The walk to Lyndhurst from Countisbury.


Exmoor NT Basecamp,

North Devon

12th - 14th September 2008


  Vanda, photographer extraordinaire.


With the weather still holding out on the Sunday morning, we packed up after breakfast and decided that a walked from the NT basecamp car park down the hillside to Lynmouth and back would suit us just fine. Lynmouth village straddles the confluence of the West Lyn and East Lyn rivers, in a gorge 210 m below Lynton, to which it is connected by the water powered Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway funicular. The high cliffs separating the two towns (then villages) were a major obstacle to economic development in the 19th century. Because of the remoteness of the area, and rugged geography, villagers had to rely on the sea for most deliveries of coal, lime, foodstuffs and other essentials, which had then to be carried by packhorses and carts up the steep hill to Lynton. The cliffs also posed problems for the burgeoning tourist industry. Holiday makers began to arrive at Lynmouth on paddle steamers from Bristol, Swansea and other Bristol Channel ports, from about 1820. Ponies, donkeys and carriages were available for hire, but the steep gradients led to the animals having only short working lives.

Opened on Easter Monday in 1890, the railway has been in continuous use ever since. An Act of Parliament formed the Lynmouth & Lynton Lift Company in 1888, and a further Act gave the company perpetual rights to the water from the Lyn Valley. The railway comprises two cars, each capable of transporting 40 passengers, joined by a continuous cable running around a 5 ft 6 in (1.676 m) pulley at each end of the incline. Water feeds through 5-inch (127 mm) pipes from the West Lyn River — over a mile away — into tanks under the floor of the upper car. Each car has a 3,182 litre tank mounted between the wheels. Water is discharged from the lower car, until the heavier top car begins to descend, with the speed controlled by a brakeman travelling on each car.


With John Adams in the foreground and John Robertson and Bob Smith trailing, we set off for Lynmouth.


Every hillside is utilised for the purposes of farming, fenced off to protect the livestock.


Electrified fences to protect the livestock, with Lynmouth in view.


The dramatic North Devon coastline, with its steep cliff edges, near Lynmouth.



View back towards Countisbury and the radio tower on Exmoor hilltop.


On 15 and 16 August 1952, a storm of tropical intensity broke over south-west England, depositing 229 millimetres (9.0 in) of rain within 24 hours on an already waterlogged Exmoor. It is thought that a cold front scooped up a thunderstorm, and the orographic effect worsened the storm. Debris-laden floodwaters cascaded down the northern escarpment of the moor, converging upon the village of Lynmouth; in particular, in the upper West Lyn valley, a dam was formed by fallen trees, etc., which in due course gave way, sending a huge wave of water and debris down that river.  Overnight, over 100 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged along with 28 of the 31 bridges, and 38 cars were washed out to sea. In total, 34 people died, with a further 420 made homeless.


The path to Lynmouth is clearly visible, as the moorland reaches right up to the cliff edge.


View towards Exmoor near Countisbury, the hillside shrouded in cloud.


Lynmouth centre tailored for the tastes of tourists.


The quayside at Lynmouth Harbour.


The steep yetdramatic cliffs of North Devon bathed in the morning sun.


View down the A39 towards Lynmouth from the Countisbury NT Basecamp.



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