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Abtot Logo. Encounter Walking Holidays member number 5357


Beautiful Lynmouth is where the huge hog back cliffs and moors finally collide with the ocean - literally. 


The town was christened ‘Little Switzerland’ by its first tourists back in the early 19th century when the Napoleonic Wars closed the continent and in particular the Alps to travellers. Lynmouth was the home option, and it is indeed a breathtaking location. Loved by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blackmore and Shelly, 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.


The place still has that Victorian feel to it with its promenades, harbour and the ingenious cliff railway that links the towns. You must take a ride on this piece of history whilst here.  Opened in 1890, the railway is 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! The total cost of the project was £8,000 and there has never been an accident.


For those staying on for a day or so OR walking on down the South West Coast Path in North Devon,  just outside Lynmouth is the iconic Valley of the Rocks. Twisted and contorted rock formations, including The Devils Cheesewring, Ragged Jack and The Castle. These formations puncture the coastal panorama and are home to a population of wild mountain goats, the only surviving wild group outside of Scotland.


A rest day can be spent with 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. Or head to the harbour for a boat trip to see the stunning cliffs and hog back peaks from the water before heading on down the coastpath.


For those wanting to find out more about the terrain they have trekked, The Exmoor National Park visitor centre is here, along with the Lyn and Exmoor Museum housed in the towns oldest surviving cottage. At the Lynford 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.

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