Lee House: Butter Hill & Watersmeet
If you’re looking for a walk that takes in some of the North Exmoor coastline as well as some spectacular inland views across the East Lyn Valley and the higher points of Exmoor, then this may be just for you.
The walk begins at Lynmouth. Just behind the Manor House, on the green you will find the path which snakes along next to the road for a short distance. You’ll need to cross the road after about 200 metres to continue up along the grassy path. A fair climb but the rewards are plentiful, as you see more of the coastline, with plenty of vantage points on your way up. Up ahead, you will see the Blue Ball Inn and, if you have timed it correctly, you’ll have earned a refreshing drink and great hospitality.
Crossing the road outside the Inn, you will take the pathway past the car park and up to the little church, St John the Evangelists’. Gates and narrow little paths take you round the church and then back out onto open land. Wander up to the highest point – approximately 112 metres above sea level and look down to your left at Lynton & Lynmouth, and beyond to Lee Bay. Straight ahead of you, across the Channel you can see – on a clear day – the south Wales coastline, the stretch between Porthcawl and way along to Barry Island. This stretch of water looks deceptively close – back in 2006 a windsurfer “accidentally” made it across from Swansea to nearby Woody Bay – a staggering 30 miles!
Once you’ve had your fill of the coastline views, walk back down the hill to the church and retrace your steps to the Inn. Walking past this you will need to walk along the quiet road for about 100 metres, then on your left you will see a wooden gate, go through this and you’re now looking out across the East Lyn Valley and Arnolds Linhay, an old packhorse trail. This area takes its name from the linhay or cattle shelter that stood beside the trail in the lower part of Westerwood. A treat might be a sighting of deer grazing, over to your right and over the flint wall.
The path is very straightforward to follow, and you will have plenty to see – starting high above the trees but then descending through the canopy and along a zig zag path (Sparrows Walk), down to the river. In front of you now is the Woodside Bridge, completed in 2020 and which the local community helped to raise the £65,000 needed to replace the old, collapsed crossing.
Turn left and follow the path which firstly follows the river. You’ll have some great stop points to see the fast-flowing river at its widest points. Then, as you gently climb the path you will begin to veer slightly away from the river and creep up into the woodland.
Following the path will soon lead you back to the river and ahead sits the idyllic National Trust Watersmeet House, an old fishing lodge, but now an information centre and tearoom. Very tame birds will “help” you with your cream tea, one of the finest served in Lynton & Lynmouth.
Crossing the bridge just in front of the tearoom, turn right and follow the path back down the river. You will stay at water level for the walk back down to the bridge so plenty of chance to spot riverside birds as well as the water rushing over boulders and stones. Usually, a solitary heron stands statue-like in the middle of the river. Beyond the bridge you will be back in Lynmouth.
310k Steps in March
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