Watersmeet & Foreland Point
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It is recommended you take a map. The preferred scale is 1:25k.
Walk Route Description
This walk, which stays within the County of Devon, contains four main elements including excellent valley paths, mature woodland, upland pastures and a spectacular section of the South West Coast Path that runs high above the shoreline. The start is the car park (Grid ref. SS793486) alongside the Exmoor National Park visitor centre at County Gate on the A39 between Porlock and Lynmouth. It is not an easy walk with a total ascent similar to many high mountain routes and it is worth noting that it involves a steep ascent right at the end. As a bonus, route finding is easy as Exmoor is noted for its high standard of signing.
From the car park take the signed path heading west to Brendon. Immediately you have the benefit of a fine view ahead as you descend gently for nearly two miles into the valley containing the East Lyn River. The path reaches a lane in Brendon. Turn left along the lane ignoring the road crossing the river to locate a signed footpath on your left leading to Watersmeet. This is a delightful section mainly in deciduous woodland and follows the river as it heads towards the sea. At times the path climbs above the river before dropping down to continue alongside it.
Stay on the path as far as Watersmeet where there are refreshments in season. Having explored the pretty spot where the two rivers meet, retrace your steps a short way back towards Brendon and locate a path on your left signed 'Contisbury'. This path climbs easily in a series of zigzags to lead you out of the woodland into open pasture and down to the A39. Turn left, taking care as this is a busy road, and cross to the car park. Exit the car park and continue north through the churchyard onto the South West Coast Path.
The onward section of path is straightforward. However it is worth mentioning that the effort to climb the short distance to the summit of the Foreland is rewarding as it offers a great spot to rest and take in the view. You also need to be mentally tuned to the idea that you still have plenty of climbing to do although admittedly its mostly in short sections. The switchback nature of the Coast Path is offset by the tremendous views as you steadily make progress east towards Porlock.
As one might expect the signage is good and you stay on the South West Coast Path for about three miles (5 km) to reach a cottage on your right in the Glenthorne Plantation. Passing this first obvious sign of habitation since leaving Contisbury, stay on the drive for a short way before descending left on the waymarked path. This leads you back to the track from where a signed path to 'County Gate' heads steeply uphill. If you have surplus energy then you can take the longer alternative route signed 'County Gate - Nature Trail' but most will opt for the direct route back to the start. As you struggle uphill you will certainly have reason to be pleased with yourself as you have completed a challenging and scenically delightful walk in the North Devon sector of the Exmoor National Park.
Other walks nearby
Walk 1263 The Doone Valley from Malmsmead - moderate - 8.5 miles/13.8 km
Walk 3729 Foreland Point from Barna Barrow (Countisbury) - moderate - 5.0 miles/8.1 km
Walk 1910 Countisbury and Watersmeet from Lynmouth - easy/mod - 4.5 miles/7.3 km
Walk 3391 Valley of Rocks from Lynton - easy/mod - 3.8 miles/6.2 km
Walk 3386 Barle Valley & Cow Castle from Simonsbath - easy/mod - 6.4 miles/10.4 km
Walk 1221 Selworthy Beacon & North Hill from Bossington - moderate - 8.5 miles/13.8 km
Walk 1727 Shallowford, Hoar Oak Tree & The Chains - moderate - 11.7 miles/19 km
Walk 3390 Heddon Valley from Woody Bay - moderate - 5.3 miles/8.6 km
Walk 3725 Selworthy Beacon from Selworthy - easy/mod - 5.5 miles/8.9 km
Walk 1750 Dunkery Beacon from Dunkery Gate - easy/mod - 2.5 miles/4.1 km
Recommended Books & eBooks
South West Coast Path Map Booklet - Minehead to St Ives
Map of the northern section of the 630 mile (1014km) South West Coast Path National Trail. Covers the trail from Minehead to St Ives along the north Devon and Cornish coastline. This convenient and compact booklet of Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps shows the route, providing all of the mapping you need to walk the trail in either direction.
South West Coast Path Map Booklet - Plymouth to Poole
Map of part of the southern section of the 630 mile (1014km) South West Coast Path National Trail. Covers the trail from Plymouth to Poole along the coastline of Devon and Dorset. This convenient and compact booklet of Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps shows the route, providing all of the mapping you need to walk the trail in either direction.
The End to End Trail