We had the opportunity to visit Exmoor National Park last weekend (North Devon). A house had been booked to stay in and off we went for 2 nights. We were staying in the village of Lynmouth.
I have never been to this part of the country before so it was all new to me. I was impressed with the Park and villages we were in and it is a beautiful place to visit.
First off, if you own a dog, Lynmouth is a dog lovers paradise! We took Chester, our large Golden Retriever and he was welcomed everywhere! Even in the pasty shop when we stopped for lunch. Needless to say, the dog had a great time – lots of walks/ hikes and pub dining!
We were based in the village of Lynmouth. A picturesque little village right on the water. They say its where Exmoor meets the sea. There is also a fast moving river moving through the village, flowing out into the ocean. Back in 1952, the village was pretty much lost during a great flood/ mudslides. Nine inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours and the moors were too wet to take any more. Resulting in devastating the village. One village store shows the mud line from that event….above eye level for me!
The village is picturesque and off season, its still quite busy. Summer months, I am sure it has a completely different feel. We are enjoying visiting these gems out of season, especially if the weather is dry and sunny. At this time of year, there are just a few shops open and restaurants haven’t fully opened yet. If you are looking for an evening meal, plan ahead and try to book somewhere open. There is an Egon Ronay restaurant in the village but alas was fully booked. We dined at a local hotel in the end. It was adequate but I’m sure there is better to be found in the area.
We also ventured up to Lynton village. This is high above Lynmouth, perched on the cliffs. A larger ‘town’ and again very picturesque. Due to its location, there are a couple of ways to get there. The first trip we took the Funicular railway up. Its powered by water and a very sweet ‘railway’ line to the top. Even dogs can ride for a £1! Chester was excited to join in the fun. Again, off season, no queuing was needed and we hopped straight on. The other way up is to walk. A number of different paths will take you there. A ‘switchback’ footpath will take you up or one day, we took a coastal path up and around to the town. Either way, it is high and steep…take on at your own risk!
We did 2 great walks over the weekend. One walk was coastal path up into the moors and fields. We climbed around 200 feet in all which allowed for some pretty views. We got a little off path at one point but made it back to Lynmouth finishing along the river walkway.
Our second walk was taking the coastal path in the opposite direction towards Castle Rock, a popular hiking destination. This path was difficult at times and the true coastal part is on narrow paths with cliff faces. However, the path is paved so its easy underfoot. I am not great with vertigo so I took my time and made it through just fine. There are plenty of little resting spots on the way up and along to Castle Rock. Scenery and vistas are spectacular so taking a break is worth it for the view.
We made it round to Castle Rock. Again, another spectacular view. The contrast between ocean, moors and rock faces is what lends this area to magnificent beauty. Without sounding like a bore – visit OFF season. This place was quiet and peaceful but just a little further on, signs for bus parking etc indicates this is a mob scene come summer. It would be a whole different experience.
We climbed Castle Rock. Kids went to the top…I was almost there but my fear of heights got the better of me on the final stretch! I still got to enjoy the splendid views though including those of the Valley of Rocks…another popular destination.
We opted to follow the road and further trails back into Lynton before the decent back down into Lynmouth. These final trails took us through fields of wild goats…with many kid goats about to play with the kids…one in particular stole our hearts and chased and bleated along the path. We found it tough to say goodbye….we named her Willomena 🙂