Valley of the Rocks via Hollerday Hill, Lynton & Lyn Cleave, Lynmouth, North Devon - Summary.
Distance: 4.50 miles / 7.50 kilometers
Time: 3 hours 00 minutes to all day
Map: OS Explorer OL9 - Exmoor
The whole route is well sign posted over varying terrain ranging from tarmac paths, grass and woodland trails, some of the ascents and descents are quite steep and could be considered challenging. Though overall, this a good moderate walk with most of the route being flat and easy going. There are plenty of stopping points along the steep areas with benches to catch your breath and take in the views, it would be a shame not to take advantage of these perches as some of the views are spectacular and deserve plenty of pauses to admire the scenery and watch the wildlife, as there is a wide variety of birdlife and grey squirrels to admire as well, some stunning views - definately qualify as camera moments.
When measured on the map, this is a short 4.5 mile walk (without taking in a tour of Lynton and Lynmouth villages). This is an all day walk - taking in a short exploration of Lynton and Lynmouth villages (extending the distance up to around 6 miles or so). There are many pleasures at the various tea houses and cafes and/or having a wee picnic at one of the many beauty spots along the way - this is a walk to be savoured and not to be rushed.
The walk starts at the car park of the Old Cottage Inn, (a 17th century inn - formerly the Bridge Inn and before that Ye Olde Inn), and follows an initial steep climb up Lynway which levels out, an enchanting woodland walk along a tarmac path into Lynton. After exploring Lynton head for the church of St Mary the Virgin with its 13th century tower and North Walk Hill.
Firstly following North Walk Hill to the coastal path to the Valley of Rocks, then ascend up Hollerday Hill, for some truly spectacular views of the coast, only a clear day you can see right across the Bristol Channel to Wales. After visiting the Valley of the Rocks, ascend up Hollerday Hill a great place for a picnic or just to sit and take in the views for a wee while.
The top of Hollerday Hill was the site of an iron age fort, one of many in the area. The site of Hollerday House, which was built in the 1890s and the grand residence of the famous publisher Sir George Newnes. The house was destroyed by fire in 1913. The house remains were destroyed by the army as an exercise in the second world war, as were a number of other redundant structures in North Devon as similar exercises. In the 1950s, much of the stone was taken away and used to rebuild the bridges in Lynbridge and Barbrook following the Lynmouth Flood Disaster of August 1952.
Then after visiting the site of Hollerday House, descend through the woodland back into Lynton. There are a couple of options here (i) head back to St Mary's church and a second descent part way down North Walk Hill, to pick up a steep trail that winds its way through the woodland, down in to Lynmouth or (ii) descend on the famous Lynton & Lynmouth funicular Cliff Railway in to Lynmouth. Then afer exploring Lynmouth Tea Gardens and the beach area and possibly a bit of crabbing. Head towards the Glen Lyn Gorge Visitors Centre, which is worth a wee visit. (If time is flying away, the walk can be cut short, by taking the Cliff Railway back up to Lynton, then retrace the route back to the Old Cottage Inn).
Otherwise, climb the steep path which is fairly challenging, opposite the church of St John the Baptist, out of Lynmouth through the woodland and over the Lyn Cleaves, to return back to Lynbridge and the Old Cottage Inn car park where the walk started. It is well worth stopping at the inn for a short drink to reflect on the many sights and history of the area.