Countisbury to Lynmouth

Yesterday when I met Sarah, my Twitter buddy, at Periwinkle Cottage tea rooms in Selworthy we chatted about walks on Exmoor.  A number of the places that Sarah mentioned I had previously visited but there were a few I hadn’t.  One of those locations was Countisbury which Sarah told me had stunning views of the coastline.

The starting point for my walk is the free car park besides the A39 at Barna Barrow, which is just east of Countisbury (Grid Ref SS752496).  My plan is to walk from the top of the hill into Lynmouth, but first I want to head east to Countisbury Common to bag the OS trig point on the hill.  Leaving the car park I initially head north and then follow a track as it sweeps to the right to head east. 

After crossing a driveway the path continues east to pass Kipscombe Farm and then goes through fields.  After passing through a gate I make a brief diversion from the path by following the fence line uphill and then enter a field where the OS trig point sits on top of Kipscombe Hill.  This the 220th I have bagged.

After admiring the views from the trig pillar I retrace my steps downhill and on reaching the gate turn right along the footpath to head through fields.  At a junction of paths. I go left to enter access land above the cliff.

The path I’m on heads north towards the sea and then at a junction I turn left and follow this path as it enters trees and then fords a stream.

It was my original intention to walk through Chubhill Wood to pick up the coastal path, but it is clear that this will mean walking through trees and missing out on the views so instead I follow a well-worn path which heads west across the top of the access land to reach a gate.  Going through the gate I rejoin the footpath I was on earlier and head west back towards Kipscombe Farm.

On reaching the track just beyond the farm I take a path heading north west heading towards a telecoms mast.

I stay with this track to pass the mast and reach the Ordnance Survey trig point close to it.  This is my 221st and has more cracking views.

From the trig pillar I continue along a broad path heading towards Countisbury Church and then stop at a bench to enjoy the view and eat my lunch.

Heading off again I pass Countisbury Church and briefly join the South West coastal path before going left through a gate and heading down to cross the A39. 

On the far side of the road there is a choice of three paths.  I take the central one heading steadily downhill in a valley through South Hill Common.

At a junction of paths I turn right and follow the Coleridge Way footpath above the river.  

There are a network of paths heading west through this valley I stay with the Coleridge Way and then drop down to cross the river and walk a short distance on the south bank before crossing the river again.

The recent weather means the river is fast flowing.  But this is nothing compared to how the river would have looked back on the on the night of the 15th August 1952.  Then torrential rain fell on the already saturated surrounding moorland.  Over the course of a couple of hours the East Lyn and West Lyn river levels rose and the power of the water was enough to move rocks and debris downstream.  As the force of the rivers met at Watersmeet their combined power was enough to cause devastation to anything in its wake.  

Sadly this resulted in total disaster in Lynmouth with 34 lives lost and many properties destroyed,  420 people were made homeless.

My route now runs close to the river as it approaches Lynmouth.

On reaching the village I cross the bridge and then turn right to walk towards the harbour.

After months of avoiding crowds and busy spots the village is a bit too crowded for me.  So I wander around to the Lynton and Lynmouth cliff railway.  This was opened in 1890 and was built to transport freight arriving at Lynmouth to Lynton high above it on the cliff.  With the emergence of tourism in the last 1890’s the railway was soon carrying passengers and it has run continuously ever since.  It is water powered by a clever water system using two cars, water is put into the top car and emptied when it reaches the bottom.

I walk back around past the harbour and at the junction turn right and quickly left into Watersmeet Road and follows this for a hundred yards to reach a footpath on the right way-marked for the Two Moors Way.

This path heads steeply through houses and then enters woodland and continues to climb as it zig zags its way up.  I stay with the Two Moors Way as it emerges from the trees and continues heading east along the fence line.

At a junction of footpaths I turn right to leave the Two Moors Way and head south across fields.

At a junction of paths I go left heading along the edge of a field and then go through a gate to follow a wall-lined grassy path to reach Lower East Lyn Farm.

The path passes the farm and continues on through Higher East Lyn Farm and then goes through a gate onto a grassy track.

There are soon good views in all directions as I stay with the path ignoring others leading off to the left.

The path I am on soon starts to sweep round the top of the hill and turns towards the south to reach Myrtleberry South Iron Age Enclosure.

Now the path descends gradually through the trees heading towards the A39.

On reaching the road I walk besides it for a short section heading downhill to Hillsford Bridge where I cross the river and take a footpath on the left heading into the Watersmeet Estate.

The path follows the course of the river to reach Watersmeet. 

Crossing the river I pass the cafe.  The water level is not too high, but its force is still noticeable as it squeezes through the rocks.

There are a few path options here but I stay with the route that heads north besides the river.

Soon the path goes away from the river to reach the junction of paths I was at earlier in my walk.  This time I go uphill retracing my steps along the steep path heading through the valley on South Hill Common.

I get caught in a heavy rain shower, it has been threatening for much of the afternoon but had managed to evade me until now.  Nearing the A39 I turn right taking a permitted path that avoids the road to arrive in the village at a pavement.  I continue up the hill to pass the Blue Ball Inn and then turn left on a minor road heading up to the entrance to St John the Evangelist church.

The path leads through the churchyard and through a gate where I turn right and follow a path heading west back to my starting point in the car park.  My walk has covered just over 11 miles and I have enjoyed stunning views all the way round.

You can view this 11 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here (Subscription to OS Maps Required)

To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL9 Exmoor

7th October 2020

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2020)

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