North Devon, Britain’s first world class UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is one of the finest unspoilt locations in the UK and is an ideal location for a self catering walking holiday with its dramatic, stunning coastline and the rugged beauty of Exmoor. There are countless walks over the heather-covered cliffs. Exmoor National Park is a world of its own filled with wonderful countryside and wildlife urging you to explore. It is a great joy to climb the brow of a hill and then look down on a herd of Exmoor Ponies or Red Deer. Lower Hearson Farm and its cottages are surrounded by quiet country lanes that are ideal for shorter walks during your holiday. Just right for the dogs early morning walk. There is a folder in each cottage full of leaflets giving details of the vast number of sights, attractions and places to visit during your holiday here in North Devon. See also our National Trust Activities page.
There are several walks around here that can be enjoyed just by stepping out of your holiday cottage doorway. Details of these can be found in your cottage. Look out for some of the many different species of birdlife here or try to catch a glimpse of some deer in the fields or woods. Watch the bees, busy in the hedgerows gathering their nectar to take home to their hives. Enjoy the soft, sweet scented air so special to North Devon.
Each cottage has its own walking books providing both short walks and long treks for those with a bit more energy. Most of the walks are circular. The books contain various routes so that you can really explore and enjoy North Devon during your holiday covering both countryside and coastal walks in North Devon and Exmoor.
Below are a few ideas that we can personally recommend for you to try during your holiday although there are dozens of other places we have yet to explore:
The Tarka Trail is named after Henry Williamson’s book “Tarka the Otter” and runs through the North Devon countryside. Part is a cycle path and walking route following the old railway line from Barnstaple either heading north towards Woolacombe and the coast or around the river estuary to Instow, Bideford, and if you are feeling really energetic, Petrockstowe and Meeth in the heart of Devon. The Trail offers easy, flat, traffic-free cycling suitable for families of all ages. Bicycles can be hired from a number of places in the area. Details will be available in your cottage. The walking section of the Tarka Trail passes through the nearby village of Landkey which, if you are feeling very energetic, you can walk to from your holiday cottage doorway.
Doone Valley, recently featured on Country File, provides a contrasting walk of wooded river valley and wild open moorland. The medieval village nearby on the moor is the fictional home of the Doone Family. At the end of your walk Malmsmead has a wonderful tea/lunch shop serving delicious food, both standard and gluten free.
Countisbury Point – We love to pick up some fish and chips from the Esplanade Fish Bar in Lynmouth and then drive up Countisbury Hill, through the village and past the National Trust car park,taking the next left hand turn towards the light house and farm. Park up looking over the beautiful wooded valleys to the south to enjoy your fish and chips. Then take a stroll either down the lighthouse lane or head towards the farm and follow the footpath to the east looking out across the Bristol Channel with the Welsh coastline in the distance.
Mortehoe is a charming village just beyond Woolacombe. Walk through the village and out onto Morte Point for spectacular views in lovely peace and quiet. A great place to see seals on the Northern side of the point.
To the east of Mortehoe is a quaint seaside village called Lee nestled in a steep sided valley winding down to a small seaside cove. One of our favourite walks heads west from the cove along the cliff tops towards Bull Point Lighthouse.
Behind Saunton Sands is Braunton Burrows Nature Reserve which is designated a Site Of Special Scientific Interest. There are 1,000 acres of dunes which are said to be the highest in Europe. Braunton Burrows is rich in wildlife and a third of the entire British Flora can be found within it’s boundaries.
There is a shaded walk from Lynmouth to Watersmeet through the stunning beauty of the East Lyn Valley cushioned from any outside noise, the only sound being the gentle flow of the river. You may be lucky and spot a Dipper, the UKs only aquatic song bird. Watersmeet House is where Hoaroak Water meets the East Lyn River. It is a former 19th Century fishing lodge now belonging to the National Trust. Fabulous fresh fish and chips can be enjoyed after your walk on the harbour wall in picturesque Lynmouth. Our favourite fish and chip shop is the Esplanade Fish Bar down by the jetty.
Walk the footpath from Lynton to The Valley Of The Rocks for breathtaking views where the cliff drops sheer into the sea. The valley is inhabited by mountain goats.
A visit to Tarr Steps provides some enjoyable walks along the banks of the river Barle. Tarr Steps is a medieval clapper bridge in the heart of a National Nature Reserve. It is classified as an ancient monument. The name Tarr comes from a Celtic word meaning “causeway”. Before or after your walk it is worth visiting the local inn just above Tarr Steps where good food and fine ale is served.
Baggy Point – A lovely walk along the coastal path up to Baggy Point from Croyde. Park in the National Trust car park and turn right. Great views looking back across Bideford Bay towards Hartland Point on the horizon. Carry on walking past the point and you will be rewarded with a wonderful panoramic view of Woolacombe Bay extending to Morte Point in the distance.
Anstey Gate – A great place to enjoy a moorland walk surrounded by Exmoor Ponies with fantastic scenery. It is possible to see red deer there. Only half an hours drive away. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and a flask of tea to enjoy whilst relaxing in your car after your walk.
Horse riding is available from a number of stables. For riding over Exmoor or trekking try Dean Riding Stables at Parracombe (01598 763565); West Anstey (01398 341354); Doone Valley Riding Stables near Lynton (01598 741278); Boldry Riding Stables, Chulmleigh (01769 580366); Mullacott Riding Centre near Ilfracombe (01271 866685); Roylands Riding Stables, Croyde (01271 890898); Outovercott Riding Stables, Lynton (01598 753341); Brendon Riding Stables, Lynton (01598 741246) and Woolacombe Riding Stables (01271 870260). Beach rides are available at Woolacombe Riding Stables, Roylands Riding Stables and Mullacott Riding Stables. It is advisable to ring first to book a time to avoid disappointment.
Golf Courses are nearby at Portmore (01271 378378) in Landkey, Chulmleigh (01769 580519), Libbaton near High Bickington (01769 560269), the High Bullen Hotel (01769 540530), the links course is near Ilfracombe (01271 862176), the Championship Course at Saunton Sands Golf Club (01271 812436) and a heathland course at Great Torrington (01805 622229). It is advisable to ring first to book a time to avoid disappointment.
The Rock and Rapids Adventure Centre is great for a more energetic days activities or why not try Surfing Lessons with Nick Thorns’ Surf School based at woolacombe beach. www.nickthorne.com