Walk - Crock Point
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- 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.
Look out for guillemots and razorbills on the coastal part of the walk, and peregrine falcons.
- Pick up the footpath to your right shortly afterwards, which will take you off the road and through the trees for a little way.
Looking back over Lee Bay to the headland beyond, the tower at the top of the hill is Duty Point Tower, a 19th century folly. Although it has a commanding position overlooking the Bristol Channel, it is not thought to have been used for lookout duties.
On the beach is a former lime kiln, which was later converted into a chapel for Lee Abbey, the cluster of buildings below the Duty Point Tower.
The 11th century Domesday Book recorded a manor at 'Ley', now Lee, at the time belonging to Forde Abbey, a Somerset Cistercian monastery. In 1628 the grange farm at the manor was repaired and enlarged as the country seat of Lord of the Manor, Hugh Wichenhalse, and the estate remained in the family's hands until early in the 18th century.
The estate was purchased in 1841 by Charles Bailey, who built a new manor house on the present site, a short distance to the south of the old grange farm, designing it to look like an old abbey, although there was never a monastic settlement here. On the death of his son in 1921, Lee Abbey became an hotel, and then a boys' prep school, before becoming a retreat and conference centre for Lee Abbey Fellowship, the Christian Community which presently owns it.
- 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.
Fossils found at Crock Point have provided useful evidence for geologists examining the Lynton Slates rock beds, with the disused quarry yielding fossils quite unlike any others found in Lynton Slates, suggesting that the rocks here are older than it had previously been thought.
- 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.
This part of the coastline has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the West Exmoor Coast and Woods, and the woodland here is noted particularly for its ancient hanging oaks and its rare species of whitebeam, some of which are found only on Exmoor (see the Foreland Point Adventurous Walk). Other trees here include rowan (which is related to the whitebeam), holly, hazel, ash, alder and sallow.
The clean, moist air is also especially good for ferns and lichen, and over 100 species of lichen have been recorded in the area, including one or two particularly rare coastal lichens.
The diversity of habitats also provides a good breeding-ground for birds. Look out for pied flycatcher, lesser spotted woodpecker, redstart and wood warbler in the woods, and dippers on the rocks in the streams.
- 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.
The Lee Abbey estate extends over 280 acres, and there are many walks around it, including longer ones through the woodland above here (see the Caffyns Heanton Walk).
- Cross the stream via the bridge, and turn left onto the track leading back down the valley on the other side of the stream.
- After you have gone a little way, a path heads away to your right, contouring through the woods around the hill. Ignore this, staying with your path as it continues downhill and then itself pulls away to the the right, away from the stream and into a combe. Here it crosses another stream and turns a sharp corner, before dropping you back onto the road opposite the car park at the start of the walk.
Mother Meldrum's Tea Room in the Valley of Rocks, and (in summer) Lee Abbey Tea Cottage. There are also numerous restaurants and tea-rooms in Lynmouth.