On one of our weekends in Lynmouth, my husband and I went on the shortest steam train journey we have ever made at Woody Bay – and we have made a few. The station here is the departure point for the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, originally opened in 1989 and closed in 1935. Now there is a project underway to rebuild this narrow gauge railway. The day we went we were only able to go a couple of miles westwards along the track and back again, but the plan is to eventually extend the line all the way to Barnstaple. Woody Bay itself is reached via a steep track wending its way through dense woodland, starting from a nearby car park. Obviously, with such a challenging approach, the sand and shingle beach is completely as nature intended, with no facilities, so pack a picnic.
From Woody Bay, a two and a half mile stretch of coast path leads to Heddon’s Mouth, a cove at the mouth of the River Heddon, which flows down to the sea through a steep valley with scree-covered sides. The coastal walk takes in the site of a Roman fort built to repel the Welsh. The cove can also be reached via a path from a car park at Hunter’s Inn. The author of the 19th century novel Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore, is heavily associated with these parts, and Heddon’s Mouth features in two of his other works, Clara Vaughan and Maid of Sker.
Map of the area.
|Coastal path near Heddon's Mouth. Photo by Dave Croker, via Wikimedia Commons|