This weekend I took a trip with an old friend to do a beautiful walk, just a tiny way along the coast from Woody Bay and Lynton and the Valley of the Rocks.
As well as providing beautiful views out to sea from the cliff top, and a lunch stop in the seaside town of Lynmouth, this walk also took us a little way inland as we followed the river back from Lynmouth, where it feeds into the sea, to Watersmeet.
The walk starts with a long climb through twisted trees, emerging higher and higher above the valley. At the top, the path opens out and is flanked by gorse and wild flowers. The views of wooded and heather-clad hills in one direction, and the ocean in another give that sense of freedom and wildness that only places like this can.
As you begin to descend again there is a little patch of meadow, which at this time of year is all flowers and butterflies, and after that you re-enter the greeny, dulled light of woodland, passing a waterfall and zig-zagging down until you emerge in the scenic town of Lynmouth. The waterfall reaches a huge size and sound at this point and you can stand on the bridge and watch it there.
The town is mainly fudge and souvenir shops, cafes and pubs; there is also a little harbour with colourful bobbing boats and a small park, a promenade to walk alongside the pebble beach and a cliff railway that takes you up to Lynton and down again.
From Lynmouth, you can walk along the river which babbles perfectly along the valley for miles with clear water and several good spots for swimming or paddling. There are lots of birds to be seen, including Wagtails that catch flies mid-flight, and Dippers, and if you’re lucky the odd Kingfisher.
After a while you reach a National Trust cafe and you can then continue further up into the woods, past the odd waterfall and back out to the road and National Trust car park.
My pictures don’t really do this place justice. In reality, it has the feel of Lorna Doone country – wild and beautiful and peaceful – and you leave feeling restored, and kind of like anything could happen.