The awesome beauty of nature is at its finest at the Valley of the Rocks, as I discovered on a recent walk around the area.
Why it’s on my list
Rumour has it that the impressive beauty and scale of the Valley of the Rocks inspired all kinds of creative minds, from William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge to Australian composer Miriam Hyde. Coming down from the heights of artistic greatness, I’ve heard it’s a wonderful place to go for a short walk and close to my childhood favourites of Watersmeet and Lynmouth. We decided to try a longer walk, but the Valley of the Rocks was the focal point of our day out.
Location: 40-minute drive from Barnstaple.
Parking: Free car park. It’s just outside the main valley and has a recycling bank in it, which is why you might wonder if it is actually a car park. Alternatively there are two pay and display car parks right in the valley, which are around £1 per hour. For a full day you can expect to pay around £5.
Length of walk: About 6.2 miles if you choose to do the walk we did. Otherwise however long you fancy!
Type of walk: The walk we did was circular and moderate – challenging, with a steep climb towards the end. Coastal path followed by woodland, and then high, open hillside.
If you’re just visiting the Valley of the Rocks it is quite accessible, with well-maintained footpaths, benches, toilets and a cafe. Come and visit whatever your age or level of mobility.
The northern coast of North Devon is magnificent, characterised by steep cliffs, heady drops and stunning views across to Wales on a clear day. The wonderful thing about the Valley of the Rocks is that it’s different. Whether you want to view it as a pretty part of a longer walk or a beautiful natural attraction worth visiting in its own right, it is a unique part of the coastline and worth a visit if you’re new to the area.
The walk we did wasn’t one I would recommend, it simply didn’t have enough in the middle to keep me going, but the valley itself and the part alongside Lee Abbey were beautiful, a great beginning and end. If you are interested in doing the walk anyway, the full route can be found here. Bear in mind that there is a diversion that cuts off Crock Point as the coastal path has eroded slightly.
Parking up, we headed down towards the Valley of the Rocks. Although there is plenty to admire from below, we headed up and clambered on to the top of the rocks, where, unsurprisingly, the adventurer’s reward of excellent views are to be found.
We made our way across the rocks until we reached the point where we needed to make our way down, which we did by gingerly picking our way down the loose stones until we reached the valley base. We continued along and ventured into the next set of rocks to explore every nook and cranny and find new viewpoints. You can end up spending quite a while here doing just that!
Moving onwards, we headed along a toll road towards Lee Abbey. After passing the abbey we headed onto a footpath, which soon diverted into some woods. The diversion is well established and maintained, and it’s pleasant enough, but nothing really of note to see.
We continued along the route, and after lunch and some good chit-chat our paths crossed with a zip line – a surprise! Alas it is not a free-for-all attraction; the zip line is one of the activities offered by the nearby Beacon Outdoor Activity Centre.
After passing under the wire we continued on our route up the hill. Upon getting to the highest parts where it begins to level out, the rewards of the walk make themselves known. From here Lee Abbey looked beautiful.
The Valley of the Rocks likewise looked incredibly impressive from up high; one good thing about this walk is that you get to experience it both up close and far away, from exploring like an ant to soaring like a bird. It was a great end to the walk and the perfect spot for a cup of tea.
The Valley of the Rocks is the obvious highlight; it’s impressive on so many levels – scale, beauty, height and sheer popularity, to name a few. There were plenty of people about, some with their fancy cameras, others relaxing on a bench enjoying the views, teenagers hanging out with their friends, rock climbers taking on one of the steep, rocky columns. There’s lots to see and appreciate here, no wonder it inspired some of history’s greatest poets.
Not the best
The inland part of our walk was brought forward due to erosion of the coast path. It was nice enough, providing quiet peace and plentiful shade, but I have certainly walked through more interesting woodland. Once we got up high towards the end we were glad to see amazing views of Lee Abbey and the Valley of the Rocks, but the middle of the walk was noticeably lacklustre and for too long.
Just go to see the Valley of the Rocks. If you want to enjoy the views from up high, take the very last bit of the walk we found and do it backwards.