South West Coast Path 7/9

Walked from: Coombe Martin, Devon

Walked to: Lynmouth, Devon 

Date: 25 February 2016

Distance: 13.5 miles 

Weather: Dry, bit windy

In a massive piece of luck, today’s threatened rain was a no show, so while it was pretty chilly out there today, it was gloriously dry. Buoyed by the morning sunshine, I did the walk from my B&B in Coombe Martin (Mellstock House – lovely place, very well run) to the highest point not just on the South West Coast Path but the entire British mainland’s coastline in exactly an hour – the ominously named ‘Great Hangman’. Unsurprisingly, the views from there and it’s somewhat more diminutive cousin (Little Hangman) were quite something!

From there it was down hill, then up once more to Holdstone Hill, descending gradually on Trentishoe Down. Attempted to avoid the very steep downhill to the River Heddon, failed miserably, and spent an ‘interesting’ half hour off-piste, scrambling down the bracken covered hill. It’s not a descent I’ll forget in a hurry, but apart from startling a few sheep with my sudden appearance on their previously quiet hillside perch, there was no harm done, and the rest of the walk was a straightforward yomp up and down (and up again) adjacent to Woody Bay. While the Lee Abbey tearooms were firmly shut for the winter, I found an open one when I arrived in Lynton, in which I waited out the half an hour before my B&B opened for business… yup, another cream tea for me.

The two hangmen hills aside, the other geographical stand-outs from today were a really rather pretty waterfall and the Valley of Rocks, which the coast path takes you through just before getting to Lynton (which is the twin village of Lynmouth – I suppose a little like the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. Except on a somewhat smaller scale…). Not being geologically inclined, I can only tell you that they are really very large rock formations, with some odd shapes going on. One local legend has it that the rocks were once wives of the devil, who came home one night to find them having an orgy with his neighbour, and in a fit of anger turned them all into stone. Clearly a more logical explanation than them being formed during the last ice age. 

My home for tonight is a quiet little place called Lynmouth, where you would think little of any great consequence had ever occurred. But back in August 1952, flash flooding killed 34 people and destroyed 39 properties. Quite unimaginable; there’s an interesting article about it on the BBC website:

Photos: View from Little Hangman back to Coome Martin / View from Great Hangman / Trentishoe Down / Flipping great big hill I scrambled down / Valley of Rocks 


About silkakt

I love to explore countries on foot or by bicycle. An English woman, I moved to the south of Spain in September 2020 and I have dreams of encouraging more people to discover this amazing country by walking its various Camino routes. To date, I've walked the French Camino from St Jean in France, the Portuguese Camino from Lisbon (interior route, not coastal) and the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo. I have also walked a fair few long distance trails in the UK, including all of the National Trails in England and Wales, and a couple of long walks in beautiful Scotland.
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