Martinhoe and Woody Bay, Exmoor National Park

Martinhoe and Woody Bay, Exmoor National Park
  • Sublime stretch of coastline on the Exmoor coast. The Valley of Rocks is to the east and Heddon's Mouth Cleave to the west. On a sunny day, this is one of the best coastal walks in the UK. An essential Exmoor experience
  • Visit local beaches. Visit Lee Bay Beach, Woody Bay Beach and Heddon's Mouth Beach
  • Enjoy a long lunch at Hunter's Inn in Heddon's Mouth Cleave. Wander along the valley floor to Heddon's Mouth Beach
  • Explore 'Little Switzerland'. Head east to Lynton and Lynmouth. Discover the National Trust's Watersmeet
  • Drop down to Combe Martin and day trip to Ilfracombe. Take a RIB ride along the Exmoor coast or visit Lundy Island
  • Main photo: walking the South West Coast Path at Martinhoe and Woody Bay. Huge cliffs with big drops down to the sea! View east to The Valley of Rocks and then Foreland Point with its lighthouse


Provides some of the best coastal walking in the UK. Glorious location

Martinhoe is a hamlet by high cliffs and Woody Bay on the Exmoor coast.

The stretch of South West Coast Path north of Martinhoe between Woody Bay and Heddon's Mouth Beach is exceptional. The Hunters Inn and Heddon's Mouth Cleave are to the west. The Valley of Rocks is to the east. Remarkable location.


Best things to do in Martinhoe and Woody Bay

To help you choose Martinhoe and Woody Bay, we've listed some of the local attractions below.


Coastal walking

Walk the South West Coast Path between Woody Bay and Heddon's Mouth Beach. When the light is good, it's among the best stretches of coastal path in the UK.



Heddon's Mouth Beach. Rock and pebble. Head down to Heddon's Mouth Beach from The Hunters Inn.

Woody Bay Beach. Wander down from the car parking areas in the woods/countryside above Woody Bay.

Lee Bay Beach. There's a car parking area above the beach. Note that the famous The Valley of Rocks is just east of Lee Bay.


Food and drink

The Hunters Inn in Heddon's Mouth Cleave. Beautiful, remote location in the west of the National Park. Follow the path down to Heddon's Mouth Beach or walk the South West Coast Path.


Beauty spots and views

High cliffs either side of Heddon's Mouth. The South West Coast Path provides access to these beauty spots and views.

The Valley of Rocks. A Westcountry classic. You'll see plenty of images of The Valley of Rocks in books, the national press, promotional material and on websites. Remarkable coastal valley just west of Lynton and Lynmouth.


See Exmoor's famous coast from the sea

See the cliffs around Martinhoe from the sea. Try boats from Ilfracombe or Lynmouth.

Ilfracombe Sea Safari. 'The most exciting way to explore the stunning North Devon coastline and Lundy Island.' Ilfracombe Sea Safari runs a number of trips using two RIBs. These include a 1 Hour Sea Safari and the 2 Hour Waterfall & Exmoor Safari to Lynmouth.

Lynmouth. Head down to Lynmouth Quay. Boat trip information can be found on the Exmoor Boat Trip sign.


Little Switzerland and pretty villages

Robert Southey, Romantic poet and friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, wrote that 'from the hill (the hill south of Lynmouth above Lyn Cleave and the Two Moors Way) between the two is a prospect most magnificent; on either hand, the coombes and the river before the little village. The beautiful little village, which, I am assured by one who is familiar with Switzerland, resembles a Swiss village'. The name Little Switzerland has stuck and refers to the area around the pretty villages Lynton and Lynmouth. There's a longer quote from the letter in which this excerpt appears at the bottom of this listing.

Lynton. This is the village high on the hill overlooking Lynmouth Bay. The views across the bay to The Foreland and Foreland Point are sensational.

Lynmouth sits below Lynton and runs along the Lyn Valley to Lyn Mouth and the coast.


Visitor attractions

Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. Wonderful funicular cliff lift running between Lynmouth and Lynton. Amazing views from up top.



Doone Valley/Doone Country. Walk to Doone Valley across Brendon Common from the car parking areas by the B3223 Simonsbath and Lynmouth Road

Dunkery Beacon. The highest point on Exmoor. Glorious views. There are plenty of parking places on the moorland road that crosses Dunkery Hill including one pretty much below the beacon.


North Devon AONB

Ilfracombe. A major North Devon destination. Take RIB rides along the Exmoor and North Devon coast. Head out to Lundy Island for a day. See Damien Hirst's sculpture Verity. Spend a day at the superb Tunnels Beaches (admission cost applies).

Woolacombe. Regularly voted the best beach in Britain, visit the vast arc of sand that runs from Woolacombe Sand down to Putsborough Sand. Surf. Go horse riding.


Lundy Island

In addition to boat trips along the Exmoor coast, take a day trip to Lundy Island from Ilfracombe.


Letter from Robert Southey to John May, August 1799 from 'The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey'

“Stowey, August, 1799.

“My dear Friend,

“. . . . . My walk to Ilfracombe led me through Lynmouth, the finest spot, except Cintra and the Arrabida, that I ever saw. Two rivers join at Lynmouth, You probably know the hill streams of Devonshire: each of these flows down a coombe, rolling down over huge stones like a long waterfall; immediately at their junction they enter the sea, and the rivers and the sea make but one sound of uproar. Of these coombes the one is richly wooded, the other runs between two high, bare, stony hills. From the hill between the two is a prospect most magnificent; on either hand, the coombes and the river before the little village. The beautiful little village, which, I am assured by one who is familiar with Switzerland, resembles a Swiss village,—this alone would constitute a view beautiful enough to repay the weariness of a long journey; but, to complete it, there is the blue and boundless sea, for the faint and feeble line of the Welsh coast is only to be seen on the right hand if the day be perfectly clear.

Ascending from Lynmouth up a road of serpentining perpendicularity, you reach a lane which by a slight descent leads to the Valley of Stones, a spot which, as one of the greatest wonders indeed in the West of England, would attract many visitors if the roads were passable by carriages. Imagine a narrow vale between two ridges of hills somewhat steep: the southern hill turfed; the vale which runs from east to west, covered with huge stones and fragments of stones among the fern that fills it; the northern ridge completely bare, excoriated of all turf and all soil, the very bones and skeleton of the earth; rock reclining upon rock, stone piled upon stone, a huge and terrific mass. A palace of the Preadamite kings, a city of the Anakim, must have appeared so shapeless, and yet so like the ruins of what had been shaped after the waters of the flood subsided. I ascended with some toil the highest point; two large stones inclining on each other formed a rude portal on the summit: here I sat down; a little level platform, about two yards long, lay before me, and then the eye immediately fell upon the sea, far, very far below. I never felt the sublimity of solitude before. . . . .

“Of Beddoes you seem to entertain an erroneous opinion. Beddoes is an experimentalist in cases where the ordinary remedies are notoriously, and fatally, inefficacious: if you will read his late book on consumption, you will see his opinion upon this subject; and the book is calculated to interest unscientific readers, and to be of use to them. The faculty dislike Beddoes, because he is more able, and more successful, and more celebrated, than themselves, and because he labours to reconcile the art of healing with common sense, instead of all the parade of mystery with which it is usually enveloped. Beddoes is a candid man, trusting more to facts than reasonings: I understand him when he talks to me, and, in case of illness, should rather trust myself to his experiments than be killed off secundem artem, and in the ordinary course of practice. . . . .

“God bless you.

Yours affectionately,

R. Southey.”