Walking

A Walk to Watersmeet

A quiet afternoon found us donning walking boots in Lynmouth car park, before heading down to the path that runs along the East Lyn River. We intended to follow it upstream and into the incredible woodland for approximately two and a half miles to where it meets Hoar Oak Water, literally where the ‘waters meet’.

Watersmeet is a must-visit when holidaying in North Devon or Exmoor. Lynton and Lynmouth themselves are wonderful places to explore, but if you fancy an immersive experience with the natural world, this incredible walk is truly something special.

As we made our way along the initially tarmac path, it was nice to gawp at the pretty houses that line the river, many of which are guest houses or B & Bs. Soon enough though, the tarmac changed to stony paths as the river led into the woods. The path zig zags over the river via bridges that span the water at various point – providing an excellent opportunity for us to take a photo or two. Massive trees clung to the steep banks, creating an undulating canopy of green above us; much needed when it’s a hot day and cover for when it rains.

It’s a considerably steep climb, so not for the faint-hearted or those with mobility issues (you can call ahead to the National Trust tearoom at Watersmeet to book allocated disabled parking, should you wish to view Watersmeet without the walk). There are excellently positioned seats along the way though, where you can stop and catch your breath and take a break from the climb. It was at one such spot that we noticed a brown and cream bird bobbing around in the shallows, completely oblivious to us. Later we learnt that it was a dipper, a shy but lively bird that hunts insects over the water.

As we walked, we passed the remains of Lynrock Fountain, a mineral water factory that was opened in 1911. Bottling water and ginger beer, it was built around a natural spring, with its owners claiming it was the purest water in the world (and even that it was radioactive!). However, due to lack of demand, it closed in 1939 and most of it was washed away during the devastating flood of 1959.

The further we climbed up, the noisier the river became, as it hurtled over small waterfalls and big boulders. We stopped talking as it became impossible to hear one another, instead we listened to the hypnotic white noise of the water and fell into a gentle meditative state as we walked onwards and upwards.

Eventually, we noticed the river levelling off and widening; we had climbed high up and the valley was opening to reveal a large grassy area on which stood the tearoom, and where the two rivers met it was quiet and idyllic, with very few people about. By this time, the weather was closing in a little with the odd spot of rain. That didn’t deter us though; we bought a pot of tea for two and some cake and took it to the far corner of the tearoom gardens, closest to the river. As we sat and rested, we gazed over the water, up at the ancient woodland and to the buzzards we saw circling high in the sky.

Fully restored, we said goodbye to this wonderful spot and made our way back, following the path back down to Lynmouth – taking a lot less time as we were going downhill!

This is a wonderful walk, approximately five miles in length. Good sturdy shoes are recommended, especially if its wet underfoot. The tearoom is open 10.30am – 5pm but do check the National Trust website first as opening times can change.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Exmoor here and our luxury cottages in Devon here.

Watersmeet, Watersmeet Road, Lynmouth, Devon EX35 6NT | Website

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