One of North Devon’s most popular walks from Lynmouth takes you along the banks of Exmoor’s East Lyn River through some of Britain’s deepest river gorges to Watersmeet.
This is an ideal location to relax, stroll and enjoy the natural beauty of the largest remaining semi-natural ancient woodland in South West England.
Parts of the Watersmeet estate owned by the National Trust are designated sites of special scientific interest because of the geology, plants and wildlife found throughout the area and there is always the possibility of glimpsing otters, deer or rare birds and butterflies.
A wide choice of paths let you follow the river banks or trek through the woodland and up to the top of the moors taking in a remarkable variety of different environments and views. Then at the heart of the estate you can discover Watersmeet House, a fishing lodge built in 1832, which now provides an excellent stopping off place to take refreshments in the tea room and garden.
Even though the valleys seem tranquil now they were once a hive of industry. The woodland was coppiced on a twenty five year cycle of cutting and re-growth for pit props, fencing and charcoal with wood burning kilns providing lime to the surrounding farmland to sweeten the acidic Exmoor soil. Hydro-electric power harnessed the power of the river to light Lynton and Lynmouth and with a keen eye you might spot the stoneware bottle that marks where mineral water was once bottled.
Above all, though, this is an outstanding place to walk; from easy afternoon strolls to more demanding hikes, this is not a place to miss!
Sporting activities flourish where the industry once dominated and the East Lyn is known for opportunities to fish for trout and salmon. Canoeing is the more energetic sport between October and March when the river provides a challenging route for experienced canoeists.