Walk - Heddon's Mouth

2.1 miles (3.4 km)

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

Easy - Woodland, riverside paths and a pebbly beach, with relatively level terrain. A 'Tramper' all terrain mobility scooter can be hired (book in advance) from the National Trust at Heddon Valley and this can be used to explore many of the paths in this area. For more details see the Countryside mobility website.

A gentle stroll through ancient woodland bright with fresh leaves and wildflowers in the springtime, along a babbling stream to a tiny secluded shingle beach strewn with boulders and shadowed by steep, scree-clad hillsides, with dramatic cliffs of geological importance and tales of smugglers and U-boats. Children of all ages will love the rugged terrain, as well as the beach and the ruined limekiln. A stunning walk in autumn, when the trees start to turn and birds and small mammals rummage in the fallen leaves for winter provisions.

Hunter's Inn 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.

Heddon's Gate Hotel,Martinhoe

Heddon's Gate is hidden in trees on the east side of the Heddon Valley, just above the old carriage drive. Absolute seclusion,wonderful food and a warm welcome.

Martinhoe Cleave Cottages

Stay at these lovely, well-appointed cottages (sleep 2 people each) and explore the dramatic South West Coast Path.

Longmead House, Lynton

We are one of Lynton’s best kept secrets with our beautiful Victorian B&B not only offering plenty of comfort with our picturesque gardens and en-suite bedrooms also serving a breakfast like no other to set you up for the day ahead. 

The Denes Guest House, Lynton

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.

Gable Lodge Guest House, Lynton

This is a beautiful grade 2 listed Victorian house where you will receive a warm welcome. Home cooked meals available.

Fernleigh Guest House, Lynton

The Fernleigh Guest House, in charming Lynton, is a friendly and informal place to stay.  We are open all year and have 5 en-suite bedrooms.

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, Lynton

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.

Sunny Lyn Holiday Park, Lynbridge

Sunny Lyn Camping and Holiday Park is situated just outside Lynmouth and the closest camping to the South West Coast Path.

The Crown Hotel, Lynton

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.

Orchard House Hotel, Lynmouth

Orchard House offers a friendly, homely atmosphere. Full English breakfast, licensed bar, kit drying, luggage transfers, pets & children welcome.

Hillside House B&B, Lynmouth

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, Lynmouth

Licensed guest house property offering evening meals. Ideally situated for the Coast Path.

Cranleigh House B&B, Combe Martin

We are a comfortable, dog friendly, vegetarian/vegan, Yoga B+B. Bike storage and overnight drying facilities available.

Blair Lodge, Combe Martin

Quiet location on the South West 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.

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Hunters Inn, Heddon Valley

The Inn sits beautifully in the Heddon Valley, yards from the Coast Path. En-suite bedrooms, excellent home cooked food and lots of real ales and cider.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the road outside the Hunter's Inn, take the path to the right-hand (eastern) side of the inn and walk a short way uphill until it forks. Take the left-hand fork and follow it downhill and alongside the river.

It's easy to see why this is every local's favourite walk, and why people will willingly spend longer getting here than on the walk itself. The scenery is breathtaking, starting under huge, mature trees shading a bubbling river, which winds down to the sea through spectacularly plunging hillsides, only a few degrees shallower than the sides of a gorge. There are great swathes of scree across the bracken-clad slopes, as well as banks of gorse and clumps of birches, and sometimes goats or even deer can be spotted in the distance. Buzzards circle overhead, and occasionally there is the glimpse of the fast beating of a kestrel's wings as it hovers over the high heathland, or the dramatic plunge of a peregrine diving after its prey.

The Romantic poets Wordsworth, Coleridge and Shelley were all great lovers of this part of the south west (see the Wood Combe Walk), and the rise of tourism around the same time also brought visitors here from afar to admire the stunning scenery. Heddon Valley was especially popular with Oxbridge students, and, spotting a commercial proposition, the Berry family started serving beer from the kitchen of their thatched cottage. Unfortunately this burnt down in 1895; but it was replaced with the building now known as Hunter's Inn, which has quenched many a thirst itself since that time.

The inn owned a lot of the land around the valley before selling it to the National Trust, and at one time it was one of the largest employers in the area.

  1. Ignore the bridge to your left and the path to the right a little further on, staying by the river as it flows northwards towards the sea.

  2. Ignoring the next bridge to your left, too, carry on downstream until you come to the beach.

The Exmoor coastline here is of great geological importance, especially at Hollowbrook, just a little way to the east of the dramatic cliffs to your right as you approach the beach (see the Martinhoe Roman Fortlet Walk), where there is a visible boundary between the Lynton Beds and the Hangman Sandstone Group. These cliffs mark the southern shoreline of the Old Red Sandstone continent.

The remoteness of the beach made it a favourite haunt of smugglers; and there are stories, too, of Nazi U-boats putting in here during World War II for supplies of fresh water.

The limekiln on the other side of the beach dates back to Victorian times and is one of several along this part of the coast, as well as in the woods at nearby Watersmeet (see the Watersmeet Walk). Limestone was brought by ship across the Bristol Channel from Wales, along with coal, and it was burnt to produce lime, which was used as an agricultural fertiliser on the acidic soil.

  1. If the tide is low enough, cross the beach and pick up the path beneath the limekiln and turn back upstream. If the tide is too high, or you have difficulty crossing the boulder-strewn beach, return to the bridge at 3, and cross the river there, again turning upstream to continue southwards, back towards the inn.

  2. Continue alongside the river, ignoring the bridge to your left, unless you want a slightly shorter route back to the inn.

  3. Ignore the path to your right, leading up to Heddon's Mouth Cleave through some dramatic patches of scree dotted with clumps of birch. Carry on upstream, following the curve of the river to the road beyond.

  4. Turn left onto the road and follow it back to the start of the walk.

Public transport

Buses 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.

Parking

The National Trust and The Hunters Inn. Postcode for sat navs: EX31 4PY.

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