A magical slice of rugged coastline with fantastic views
June 2014. Lynton / Lynmouth – I thought I had been here before but when we got there we realised it was back in 2003, when we had driven this way in our Vdub Camper Van, a temperamental old bird called “Red” – air cooled- she really struggled on hills. And the road leading down into Lynmouth was an insane 25% gradient. So we drove on and never came here. 11 years later, here we are.
A great thing about Bristol is having places like Devon just on our doorstep. Two hours drive and we’re in a magical landscape, sea cliffs, coastal paths, moorland, tiny rural hamlets and the lush green of mother nature hemmed in by ancient dry-stone walls.
Lynton is lovely. Parked up and walked through town. They have a funicular railway that drops nearly 200 metres to Lynmouth below. Definitely worth using, just for the pleasure of riding in an archeological engineering gem. Stopped at the Cliff Top cafe for a coffee and a slice of their home-baked apple tart glazed in orange and served with a scoop of Devon ice cream. Oh my God! Insanely yummy. The coffee is good too.
Riding the funicular down into Lynmouth, had a wander around the small harbour area. Gnarly pubs with atmosphere, some great options for fish and chips and pasties (of course). Really great vibe down here. Walked back up the zig-zagging path to Lynton and checked into our hotel. Lynton Cottage http://lyntoncottage.com
What really struck me was the landscape and how the buildings had to nuzzle in close, pressed up against the sea. And this ties in directly to the novel Oakfield, which is set not far from here. The landscape plays a key role in the book. Great to be here and experience it first hand again.
Fantastic hotel. Our room was the Bay View Suite. Four poster bed, chaise-longue and a 3 aspect view of the sea and distant headland. Friendly place – guests and staff, with good attitude to service. The room is geared up for people who want to enjoy the view. Large supply of tea and coffee and milk tubes, with a kettle in the room; brew and view. Bliss. Supped a mug of black coffee and just gazed out the window for an hour.
The headland hems in Lynmouth Bay and rises up several hundred metres. We could see a trail hugging the upper ridge. Decided we’d do it. Walked down the path from Lynton down into Lynmouth, stopping three times where the path crosses above the funicular tracks on narrow bridges, allowing you to peer up the steep ascent or down to the bottom. I grabbed a steak pastie (one of the nicest I’ve ever had). We hiked about 2 miles, following the coastal path that brings you up above the woodland by the shore. It’s an easy climb with some epic views. Found a cairn so dropped down and dozed in the late afternoon sun for a while. Then hiked 2 miles back, baking in sunlight and daydreaming of an ice cold pint- which I got once back in Lynmouth. Dartmoor Ale. Delish. Two pints, actually. Then fish and chips. Then discovered the funicular closes at 7pm so we had to huff and puff our way back up to Lynton with full bellies, ugh!
I sprawled on the chaise-lounge in our room with Oj, supping whisky, watching the sun set. Didn’t move until it was dark. What a wonderful moment in time. So lucky to be able to do this. Have these experiences.
The landscape here is really evocative. You can be close to habitation, the towns, but the hills seem remote, the dense canopy of trees and thick foliage creating a sense of potential mystery lurking in shadows.
I woke up just past 4 o’clock in the morning to see the blister of the sun peering up over the horizon. I opened my eyes further, the view framed by the four poster bed… and I didn’t even need to move my head to get any more of the view of the ocean and the sun rising up above it, painting the sky with fire. Beautiful. I dragged myself out of bed and brewed a mug of tea, sat there, watching, smiling, feeling happy.
Next day. Lazy morning. Breakfast at 9 a.m. – a proper Full English including black pudding. Chilled out on the terrace with coffee, then checked out. Will defo be back.
Left car at the hotel and did the coastal path walk to Valley of the Rocks. I had never heard of this place, but comprises some of Exmoor’s tallest sea cliffs. The formations are like ancient fortresses of weathered stone, ground down by mother nature, cracked and shattered by geological history. Words cannot do the place justice, truly a secret gem of England. Clambered up several escarpments of rock. Hiked through wild gorse and heather. Followed paths that plunged up and down steep ascent and descents. Jo and I parted company for a while. I found a spot on the coastal path with a bench; sat down to gaze at the sea filling my view to the horizon, and experienced a surreal and potent silence. It was so silent I thought maybe I had gone deaf. It was incredible. I coughed and drummed my fingers on the wooden bench to be sure I could still hear. Of course, I could. But there was no ruffle of breeze in my ears. No sound of the ocean. No vehicles. No people. No animals or insects. Nothing! An absolute absence of sound. Incredible.
Getting back to Lynton I went straight to the Cliff Top cafe. Another slice of apple tart glazed in orange, scoop of ice cream and strong coffee.
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