Walk - Trentishoe Barrows

7.3 miles (11.7 km)

Car Park near South Dean Farm - EX31 4QA Car Park near South Dean Farm

Challenging - Footpaths and tracks, quiet country lanes, a lot of ascent and descent, some of it steep.

A demanding walk through a moorland landscape, where dramatic steep-sided valleys cleave deep channels in the humpback hills clad in coastal heathland. Up on the exposed heights buzzards and ravens wheel above the last remnants of prehistoric hut circles and the barrows, cairns and standing stones which lurk in the bracken between medieval field systems and ancient silver mines.

Checked by SWCPA Volunteers David and Jane Rattue - October 2020

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

Three lovely cottages within Exmoor National Park close to the SW Coast Path and the dramatic moorland and coastal scenery of north Devon

Blair Lodge

Quiet location overlooking the bay. 100m gentle walk from the Path, beach, pubs and shops. Evening meals available. Comfy Bar. Wifi. Parking. Tel: 01271 882294

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!

Marlyn B&B

We've three en-suites with fine bedding, good food, views and 3 nearby pubs. Parking and coast road buses for break days and longer stays.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the car park turn left and walk down the road to the crossroads, turning left here to go past South Dean Farm and up to South Dean Corner beyond.
  2. Cross the road and take the path opposite to reach the Coast Path. Turn left here, towards Combe Martin, and follow the path above North Cleave and Neck Wood.

A cleave is a valley whose sides are so dramatically steep that it could have been cleft (or cleaved) with an axe. The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word cleof meaning cliff, and there are many striking examples of cleaves along this part of the Coast Path, especially Heddon Valley, just to the east of Trentishoe, and to the south of Lynmouth (see the Two Cleaves Walk). The cliffs along much of the Exmoor coast are particularly steep, and the area boasts England's highest sea cliff (at Great Hangman, just visible from the Coast Path as you make your way around Holdstone Down) and its highest coastal waterfall (to the east of Heddon Valley – see the Martinhoe Roman Fortlet Walk). 

  1. Stay on the Coast Path, ignoring the 1st path on the left signposted County Road and the 2nd on the left signposted Car Park, as it starts to climb uphill away from the coast.

On the hillside below you just along here are the remains of hut circles from the Bronze Age (730 – 2500 BC), while above you, on Trentishoe Down, is a series of barrows from the same period. There are a number of other Bronze Age features in the area, including cairns, as well as the remnants of ancient field systems, boundary stones and standing stones. 

There are also archaeological features from a wide range of more recent periods, including medieval field systems, and the remnants of a substantial mining industry from the twelfth century right through to the nineteenth. If you were to follow the Coast Path around to the mouth of Sherrycombe and then branch off inland, (see the Sherrycombe and Girt Down Walk), you would notice many piles of moss-clad stones in various states of decay, including boundary walls, and mine workings and their associated buildings and spoil heaps.

  1. You are leaving the Coast Path before Sherrycombe on this walk however. When the path levels out and starts to head out towards the next headland, turn left onto the track it joins signposted County Road and follow it uphill to the buildings by the road. On the road, turn right and pick up an unmarked stony track on the left a couple of hundred yards further on opposite a small parking area.

Note the Glass Box, across the road. This was formerly the headquarters of the mystical Aetherius Society, who believe neighbouring Holdstone Down to be a holy mountain, after its founding father, Dr George King, experienced what he believed to be a divine visitation informing him that he was to become a spokesman for the “interplanetary parliament” (see the Holdstone Down Walk). The extensive windows around the house were obviously a useful device for the society's UFO-spotting.

Follow the path gently downhill and where it falls more steeply and turns to the right, keep ahead on a left hand fork onto a grassy path. Follow this path down through woodland and along the side of the hill until it comes to a substantial track called Ladies Mile. Turn right on this track and follow it down to meet a lane just opposite the entrance to Trentishoe Manor.

  1. Turn right on the lane and follow past the manor and downhill until you come to Rudd Cottage. Keep straight ahead here on a path to the right of the cottage and follow this to cross a small bridge over a stream.  Shortly afterwards turn right on a path signposted Voley Dean and then left where the path is signposted Footpath to Voley Dean.

  2. Further along the path turn left again where signposted Footpath Voley and follow this path on downhill where signposted Voley to cross two bridges over streams. Bear right into a field and go through a gate on the right into another field. Climb steeply diagonally across this field and follow the top boundary to reach a gate in the far corner. Go through this gate onto a track and continue on this past Voley and on to reach the road to Heale (Wheatly Lane)

  3. Cross the road here and carry on down the track opposite to Higher Bumsley. Passing the houses here, continue on down a grassy path which zig zags at the bottom down to a stream.

  4. Crossing the stream, turn left onto the track beyond and walk with it through Heale Wood towards Heddon Valley. Look out for a small footpath on the left with yellow arrows and a stone block direction sign. Turn onto this and follow it through the woods and over two bridges to rejoin the track just past large double iron gates.

On the hillside to your left is Voley Castle, while on the hill to the right and behind you is Beacon Castle, Iron Age settlements, although unfortunately both are obscured by trees. In nearby Parracombe are the motte and bailey of Holwell Castle, which is thought to have been built in the eleventh or twelfth century, possibly to keep an eye on the silver mines in the area.

  1. Reaching the road, turn left onto it for a short way. Pick up a footpath signposted Hunters Inn and Heale on the left as the road curves right opposite Mill Farm. Cross a footbridge over a stream and continue uphill past the National Trust Heddon Valley sign through Heale Wood. Turn left where signposted Tentishoe and Heale, and climb steeply up through the wood and through a gate at the top into a field.

  2. Turn right here and follow the path around the right hand boundaries of the fields above Invention Wood and then steeply down a stony path. Cross a track at the bottom and go between buildings and cross a bridge over a stream.

  3. Turn left onto the path beyond and walk along it by the stream for several hundred yards until it forks. Take the right hand path here signposted Rhydda Bank and climb steeply uphill through the woods to reach the road.  Turn right up to the crossroads and then left and follow the road back to the start of the walk. 

Public transport

There is no easy way of reaching the start of this walk by public transport as the nearest bus stop  is at Easterclose Cross on the A39.

Parking

Elwill Bay, Trentishoe Down car park at the start of the walk. Approx postcode for sat navs -  EX31 4QD

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