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NORTH DEVON WALKS: 6 PHENOMENAL CIRCULAR ROUTES

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The image shows the view from one of the north Devon walks.
The image shows a gate and countryside in North Devon.

North Devon features a dramatic coastline with turquoise sea waters.

With dozens of hidden beaches, enchanting forests, and quaint hillside towns such as Lynton and Lynmouth, it’s no wonder that some of the best walks in North Devon are so popular.

After several trips to North Devon over the years and countless incredible hikes, this list is a round-up of the very best.

The image shows someone wlaking along the Valley of the rocks trail.

First, we’ll jump straight into all of North Devon’s best walks, many of which cover the lovely coastline and some of which discover impressive waterfalls.

We’ll then cover some need-to-know information like the best time to visit and where to stay.

At the end of the guide, you’ll also find an FAQ.

The best walks in North Devon

Valley Of The Rocks and Lynton Outer Loop

The image shows someone sat of the edge of the rocks in North Devon.
The image shows a goat on the hiking trail from a walk in North Devon.

Distance: 8.9km | Elevation: 336m | Duration: 2-3 hours | Difficulty: easy | Best for: Coastal walks, rugged cliff edges, wildlife

Valley of the Rocks and Lynton Outer Loop is one of the most thrilling walks in North Devon that is certainly not for the faint-hearted with its pathways along the rugged cliff edge.

Beginning from the cobbled town of Lynton, the route follows a narrow trail that hugs the North Devon coastline – needless to say, the views across the sea are spectacular.

As you follow the stream of people toward the enormous boulders and impressive rubble of rock, it will quickly become clear why this walk is nicknamed ‘Valley of the Rocks’.

Upon arrival, the route takes you behind the rocks, however, you’ll almost certainly be tempted to scramble your way to the top to get some of the best views in North Devon.

And of course, some impressive pictures to commemorate your bravery!

Tip: This is a great spot to tuck into a packed lunch – there are also some cute little mountain goats that chill up there, basking in the sunshine all day...oh, goat life.

The image shows the countryside in North Devon.

As you clamber back down the rocks, you’ll play follow the leader with a trip of goats, before ascending up and into the valley, and as the walk goes on, you’ll start to see fewer people.

It’s a steady incline through woodland and country roads for the remainder of the route – apart from the last kilometre which is a very steep descent back down to Lynton.

Overall, this is one of the best coastal walks in North Devon.

Speke’s Mill Mouth Waterfall via Hartland Quay and Blackpool Mill Beach

The image shows Spekes Mill Mouth Waterfall -  key point along one of our North Devon walks.
The image shows Spekes Mill Mouth Waterfall -  key point along one of our North Devon walks.

Distance: 8.7km | Elevation: 250m | Duration: 2-3 hours | Difficulty: Moderate| Best for: Coastal walks, beaches, waterfalls

Speke’s Mill Mouth Waterfall via Hartland Quay and Blackpool Mill Beach has a little bit of everything to offer and gets better and better as the walk goes on.

Initially, the route leads a steady incline across fields before quickly arriving at a forest – which, on a hot day, is a welcome bit of shelter!

As the path begins to descend, the route finds Mill Leet, which it follows towards the sea.

Just before reaching the edge of the North Devon coastline, the impressive Speke’s Mill Mouth Waterfall appears – the main attraction of the walk for most!

It’s at this point that walkers are also able to temporarily divert from the route by taking some steps down to Speke’s Mill Beach, which is nothing too impressive, but still a nice spot to take a break.

The image shows the view from Hartland Quay.

As you continue on, the route follows the coastline from above and leads around a series of coves before eventually reaching Hartland Quay – a small and sandy bay with crystal-clear waters.

We definitely recommend heading down to this bay to discover the impressive hidden caves, too.

The remainder of the route sticks to the North Devon coastline until it reaches the final bay of the day – Black Pool Mill beach, before diverting back inland and arriving back in Stoke.

Overall, this route is an excellent hidden gem of a walk that leads to arguably one of the best waterfalls in England.

Tip: Hartland Abbey isn’t too far from Stoke – it’s full of history and a nice spot to swing by in the afternoon!

Route: map

Combe Martin Circular (Little and Great Hangman)

The image show the view from the Combe Martin Circular loop walk in North Devon.
The image show the view from the Combe Martin Circular loop walk in North Devon.

Distance: 7.1km | Elevation: 336m | Duration: 2-3 hours | Difficulty: Moderate| Best for: Coastal walks, panoramic views

The Little and Great Hangman Loop is one of the best circular walks in Devon.

The route begins from Kiln car park which sits just above Combe Martin Bay.

As you leave the gates, the route wastes no time and gets straight into a steep incline along a sheltered woodland path.

This goes on for quite some time and teases walkers with glimpses of the sparkling sea through the gaps in the trees.

Before long, you’ll have reached a bench on a hilltop that overlooks a tropical-looking hidden beach.

This is the perfect spot for a short break after an exhausting start to the hike.

From here, you’ll also be able to see the first of the two peaks ahead.

The image shows a sheep.
The image shows a sheep.

As you continue on across the moorland and besides plenty of grazing sheep, you’ll slowly begin to ascend towards Little Hangman – the first peak.

The closer you get to the summit, the steeper the ascent becomes, but the views are worth every drop of sweat.

After you’ve spent some time soaking up the views of the North Devon coast, it’s time to descend before taking the undulating (but predominantly inclining) pathway towards the second summit – Great Hangman.

Although slightly less impressive than Little Hangman (in my opinion) it still offers fantastic views across the sea.

The trail then leads inland, down across fields and weaving through woodland pathways, before eventually arriving back in the village of Combe Martin.

Route: map

East Lyn River Loop (Watersmeet)

The image shows the East Lyn River in North Devon.
The image shows the East Lyn River in North Devon.

Distance: 7.7km | Elevation: 413m | Duration: 2-3 hours | Difficulty: Moderate| Best for: Woodland walks, waterfalls, coastal views

East Lyn River Loop is also known as the Watersmeet Loop and it’s one of the best woodland walks in North Devon that you can do.

It starts in Lynton and follows the East Lyn River for the majority of the way – hence the name!

As you move further away from Lynton alongside the river, the route heads deep into the woodland.

It’s perfect for super hot days as well as rainy days, given the fact that it’s sheltered for around 75% of the walk.

The image shows a waterfall along thee Watersmeet walk in North Devon.

Before long, you’ll see signposts to a waterfall viewing point – make sure you take the extra few steps to the top to get the best view of the fall crashing down below.

Tip: Close to the waterfall is Watersmeet Tea Room – a large house set among the forest, making it the perfect place for some refreshments.

The route gradually begins to climb and just after the halfway point, you will leave the East Lyn River behind to ascend further and discover views of the bright blue sea in the distance.

The grass trail here is predominantly flat and at times, fairly overgrown – but it’s nothing too wild!

Route: map

Tarka Trail: Croyde to Saunton Circular

The image shows Croyde Bay in Devon.
The image shows the path along the Tarka Trail in North Devon.

Distance: 6.9km | Elevation: 201m | Duration: 1-2 hours | Difficulty: Moderate| Best for: Coastal walks, wildlife, tasty ice cream

This fantastic walk in North Devon starts off by following the Tarka Trail – a well-known 180-mile route that is nicknamed after Tarka the otter.

He is said to have swum the nearby rivers or Torridge and Taw around the same figure of 8 loop on a regular basis.

Although this route does not (thankfully) follow the Tarka trail for 180 miles, it does follow one of the best sections of it above the coastline of Croyde Bay – a popular surf spot.

Once the route departs from the Tarka Trail, it heads inland to the village of Croyde – a picturesque location for a spot of lunch and/or an ice cream!

Tip: If you opt for the ice cream as we did, then Croyde Ice Cream Parlour does some mouthwateringly fantastic flavours.

The image shows North Devon coastline.

As you leave Croyde behind, the route follows a steep ascent out of the village and leads across the hilltops.

As with every ascent, what goes up, must come down, so before long the route descends towards Saunton.

The walk continues along a grass-cut pathway above the main road, with spectacular views over Saunton Sands – another popular surf spot!

Tip: If want to walk down to Saunton Sands for something to eat, then head to the Beachside Grill. Once you’re in the car park you will be able to see it at the entrance point of the beach.

As you push on along the home straight, you will soon be back at the starting point.

Route: map

Morte Point and Bull Point Circular

The image shows Morte Point.
The image shows Bull Point.

Distance: 7.7km | Elevation: 265m | Duration: 2-3 hours | Difficulty: Moderate| Best for: Dramatic coastlines, sea life

And last but not least of our list of the best walks in North Devon is Morte Point and Bull Point Circular.

In my opinion, this is the best walk in North Devon – purely based on the fact that there is a high chance of spotting some seals splashing around in the waves!

Surely that top trumps any other walk – right?!

The route starts from Martinhoe – a small seaside village with good public facilities, as well as a few great places to eat.

From here, the route almost instantly finds a steep downhill as it heads towards the coastline.

Tip: Although it is not the official starting point, we recommend starting from the Martinhoe car park as there are plenty of places to park up.

The image shows the view from a walk in North Devon.

Once the trail meets the North Devon coastal path you’ll soon be able to spot Morte Points dramatic rock erosion.

It’s here that you may also spot some seals, so keep your eyes peeled!

As the route continues along the South West Coast Path, it’s an undulating walk, to say the least.

Along the way, you’ll clamber up and down steps and discover a series of bays – some sandy, some rocky, but all worth visiting!

After a couple of challenging kilometres, you’ll spot a lighthouse in the distance – this signifies Bull Point, and as you look down below, you’ll see crystal clear waters, and possibly some more seals if you’re lucky!

The path goes on to wind around and slowly returns inland before eventually arriving back in Martinhoe.

Best time to visit North Devon

The image shows the countryside in North Devon.

The best time for walking the North Devon coast and countryside is typically between April and October.

From June to August, you can expect temperatures to be fairly hot, so you’ll need to be better prepared with plenty of water and sun cream during these months.

Here’s what you can expect by season:

Spring (March to May)

  • Spring is a great time to visit if you enjoy milder weather and fewer crowds.
  • The countryside comes to life with blooming flowers, making it an excellent season for hiking and exploring nature.
  • Beaches are less crowded, although the sea may still be a bit chilly for swimming.

Summer (June to August)

  • Summer is the peak tourist season in North Devon due to warm temperatures and longer daylight hours.
  • It is ideal for beachgoers, as the sea is at its warmest for swimming, and water sports are popular.
  • Coastal towns and attractions can be crowded, so plan your accommodations and activities in advance.
  • Festivals and events often take place during the summer months.

Autumn (September to November)

  • Early autumn can still offer pleasant weather and is a good time for outdoor activities like hiking and biking.
  • September is often quieter than the summer months, with fewer tourists.
  • As the season progresses, you’ll experience colourful foliage in the countryside.
  • It’s also a good time for foodies, as local produce is at its peak.

Winter (December to February)

  • Winter is the least popular time to visit North Devon due to colder and wetter weather.
  • However, if you enjoy coastal walks and dramatic landscapes, this can still be an appealing time for a visit.
  • Some attractions and accommodations may have reduced hours or be closed during the winter months, so check in advance.

Where to stay during your North Devon walking trip

There are so many cute towns and villages across North Devon, however here are the 3 that I would recommend the most.

Croyde

The image shows a person with a surf board in Croyde in North Devon.

Croyde is a village filled with cute cottages, tonnes of campsites – some of which are ‘surf camps’, and plenty of excellent places to grab a bite to eat.

It’s an area thats always bustling with people since it’s home to Croyde Bay – a popular surf and family-orientated beach.

Here are some of the best places to stay in the area:

Lynton and Lynmouth

The image shows the village on Lynton in North Devon.

Lynton and Lynmouth are two neighbouring villages that sit on the edge of Exmoor National Park.

They are by far two of the most popular locations to visit in the area, with plenty of tourist attractions and walks such as The Valley of The Rocks which begins nearby.

Here are some of the best places to stay in the area:

Woolacombe

The image shows Woolacombe Bay in North Devon.

Woolacombe is a picturesque coastal village that is renowned for its stunning natural beauty – especially its long, sandy beach.

In fact, the beach here is considered one of the best beaches in the UK.

Woolacombe is home to some of the best luxury accommodations in the area, however, you will also a few budget and mid-range options.

Here are some of the best to consider:

Explore beyond walks in North Devon

The image shows a girl standing on top of one of the Seven Sisters Cliffs.
The image shows a waterfall.

If you loved our list of the best walks in North Devon then have you ever considered glamping in North Devon?

Alternatively, if you’re looking for more walks, then we really think that you’d also love exploring the Seven Sisters and the Brecon Beacons.

Below you can find some of our other guides:

Stay Wild Travels.

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