Exmoor National Park with its high hills rising dramatically from the sea, heather filled moorlands grazed by ponies and picturesque wooded river valleys is begging to be explored on foot. This is most definitely walking country. Despite this, we had chosen it for a 3 generational family break, the eldest member of which is 90! The grandparents would definitely not be up to any hikes, so how would we fare?
We based ourselves at Lynton, selecting accommodation with lovely sea views.
The town is at the top of a steep hill, at the bottom of which is the pretty settlement of Lynmouth. Luckily, the two are connected by a cliff railway, which enabled the older members of the family to ride up and down, while I enjoyed the walk! The railway opened in 1888 and works by a water gravitational system. A tram at the top and bottom are connected by cables, each having water tanks. Water is released from the bottom tram until it is lighter than the top one, allowing gravity to swap their positions. It is one of only 3 of its type in the world. The views from the top and along the route are pretty good.
Once down in Lynmouth, we stopped to shake hands with a rather statuesque Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the famous poet who lived in the area.
We walked along the seafront, crossing a bridge over the River Lyn to the park, where F entertained herself on the zipwire while the old folks found a comfy seat. A round of mini golf was followed by a Devon institution – a cream tea!
After lunch (tea), we had a wander around the town, coming across an unusual item of interest and a welcoming sign outside a pub.
We looked in on an exhibition on the great flood, which destroyed much of Lynmouth in the 1950s. The exhibition also contained an informative history of the town, along with a model village.
After an ice cream, it was time to ascend the cliff railway again, or in my case walk.
The previous day, we had taken in some lovely scenery on our journey. Travelling along the A39, which runs close to the Exmoor coast, we turned off at Porlock onto a private toll road. Apart from avoiding the narrow 25% gradient bottleneck of Porlock Hill, it is a pretty road with switchbacks up a wooded hillside, which we virtually had to ourselves. This enabled us to stop and look at incredible views of the Vale of Porlock like this.
Back on the A39, we found a layby which appeared to be a parking place for walkers. We enjoyed lovely views over the Doone Valley, named after R D Blackmore’s classic novel Lorna Doone.
There is beautiful coastal scenery on the drive between Porlock and Lynmouth, which unfortunately I was unable to stop and photograph.
Our last full day started with a drive into the Valley of the Rocks. This is an easy walk from Lynton, for those who aren’t car bound. It is a lovely valley which derives its name from the rocky outcrops found there. It is a popular grazing area for goats.
We then proceeded to Woolacombe, a popular seaside resort with a long beach and big waves. Unfortunately, I didn’t pack my swimming trunks/did pack them but S brought a different suitcase (female version/male version – delete as appropriate). This meant that while F was frolicking in the waves, I was relegated to paddling ankle deep in my shorts – well, ankle deep until one of Woolacombe’s big rollers came crashing in and got me soaked up to the waste! A similar fate happened to S, much to F’s amusement. Meanwhile, we had to improvise to keep the old folks warm in their deck chairs.
We enjoyed a drink on the terrace to mark our final evening in Lynton. Despite the compromises, we managed to have a successful short break and still enjoy some stunning scenery.
Lynton is in the Exmoor National Park, North Devon, England, UK
It is close to the A39 road, 46 miles west of J23 of the M5 motorway. The nearest airport is Exeter (62 miles) which has rail links to Barnstaple. The nearest railway station is Barnstaple (19 miles) from where there are bus services
Accommodation and food
Lynton and Lynmouth both have pubs, cafes and restaurants. For information on accommodation, click here