“We will go on a roam to Linton and Linmouth, which if thou camest in May will be in all their pride of woods and waterfalls, not to speak of the august cliffs, and the green ocean, and the Vast Valley of Stones all of which live disdainful of the seasons or accept new honours only from the winter's snow."
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
So Lynmouth marks the end of the Coleridge Way route – but for many its just the start of the next adventure as this town is a walkers hub for Exmoor sitting at the junction of The Two Moors Way, the South West Coast Path and the Tarka Trail long distance walking routes. Its signficance and its popularity with walkers is reflected in the town being awared its Walkers are Welcome Award who refer to it as the 'Walking Capital of Exmoor' and its got a superb range of facilities and walking routes so is well worth an extra night at the end of your walk.
You can view loads of information on how to spend your time here including details on over 40 Lynmouth based walking routes on the Walkers are Welcome Lynmouth website at www.lyntonwalks.co.uk
Lynmouth is where Gorge Country meets the sea and its stunning vistas have been enjoyed by travellers for centuries. A town christened “Little Switzerland” by early 19th Century visitors who were prevented from taking their European 'Grand Tours' due to the Napoleonic Wars. Lynmouth reminded them of their beloved Alps and the likes of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blackmore and Shelly (who spent his honeymoon here in 1812) gave Lynmouth its status amongst the Romantic Poets and their followers. For the artist Thomas Gainsborough the deep wooded gorges, bays and rocky outcrops made Lynmouth “The most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast” and its true that there are stunning, dramatic and varied views whichever way you walk out of the town. A strong Victorian and historical feel remains around the place with its promenades, tiny stone harbour and the ingenious cliff railway - ride on this piece of history to visit the upper leafy and lofty part of the town which peers out over the ocean at Lynton.
At the end of its 51 miles the Coleridge Way has a short official extension from the harbour at Lynmouth to the nearby Valley of the Rocks – a magnificent spot with its herds of wild goats, towering cliffs and the restored 19th Century Poets Shelter which sits at the head of the dry valley overlooking this coastal drama. It's a fitting end to the Coleridge Way to quietly wander to this before your evening meal and look west to watch the sun set whilst reflecting on your long journey here from Nether Stowey.
Lynton sits high above Lynmouth on the steep valley ridge overlooking the sea and the two sections are linked by a snaking wooded cliff side footpath for the fit or that ingenious Cliff railway for the less able ! Built for £8000 in 1890 the railway is operated with a cunning counterbalance using water piped up the cliffs from the West Lyn River – it may be a simple feet of engineering but its proved far more reliable than the mainline railways at any rate!
There are excellent facilities for walkers with a good range of accommodation from basic B&B's through to hotels and luxury inns and you can choose between staying down in the harbour at Lynmouth or high up in the lofty heights of Lynton. There are plenty of restaurants and inns providing food along with art and craft shops and for onward travel take bus links to the train line at Barnstaple and during the summer season back along the South West Coast Path route to Minehead where you can switch to depart by steam railway for Taunton.
Rest Days in Lynmouth
Aside from the Poets Shelter and Valley of the Rocks there is plenty to do in Lynmouth with an extra day.
At the foot of the Cliff Railway is the excellent National Park Visitor Centre in the old Pavilion which is well worth visiting as it's a mine of information on the area and its history with changing displays as well as the Pavilion Dining Rooms Cafe directly overlooking the tiny stone harbour and beach.
The Lyn and Exmoor Museum can be found in the towns oldest surviving cottage whilst in the Memorial hall you will find a moving and permanent display on Lynmouth's devastating natural disaster. Overnight in August 1952 after huge rainfall on the moors the three gorges combined into a deadly torrent of ninety million tonnes of water that crashed into the lower town destroying over 100 buildings, sweeping cars and bridges out to sea. Thirty four locals lost their lives that night and 420 people were made homeless. The exhibition includes a scale model of the village before it was destroyed along with many poignant personal accounts, photos, as well as material on the recent theory following a BBC investigation that it may have been the result of cloud-seeding experiments by the RAF that were going on over southern Britain a few days earlier.
Head to the harbour for a boat trip to see the stunning cliffs and hog back peaks from the water or take a stroll back inland on river walks, past thundering waterfalls on alternative routes, including the Two Moors Way over the Combes back to the National Trust's woodland tea rooms at Watersmeet