At the head of the River Lyn, Lynmouth is sited in impressive 'Gorge Country' and about as good as it gets for incredible vistas along the North Coast of Devon. The town was even christened ‘Little Switzerland’ by its first tourists back in the early19th century, when the Napoleonic Wars closed the Continent, and in particular the Alps, to would-be travellers. Lynmouth became the nearest option to home, and it is a breath-taking location.
Loved by Wordsworth, Coleridge and Blackmore alike, Shelly also spent his honeymoon here in 1812. Thomas Gainsborough called it “The most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast” and the deep wooded gorges, bays and rocky outcrops he enthused about are still delighting visiting walkers. It was here that Coleridge conceived his 'Tale of the Ancient Mariner' - inspiration that brought out his finest poem.
The place still has a Victorian feel to it with its promenades, harbour and the ingenious Cliff railway linking the towns of Lynton (the main administrative centre) perched high on the cliff and Lynmouth below. The railway is the highest and steepest fully water powered Victorian railway in the World and we highly recommend that you take a ride on this piece of history whilst here. Opened in 1890, the railway is actually water-operated with water piped up from the West Lyn River. One car descends the almost sheer cliff face, while the other ascends, on a counterbalance system that has proved more reliable than most modern railways!
We offer accommodation in Lynmouth itself so that you are right by the coast, on the paths and don't have to face the walks up the cliff path!This is probably the best location on this whole section for a rest day , offering lots to do for those that want to, and stunning surroundings to rest in if you prefer. Spend some downtime on gentle river walks past thundering waterfalls to Watersmeet, passing through one of the UK’s deepest gorges to the former Victorian fishing lodge, now a National Trust run tea shop. As an alternative, head to the harbour for a boat trip to see the stunning cliffs and enjoy beautiful views from the water towards the town before continuing your journey from the coastpath.
If you want to sneak in an extra walk off the coast path, we recommend enjoying a rest day here and we can arrange a transfer up onto Exmoor to one of the little inland moorland villages of Simonsbath or Withypool. From here you can trek the last day of The Two Moors Way with only a short climb to that routes highest point at Exe Head before then taking advantage of a full on downhill rush from the heights of Exmoor through the gorges to the coast at Lymouth. The route passes the source of the mighty river Exe, the ancient Hoar Oak Tree and the switchback Cleaves Trail above the thundering East Lyn Gorge. It is in our opinion probably the best day on the whole week long Two Moors Way walk, allowing you to get a days walking in on Exmoor. We find it is easy to fit in with an extra days stop in Lynmouth. Please do ask us for more information.
Visit the Exmoor National Park visitor centre here along with the Lyn and Exmoor Museum housed in the towns oldest surviving cottage. At the Lynford Flood Memorial Hall you will find displays covering the devastating tragedy that befell the town one night in August 1952, when a torrent of water from the flooding gorge killed 34 locals, destroyed over 100 buildings and bridges and washed nearly 40 cars out to sea. Over 420 people were made homeless that night and much of the lower harbour area was rebuilt after this time.
Facilities for visiting walkers are excellent with lots of varied accommodation, luxury hotels, inns, restaurants, tea shops and plenty of browsing opportunities in the art and craft shops that somehow retain their Victorian and Edwardian character.
For those departing, there are regular bus services linking with the railhead at Barnstaple from which you can take a train to Exeter and all mainline routes.