A breathtaking walk, first through inspiring scenery from high above the coast, then dropping to a romantic ramble through picturesque Lorna Doone country to the church used in the filming of her eventful wedding day.

There is a dog friendly pub in Malmshead. Have a look at our Top Dog Walks on the South West Coast Path for more dog friendly beaches and pubs. 

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the car park at CountyGate, cross the road carefully and take the track opposite running to the east and slightly downhill.

  2. When the path forks, take the left hand track (SP (sign-posted) Glenthorne, Nature Trail, CP(Coast Path)) which runs steeply down beside Coscombe, bordering the forest.

  3. As this track flattens out, it meets the Coast Path at a junction. Turn right onto this (SP Culbone, Nature Trail, Beach), heading roughly eastwards, through a combe and onto Yenworthy Combe beyond.

  4. At the next junction, the Coast Path divides into 2. At this junction, by a barrier (gate?) the signpost is awaiting repair (has been reported). Take the right fork which climbs very steeply uphill. You will see an acorn sign on a post up the hill. (If you find the hill too steep, there is a zigzag path on the left which makes the ascent to the post easier). Carry on uphill. At the top of the hill (SP at Guildhall Corner), keep following CP towards Culbone. The Coast Path continues uphill, along a wooded path and then through a field, till you reach a 4-finger SP. 

  5. Leave the Coast Path at this point, following the sign for Bridleway Oareford 2 miles, still going uphill towards the road.

  6. Cross the road  and head eastwards (left) for a few yards and then pick up the track to your right which leaves the road, passing through a gate, and runs along the top of the hillside there. Follow this track until you reach a SP, then turn right towards Oare (on the Coleridge Way).  

  7. Follow the path down till it reaches a stream. Carry on right along side the stream to the lane beyond.   Turn left onto the lane and left again when it forks, about a hundred yards further on. This will bring you to OareChurch.

Oare Church is the location of one of the most dramatic scenes in RD Blackmore’s novel ‘Lorna Doone’ which was set around here during the late seventeenth century. There is a memorial tablet in the church to Blackmore, whose uncle was a rector here.           

  1. Take the footpath just beyond the church, which leads to your right and uphill through the field to a patch of woodland a few hundred yeards above. Carry on uphill on the footpath signed to Cloud Farm, and follow it around the edge of the wood, turning sharply right with it to continue through the fields. In the first field look out for SP and take path to the left. Continue following the path through the fields and out through the gate at the bottom, by the stables.
  2. At Cloud Farm, turn right onto the drive and follow it northwards to the road at Malmsmead , a mile or so beyond.

The stream running alongside the drive, on the left, is Badgworthy Water. It is in Badgworthy that Lorna Doone was set. If you were to follow the stream in the opposite direction, southwards from Cloud Farm, just a few hundred yards would being you to a memorial stone, erected in RD Blackmore’s memory in 1969 by the Lorna Doone Centenary Committee.   Following the stream onwards a mile or so from the memorial (a very pretty walk), you would pass through Badgworthy Wood and Doone Valley, below the open moorland of Doone Country and Brendon Common beyond it, and into the ruins of the mediaeval settlement where Blackmore wove his yarn.

  1. For this walk, however, turn right onto the road at Malmsmead, and walk to the bridleway on your left (through Parsonage Farm). Take the bridleway and, after you have crossed the footbridge, do not take the footpath left along beside the river, but instead go straight ahead towards the woods to the junction of bridleways beyond.  
  2. Choose the second left hand bridlepath (SP County Gate) and climb with it back up to the main road to return to the car park.

Pausing on this bridlepath, you can look back over the valley below and see Badgworthy Water winding its way through the woodland to the remains of the tiny village. No doubt Blackmore did the same and pictured Lorna doing her washing among the stones in the bubbling river, while Carver and his wild outlaw brothers went about their business at a furious gallop on the expanses of empty moorland above.

Nearby refreshments

The Blue Ball Inn at Countisbury, a few miles to the west along the A39 from the car park, or the Culbone Stables Inn, a few miles to the east; or try a cream tea in Malmsmead, en route.

Public transport

Quantock Motor Services Route 300 travels a few times a day between Lynmouth and Minehead via Porlock, and stops at County Gate. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.


County Gate car park

Local maps and publications

Nearby Events

  • South West Coast Path Easter Walking Break

    24th March 2016

    A 5 night hotel accommdation package to walk the first 35 miles of the South West Coast Path, from Minehead to Combe Martin.

    Stay at one location, come back to a delicious meal each evening and sleep in the same bed each night! No need to worry about car parking or luggage transfers.

    Day 1, Thursday 24th March 2016 - Arrival
    Day 2, Good Friday 25th March 2016 - Minehead to Porlock Weir 9.3 miles
    Day 3, Saturday 26th March 2016 - Porlock Weir to Countisbury 10.3 miles
    Day 4, Easter Day 27th March 2016- Countisbury to Hunters Inn 8.5 miles
    Day 5, Easter Monday 28th March 2016 - Hunters Inn to Combe Martin 7.1 miles
    Day 6, Tuesday 28th March 2016 - Depart

    The inclusive cost for the package is £475.00 per person and includes Bed, Breakfast and Evening Meal, packed lunches, guiding, minibus transport to and from each walk. 

    Following on from this we continue to walk two further sections of the coast path on 29th March to 4th April, and 4th April to 10th April 2016. £50.00 reduction per section for anyone booking more than one section.

    Visit the Yarn Market Hotel website for more information

Nearby Walks

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