Walk - Heddon's Mouth Cleave

2.8 miles (4.5 km)

Hunter's Inn - EX31 4PY Hunter's Inn

Challenging - Paths, tracks and lanes. Some very steep ascent on a rough path, and a high exposed path round the headland.

A short but challenging walk up into a wilderness full of wildlife, high above an inspirational landscape of sea and scree, with steep-sided valleys plunging to a stream flowing gently through peaceful woodland.

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.

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

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. 

Longlands Glamping

Luxury Glamping, multi-award winning lodges with hot tubs & boating lake. Mid-week offers. Dogs welcome. Optional catering

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.

Manleigh Holiday Park

Comfy Chalets, Cabins & Caravans at Manleigh Park, Combe Martin. A perfect place to catch up on some ZZZZs after a walk.

Gable Lodge Guest House

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

Cranleigh House B&B

Set in the heart of Combe Martin, we are a comfortable, dog friendly, vegetarian/vegan, Yoga B&B. Bike storage and overnight drying facilities available.

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.

Blair Lodge

Quiet location on the Coast Path, near the beach, we offer a warm welcome to weary, possibly wet walkers. Tea and cake awaits and, if required, dinner, laundry facilities and lifts.

Cornwall House

A self-catering apartment and ensuite double room situated minutes from Combe Martin's stunning beaches, shops and cafes and a short walk from the path.

Fontennay B&B

A family run bed and breakfast within very close proximity of the coast path. We offer a warm friendly welcome along with our home products and cooking.

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

Mellstock House B&B

A free pick up/drop off service is available to the Coast Path, we offer boot trays, drying room, laundry service, packed lunches, cosy bar and evening meals. All our rooms are en-suite and have TV/DVD, tea/coffee etc with free WIFI.

Newberry Beach Lodge

A pebbles throw from the award winning Newberry & Combe Martin beaches, local pubs and cafes. Enjoy a soak in a roll-top bath after a day's walking!

Channel Vista Guesthouse

This friendly, hikers' haven is open Feb-Dec. By SWCP, beaches & amenities. Free Wifi & Parking; Conservatory Bar; Laundry & Drying

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.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Arriving at Hunter's Inn from the direction of the National Trust shop, take the road to your left and follow it around the edge of the woodland for a couple of hundred yards, until you come to the path on the far side of the river, just around the corner on your right-hand side.
  2. Follow the path alongside the river through the woodland for about half a mile, until you come to the path heading steeply uphill through the trees to your left.
  3. Climb the hill with the path. After a while you are joined by another path heading uphill from your right. The Coast Path runs along this path here; and the Tarka Trail does too.

The Tarka Trail is another long-distance footpath, with stretches of cycle path included along the way. It runs 180 miles in a figure of eight around northern Devon, and features locations mentioned in Henry Williamson's book Tarka the Otter. Williamson himself lived a little way down the coast, at Georgeham, and his eponymous otter is celebrated in numerous ways throughout the region.

Heddon's Mouth and neighbouring Woody Bay comprise the West Exmoor Coast and Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest, because of their areas of ancient sessile oak woodland, maritime plant communities and rich bird population. There are also important geological features within the site (see the Martinhoe Roman Fortlet Walk).

Only the sessile oaks and downy birch trees flourish high up on the scree-clad slopes here; but lower down, where the soil is richer, there are clumps of rowan, holly and hazel. Bracken, ferns, bilberry and lichen also flourish, and violets and primroses in the spring and summer; while a little further around the headland, the coastal heathland, featuring heather, bell heather and gorse, provides a useful habitat for many species of insect, including moths and butterflies, and a number of bird species, including winchat, stonechat and wheatear. Coastal plants abound, too, like the pink-headed thrift and the spotted white flowers of the sea campion.

Woodland birds, across the valley, include pied flycatchers, redstarts, wood warblers and woodpeckers; while this is the best place in North Devon for spotting nesting seabirds like guillemots and razorbills. Keep an eye open for peregrine falcons, too: their 120-mile-an-hour plunge after prey is a rare but spectacular sight.

    1. When you come to the fork high up on the hillside, take the right-hand path and follow it northwards around the hillside, past Peter Rock. Turn sharp left with the path around the cliffs, and stay with it to East Cleave.

    Exmoor has the highest coastline on the British mainland, as well as the most remote shoreline. Because of the height and steepness of the cliffs from here to Combe Martin, there is no landward access to the six-mile stretch of coast between the two places, and it has been estimated that if you were to wait for the right tides to walk the 34-mile Exmoor shoreline, it would take you five years. This is made all the more difficult by the fact that the Bristol Channel is subject to the greatest variation in tidal ranges anywhere in the world other than in the Bay of Fundy in Canada.

    1. The Coast Path turns sharply again in the cleave, this time to the right, uphill and southwards, and then it splits into two, at the top of the hill where it opens out into fields. The Coast Path continues to the right, on its way to Combe Martin via Trentishoe and Great Hangman; but it's the left-hand path that you want for this walk. Take the left-hand fork and follow it around the hill, ignoring the path plunging down to the river on your left about a quarter of a mile later.
    2. The path curves to your right and starts descending gently, flattening out and turning more sharply to the right before it comes to the lane. Take the track to the left, curving steeply downhill into Birchey Cleave Plantation, and follow it down to where it joins the lane, beside the stream.
    3. Continue with the lane back to 2, from where you carry on around to the right to return to the start of the walk.

      Public transport

      TW Coaches routes 309 and 310 travel several times a day on the A39 between Barnstaple and Lynmouth, but the nearest bus stop is at Woody Bay Station, some distance from this walk.

      For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.



      There is a car park (payment needed) at Hunter's Inn as well as limited on road parking.


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