Walk - Barna Barrow History Walk

2.5 miles (4.1 km)

Barna Barrow Car Park - EX35 6NE Barna Barrow Car Park

Moderate - Footpaths, tracks, tarmac, some ascent and descent.

A high walk with spectacular views over the Bristol Channel in several directions, and three small hills that between them mimic breathtaking mountain scenery. A whistle-stop tour of human activity through several millennia is included en route! 

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

The Old Sea Captains House

Set against the mouth of the East Lyn River, the Captain’s House offers an ideal base from which to explore the Exmoor and North Devon coastline.

Lorna Doone House

Licensed guest house ideally suited for the Coast Path. Evening meals by request.

Hillside House B&B

Situated on the East Lyn River, we are ideally suited to walkers needs, 400 yards from the Coast Path. The perfect location to explore & enjoy coast, riverside & woodland.

Orchard House Hotel

Friendly, homely atmosphere. Full English breakfast, licensed bar, kit drying, luggage transfers,single occupancy reductions,walking parties welcome as well as pets & children

The Crown Hotel

A warm welcome awaits at the Crown Hotel, originally a coaching inn. Located in the heart of Lynton, a quiet base to explore N.Devon's rugged coastline. One night stays and dogs welcome.

South View Guest House

We look forward to welcoming you to our newly refurbished & upgraded Edwardian Guest House. Ideally located for pubs, restaurants, shops and the spectacular North Devon Coast Path.

Bay Valley Of The Rocks Hotel

Overlooking the pretty harbour of Lynmouth, early Victorian hotel retains many aspects of its original charm, including an impressive atrium in the lounge and rooms with stunning scenic views.

Sinai House, Lynton

AA 4 Star Silver rating accommodation with incredible sea views, offering peace and tranquillity. "Where Exmoor meets the Sea". Ideally located for the South West Coast Path.

Gable Lodge Guest House

Family run guest house offering family friendly bed and breakfast accommodation. Freshly prepared evening meals using local produce.

The Denes Guest House

The Denes offer locally sourced food and comfortable en-suite bedrooms, facilities to dry outdoor gear and a selection of maps. Books, DVDs and board games for relaxation.

Longmead House

One of Lynton’s best kept secrets, beautiful Victorian B&B offers plenty of comfort after a long day’s walk with picturesque gardens, en-suite bedrooms and breakfast like no other.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. 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).

It was originally thought that the six mounds which had been spotted in this area from aerial photographs of Countisbury Hill were Bronze Age barrows, but subsequent field exploration revealed no traces of these, leading archaeologists to draw the conclusion that the name barrow probably came from the shape of Barna Barrow, rather than from any function as a burial site.

There is a Bronze Age bowl barrow, however, between Barna Barrow and Countisbury Common, beside the A39 and marked on the map as a mound (see point 7, below). There is another on the side of Kipscombe Hill, about a mile to the east and marked on the map as a tumulus. There are standing stones there, too, but these are thought to be much more recent.

Bowl barrows were burial mounds, usually formed of earth, but sometimes stones were used to cover the remains instead. These latter mounds are known as cairns (although many cairns in the landscape are simply piles of stones marking a location, usually a summit or a hill-path). The word cairn comes from the Celtic word 'carn', meaning heap of stones.

Bronze Age remains have been found by archaeologists elsewhere on the northwestern edge of Exmoor, dating back to somewhere around 1200 BC, at Chapman Barrows and Holworthy Farm, both near Parracombe; and there are cairns and barrows of this period further east along the coastline (see the Selworthy Beacon Walk).

  1. Turn sharp right onto the Coast Path here and follow it for about half a mile, until you come to a fork.

The coastal heathland up here is home to a number of interesting species of birds. Look out for buzzards, ravens, stonechats, wheatears.

  1. Turn with the Coast Path along the right-hand fork, travelling on the distinct path downhill to Coddow Combe.

There are extensive remains of mediaeval field systems all over this area, too. In 1086, the Domesday Book showed Countisbury to be a much larger settlement than it is now, the 11th-century population being as many as 75, and the land would have been put to good use in supporting the population.

Along the summit of Foreland Point, however, is a group of four enclosures thought to be prehistoric. Evidence of Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age, 8000–4000 BC) and Neolithic (New Stone Age, 4000–1500 BC) activity has been found all over the moor, including a Mesolithic flint-working site at Hawkcombe (see the Worthy Wood Walk). The Neolithic period marks the start of the change of lifestyle from hunter-gatherers to farmers, so these enclosures may have been among the first fields to have been instated in Britain.

Elsewhere in the Countisbury area, there are Iron Age monuments (see the Two Cleaves Walk, and the Wester Wood Walk). Along the Coast Path towards Lynmouth, to the south-west of this walk, are the remains of a particularly noteworthy Iron Age hillfort, with massive ramparts extending all the way up Wind Hill (see the Wester Wood Walk). There are plans to develop this further as an important heritage site.

  1. Turn right with the Coast Path onto the road and follow it ass far as the point where it heads off to the left along the path to Kipscombe Combe, but don't turn with it.

The area beyond is Kipscombe Enclosure, while above is Kipscombe Farm, a 17th century farmhouse built on the site of an earlier settlement, suspected to be pre-Conquest, although the earliest written mention of it was in 1249.

    1. Turn sharp right here instead, away from the Coast Path and onto the road which pulls uphill.
    2. Almost at the top, leave the road on a path to the right, signposted Lynmouth 2.

    3. The path heading south-east here, carrying on along the wall to your left, will lead to the Bronze Age bowl barrow mentioned above, just before you reach the wall at the far end if you wish to take a detour this far to see it. Otherwise, unless you want to detour to the trig point at the top of the hill for the spectacular views out across the Bristol Channel and down the coast, turn right from the track onto the path and follow it around Barna Barrow, ignoring the two tracks leading downhill to your right.
    4. 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. 

Public transport

There are no bus services. Local taxis can be used.

Parking

The postcode takes you to Countisbury-look for the National Trust sign - Barna Barrow.

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