Simonsbath to Cow Castle
If you want to see the very essence of Exmoor then try this delightful walk as it gently meanders along the River Barle between Simonsbath, Landacre and eventually Dulverton, towards Exebridge.
This is a short walk, not circular but ideal for a few hours and it’s not a rollercoaster of steep climbs or sheer drops. It’s a small segment of the much longer Two Moors Way that stretches some 102 miles from Ivybridge in South Devon, through Dartmoor to Exmoor, to Lynmouth.
Park up in car park in Simonsbath, just after the Exmoor Forest Inn as you drive from Lynmouth. There are public toilets here, so a great opportunity for a comfort break. Exit the Car Park and head towards the inn, cross the road where you see the signs for Bridleway to Wheal Eliza and Cow Castle.
This wooded area is called Birchcleave Wood. This is the start of the walk, and it’s the same path all the way to Cow Castle and beyond.
The entire River Barle valley is teeming with life, bursting with nature and birdsong. Take in the wonderful country smells and the soothing sounds of the river as it tumbles and turns on its endless journey.
The path bends to the right following the river down to a charming path made of set stones, that kiss the river edge.
The moss on the trees here is magical and elven. Walk through the next wooded enclave along the river, with Cow Castle in plain sight ahead of you.
Cow Castle is home to an ancient Iron Age hill fort, long since gone – but it’s footprint can be easily seen from a distance.
As this is the end of this particular walk, it’s time to head back the way you came.
However, if you wanted to extend the walk and make it circular, consider taking the narrow track behind the hill up to ‘Picked Stones’. From here you can follow the bridleway atop the River Barle valley through White Water / Winstitchen back to Simonsbath.
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