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Exmoor Coast & National Park

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Report an abuse for productExmoor Coast & National Park

$ 855 Per Person

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  • This 7-night tour starts at Minehead on the Somerset coast of Exmoor. West of Minehead the coastal path offers magnificent views across the Bristol Channel to Wales. After three nights at Lynton, which we use as a base for exploring the moorlands of the Exmoor National Park, we continue through the celebrated ‘Valley of Rocks’ and over the summit of the Great Hangman (318m/1043 feet ) to end the tour at the Victorian beach resort of Ilfracombe.

Additional Information

Trek Duration

More Than Five days

Tour Languages

English

Trek Difficulty

Medium

Company

The Discerning Traveller

Suitable For

< 18 year olds, 18-39 year olds, 40-49 year olds, 50-59 year olds, 60+ year olds, Families

Guiding Method

Guide/Instructor

Destinations

Exmoor Coast

Discerning Traveller

What is a self-guided hiking tour holiday? Briefly, this means a hiking holiday (or walking holiday, it’s the same thing) on which each day you walk on to a new place for your next overnight stop. For instance on a Discerning Traveller hiking tour, we book and pay for your accommodation each night with breakfast, move your main baggage onto the next night’s stop and provide you with route directions and hikers maps to enable you find your way on foot. You carry only a daypack containing such items as lunch, drinking water, waterproofs, and camera. Our hiking tours are self-guided (i.e. no leader or guide; our route notes and highlighted maps take the place of a leader); individual (i.e. you are not part of a group; our customers are mostly in parties of 2 to 4 people who have booked together, although we do also cater for single travellers on some routes); and with some exceptions you can start any day you choose within our season.

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Day 1. Arrival at Minehead.

Train to Taunton (direct from London Paddington, Reading, Bristol and Exeter). Then bus from rail station to Minehead. Bus service is less frequent evenings and Sundays when a long taxi ride may be required. Bus journey time 1¼ hours.
Overnight Minehead.

Day 2. Minehead to Porlock; 13km/4.5 hrs/Ascent & descent 698m.

The National Trail starts with a long climb through woodland to the panoramic heathland of North Hill (250m), where the contrast with the busy streets of Minehead could not be greater. The only habitations visible are 10s of km away on the coast of Wales. The path then traverses steep and rocky slopes high above the sea to Hurlstone Point, before a descending steeply to the pretty village of Bossington where you may find a welcoming tearoom. It is only 30 minutes level walk from Bossington to Porlock, but we recommend continuing 2km more along the coast path to Porlock Weir, the ancient harbour of Porlock. There is an afternoon bus service from Porlock Weir to Porlock (except on Sundays; in 2018 possibly also not on Saturdays). Porlock is a charming historic town, with the feel of a village and a choice of pubs and restaurants.
Overnight Porlock.

Day 3. Porlock Weir to Lynton; 21km/6.5hrs/Ascent & descent 934m.

Some walkers may find this day longer than they want to take on, so we suggest starting the day by catching a morning bus for the first 2.5km from Porlock to Porlock Weir. On mornings when the bus does not run we provide a taxi. However stronger walkers have a choice of two easy walking routes (one across the salt marshes, the other through woodland) between Porlock and Porlock Weir, each taking about 50 minutes. From Porlock Weir the first half of the day follows an easy and mostly level path through dense forest which clads the steep slopes above the sea. On the way you pass the tiny parish church of Culbone. Beyond Yenworthy the ground is more open and the views correspondingly broader. After rounding the promontory of The Foreland there is an extensive westward vista including Lynton perched on its ledge above the harbour of Lynmouth. The walk can be shortened by about 50% by catching a bus from County Gate to Lynmouth or by about 45 minutes by catching a bus from Countisbury to Lynmouth. However it is unclear at the time of writing (November 2017) whether there will be a bus service on this route in summer 2018 or what the timetable may be. See www.travelinesw.com It will still be possible to phone for a taxi from County Gate or from Countisbury. Overnight Lynton (3 nights).

Days 4 and 5. Walks based at Lynton.

On both days we provide a taxi service in the morning (included in the tour price) to take you to the starting point of a selection of walks of varying length and difficulty. The walks end either in Lynton or at County Gate from where there was until 2015 a bus service to Lynmouth 3 or 4 times per day throughout our season. However it is unclear at the time of writing (November 2017) whether there will be a bus service on this route in summer 2018 or what the timetable might be. See www.travelinesw.com It will still be possible to arrange for the same taxi that drops you off in the morning to pick you up from County Gate or from Countisbury in the afternoon and take you back to Lynton. We describe and provide maps for the following walks based in Lynton.
L1. Coast path westwards from Lynton to Valley of Rocks, Lee Bay and Crock Point; back along the road. This walk requires no transport and can be fitted in at any time during your stay at Lynton. The Valley of Rocks (about 4km/1 hour for the circular walk) is a celebrated scenic wonder and is the main focus of the walk, which can be extended further westwards along the coast to Lee Bay (small beach, add 1.5km/30 minutes each way) and Crock Point (dramatic views along the coast, add another 45 minutes). So total time required from Lynton to Crock Point and back to Lynton is about 3 hours
L2. Coast path from County Gate to Lynmouth. Those who cut the coastal walk short yesterday and took the bus from County Gate can travel with the taxi back to County Gate to continue the walk to Lynmouth and Lynton. Distance/time required is about 11 km/ 6.5 miles/3.5 hours/ascent c.350m. Allow extra time for lunch/a refreshment stop at Countisbury (Blue Ball Inn). If it is running, it is also possible to take the bus from Countisbury to Lynmouth.
L3. Circular walk from County Gate to Oare, Malmsmead and Ashton Cleave and back across Cosgate Hill to County Gate. This is an easy walk requiring less than half a day. It takes in a beautiful stretch of the East Lyn valley, the church at Oare which features in the novel Lorna Doone, the still almost idyllic hamlet of Malmsmead with its ford and tearoom, the beautiful path through the narrow valley at Ashton Cleave, and the heather moorland of Cosgate Hill. 7 km/ 4 miles/about 2 hours walking time/ascent c.200m. Allow time for a refreshment stop at Malmsmead. To return from County Gate to Lynton you will need to catch the bus (if it is running) ir arrange to be picked up by the taxi which drops you off in the morning.
L4. Malmsmead, Brendon, Watersmeet and Lyn gorge. This is a linear walk along the beautiful Lyn Valley starting at County Gate and ending where the East Lyn River meets the sea at Lynmouth. There are inns en route at Brendon (the Staghunter Inn) and (recommended, but closed Mondays) at Rockford; cafes at Malmsmead and (summer only) at Watersmeet. 14km/9 miles/5 hours/ascent c.250m. Allow extra time for refreshment/lunch stops at Malmsmead/Brendon/Rockford/Watersmeet. For the first part of the walk the path stays mostly high up on the valley side with extensive views; from Brendon onward the path follows the river bank through dense forest which clads the precipitous slopes. It is also possible to leave the valley route at Watersmeet and climb up the valley side to join the Two Moors Way at Myrtleberry – see Walk L7 below.
L5. Alderman’s Barrow to County Gate. Not advised in bad weather or low cloud. This is a short full-day or long half-day walk (12 km/7.5 miles/4 hours walking time/ascent c.300m). Allow extra time for refreshments at Cloud Farm or Malmsmead. You are dropped off by taxi high up on the moor at Alderman’s Barrow and follow bridle paths across wild and empty moorland past the long deserted farm of Larkbarrow and down into the valley of the Badgworhy Water (also known as the Doone Valley after Lorna Doone). You follow the riverbank path to Cloud Farm (tearoom) and Malmsmead (another tearoom), before the steep climb up to County Gate and the bus – or a pre-arranged taxi – back to Lynmouth and Lynton.
L6 and L7. Two Moors Way. L6 (not advised in bad weather or low cloud) from Simonsbath or Preyway Head to Cheriton, L7 (all weathers) from Cheriton to Lynton. This walk follows the final stretch of the Two Moors Way, a long distance trail linking Dartmoor and Exmoor. The first part crosses open moorland with few waymarks and several streams to cross; fording the streams can be difficult in wet weather. From Cheriton on to Lynton the walk is not weather-dependent; here the path is well waymarked as it traverses farmland and woodland and from Myrtleberry (site of an iron age hill fort) to Lynton follows the rim of the Lyn Valley with spectacular views. L6 with L7 is a full-day walk (Simonsbath via Cheriton to Lynton: 19km/12 miles/6 hours/C.400m, while L7 alone is a short half-day walk (Cheriton to Lynton 8km/5 miles/2.5 hours/ascent c 150m). There are no refreshment possibilities or other facilities en route unless you leave the Two Moors Way at Myrtleberry and take the path down to Watersmeet where there is an NT café/tearoom open in summer. See walk L4 above.
Drop-off points for walks based at Lynton. For walks L2, L3 and L4 you are dropped off at County Gate, for walk L5 at Alderman’s Barrow, for L6 with L7 at Simonsbath or Preyway Head and for L7 (on its own) at Cheriton. As a ‘default’ we book the drop off on Day 4 at Alderman’s Barrow and on Day 5 at County Gate. However you can make your own arrangements with the taxi driver as to where you are dropped off on days 4 and 5 depending on weather and your own preferences. Overnights 4 and 5 in Lynton.

Day 6. Lynton to Combe Martin; 22km/14 miles/7 hours or more/Ascent & descent 1350m.

See below for details of height gain and loss and how the day can be shortened. This is the longest and most strenuous day of the tour, but if you found Day 3 (Porlock to Lynton) within your powers you should not have problems with this walk. The scenery is magnificent all the way. After walking through the incomparable Valley of Rocks, the traverse round Woody Bay is through jungle-like forest, with occasional glimpses of the dramatic and rugged coastline. As you climb over the shoulder of Highveer Point the ground is open heathland, with a bird’s eye view of the jagged rocks guarding Heddon’s Mouth. You then descend almost to sea level to the bridge over the River Heddon, from where you can make an almost level detour along the riverbank to the Hunter’s Inn (lunches available). Next comes a long ascent of the steep valley side, made easier by a succession of zig-zags (Serpentinen), before an airy seaward traverse and a further short ascent bring you to the cliff-top at about 240m above sea level – close to but just out of sight of the tiny historic settlement of Trentishoe. Then follows a long undulating traverse along the cliff-tops and across the heathland of Trentishoe Down and Holdstone Down, always with stunning views ahead to the west. From Holdstone Down the path dips abruptly to cross the deeply incised Sherrycombe valley, then follows the final short climb to the day’s highest point (and most panoramic viewpoint) , the sinisterly named Great Hangman (Großer Henker). From there to Combe Martin it is all downhill, 300m of continuous height loss which can be hard on the knees. Note that although this is a long day, it can be shortened by using a taxi at the start to take you either to Woody Bay or to Hunter’s Inn. It would also be possible to end the walk at Hunter’s Inn and phone ahead to Combe Martin for a taxi. Taxis for this day are not included in the tour price.
Distance and walking time (approximate). Lynton to Combe Martin (via coast path from Valley of Rocks onwards but omitting Crock Point and Hunter’s Inn): 20 km/ 12.5 miles /c. 6.5 to 7 hours walking time. Ascent: 800 m. Descent: 900 m. Highest point: Great Hangman (318m). Note that if you already completed walk L1 from Lynton you could start this day by booking a taxi to Woody Bay (not included in the tour price). If taking taxi to Woody Bay subtract 4.5km/ 1 hour plus. For detour via Crock Point add 1km/ 20 mins. For detour from coast path to Hunter’s Inn and back add 2km/30 minutes. For road alternative from Trentishoe Down to Combe Martin subtract 30 minutes and 150m ascent/descent. Lynton to Hunter’s Inn: 9 km /5.5 miles /c. 2.5 hours, ascent 250m, descent 350m.
The only facilities on or close to the route are at Hunter’s Inn (bar, lunches, public toilets, red phone box, NT shop), which is near the half-way point if you start the walk from Lynton.
Overnight Combe Martin.

Day 7. Combe Martin to Ilfracombe (bus or walk); Ilfracombe to Mortehoe and Woolacombe (walk).
Although the official coast path exists between Combe Martin and Ilfracombe (8km/5 miles/2.5 hours), and the coastal scenery is rugged and dramatic, in our opinion too much of this section of ‘coast path’ is close to or actually on the busy main road A399 for this to make a satisfactory walk. So although plans are being made to upgrade this section of the National Trail, we currently (2016) advise missing out this section of the coast path, taking the bus to Ilfracombe and walking from there along the coast path to Mortehoe and Woolacombe (12km/7.5 miles/3.5 hours/ascent & descent 747m). Here the cliffs, while still rugged are lower than between Minehead and Combe Martin, and the path frequently descends to sea level. Much of the land round Bull Point and Morte Point is uncultivated heathland, which adds to the feel of remoteness. In the distance is the island of Lundy, near which there are plans to establish a vast offshore wind farm. Beyond Woolacombe the coast path continues along the dunes at the back of the immense sandy beach (popular with surfers, and rated among the best beaches in Eurtope), so you have the opportunity to extend the walk if time permits. Unless you are booked into accommodation at Mortehoe or Woolacombe, you will need to take a bus back to Ilfracombe at the end of the day. We provide timetables and directions to find the bus stop.
Overnight Ilfracombe (alternatively Mortehoe or Woolacombe if requested when booking).

Day 8. Departure from Ilfracombe.

Those travelling by public transport can depart by bus or taxi (not included in tour price) to Barnstaple (journey time about 1 hour) for hourly local train service (less frequent on Sundays, first train on Sundays about 10am) to Exeter St David’s. Change at Exeter for onward main line trains to Bristol, Reading and London. Train journey time from Exeter St Davids to London Paddington is 2 to 3 hours, to Reading 30 minutes less, to Bristol Temple Meads (for bus to Bristol Airport) about 1 hour.
In previous years there has been a summer bus service between Ilfracomvbe and Minehead but it is not certain that this bus will operate in 2018. Those who have parked their car in Minehead for the duration of the tour may need to get a taxi to take them back to Minehead.
If departing from Mortehoe or Woolacombe bus connections are less frequent, but there is a direct bus service from Woolacombe to Barnstaple as well as to Ilfracombe.
Above distances and times are subject to individual variation.

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What's Included:

  • 7 nights bed and breakfast in B&Bs and small hotels. En-suite or private bathroom is standard. Special dietary requirements can be accommodated if we are informed when booking.
  • Baggage transfers when moving on to new accommodation during the tour.
  • Annotated hikers’ maps at 1.25,000 scale, showing location of each accommodation and other information.
  • Safety advice.
  • Printout of detailed directions in English.
  • Info on local bus services
  • Practical information on other local services.

What's Excluded:

  • Travel to the start point (Minehead) and back from the end point (Ilfracombe).
  • Other meals during the tour.
  • Local bus journeys in connection with some of the walks.

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Company Information

What is a self-guided hiking tour holiday? Briefly, this means a hiking holiday (or walking holiday, it’s the same thing) on which each day you walk on to a new place for your next overnight stop. For instance on a Discerning Traveller hiking...

Tour Details

  • Availability
    Available Daily
  • Booking Type
    Instant Booking
  • Duration
    8 Days
  • Guiding method
    Self Guided
  • Guide Language
    English
  • Meeting/Starts Point
    Minehead, Somerset
  • Maximum Altitude
    450 Meters
  • Trek Difficulty
    Medium

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