Lydford Gorge – A Little Weekend Adventure

Last Saturday we went to Lydford Gorge just outside of Okehampton. I had wanted to go there for a while but decided to wait until the spring when all the footpaths are fully open. Saying that, when we arrived we were advised that part of one path (under the road bridge after the Devil’s Cauldron) was closed due to a tree fall.

I’m not sure what we thought we would see, we knew there was a waterfall and a few steep climbs, but it far surpassed our expectations.

The route around the gorge is one way for safety reasons but more on that later. We started on the upper path with views through the trees down to the river below.

There were a lot of steps here and we found parts of the ground underfoot quite slippery. As with many places on Dartmoor, water seemed to seep from every crevice and many trees were green and moss covered.

Dartmoor Moss
Lydford Gorge Moss

There were several steams which crossed the path and lots of evidence of fallen trees – the aftermath of a very stormy winter.
Simon at Lydford

As we reached the half-way point we began to hear the roar of the White Lady waterfall.
Lydford - half way point

After crossing a wooden bridge we had two route options to choose from to get down the gorge; long & easy or short & steep. Obviously we went for short & steep! This turned out to be a zigzag path that resembled a queuing rail at a theme park. We caught little glimpses of the waterfall on the way down but it only came into full view when we emerged out of the trees at the bottom.
White Lady Waterfall

The path underfoot became super interesting from here on in! The bank was mostly rock, which rose and fell as it followed the contours of the river. At times there were steps with iron hand rails on one side and a drop to the water below on the other! The narrow path on this section would make passing people coming in the other direction quite dangerous and we really began to understand why it was one way.
Scary steps

We then reached the Tunnel Falls – a series of large potholes caused by erosion. The path here became a wooden walkway.
Lydford Tunnel Falls

After more scrambling, through a tunnel and up and down more hair-raising steps you emerge in a lovely flat ‘rest area’. The water here is calm and the path is flat and easy. We soon realised that we didn’t have much time for a rest though. Immediately up ahead was the Devil’s Cauldron. The gorge narrows and the walls run wild with green moss.
Lydford Gorge

The first part of the path to the Cauldron is metal and fenced in on the gorge side but after passing through a tiny gate you are on your own! The steps down are under a jutting out rock which has a handrail on one side and nothing but fresh air on the other. The noise is much more intense here and the air becomes wet and misty. The Devil’s Cauldron itself is a very large pool into which the river forcefully flows. The water here has the appearance of boiling which is probably what inspired the name!
Devils Cauldron

We carefully climbed back up and came out near the high road bridge.

Due to the closure of this section we made our way back to the car park, stopping at the visitor centre to buy another book of local walks on the way.

We both really enjoyed this varied and interesting walk and will no doubt be spending much time here in the future.

 

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A Day Trip to North Devon

After what felt like months of incessant rain, the weather last weekend was glorious and so we decided to make the most of it by taking a trip to North Devon. We headed up the A377 to Barnstaple and then took the A361 north over to our first stop: Woolacombe. You gain a lot of height on the road to Woolacombe from Barnstaple and it was very exciting when we turned a corner and the sea suddenly came into view. We parked in the main car-park on the beach front and paid £2 for a couple of hours.

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Sticklepath to Belston – Part of the Tarka Trail

“The Tarka Trail is 180 miles long and follows in the footsteps of the character Tarka the Otter from Henry Williamson’s famous novel. The Trail splits into 2 loops centred at Barnstaple and is a great way to explore the world class environment of North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere that stretches from Dartmoor to Lundy and Exmoor to Hartland.”Tarka Trail Circular Routes

When last staying with Simon’s parents we spotted their copy of Tarka the Otter and decided to borrow it. Whilst the descriptions of the Devonshire countryside are beautiful, it is quite a laborious read. The most exciting thing we took away from the book was learning that in Devon Hedgehogs can also known as vuzz-pegs! Very sweet and appropriate!

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South West Coastal Path – Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth

Last weekend we went to stay with Simon’s parents who live in Exmouth. The weather was warm on the Saturday and we decided to go for a walk. Simon’s dad looked on the local area OS map and decided that the Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth stretch of the South West Coastal Path was just the ticket; lovely sea views and not too long for me, the walking newbie.

We parked one car in Exmouth on a hill behind the beach and then all drove together to Budleigh. We had a bit of a false start thanks to a sign post pointing in the wrong direction. We picked up the path at the west end of the beach and began to climb the famous Jurassic Coast red cliffs.

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Fingle Bridge to Castle Drogo – Circular Walk

In our “Fairly Easy Walks on Dartmoor” book there are details of a walk in the stunning Teign Valley which goes from Fingle Bridge to Dogmarsh Bridge and back. A couple of weekends ago we decided to try a variation of this walk that takes in Hunters Path and Castle Drogo.

There is a National Trust car park at Fingle Bridge next to the Fingle Bridge Inn – a quaint pub nestled at the bottom of the woody gorge, right on banks of the river. We crossed the pretty stone packhorse bridge and turned right at the notice board which displays a map of the area.

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