Twin villages Lynton and Lynmouth on the Exmoor coast are located within the National Park and have been popular with visitors since the Victorian era. The area famously has the nickname of England’s ‘Little Switzerland’ because of the spectacular height of the hills and coast in the area. Lynton and Lynmouth are separated by a great height and connected by the unique Victorian cliff railway. Lynmouth nestles at the foot of the cliffs whilst Lynton sits around 500ft above. Both villages are popular for year round walking holidays and short breaks, ideally placed for exploring the spectacular coastline and the moorland landscapes of Exmoor. Local beauty spots include the 2000 acres of Watersmeet and Countisbury. Rich in wildlife, Watersmeet is one of the country’s deepest river gorges featuring the magical valleys of the East Lyn and the tumbling waters of Hoar Oak Water. The onsite tearoom is the perfect spot to relax with a cream tea and admire the views.
R.D.Blackmore stayed in the Rising Sun Inn in Lynmouth whilst writing Lorna Doone in the 1860s. The Victorian tourist boom in the area was largely due to the popularity of the novel, further boosted by the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway. The novel featured the famous rock formations ‘The Valley of Rocks’, a great dry valley running for around half a mile adjacent to the coast west of Lynton. There’s lots to do and see in the area including boat trips, a trip on the cliff railway up to Lynton and search for hidden coves along the coast. Explore the beautiful woodlands of the Lyn Valley or take romantic riverside strolls at Lynmouth, Combe Park and at Rockford. Breathtaking walks in the area are many including the stretch of the South West Coast Path running along the great Glenthorne Cliffs towards Devon’s most northerly dramatic point – Foreland Point.
Cliff Railway, Attractions & Activities
Activities and attractions in and around Lynton & Lynmouth cater for all tastes from families to adventure sports lovers. Classic coastal attractions which have thrilled visitors for over 100 years include the Victorian Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway, a water powered cliff railway from Lynmouth up to hilltop Lynton. Browse an exquisite selection of crafts and gifts at the Lyn Valley Art & Crafts Centre in Lynton or get active and try ‘Geocaching’ – an outdoor treasure hunt where you find the hidden treasure. There are over 10 hidden Geocaches in Lynton & Lynmouth! Visit the Lyn & Exmoor Museum in Lynton for an insight into the domestic and agricultural history of the area. Collections feature local maritime relics, exhibits on the Lynmouth 1950s flood disaster and a host of curious memorabilia from the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway.
For real adventure sports lovers, the Upper and Gorge sections of the East Lyn Rivers are popular for kayaking. The East Lyn is renowned as one of the most challenging rivers for kayakers! No visit to Lynton & Lynmouth is complete without a scenic boat trip or wildlife watching cruise along the sea cliffs flanking the Exmoor coast. Pick up boat trips from Lynmouth quayside. The Lyn Model Railway is a free entry attraction next to Lynmouth Parish church with a model railway dating from 1935-40 period. Putting greens are at Lynmouth Manor Green and charming entertainment venues include the little Lynton Cinema.
A choice of beautiful shingle, sand and rock beaches line Lynmouth Bay, perfect for rockpooling, bathing and surfing. Lee Bay sits on the western edge of Lynton & Lynmouth just past the Valley of Rocks whilst Sillery Sands, a mixed sand and shingle beach, sits at the eastern end of the bay, reached only via a footpath off the South West Coast Path. Secluded bays framed by high cliffs are also in the area including Wringcliff Bay (not suitable for young children/ or less mobile visitors).
Lynton & Barnstaple Railway
The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, first opened in 1896, contributed to the Victorian tourist boom in the area. It is one of the most beautiful narrow-gauge railways in Britain. Trains run between the two stations of Woody Bay and Killington Lane Hall. Woody Bay Station is the original Lynton & Lynmouth station with Station Tea Rooms and a shop selling a range of gifts and memorabilia. This narrow gauge railway is dog friendly – dogs travel free!
Power of Water Visitor Attraction
During the Victorian boom in Lynton and Lynmouth, George Newnes decided to build himself a holiday home just up from Lynmouth on Hollerday Hill. He installed the latest facilities in hydroelectric power, supplying the house with electricity through turbines. In 1983 this private hydroelectric system was restored, and now Lynton and Lynmouth have their own private electricity! They even sell surplus electricity to the National Grid. Find out more at the Glen Lyn Gorge Power Of Water exhibition. The gorge is spectacular and there are beautiful woodland walks by the waterfalls. Operate the giant water wheel and watch out for the big water cannons! The entrance can be found 200 yards upstream from Lynmouth harbour.
Where to Stay
Places to stay in Lynton and Lynmouth are brimming with heritage charm and character. Classic Victorian guest houses nestle high up in the cliffs close to the cliff railway, Watersmeet and the coast path, and they have spectacular views of the Exmoor coast. A wide choice of unique bed and breakfast accommodation can be found in both villages and in the surrounding cliffs and river valleys. Special diets and sustainability are two strong themes in accommodation here. Vegetarians and visitors with gluten free diets are very well served in Lynton & Lynmouth’s selection of B&Bs. Accommodation in the area from classic small hotels and inns with rooms to guest houses and cosy character cottages include an excellent choice of dog friendly and family friendly options. The two villages are perfect for walking holidays with dogs and for get active family breaks on the Exmoor coast.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.