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Section 4.  Combe Martin to Woolacombe - Exmoor Coast Path

Distance:  13 miles - Grade:  Moderate becoming Strenuous in parts/easy at the end - what these grades mean

Today you finally leave dramatic Exmoor as your coast path walking starts to become gentler on the approach to the golden estuaries of North Devon. A switchback ride of less demanding climbs above cliffs and drops to hidden coves with good chances of spotting seals as well as the welcome town of Illfracombe well located for lunch on route.

This morning head out from the perfect miniature inlet at Water Mouth a fjord like cleft below the Gothic looking Watermouth Castle. Rillage Point gives good sightings of the Caves and tunnels used by past smugglers as well as glimpses of today’s residents the Herring Gulls, Kittiwakes and  Fulmars swooping and soaring away to the old hill fort at Hillsborough with its fine views over Illfracombe  from robust double earth ramparts. Lunch in Illfracombe which can be at S&P Fish who have the fishing boats that unload at the quayside.   A pleasant fishing port trapped between the hills and the Atlantic with a tiny sandy harbour Ilfracombe sits below its Iconic Chapel of St Nicholas standing proudly on top of the former island now known as Lantern Hill (it also doubled as a much needed lighthouse). On the way out look into Tunnels Beach named after the tunnels hewn out of the cliffs by welsh miners who opened up this inaccessible beach.  You too can relive the Victorian holiday with a dip here in low tide bathing pools in the rocks.

Overnight stops at Ilfracombe on the South West Coast Path

This afternoon join The Coast Path takes in the Tors Walk hewn from the rocks along the cliffs out of Ilfracombe to Lee valley or “Fuchsia Valley” where the flowers grow wild above a stunning sandy beach framed by rock pools.

Onwards in and out of steep but perfect little salt marsh valleys at Hilly Mouth and Bennets Water whilst inland of the coast path are several prehistoric standing stones guiding you onwards to the lighthouse at Bull Point, built following a petition highlighting not only the terrible storms but the notorious wreckers at work in the area.

At Rockham bay some rather precarious steps give access to the little beach often visited by basking grey seals and final resting place of the SS Collier whose boilers and engine can still be seen at low tide.

The final headland is the heather, pink thrift and yellow gorse headland of Morte Point a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its heath and grasslands which juts out to the dreaded Morte Stone or the Rock of Death  a treacherous sunken reef which took 5 ships during the winter of 1852 alone. Magnificent views introduce a changing landscape now of dunes and estuary beyond Woolacombe  At little Barricance beach swim amongst its famous tiny tropical shells washed in by the Atlantic Gulf Stream straight from the Caribbean and the Bay of Mexico Then to Woolacombe past Grunta beach... and you guessed it...named after a shipload of pigs was wrecked here.

Overnight stops at Woolacombe on the South West Coast Path

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