Hunter’s Inn in Heddon Valley is the perfect start and end point for a circular walk on the North Devon coast.
Elwill Bay walk
7.4 miles/11.9 km | 4.5 hours | moderate
1. Ladies Mile
Facing the Hunter’s Inn, turn left down the lane, bearing left with the lane then right over a stone bridge. Carry straight on then bear left at a Y-junction, and after 20m turn left to pick up a path into Parsonage Wood. Walk alongside the stream through delightful woodland. Turn left at a sign, marked Heale, as the path rises with beautiful views across the stream. Join a lane and walk briefly left. Turn right after 10m and walk steeply uphill to join Ladies Mile. Follow a stony path out of the trees and on to moorland.
Turn left as soon as you reach open moor and follow the Ladies Mile footpath around the hill. There are stunning views out across Exmoor. Keep an eye out for rare high brown fritillary butterflies.
2. High vista
Fork right uphill through trees and on to moorland. Keep bearing right uphill towards the gorse-covered top. Look back for incredible views over Exmoor. Head straight up the hill to the right of the gorse, across patches of burned bracken, and join a farm track. Continue to a road. Cross the road and continue over the top of Holdstone Hill.
3. Coast Path
From the trig point you can see all the way across to Pembrokeshire on a clear day. It can get a bit exposed here, but the large cairn makes a good spot to shelter. Carry on over the hill on a well defined path, which leads you through a maze of gorse.
In summer this whole area, and the Great Hangman and Little Hangman hills further down the coast, will be covered in richly coloured purple heather. Pick up the South West Coast Path and follow this east back around Holdstone Hill. Bear left when the path forks to the left of buildings.
Bear left again, keeping to the path closest to the sea. Pass through a hole in a stone wall and continue on at a sign to Heddon’s Mouth. Go through a gate (keep dogs on a lead) and walk on to grazing land. You will soon pass through a gate – take a few minutes to enough the broad views out to sea and back along the coastline.
4. Back to the inn
Go up steps and through a gate,then make your way along the edge of a field. At the corner, follow signs along the coast path for Hunter’s Inn 2½ miles. Where the path forks at a high point, turn off the South West Coast Path and head right over the brow of the hill, following the fence line, signed Trentishoe Church. Keep to the left of the dry stone wall, overlooking the picturesque Heddon Valley, and drop down when you reach a road.
To return, follow the road uphill, and keep going until you see the carriageway off to your right. Follow this all the way back to Hunter’s Inn.