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

Dramatic coastal cliffs and sea
Published: February 27th, 2022 at 6:17 am

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.

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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.

Rocky coastline
Wander along Valley of Rocks on the north Exmoor coast/Credit: Getty

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.

Bothy in woodland
side of an isolated lane, this one has views across the Channel to Wales. For a night-time adventure, head down the lane to see the Foreland Lighthouse in action/Credit: Mike Fenton, National Trust Images

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.

Hikers at bothy
Nestled in wooded Heddon Valley, this bothy offers the chance for both riverside picnics and traditional food at Hunter’s Inn. Pack a torch, it is a fair walk to the loo, and the night skies are dark/Credit: Fi Darby

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

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Heddon Valley to Foreland Point map

Heddon Valley to Foreland Point walking route and map

Heddon Valley to Foreland Point walking route and map

Authors

Fi Darby
Fi DarbyOutdoor writer and navigation specialist

Fi is an outdoor instructor and writer. She teaches navigation and expedition skills, and specialises in route finding and location story telling.

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