Walk - Watersmeet

8.2 miles (13.3 km)

Lynmouth seafront car park - EX35 6EN Lynmouth Seafront

Challenging - Paths, tracks and quiet lanes, with a substantial amount of ascent and descent, some of it steep and exposed

Breathtaking woodland walks along the East Lyn and Hoar Oak rivers, with a coastal stretch high above the dark waters of Lynmouth Bay and dramatic views from a tree-clad hill flanking the village. Stunning all year round, it is at its best in autumn as the trees are turning and the woodland rings with the sound of the birds feasting on its wild harvest.

Lynmouth is dog friendly with plenty of pubs and cafes. Have a look at our Top Dog Walks on the South West Coast Path for more dog friendly beaches and pubs. 

A shorter version of this walk, crossing the river at Watersmeet features in 'Britain's Best Walks with Julia Bradbury'. To find out more and watch the TV episode about it, click here.

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 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.

Lorna Doone House

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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. Starting out on the seafront, pick up the South West Coast Path and follow it around to where it joins the A39 on Countisbury Hill, and then stay with it beside the road as it starts to head towards Foreland Point.

Note the small marker post pointing out the massive ramparts of the Iron Age hillfort up over Wind Hill, to your right. This was also an important battle site in AD 878, when Saxon troops successfully repelled an attacking party of Danes (see the Wester Wood Walk).

The more modern remnants nearby are a gun platform from World War I, and an ammunition shed from the same time.

  1. Ignore the path leading downhill to your left at the halfway point, staying with the Coast Path until a path leads off to your right towards Countisbury.

There has been human settlement at Countisbury since prehistoric times, and there are many sites of archaeological interest around here, including Bronze Age barrows and much later mediaeval field systems (see the Barna Barrow Walk).

  1. Turn onto this path and follow it past the church and down to the road, by the pub.
  2. Cross the road and pick up the path a few yards to the east on the opposite side. Stay with the path between fields until it goes into Horner's Neck Wood and drops downhill to the riverside path. (Ignore the smaller paths leading off to right and left on the way down). Turn right onto the riverside path and follow it around to Watersmeet.

The building at Watersmeet was originally a fishing lodge, erected in 1832 by the Rev Walter Halliday of Glenthorne (see the Glenthorne Walk). Like Wordsworth, Coleridge and Shelley (see the Wood Combe Walk), Halliday fell in love with the romantic nature of the Exmoor coast, and he brought his father's wealth to Glenthorne from Scotland in order to establish here the country estate required by the terms of his inheritance.

There is other evidence around Watersmeet of Halliday's endeavours: shafts from his (largely unsuccessfully) attempts to mine iron ore, limekilns, where limestone was burnt to make a fertiliser (see the Fremington Quay Walk), quarries where he obtained the stone for the buildings.

  1. Staying on your riverbank, follow the path alongside the river as it turns left, towards the east, and meanders through the woods for a couple of miles, turning southwards as it goes, until you fetch up at the footbridge across the river from the Rockford Inn (signposted).

The woodland around here is noted for its wildlife, with a wide diversity of breeding birds, including ravens, redstarts, pied flycatchers, woodpeckers, herons, dippers and various birds of prey. In the water are trout and salmon, and sometimes the sleek form of an otter can be seen beside the bank. The trees themselves are mostly sessile oaks, but there are also a number of different whitebeams, including the sorbus subcuneata, found only on Exmoor (see the Foreland Point Walk). There are also some rare plant species, like the euphorbia hybema, or Irish splurge, which is found in only one other site in mainland Britain.

The East Lyn is a good river for canoeing, from Watersmeet to Lynmouth, giving some of the hardest paddling around.

  1. Cross the bridge, and turn right onto the road, travelling steeply uphill with it a short way, until you come to a path leading off to your right, into the woods.
  2. Stay with this path, ignoring the smaller ones leading off it, as it retraces the course of the river, through Barton Wood and back to Watersmeet, (but this time on the south bank). Do not cross either river, but follow your bank southwards and gently uphill for about half a mile, until you come to Hillsford Bridge.
  3. Cross the bridge, and the road, following the dogleg of the A39 away from Lynmouth until it doubles back again, to the left this time. Find the footpath on the bend, to your right and heading north, and travel uphill through the woods with it on the Tarka Trail/Two Moors Way. After a while it takes a sharp left turn and pulls out into the open, above the remains of an Iron Age hillfort.
  4. Fork right at the top and ignore the path which crosses yours a short while later, and walk along Myrtleberry Cleave. Stay with the path as it plunges down the cleave and winds up onto the hillside beyond.
  5. Ignore the path away to your left at the top, staying with the Two Moors Way/Tarka Trail towards Lynmouth. Again take the right-hand fork towards Lynmouth a short while later.
  6. As you start downhill into Lyn Cleave, again the path forks, and once more you take the right-hand path, and follow it as it falls gently down through the cleave and into Lynmouth, past the hydroelectric power station in the gorge.
  7. Reaching the main road through Lynmouth, turn left and return to the seafront.

Shorter option

A shorter version of this walk, crossing the river at Watersmeet features in 'Britain's Best Walks with Julia Bradbury'. To find out more and watch the TV episode about it, click here.

Public transport

You can reach Lynmouth by bus from many nearby towns and villages including, Minehead, Barnstaple, Lynmouth and Combe Martin. 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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