The Valley of Rocks is a remarkable place to see and experience. It is a dry valley that runs parallel to the sea on the North Devon coast. Saying it is a beauty spot does not describe it good enough. The views, the geology, feral goats, quirky man made features within it and more makes this a must see place of Devon.
I did a circular walk of it taking in the tops of the valley with massive views looking down and out to sea plus the pathway took me through the middle of it too. I have put a GPX and overview map at the bottom of this post for convenience.
Here I will describe my walk of The Valley of Rocks (sometimes known as Valley of The Rocks) and many of the features and views I encountered along the way.
Starting in Lynton
This was a walk I couldn’t wait to do as I was staying in the glorious Bed and Breakfast of Highcliffe House. Lynton is a beautiful small town on the coast and this walk can be started from anywhere within it.
I have chosen a definitive start point as the Church of St Mary as it is a great landmark that makes a circular. The walk starts heading inland and you finish by coming back along the clifftops where it will bring you out back at the church.
It is not long at all, walking along the high street until the route takes you out of town and you start heading uphill and through the woods. As you step out of the treeline and onto the tops, look back, you get a super view of Lynton nestled in the gorge.
Valley of Rocks from above
For the first half of the walk it was all about epic views. Not just of the valley and the rock formations down to your right, but also out across the Bristol Channel and along the epic North Devon coastline.
The colours were amazing. The turquoise sea against the cliffs and trees of green. Most visitors to Valley of Rocks take the road or walk straight into and within it. If you are inclined I highly recommend getting up the top above it to see it in all its glory.
This stretch is only a couple of miles before you start to zig zag down and time to get up close within the valley.
As you head down and down from the tops and make your way with big zigzag paths down. You will see at the bottom of the valley a strange big yellow/mustard colour building that is contrast to the green around.
This is Lee Abbey.
Of course it does not look like an Abbey that sits in the minds view, and this building has been built, rebuilt and used for many purposes during its time.
It is thought that the spot was used originally as a farmhouse by Cistercian monks from Forde Abbey around the year 1200. It remained a farmhouse type building until 1850 when it was bought by a land agent called Charles Bailey who rebuilt the property into the gothic revival style. He also named it Lee Abbey.
In the 20th century it had many uses. For example as a luxury golf course, a hotel and as an emergency school during WW2.
During the 1940s it was rented by a clergyman, Roger de Pemberton, who then bought it as a Christian Centre. And today it is a Christian retreat and holiday centre.
Walking Into The Valley Of Rocks
Walking up the valley from Lee Abbey the sight ahead is spectacular. The wide dry valley straight ahead with a line of great rocks towers that separate the valley from the sea.
Castle Rock the first on the left rising dramatically creating a unique cliffside.
The path up the middle is clear and you feel yourself stopping a pausing all the way to take in views in all directions.
The Geology and Formation
In a previous walk I talked about walking the other way out of Lynton, up The Easy Lyn River from Lynmouth to Watersmeet. Well in an ancient past it is believed that the East Lyn River didn’t enter the sea at Lynmouth but carried on West and via what is now this dry valley.
Erosion of cliffs, maybe the ice age glaciers all played a part in shaping the whole area and direction of the river we see today, leaving this part now completely dry.
Mother Meldrum’s Cave
It is not just the rocks rising high either side of the valley that catch the eye and imagination.
In the middle there is Mother Meldrum’s Cave, said to be the home of an ancient witch.
Yes, as you walk within the valley or climb up onto the rocks you could well encounter some of the feral goats that inhabit the valley.
It has been known that goats have grazed here for centuries at least and they truly have become part of the attraction. They have the freedom of the valley to roam and climb.
Lynton & Lynmouth Cricket Club
Now then. There is one patch of ground, right in the middle of the valley that you cannot miss. The local Lynton & Lynmouth Cricket Club ground.
I can imagine with that setting and location it must be one of the best places to play or spectate cricket in the country!
On The Cliffs Back To Lynton
From the valley back to Lynton I decided to add variety and take the cliffside path behind the rocks.
The rocks rising high to your immediate right now and the Bristol Channel beneath you to your left. On a clear day you can see the coast of South Wales very clearly across the water.
before you know it the cliffside path leads you for a mile or so back into the town of Lynton where you started. A beautiful walk, amazing views and unique geology. Perfect time for a cuppa.
Walk Route Details
Distance: 4 miles
Time: 2 hours
Parking: There is a car park within Lynton itself to start this walk or you can also park in the Valley Of Rocks Car Park right in the valley if you want to go direct without the walk.