Walk - Slattenslade
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.
- From the car parking area, follow the road to the right and stay with it downhill as it makes its way through the woods above Woody Bay. Carry straight on when the road joins from above and to the right, until you come to a path on your left, heading downhill into the woods.
Woody Bay's most famous resident was the rock star Elkie Brooks, who lived here for many years with her husband, sound engineer Trevor Jordan, and their two sons.
Note the sign beside the path as you go into the woods: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4). The woodland on this walk belongs to the estate of Lee Abbey, a retreat and conference centre run by the Lee Abbey Christian Fellowship (see the Crock Point Walk). There are many inspiring walks through the grounds of the abbey. A few of these are currently open to residents only, but all the paths to the south of the road are open to all walkers, as well as the path around Crock Point used for this walk.
- Take this path, and follow the Coast Path downwards, through the wood, to where it meets another path heading away to your right, back up to the road. Stay with the Coast Path as it goes out around Crock Point.
This area is part of the West Exmoor Coast and Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest, (see the Heddon's Mouth Cleave Walk), and the ancient hanging oak woods above Woody Bay are one of the important features of the site. In early summer the vivid rhododendron blossoms tumbling through the dark woodland are a delightful splash of colour; but rhododendron is one of the invasive species imported here by Victorian landowners and with a taste for the exotic, and it is rapidly becoming a threat to the woodland (see the Sisters Fountain Walk).
Crock Point, like Hollow Brook a little further down the coast (see the Heddon's Mouth Cleave Walk), is a key geological site, displaying a unique array of fossils illustrating the marine ecology of the Lynton Beds in the Lower Devonian period.
As you walk out around the open point beyond the woodland, watch out for the nesting seabirds which are also a feature of theis SSSI, including guillemots and razorbills. Peregrine falcons, too, are sometimes spotted here.
- Reaching the end of Crock Point, above the cove, turn right onto the path that takes you back to the road, a hundred yards or so away. Turn right onto the road and walk a short distance, to a footpath into the woods on your left.
The settlement at Lee Abbey dates back to the Domesday Book, when it was listed as Ley Barton, but there has never been a monastic community based here. The current building was built, some distance from the original barton, by a Victorian landowner who simply designed his new residence to look like an abbey. The Duty Point Tower, too, visible on the hill across the cove as you round Crock Point, is a folly dating back to the same time, and was sometimes used by customs men on the lookout for the smugglers who liked the remoteness of this part of the coastline.
- Taking this footpath, follow it into Bonhill Wood. It climbs up through the wood, bringing you to a track which heads south-west (to your right), along the banks of the tumbling stream, some way below. Stay on the track until you come to Bonhill Bridge, about half a mile away.
- Ignore the footpath that leads away over the bridge to your left, instead continuing along the track for a few hundred yards, until it reaches Croscombe Barton.
- Follow the waymarked path up around the right-hand side of the barton, heading left and northwestwards in the field at the top, to pick up the waymarked path along the right-hand boundaries of the fields until you come to the track at Slattenslade. Turn right onto the track and walk down to the road a short way beyond.
There is a water meadow system near Slattenslade Farm, known locally as a catchwater meadow system, visible as a series of earthworks to the west, above a stream known as Hanging Water. Found in this area from mediaeval times onwards, a water meadow used a series of shallow channels to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the field in order to encourage early growth in spring and prevent freezing in winter, allowing animals to graze for longer. The way the system here appears to be connected to the farmyard at Slattenslade has led archaeologists to suggest that it might also have distributed liquid manure as fertiliser.
- Turn left onto the road and drop gently downhill with it a moment, before pulling back uphill for a couple of hundred yards.
- When the road forks, take the right-hand lane and follow it northwestwards and back down to the car parking area 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 inns, cafés, restaurants and tea rooms in Lynmouth