Walk - Caffyns Heanton Wood

5.9 miles (9.5 km)

Lee Abbey Car Park (above Lee Bay) - EX35 6JN Lee Abbey Car Park (above Lee Bay)

Challenging - Tracks, footpaths, quiet lanes, a lot of ascent and descent

A tiny cove, a woodland walk, and a gentle climb into the hills above Lee Abbey with breathtaking views out over the coast and across to the dun hills of Exmoor. The woods are particularly delightful in spring and early summer, when they are carpeted with bluebells.

Lee Bay is dog friendly. Have a look at our Top Dog Walks on the South West Coast Path for more dog friendly beaches and pubs. 

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.

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.

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.

Mannacott Farm, near Hunters Inn

Delicious farmhouse breakfast served with views over Trentishoe Down. Contact 01598 763227 or [email protected] Packed lunch available on request. 

Gable Lodge Guest House

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

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.

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.

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.

St Vincent Guest House

Beautiful grade II Georgian B&B in the heart of Lynton, minutes from the coastal path. Packed lunch by arrangement & all diets catered for.

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.

Martinhoe Cleave Cottages

Stay at these lovely, well-appointed cottages (2 cottages sleep 2 people and one cottage sleeps 2-4 people) and explore the dramatic South West Coast Path. Tel: 01598 753987

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

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.

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.

The Blue Ball Inn

The Blue Ball Inn is a dog-friendly traditional coaching inn, located in the hamlet of Countisbury, offering a high standard of bed and breakfast accommodation with a warm welcome.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Leaving the car park above the cove, take the lane back up to the road from the Valley of Rocks to Woody Bay, and turn right onto it, towards Woody Bay. After the sharp right turn it will head uphill and follow the curve of the coastline.
  2. Pick up the footpath to your right shortly afterwards, which will take you off the road and through the trees for a little way.When the path splits, take the right-hand turn, to follow the coast out around Crock Point, curving back via Crock Pits to return to the road.
  3. Turn left onto the road, and follow it back a little way through Croscombe Wood until you come to a footpath on the right, heading into Bonhill Wood.
  4. Turn onto the footpath on the other side of the road, and follow it into Bonhill Wood. This climbs up through the wood, to bring you to a track which heads south-west, along the banks of the tumbling stream, some way below. Stay on the track until you come to Bonhill Bridge, about half a mile away.
  5. Ignore the footpath that leads away over the bridge to your left, instead continuing along the track for a few hundred yards, until it reaches Croscombe Barton.
  6. Picking up the lane which runs uphill to your left from Croscombe Barton, follow it uphill past The Bungalow to the road at the top of the hill.
  7. Turn left onto the road and take it gently downhill for a mile or so, until you reach the turning at Caffyns Cross, just after the house on your left.

The farm downhill to your left as you walk along this lane is Caffyns Heanton Farm, associated with the Domesday manor of Hantona (“At the High Farm”). In the thirteenth century, the manor of Countisbury and Lynton (of which this was a part) was granted to Forde Abbey a Somerset Cistercian monastery. Shortly afterwards, Richard le Pronte of Forde Abbey confiscated Heanton from William Coffin, although the subsequent court hearing declared Coffin the rightful owner and returned it to him, together with compensation.

  1. Turning left onto the lane, climb gradually uphill with it until you come to the lane to Six Acre Farm, on your left just before the campsite.
  2. Follow the lane downhill, past the farm on your left, and go through the gate to the footpath beyond, with stunning views down to the sea once you curve around the hillside.

Six Acre Farm, too, was part of the Domesday manor Hantona, but its history goes much further back, possibly to Roman times. In 1913 a stone serving as a gatepost at the time was discovered to bear the Latin inscription “CAVUDI FILIUS CIVILIS” (Cavudus, son of Civilis) which dated from the sixth century AD and is one of a number of post-Roman memorial stones in the south west. The stone is now on private land at Six Acre Farm.

Elsewhere on Six Acre Farm, however, a previous owner was ploughing a field when he turned up what appeared to be a shallow grave lined with seashells – a Roman custom. There is little evidence of an extensive Roman presence around Exmoor, other than a little iron mining and smelting (possibly); but there are two Roman fortlets along this part of the coastline, the nearest being just a few miles away at Martinhoe (see the Martinhoe Roman Fortlet Walk).

Jumping forward a few centuries, archaeological exploration on the farm also uncovered a mediaeval cornditch – an ovoid enclosure,with other fields radiating from it, used for coralling sheep – and a nearby “sheep-creep”: a stone-lined tunnel between two fields which allows sheep to pass through but not larger livestock (a device common on Dartmoor).

Ignore the path through the gate to your left halfway down the hill (unless you want a shortcut).

You are now on land belonging to Lee Abbey (see the Crock Point Walk), and this gate bears one of the abbey's welcoming inscriptions: “Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night“ (Isaiah, 60:11).

  1. Carry on downhill, taking an abrupt right with the footpath when it turns in order to flatten out the gradient. Turn sharply left with it a few hundred yards beyond when it doubles back on itself through the woods below, until you come to the junction of paths in Six Acre Wood. Take the right-hand path and follow it downhill to where it meets the road, outside Lee Abbey.
  2. Turn left onto the road, and return to the car park.

Public transport

There are several buses a day between Barnstaple and Lynton, stopping at Caffyns Cross, a few yards from point 8 on the walk. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

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