Heddon Valley

Nestled in the heart of Exmoor National Park, Heddon Valley is a hidden gem on the North Devon coast, waiting to be explored. This picturesque valley, known for its stunning natural beauty and rich history, offers visitors a unique experience that combines serene landscapes, fascinating landmarks, and invigorating walks. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Heddon Valley has something for everyone.

Getting There

Heddon Valley is accessible via a scenic drive through the rolling hills and quaint villages of Devon. If you are coming from the south, head towards Barnstaple, then follow signs for the A39 towards Lynton. From Lynton, take the A39 west and follow the signs for the B3234 towards Hunters Inn, which is the main gateway to Heddon Valley. The journey itself is an adventure, with winding roads offering glimpses of the coast and the lush countryside.

Landmarks and Attractions

One of the most striking landmarks in Heddon Valley is Heddon’s Mouth, where the River Heddon meets the Bristol Channel. This secluded cove, surrounded by steep cliffs and lush greenery, is a perfect spot for a picnic or simply to enjoy the tranquillity of the waves crashing against the rocky shore. The path to Heddon’s Mouth is relatively easy, making it accessible for visitors of all ages.

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Another notable attraction is the Hunter’s Inn, a historic inn dating back to the 19th century. This charming establishment not only offers delicious meals and cosy accommodations but also serves as a great starting point for various walking trails. The inn is steeped in history and provides a glimpse into the valley’s past, making it a must-visit for history buffs.

For those interested in flora and fauna, the Valley of Rocks is a short drive away. This dramatic landscape, with its rugged cliffs and unique rock formations, is home to a herd of wild goats and offers spectacular views of the coastline. The Valley of Rocks is also rich in legends, often linked to the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was inspired by its mystical beauty.

Walks and Trails

Heddon Valley is a paradise for walkers, offering a variety of trails that cater to all levels of fitness and experience. One of the most popular walks is the Heddon’s Mouth Circular Walk, a 2.2-mile route that takes you from Hunter’s Inn through ancient woodlands, along the river, and down to Heddon’s Mouth. This walk is relatively gentle, making it suitable for families and casual walkers.

For those seeking more of a challenge, the South West Coast Path passes through Heddon Valley. This long-distance trail stretches over 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset. The section of the path that runs through Heddon Valley offers stunning views of the coast and the surrounding countryside. Hikers can choose to do a short segment or embark on a more extended journey along this renowned trail.

Another recommended walk is the Watersmeet and Lynmouth Circular Walk, which starts in nearby Lynmouth and takes you through scenic river valleys and woodlands to the confluence of the East Lyn and Hoar Oak rivers at Watersmeet. This walk offers a mix of gentle paths and more challenging sections, providing a rewarding experience for seasoned hikers.

Interesting Facts

Heddon Valley is not just a place of natural beauty; it is also rich in history and folklore. The valley was once part of the vast Exmoor Forest, a royal hunting ground during medieval times. The name “Heddon” itself is derived from the Old English word for “hill” or “heath.”

The area is also known for its literary connections. In addition to Coleridge, the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy are said to have visited Heddon Valley. The valley’s enchanting landscapes have inspired many artists and writers over the centuries.

In recent years, Heddon Valley has become a focal point for conservation efforts. The National Trust manages the area, working tirelessly to preserve its natural beauty and biodiversity. The Trust’s efforts include maintaining the walking paths, protecting wildlife habitats, and promoting sustainable tourism.

Final Thoughts

Heddon Valley is a destination that captivates the imagination and soothes the soul. Its combination of natural splendour, historical intrigue, and outdoor adventure makes it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you’re exploring its hidden coves, hiking along its scenic trails, or simply soaking in the serene atmosphere, Heddon Valley promises an unforgettable experience.

So pack your walking boots, grab a map, and set out on an adventure to discover the wonders of Heddon Valley. It’s a journey that will leave you with lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for the beauty of the English countryside.

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