Heddon’s Mouth is a favourite with walkers, offering a country pub, easy riverside walk and a pebble beach. Extend it to include Trentishoe Down and you can also enjoy some fabulous coastline and a challenging uphill.
Why it’s on my list
I’ve heard a lot about Heddon’s Mouth being a popular walking spot, ideal for an afternoon stroll with the family. I came across a great walk in a guide book that extended the route to include some coast path and a steep incline, making it more of a challenge, so we took the chance to make a day of it.
Location: Start in the National Trust car park by The Hunter’s Inn
Parking: National Trust car park, free for members or pay and display if not
Length of walk: Nearly 7 miles – allow 4 hours
Type of walk: Circular walk with some fantastic coastline and an easy stroll alongside the River Heddon, but one steep uphill before you get to enjoy that part. Some moderately steep downhill parts too.
Dog friendly? We did come across sheep a few times – on the hill through the woods going up to Trentishoe Down and on parts of the South West Coast Path. A good walk for dogs otherwise, so just watch out for sheep and keep dog leads and harnesses close to hand.
This part of Exmoor simply has to be visited. The coastline is gorgeous, the riverside walk is peaceful, the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks is revitalising. There are challenging parts to this walk, but it’s worth the effort.
We did this during the winter on a day that was a bit murky – I will definitely be coming back in the summer on a sunny day to see it in its full glory!
The route we followed is taken from Pathfinder Guides’ North and Mid Devon Walks. The version we used can be purchased from Amazon here.
The walk starts in the direction of The Hunter’s Inn – walk alongside the road that passes to the left of it, crossing the Heddon River, and just before the next bridge you turn left through a gate onto a bridleway. At a junction of footpaths turn right to pass to the left of a pretty cottage, meeting another path.
Take a path through woodland, and at a fork follow the path that descends along an old wall to come to a lane. Turn left, and after a bit turn right, following signs for Ladies Mile. You’ll walk through some fairly steep woodland here, so take your time.
Before you get to Trentishoe Manor, you’ll come to a path that bears uphill and right, with a lane below you. We took a little trip down to the lane as we spotted something we wanted to investigate further (a donkey!), but it’s the path that goes uphill that you need to take next.
This is where the tough uphill begins, which rises steadily uphill through woodland and then emerges into open moorland.
Keep going onwards as it levels out, following the track, and eventually you will pass a caravan and house on your left to come across a road.
Turn right and follow this road for a little while as it descends, and at the first parking area on the left, go through it to come across a grassy path that will take you down to the South West Coast Path.
Once you’re on the coast path, simply follow it, enjoying the fantastic views that culminate with a stunning panoramic view of the sea, cliffs and the Heddon Valley.
The path will then take you down into the valley and is steep in parts, zigzagging down the hill.
Once you get down into the valley, take a left to head towards the mouth of the River Heddon and the sea. Just before you get to the sea you’ll see an interesting feature in the form of a restored 19th century limekiln.
Once you’re ready to head homeward, follow the footpath that runs alongside the River Heddon, which will take you all the way back to The Hunter’s Inn and the National Trust car park.
The Heddon Valley has to be my favourite part, and high up on the South West Coast Path there is the perfect viewing spot for appreciating just how pretty it is. It’s just as the valley comes into view where there’s a good spot for lunch, sadly for us someone beat us to it. I don’t think it’s proper etiquette to try to squeeze in next to people having their lunch!
It was also very enjoyable having our lunch on the rocks by the sea at Heddon’s Mouth – quite therapeutic.
Not the best
My goodness, that uphill part is a serious uphill. It certainly gets the blood pumping! Whether or not this is a good or bad thing depends on your perspective really – my husband likes a hill, loves a challenge, so he enjoyed this part. It wasn’t too bad for me, but my deep breathing made a bit of a racket going up the hill, and I did prefer the rest of the walk.
There is a car park on Trentishoe Downs where you could start this walk instead, but I prefer starting at the Hunter’s Inn as it means ending with the beautiful Heddon Valley. It also means that the steep bit is around the middle of the walk, otherwise it would be right at the end, which would be a tough end to a lovely walk. Maybe try both and see which you prefer.