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England: Coastal Exmoor – 5 nights

  • 6 Night Route

    Price: from £905
  • 5 Night Route

    Price: from £845
  • 4 Night Route

    Price: from £660
  • 3 Night Route

    Price: from £550

A literary landscape

Back to Routes
Looking back to Lynton

Looking back to Lynton

Porlock Weir (photo: S Milne)

Porlock Weir (photo: S Milne)

Exmoor ponies

Exmoor ponies

Lush greens of the East Lyn valley

Lush greens of the East Lyn valley

Dunster with its medieval castle

Dunster with its medieval castle

Spring lambs (photo: P Simnett)

Spring lambs (photo: P Simnett)

Dunster Castle

Dunster Castle

Porlock Bay

Porlock Bay

Tiny Culbone Church

Tiny Culbone Church

Castle Rock guards the Valley of Rocks

Castle Rock guards the Valley of Rocks

Gallox Bridge leads to journey's end

Gallox Bridge leads to journey's end

  • 6 Night Route

    Price: from £905
  • 5 Night Route

    Price: from £845
  • 4 Night Route

    Price: from £660
  • 3 Night Route

    Price: from £550
Price: from £845
Nights: 5
Walk: 4-6 hr/day

From start to finish this was a triumph, to the hotels booked to the careful walking instructions, for the accurate timings and difficulty descriptions to all the tips and advice given... just a brilliant holiday.

The attention to detail was so refreshing... everyone worked like clockwork, no stress we just had everything arranged for us. Simply excellent.

Anon - April 2023

Variation in walking from coastal, riverside, woodland and moorland. Good pubs and food. Interesting wildlife especially birds and red deer. An excellent route.

Neil Fergusson, Chester, UK - May 2022

Exceptionally lovely walking - nearly all on footpaths, some very old, and a delightful mix of coast and inland. And the places we stayed were all delightful - welcoming, individual and mainly very comfortable. We had some good meals too.

Jane Irons, Lewes, UK - September 2021

On long walks it is easy to have a favourite day but with the Coastal Exmoor walk, every day was a favourite. There was so much variety ranging from moorland to rugged coast, with the walk ending in the lovely historic town of Dunster.

We also enjoyed seeing much wildlife including a dipper, adder and goats, but missed out on the Exmoor beast! The heather and bracken also helped add colour to the walk. This would be a lovely walk to do well into the autumn.

Neil and Ros Somerville, Reading, UK - September 2021

We enjoyed walking the route, spectacular scenery, a good camaraderie with other walkers.

Martyn Branford, Saxmundham, UK - September 2021

Enjoyed it all, especially the Coleridge Way, which took us through beautiful and peaceful countryside away from the Coast Path walkers.

Brian and Philippa Legg, UK - May 2021

Beautiful walking country with superb views and excellent mix of open coastal walking and woodland/riverside walking with a little moorland walking too.

Valerie Findlay, UK - May 2021

More independent feedback
England: Coastal Exmoor - 5 nights - On Foot Holidays

At a glance

5 nights (4 days walking) - missing the walk from Combe Martin to Heddon's Mouth. We recommend extra nights in Lynton or Lynmouth and/or Dunster. See 'Prices' tab for what's included.
Suggested route pairings: Devon, Dorset, Cornwall or Welsh Borders

Dog-friendly with alternative accommodations.

How much walking?

Full days: 11-22km per day, 3-6 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 8-14km per day, 3-4 hrs

Max. Grade:

A literary landscape

In contrast to the more crowded sections of the South West Coast Path, the part along the North Devon and Somerset coasts is not only quieter but of quite a different character, and we at On Foot Holidays have taken the opportunity of adding some lovely inland stretches not normally included. The result is a magical combination of coastal walking (including the highest point on the South West Coast Path), Exmoor itself, cosy villages and some striking literary connections.

This is Lorna Doone country – the heroine of R D Blackmore’s Exmoor-set melodrama – so prepare the hankies. You can visit the church she married in, as well as other places connected with her tale, and much of the second half of the walk uses the Coleridge Way (named for the English Romantic poet who made his second home in this area).

The 5-night version starts with a taxi ride from the railhead of Barnstaple to your first night’s accommodation in the Heddon Valley. Your walk starts the following morning from your hotel in the secluded valley and, via a day of coastal walking, reach the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth, linked by a venerable cliff railway. This is followed by a stretching circuit taking in Foreland Point, Countisbury Church and the beauty spot of Watersmeet on the East Lyn river. Then the ‘Lorna Doone’ day to Porlock Weir, surely one of the prettiest ports in the region – maybe an oyster supper? – and finally a long walk over the north slopes of Dunkery Beacon to historic Dunster, with its unmissable castle, High Street and a range of eateries. Your holiday should end (we recommend) with a trip on the privately run West Somerset Railway to (almost) Taunton, and home.

Walked by On Foot staff: Simon, Andy, Debbie, Emma (and her mum), Aaron

Consider pairing this routeDorset/Coastal Exmoor (2½ hrs by train), Coastal Exmoor/Devon (1½ hrs by bus and train), Coastal Exmoor/Cornwall (5 hrs by bus and train), Coastal Exmoor/Welsh Borders (5 hrs by bus, train and (included) taxi) – for more details click here.

REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit

Route Highlights

  • Variety of coastal walking and wide views
  • Traditional villages and a taste of the moors
  • Literary connections – Lorna Doone and Coleridge
  • Lynmouth and the story of the Flood
  • Picturesque Porlock Weir
  • Historic Dunster – a great end to your walk

This route features the following characteristics and interests: Coast, Villages and farms, Dog friendly, History

Things you should know

  • The remoteness of North Devon is a plus for those looking to get away from it all, but also means lengthy transfers to and from the route.
  • Public transport until reaching Dunster is lacking, so walk shortening options mean a local taxi which may have to come some distance – lifts with the luggage are not possible.

We Recommend

Extra nights in Lynmouth/Lynton.
An extra night in Dunster to give time for exploring the Castle there and the many tea rooms... undoing all the good of the previous days' walking!
Gourmet eating opportunities at Porlock Weir (Locanda on the Weir) and Dunster (Reeves) - will need prebooking.
Consider pairing this route - Dorset-Exmoor (2½ hrs by train), Exmoor-Devon (1½ hrs bus-train), Exmoor-Cornwall (5 hrs bus-train), Cornwall-Exmoor (4½ hrs by train)

How much Walking?

Full days: 11-22km per day, 3-6 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 8-14km per day, 3-4 hrs

Generally the signage is very good (following the South West Coast Path acorn and Coleridge Way plume). The highest point on the coast is Great Hangman (between Combe Martin and Heddon’s Mouth) at 318m; high point on the route as a whole is between Lynmouth and Porlock Weir at 400m. Some parts of the coast path between Combe Martin and Lynton may worry the acrophobic. Paths and tracks, some quiet asphalt.

Medium-hard: average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 625m (450m-850m) per day.

Acrophobia/vertigo warnings: No major issues, though the narrow cliff path courses sometimes along steep hillsides.

GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.
Important note: Times given for each day are walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.

When to go?

The best months to walk: April, May, June, September, October.

Other possible months: July, August (but this is peak UK holiday time, so availability can be difficult!); November, February, March (shorter options)

This walk is best in spring and autumn, but beware of shorter days from late October to mid-April, when it may also be rather wet and muddy!

Start Dates


Weather Chart


Weather and rainfall chart for Lynton


About the Route

Day 1 - Arrive in Heddon's Mouth

After a taxi ride from Barnstaple station (included) settle in and enjoy the ambience of this secret valley.

Day 2 - Heddon's Mouth to Lynton/Lynmouth

Enjoy a gentle and relatively short day’s walking along barely accessible and spectacular parts of the coast, Woody Bay, the pastoral setting of Lee Abbey, the Valley of Rocks and finally to the Victorian charms of Lynton/Lynmouth for a late lunch. Make time to explore the museum dedicated to the Great Flood of 1952. (3 hrs walking (allow 4¼ hrs), 10¾ km (6½ miles), CUSs 470m)

Day 3 - Countisbury Circuit

You might decide to take a day off, but you would miss a splendid and varied day, taking in some fine coastal walking to Countisbury, with an opportunity to divert to the Iron Age fort at Wind Hill and the lighthouse at Foreland Point, a look at Countisbury church with its carved screen, then a descent to the wooded valley of the mighty East Lyn river. We recommend a diversion along the river to Rockford for a pub lunch before the final stretch takes you high above the valley for some great views and a beautiful wooded descent into Lynmouth. (3 hrs walking (allow 4 hrs), 13½ km (8½ miles), CUSs 650m)

Alternatives: Miss out Foreland Point and/or Rockford diversions, and take the flat river option back to Lynmouth. (Using all available shortening options: 2 hrs walking (allow 2¾ hrs), 7 km (4½ miles), CUSs 200m)

Day 4 - Lynmouth to Porlock Weir

A long but rewarding day, initially following the Coleridge Way and later rejoining the South West Coastal Path as you head down into Porlock Weir. After a gradual climb beside the East Lyn river, head into Lorna Doone country with a steep climb up from Oare. The afternoon encompasses coastal scenery with spectacular views across the Bristol Channel and to Wales before some woodland walking past Culbone Church, England’s smallest complete church, to your destination at Porlock Weir with a magnificent vista of Porlock Bay and beyond to Hurlstone Point. (6 hrs walking (allow 8 hrs), 22 km (14 miles), CUSs 750m – shortenable with a taxi at start – supplement)

Day 5 - Porlock Weir to Dunster

Pleasant woodland walking at first with glimpses of wonderful panoramic views, then a climb up to Webber’s Post with vistas of glorious rolling high hills and the distant view of Dunkery Beacon, Somerset and Exmoor’s highest point. The traverse across the northern slope of Dunkery Hill and gentle descent into Wootton Courtenay provides, with good weather, spectacular and distant views across the West Somerset landscape, and continues on to picturesque Dunster, entering the village over historic Gallox Bridge. (5½ hrs walking (allow 6¾ hrs), 20 km (12½ miles), CUSs 450m)

Depart for home

The best way to start your journey home is via the steam railway to Bishop’s Lydeard (when operational) and onward bus to nearby Taunton station, or a bus all the way.  Or why not stay a further night or two to visit Dunster Castle and to relax?

Travel Information


Nearest railway station:
Start: Barnstaple (change at Exeter St David’s)
Finish: Taunton

Sample journey by rail:
Via London: London Paddington to Exeter St David’s, then train to Barnstaple (~3½ hrs)
Dunster to London: taxi (included) Dunster to Taunton, then train to London Paddington (~3 hrs)

We suggest for times, ticket booking and other information.

Pre-booked taxi (normally included) from Barnstaple station to Heddon’s Mouth and from Dunster back to Taunton station.

Driving isn’t the easiest option, but you can leave your car at the Multi-storey car park (pay locally) in Taunton which is situated across from the railway station and then take a train on to Barnstaple.

Long term parking may also be available in Dunster at Dunster Steep car park, again subject to space being available (not pre-bookable but use the PayByPhone App; 7 day permit costs approx. £25). You will then need a taxi to Heddon’s Mouth (supplement from £40).

Best “local” airports are Exeter or Bristol, but connections are good from the London airports.

Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.

For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.

See “Getting to the start of the walk” below for more detailed transfer information.

ROUTE PAIRING (for the energetic and time rich)

Dorset / Coastal Exmoor (2½ hrs by train from Axminster to Barnstaple, change Exeter St David’s)
Coastal Exmoor / Devon (1 hr taxi to Taunton then 30 mins train to Exeter St David’s)
Coastal Exmoor / Cornwall (1 hr taxi to Taunton then 4 hrs train to St Ives, change St Erth)
Cornwall / Coastal Exmoor (4½ hrs by train from St Ives to Barnstaple, change St Erth and Exeter St David’s)


Getting to the start of the walk

The first hotel is in Heddon’s Mouth, the last in Dunster.  Transfer times and methods are suggestions from London Gatwick and London Heathrow airports, but if you arrive at Bristol or Exeter airports, then transfer times will be shorter in most cases.


Outward: train to Barnstaple, change at Reading and Exeter St David’s (~5 hrs). Taxi (included) to Heddons Mouth.
Return: Taxi (included) from Dunster to Taunton; then train to Gatwick, change Reading (~3½ hrs)


Outward: Heathrow Express to London Paddington, train to Barnstaple, change at Exeter St David’s (~4 hrs).  Taxi (included) to Heddons Mouth.
Return: Taxi (included) from Dunster to Taunton; then train to London Paddington and Heathrow Express to the airport (~2½ hrs)

Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.

Where You'll Stay

A splendid range of accommodation from boutique town hotel through to country house hotel to village pub, all welcoming walkers (and most dogs too!).

Lynmouth – The Bath Hotel (B&B)

Night 2 & 3 (Upgrade)

Lynmouth – The Bath Hotel (B&B)

Family run hotel in the heart of the village.

Porlock Weir – Porlock Weir Hotel (B&B)

Night 4 (Upgrade)

Porlock Weir – Porlock Weir Hotel (B&B)

Landmark hotel in peaceful setting.

In Lynmouth we have another alternative: upgrade to the welcoming and family-run Bath Hotel with its eclectic rooms, most with sea view.



Price: from £845 for 5 nights

Total 5 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 1 evening meal, 2 packed lunches, transfer from Barnstaple to your first night’s accommodation and from Dunster to Taunton station at the end, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.

All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.

Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £270
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £200
Large Party Saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £25 per person
Maximum party size: 10

Please note that weekend stays (Fri and Sat nights) in Lynton or Lynmouth may be subject to a minimum 2 night stay and a supplement.


Add Ons

Extra nights and upgrades: Contact On Foot Holidays (seasonal pricing)

Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK: £20-£60 (per pack, location dependent)

Reserve your dates Add to shortlist
Louise Hughes

Our local team

Louise Hughes

Louise has lived in North Devon since 2000, enjoying the area around this rugged coastline and her passion for gardening. A beach baby at heart, Louise travelled the world in her youth and still enjoys trips to Europe and walking the different coastlines and beaches especially in the Greek islands. She loves the varied North Devon landscape, from sandy beaches, spectacular cliffs, wild moorland and sheltered valleys.

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