Not far from us around the coast towards Somerset are the picturesque and historic towns of Lynton and Lynmouth and beyond them the edges of Exmoor National Park.
One of the area’s many noted visitors from the past was the poet Robert Southey (1774-1843). He isn’t perhaps as well-known as his famous romantic poet colleagues, Wordsworth and Coleridge, but he was very well respected in his day.
He wrote with Coleridge and his work was greatly admired by Sir Walter Scott, who helped him become Poet Laureate in 1835.
In 1799, Southey stayed at Lynton. He wrote journals and letters in praise of the town, which were used extensively by the residents at the time to gain publicity for the area’s burgeoning tourism industry.
He described the area as being similar to Switzerland causing it to be nicknamed ‘The English Switzerland’, which lead to a trend for Swiss-style buildings in the area, which are still evident today.
The towns were often called ‘England’s Little Switzerland’ and this can be attributed to Southey. He also wrote from Lynton: “Here we are in certainly the most beautiful spot in the West of England.”
Here are a few places worth a visit in the area when you’re staying with us:
Valley of the Rocks
The Valley of Rocks, which is known for its geology, stunning views and herd of goats, runs parallel to the coastline approximately half a mile west of Lynton. The coastal cliffs here are among the highest in the country. Southey called them ‘one of the greatest wonders in the West of England.’
Lynton and Lynmouth is home to the world’s highest and steepest, fully water-powered Cliff Railway. The funicular links these two historic towns and represents fun for all the family. As you glide up or down the 862-foot track, Lynmouth below and Lynton above, you can enjoy wonderful views of the coastline. It’s open annually from February to November.
There is also a wonderful narrow-gauge railway in the area running from February through to Christmas but closed at Christmas. The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway was originally launched in 1898 but then closed in 1935. Today it is owned by a trust and run almost entirely by volunteers. It is being rebuilt and visitors can travel by train along a section of the original route above the beautiful Heddon Valley in the National Park from Woody Bay Station to Killington Lane Halt. The trip lasts approximately 25 minutes and tickets are valid all day, so you can travel as many times as you like on the same day.
Lee Bay can be reached via the Valley of Rocks road from Lynton. This beach is sandy at low tide and there is a picnic site above it with toilets. It is overlooked by Lee Abbey, which owns the beach, and is within a very pretty, sheltered part of the coast.
There are many more wonderful walks in the area too, including the South West Coast Path, which can be accessed via our Blue Flat beach here at Westward Ho and the Macmillan Way from Castle Cary in Somerset through to Barnstaple near us and linking to the coastal path.