Woody Bay is a remarkably secluded, peaceful spot. It does require a long, winding walk down a cliff to get to it - but do not let that deter you.
Every minute you spend with the kind of quiet you will find there makes it worth the effort.
If you’re driving around north Devon, then you can easily be crossing Exmoor without realising it. It’s a National Park that extends from the Lynton and Lynmouth coastline to the Quantock hills of Somerset and features some of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes in England.
It offers some spectacular walks and is home to a huge range of wildlife, not least its very own Exmoor pony.
Up on Exmoor, which lies a few miles inland from Lynton, is an area called Badgworthy Valley. Due to the efforts of the writer R D Blackmore however, it has become known as Doone Valley, being largely the setting for the novel Lorna Doone.
The countryside here has an extraordinary wild beauty and whether you want to do some serious walking or just linger around Malmsmead, the village at the heart of the area, you won’t fail to share in the enchantment that inspired Blackmore to write his book.
There is a memorial stone to Blackmore on one of the footpaths and if you’re going to indulge in a cream tea, then Lorna Doone Farm is the place to have it while admiring the view over the little river valley.
Take the turning to Oare from the A39 just east of County Gate. After one mile fork right at Oare and into Malmsmead.
Not far along the coast road from Lynton you’ll find a signpost for Hunters Inn, which as well as being a pub-restaurant and place of accommodation, is also a beauty spot near the bottom of the alarmingly steep and deep Heddon Valley.
The walks in this area are spectacular, whether you follow the river path down to the sea or climb the cliff paths which cut narrow tracks along steep, heather-covered inclines.
This is a truly beautiful place to spend some time, just make sure that your car brakes are in good working order before you make the journey.
Take the coast road from Lynton towards Ilfracombe. Watch for the signposted road for Hunters Inn.
My view is that this spot is best reached by following the cliff path from Lynton (rather than driving), which is well signposted. As long as you have a head for heights, the walk is beautiful and invigorating with fantastic views of the coastline. The spot itself is a dry valley surrounded by some quite spectacular rock formations which some people choose to climb. There are also several small but secluded bays in the vicinity where you can enjoy the coast in peace, assuming there aren’t lots of other walkers about with the same idea.
Just follow the cliff path from Lynton
From Lynmouth, if you have some decent walking shoes on, you can follow the river path along the deep, wooded valley up to Watersmeet. Here you will find wonderful scenery, pretty waterfalls and, after about a mile, a National Trust cafe and shop where everyone seems to converge.
From here, you can either rest and re-fuel before heading back, or continue along numerous paths that wind off further up through the forest. If it's a hot day, be sure to take a drink with you.
Take the river path that starts next to Lynmouth car park.
A lovely little cafe next to the top station of the water-powered Victorian cliff railway at Lynton with gorgeous views of the multicoloured sea-cliff face of Countisbury Hill and towards Wales across the Bristol Channel. A good espresso or cappuccino to go with peaceful enjoyment of natural beauty.
Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway, Exmoor National Park, Devon EX35
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