Walk - Trentishoe Barrows
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 park turn left and walk down the road to the T-junction, turning left again here to to go past South Dean Farm to South Dean Corner beyond.
- 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 Gut and North Cleave and through 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).
- Stay on the Coast Path, ignoring the smaller paths leading away on both sides, 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.
- 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, take the path to your left and follow it uphill to the buildings by the road. On the road turn right, to pick up the footpath on the other side of the road just a couple of hundred yards further on. Turn left onto this path.
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, ignoring the footpath round the hill at the bottom, and drop onto the lane to Trentishoe Manor.
- Turn left on the lane, and follow it past the manor and downhill between fields until you come to two a footpath on the left. Take this to your right (roughly southwards), to go through a field and into woodland.
- About a quarter of a mile after joining this footpath, take the next path on the left, and follow it eastwards and uphill, to pick up the track running uphill from Voley, curving with it to the left and then the right around the hill, until it joins the road to Heale.
- Cross the road here and carry on along the track opposite, downhill and then onto the footpath which leads down to the stream.
- Crossing the stream, turn left onto the track beyond and walk with it through Heale Wood.
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.
- Reaching the road, turn left onto it for a short way, and then pick up the footpath back into the wood, on your left as the road curves right. This footpath rises steeply through the wood. Ignore the two right-hand forks, dropping down to the river, and keep climbing up to the path which crosses yours at the top of the hill, just out of the woods.
- Turn right onto this path and follow it around the right-hand boundaries of the fields above Invention Wood, turning left with it and descending steeply through the woods to the stream at the bottom.
- Turn left onto the path below and walk along it, by the stream, for a few hundred yards, until it forks. Take the right-hand path here, steeply uphill to the road, and turn left on the road, turning left again at the next junction to return to the start of the walk.
In Combe Martin or at Hunter's Inn, at Heddon Valley (a little way to the east)