Walk 74: Hunter’s Inn, Heddon Valley to Lynmouth – 31st August 2020

All children/young adults present and correct: Louis, Ollie, Nelle, Tom, Mylo and Biba as well as Matt. 

Ben dropped us at the Hunter’s Inn at Heddon and we crossed the busy, bubbling river

to walk through the woods towards the sea on the opposite bank from yesterday. It wasn’t long until we took the path leading up and out of the trees and into the strong sunlight. Moving steadily uphill we could see the path on the cliff facing us and the strange way certain shadows appeared deep down in the valley and on the beach.

The kids ran to the crags at the end of the valley where the path met the sea and started climbing like mountain goats. After a quick break for their antics

and to stare at the clearly delineated coastline of south Wales we continued on a mid-level easy path running gently on the side of impressive cliffs.

It isn’t long before the open path turns into another wooded combe and at its deepest point is a fairly substantial and picturesque waterfall.

The path then meanders slowly up to the road leading to Martinhoe and the more gently curved Woody Bay. At this point all the kids either lay down or climbed a tree

and so we stopped again and ate hula hoops. When we got up again Nelle announced she wasn’t capable of walking down hills (she has to run) and Louis became a ninja for the most of the remainder of the walk, swirling a large stick around and jumping all over the place. Earlier when we had emerged out of the Heddon valley and looked back at Lundy, Tom had asked if it was America. We’d all had a giggle and then blow me what appeared in Woody Bay but a signpost. And Lundy is basically in the right direction for the USA!

The local residences definitely had bedroom deathbed potential (a morbid habit me and Barbara have as we pass desirable houses).

The path drops back to the coast away from the road past Crock Pits. We watched an appealing wooded hillock past Crock Point get closer and closer not sure if it was an island at first and then seeing that it wasn’t hoping we’d have to climb it to investigate the mysterious tower at the top. Alas it wasn’t to be as it appears to be private land attached to Lee Abbey. Apparently, it is a Christian retreat and whatever the faith it is certainly an extremely well-appointed centre with a beautiful private beach, Lee Bay, not to be confused with Lee that we started in only a couple of days ago. Men were jumping in and out of their land rover changing bins and servicing the cutsey holiday cottages. Stayed on the road taking us up the long steady hill past the salmon mousse eyesore.

It has clearly been expanded and parts added over the years with odd 1960s style connecting sections. Behind the main building is an outdoor pursuits centre and three crosses placed on the adjoining hillside – father, son and holy ghost. 

Beyond the Lee Valley estate is the Valley of the Rocks which I had such fond memories of from years back. I had been taken here by friends after returning from travelling for 18 months and vividly remember being so knocked out by the scenery; making me realise that there are places in the UK just as beautiful as anywhere in the world.

I’d been tempting the young folk with stories of the wild goats but sadly the only person to see one on this visit was Ben as he walked from Lynton to meet us. Despite the lack of hoofed animals, the children were in awe and immediately ran off to climb a precariously balanced pile of rocks named Mother Meldrum’s cave in honour of the witch character in Lorna Doone. Matt followed a little more sedately. Me and Barbara took the ladylike and middle-aged option of sitting on a low rock and eating our lunch whilst trying not to look too closely at the vertigo inducing dangerous climbing the younger contingent were up to.

After they descended and food was distributed, Ben appeared. Lunch finished they ran off whooping to scale the White Lady and after a while joined us at the coast path. The path is narrow and busy with tourists and I had to concentrate on looking ahead so as not to worry about the long drops to the sea. Just stunning.

Coming into Lynton, poems start to appear at regular intervals along the path I believe written by local folk.

When we arrived at the funicular, we were hoping to use it to get down (feeling it could be counted a little like a ferry as it is a novel enough form of transport). Ollie was firmly against such a mode of transport which in one sense seemed odd as he’d only minutes before been bunding up and down huge rockfaces, but as he explained that meant he was in control rather than a piece of rickety looking machinery.

We decided to walk down and whoever fancied it would take it back up as the van was parked in Lynton rather than the lower section Lynmouth. The older boys and Ben forked off to pick up their skateboards and the rest of us made our way slowly down the steep, zigzag path past a plethora of garden gnomes and other garden statues: quite a large number decapitated and one having a close resemblance to a supine Matt.

Had a pint by the harbour watching the boys skateboard up and down.

Crossed the road to eat our pasties/cheesy chips on the harbour wall while Louis shimmied down the harbour wall ladder.

Such a lovely afternoon we had another pint across the road at Rock House batting off late summer wasps while the kids paddled in the Lyn.

Miles walked: 7.3

Since the beginning: 946.7

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