Walk - Foreland Point Adventurous Walk
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the car park, take the path running northwards around the side of the hill. When it bears left around the wall and heads gently downhill towards the sea, stay with it, ignoring the paths off to the right, until you come to the footpath leading away to the church on your left (but don't turn left).
- Turn right onto the Coast Path here and follow it for about half a mile, until you come to a fork.
- The Coast Path continues along the right-hand fork, travelling downhill to Coddow Combe, and this is the route you should use if the weather is poor or you have no head for heights. If the weather is good, however, and you are confident of your abilities, take the tiny goat-track around Foreland Point for an inspirational walk.
Above you the hillside climbs steeply to the sky, while to your left it plunges abruptly to the sea. Patches of scree traverse your path (take particular care here), and goats and sheep leap nimbly away as you appear. You are only yards from civilisation, but for the half hour or so it takes you to round the point, you could be on another continent, on a breathtaking wilderness adventure.
Lynmouth Foreland Lighthouse was established in 1900 by Trinity House to further aid navigation in the Bristol Channel. The station was electrified in 1975. The round white tower is 15 metres in height and 67 metres above the sea at high water. 4 white flashes occur every 15 seconds and they can be seen for 18 nautical miles. It is set on the extremity of the Foreland Point headland.
- Once around the point, take the lighthouse lane up through Coddow Combe and rejoin the Coast Path at the T-junction at the top, ignoring the small path to the right en route.
Here the wilderness illusion continues, despite the tarmac and sheds along the way. The three hills around you are like miniature mountains, each with a different character: one is scree-clad, another bare heathland, the third covered in scrubby thorn and gorse. It is a long haul up the hill, but it's a place you must not miss if you are looking to blow some cobwebs away.
- Turn left onto the Coast Path and follow it for about a mile, through three combes (see the Culbone Wood walk), to a footpath which climbs steeply uphill to the right.
- Follow this path uphill for about 200 yards, till it veers abruptly to the right.
- Turn sharply right here and carry on uphill, picking up the track at Desolate and carrying on up to the gate at the top.
Among the many plant species found nowhere else but on Exmoor are at least two species of whitebeam tree: Sorbus subcuneata and Sorbus 'Taxon D'. The latter is named after Desolate, this being the area where it is found.
Whitebeam is a deciduous tree which grows slowly and only ever reaches medium height. It gets its name from the brilliant white undersides of its leaves, as noted by the Victorian poet George Meredith: 'flashing as in gusts the sudden-lighted whitebeam'. It is related to rowan, the mountain ash, and its berries attract both birds and moths.
In the area beyond Desolate, though not visible from the path, are earthworks and cropmarks, remnants of what was thought to be a mediaeval farmstead and possibly an associated hamlet too, known locally as Old House Close. The Domesday Book shows the population of Countisbury to have been larger than it is today, and the farming on the hill more extensive as a result.
- Turn right and follow the footpath through fields to Kipscombe Farm, keeping the field boundaries on your right.
Kipscombe Farm dates back to the seventeenth century, and there are a number of interesting historical features around the farm, including water meadows, where winter floodwater was collected to irrigate the fields for spring planting.
- The path travels to the left of the farm buildings at Kipscombe and crosses the drive, to continue northwestwards for about 300 yards, with the field boundaries still on your right.
- Unless you want to detour to the trig point at the top of the hill, stay with your path around Barna Barrow, ignoring the two tracks leading downhill to your right.
- After another 300 yards or so, take the next track to the left, and follow it back to the start of the walk in the car park.
The 13th century Blue Ball Inn at Countisbury