Walk: Heddon Valley to Foreland Point, Devon
With almost 900m of ascent, this coastal walk between two National Trust bothies is about as dramatic as they come. But it is well worth the effort – just don’t forget to bring a sleeping bag
If camping appeals but you prefer a solid roof over your head, the National Trust’s collection of isolated North Devon bothies could be just what you need. All four are uniquely located, and accessible from the South West Coast Path (SWCP). With sleeping platforms, a sink, and little else, these shelters aren’t for the faint-hearted, but don’t worry, each one does have
its own outside loo.
This nine-mile walk between two of the National Trust shelters – Heddon Orchard Bothy and Foreland Bothy – offers fantastic sea views but has gradients to match. Follow the SWCP from peaceful Heddon Valley past dappled woods, lonely beaches and astonishing rock formations.
Stop in Lynmouth for a pasty then head uphill for a vertiginous footpath experience. View the lighthouse at Foreland Point, then it’s one last climb back up to your bothy for a good night’s sleep. Find toilets and parking at Heddon Valley, Lee Abbey, the Valley of Rocks and Lynmouth.
Heddon Valley to Foreland Point walk
9 miles/14.5km | 6–8 hours | challenging
1. Heddon heights
From the car park, keep right past Hunter’s Inn. Turn left then take the footpath, heading right at the fork. Follow ‘The Carriageway’ to climb above Heddon’s Mouth and enjoy stunning views to Wales across the Bristol Channel.
2. Rocky ramble
Above Woody Bay, follow the lane downhill to join the SWCP. Continue through the woods to Lee Abbey. Watch out for feral goats as you admire the impressive Valley of Rocks. Spot rock formations Castle Rock and Rugged Jack, as you continue along the SWCP.
3. Down to town
Just before Lynmouth, leave the SWCP to zigzag down through the trees to the prom. Alternatively, continue straight on and descend in style on Lynmouth’s famous cliff railway.
There are hills ahead so take a well-earned pitstop. Lynmouth has plenty of choice with fish and chips, pasties and cake all on offer. For river swimming, add in a walk up the East Lynn River towards Watersmeet.
4. Breathtaking climb
Take a deep breath before you follow the SWCP up out of town. You’re about to experience one of Devon’s most dizzying sections of coastline.
Having survived the walk up, you can enjoy views from the trig point at Butter Hill.
Then you have a choice: take the more precarious path down to the lighthouse, then walk up to the Foreland Bothy; or follow the SWCP round, turning left and downhill when you meet the lane.
Stay in a National Trust bothy
Exmoor National Trust bothies: Both Heddon Orchard and Foreland bothies sleep four and require a minimum stay of three nights (Heddon from £90, Foreland from £105). No electricity, heating or linen. nationaltrust.org.uk
Heddon Valley to Foreland Point map
Fi is an outdoor instructor and writer. She teaches navigation and expedition skills, and specialises in route finding and location story telling.