I completed this walk in August 2019. Please check the current COVID-19 government guidance and local advice before visiting.
The Valley of Rocks is a name that sounds epic! Situated on the edge of the Exmoor National Park on the north coast of Devon, this walk includes a section of the official South West Coast Path. It is perfect for a weekend visit when travelling from Wales.
The South West Coast Path is a National Trail following 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset. The Valley of Rocks is one of the many highlights and its proximity to the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth makes it a popular destination.
The walk begins alongside The Valley of Rocks Hotel in Lynton where there is a small road passing some guest houses. The route soon joins the South West Coast Path. Although this section is covered in tarmac, it is quite close to the cliff edge in places so care must be taken as there is no barrier.
The rock formations are spectacular creating a unique landscape. Some people choose to climb up the rocky outcrop but it is not essential. I walked along a short section of road instead.
The South West Coast Path continues to Crock Point. From here, the route leaves the coastal trail and turns inland through an area of woodland. Navigation skills are important for this part as there are a variety of tracks and it is easy to follow the wrong one. Eventually, we picked up the right path and crossed a footbridge over a stream to begin climbing out of the woods.
Next, there was a very steep section heading up a hill which overlooks the coast and provides a different viewpoint of The Valley of Rocks. After a while, it descends past a cemetery to the foot of Hollerday Hill. It is possible to return to Lynton without climbing Hollerday Hill but the very steep ascent is worth it for the best view of The Valley of Rocks.
From here, the footpath returns to Lynton.
While in Lynton, why not also visit the pretty twin village of Lynmouth? For something a bit different, there is The Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. First opened in 1890, this funicular railway is still the highest and steepest water powered railway in the world. If you don’t want to try it, there is a steep, zigzag path down to the village.
Lynmouth was the scene of a devastating flood during August in 1952, when water surged down the valley destroying buildings and killing 34 people. There is a free exhibition dedicated to the disaster in the Flood Memorial Hall.
The circular route I followed for The Valley of Rocks was just under seven miles. There are many different routes of varying lengths available on the internet. It is advisable to do your research to choose a route that is most suitable for you as this article only describes the highlights and does not provide step-by-step instructions.
The Valley of Rocks is unlike any other coastal walking I have done before. The steep cliffs and rugged coastline make it a must-see part of the British coastline and the South West Coast Path makes it accessible in a way that other coastal areas are not. I thoroughly recommend a visit.
A version of this article first appeared in ‘Bwrdd’ – The Newsletter for Mensa Cymru, March 2020.
If you are interested in another walk along the South West Coast Path, please read A Coastal Walk – Mevagissey to Charlestown.