SET among the spectacular scenery of an area known as England’s Little Switzerland is Lynton, a small Victorian town with a selection of shops, tea-rooms and cafés.
Both Lynton and Lynmouth in North Devon owe a great deal to Sir George Newnes, a publisher who lived at Hollerday House on Hollerday Hill above Lynton. This mansion unfortunately burned to the ground in 1913 in mysterious circumstances.
The steep gradient between the two villages had always been a deterrent to visitors and a hard climb for the locals.
In 1887 Newnes and Thomas Hewitt began to lay a 900-foot twin track up the steep gradient. The unique water-operated cliff railway was opened in 1890 and, apart from needing new track in 1908, operates now as it always has.
Lynmouth is a pretty harbour nestling beneath the cliffs. It is a quiet retreat where one can wander between the quaint fishing cottages that line the narrow street down towards the quay and the distinctive Rhenish Tower. Two rivers, the East Lyn and the Hoaroak, come together just inland from the harbour at Watersmeet, pour down a gorge and flow through the village to the sea.
Lynton lies on the northern edge of the West Country peninsula in an area of incomparable beauty.
Bracken and heather clad the sweeping hills and valleys nestle between these and spectacular cliffs. Rivers wind their way through deeply wooded valleys to the sea, occasionally interrupted by tumbling waterfalls. This is the Exmoor of Lorna Doone, described in the novel by RD Blackmore.
The remarkable Valley of the Rocks, after which the hotel was named, is just over a mile from Lynton. This dry valley is unlike any other on the north coast. Created during the Ice Age, it has spectacular weathered rock formations with names such as The Devil’s Cheesering and Ragged Jack. Wild goats that populate the valley can be seen scrambling among the rocky outcrops. The Victorian fishing lodge at Watersmeet is now run by the National Trust.
The area is worth visiting to see the dramatic waterfalls and spectacular autumn and spring colours of the vegetation.
Inland are numerous walks through the rugged scenery of the Exmoor National Park. There are more than 600 miles of marked footpaths. Exmoor has abundant wildlife, including ponies, sheep and the lovely red deer that graze the open moorland. Overhead one might see falcons, buzzards and even the rare merlin.
Places to visit during a stay in Lynton or Lynmouth are Heddon Valley, Exmoor Zoo or Arlington Court.
Visit the Lynton farmers market on the first Saturday of every month.
A lovely three-mile walk along the South West Coast path: The Coast Path from Lynton to the famous Valley of Rocks is relatively level and has been surfaced to make it easier for everyone to use. While the path description is based on starting in Lynton, the walk can be shortened by starting in one of the car parks in the Valley of Rocks, and just doing the loop. It is likely to be suitable for people with impaired mobility or with a pushchair, although due to the lack of passing places it is not recommended for wheelchair use.
Where to stay?
Hotel - www.bathhotellynmouth.co.uk
Camping - www.channel-view.co.uk
For more details on things to do, places to stay, and where to eat take a look at www.visitdevon.co.uk