Walk - Hollerday Hill

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.

Route Description

  1. Facing the sea turn left from Lynmouth Pavilion, carry on the road ignoring the cliff railway and the Coast Path. 
  2. Continue along the road and then through the Esplanade car park. Take the steep footpath on the left towards the end. At the top turn right to Join the Coast Path.
  3. On the Coast Path, turn right and follow it high above the sea for a little over a mile, ignoring the path leading away uphill and inland, to your left, a little beyond the halfway point. Shortly after the disused quarry the path curves to your left, around a craggy hillside with breathtaking rock formations looming above you, and then drops down beneath Castle Rock, to fetch up at the roundabout beyond. Take a detour up Castle Rock for some spectacular coastal views.

In the Devils' Cheesewring area of the Valley of Rocks is Mother Meldrum's Kitchen, the fictitious witch's cave made famous by RD Blackmore in his novel Lorna Doone (see the Lorna Doone Walk).

  1. From the roundabout turn left onto the road, and take the path along the verge, past the tearooms and onto the path to your left opposite the toilets. Take the right fork almost immediately afterwards, leading steeply uphill.

There is a herd of feral goats in the Valley of Rocks, and these can often be seen grazing in this area (see the Lynton and the Valley of Rocks Walk).

  1. Zigzag up the side of Hollerday Hill on this path, taking the detour to the left at the top for some more dramatic views and then returning to the main path.
  2. Where the path forks around the hill, take the right-hand fork and follow it around the hill and into the woods.
  3. The path uphill to your left after about a quarter of a mile will lead you up to the summit of Hollerday Hill, a great viewpoint over the Valley of Rocks and the surrounding countryside.
  4. From the summit, retrace your steps, or be adventurous: there is a network of paths leading through the woods on the hill, well-signposted and easy to follow. Check out the Iron Age fort, and the ruins of Hollerday House, with its tennis court and reservoir.

Hollerday House was built in 1890 by George Newnes. The son of a Derbyshire minister, he was working as a haberdasher in Manchester when he struck gold with the publication of his magazine, Tit-Bits, whose content of short items appealed to a population now receiving a better education and hungry for light entertainment. The magazine Country Life followed; and when his Strand magazine featured the exploits of Sherlock Holmes, crafted by the pen of his great friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Newnes's fortunes rocketed.

In common with many a Romantic, including Coleridge and Wordsworth, Newnes fell in love with the Exmoor coastline; and after several holidays in the area, he decided to move his empire down here, where, like the Scottish Hallidays in neighbouring Glenthorne, (see the Glenthorne Walk), he set about spending his wealth on ambitious projects.

The first was the cliff railway, a water-powered funicular designed by local engineer George Marks and opened in 1890, costing £8000 (see the Valley of Rocks Woodland Walk).

Other gifts to the community followed: Lynton Town Hall, the Congregational Church, the cricket pavilion. Perhaps Newnes's biggest contribution to the district was his role as a leading member of the group responsible for building the Lynton to Barnstaple narrow gauge railway, which opened in 1898.

Despite his altruism, however, Newnes appears to have been something of a snob, and it it said that the reason he pushed for the railway to run (somewhat inconveniently to its passengers) from Lynton rather than the more obvious Minehead was to keep out the hoi poloi and preserve his “Little Switzerland” for the better class of tourists.

On the day the first train ran, one of its chief instigators, William Halliday, passed away, leaving the Halliday fortune to his son Ben, and relations between the Newnes and Halliday families took an abrupt turn for the worse. This was exacerbated by the clandestine romantic affair between Ben and Claire Newnes, George's daughter, culminating, in 1900, in Claire finding herself with Ben's child. Her father responded to the news in an explosive manner which is apparently still the stuff of legend in Lynton today. The two were married, however, and the birth of their twins, and another child in a year or two, eventually softened George's attitude towards the Hallidays.

Claire was a leading light in the women's suffrage movement, and when Hollerday House was burnt down in mysterious circumstances, a short while after the family was forced to sell it after the unexpected collapse of the Newnes empire, there was a suggestion that it was as a result of the action of suffragettes.

  1. When you have finished exploring, take the footpath signposted to Lynton, and follow it downhill to the track below.
  2. From here, drop down onto the road, and turn left, staying on this road until you come to the church.
  3. Pick up the Coast Path again and follow it as it zigzags downhill over the cliff railway and returns you to the start of the walk.

    Nearby refreshments

    Mother Meldrum's Tea Room in the Valley of Rocks, and ( in summer) Lee Abbey Tea Cottage.

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