The North Devon coast has always been a magnet for visitors with a taste for rugged beauty. Writers and poets during the 17th and 18th century – Shelley, Wordsworth, J.M. Barrie, and C.S. Lewis, amongst others – have all come here seeking inspiration at one time or another.
And poet Robert Southey wrote about the area extensively, coining the term Little English Switzerland to describe the mix of sheer cliffs, deep ravines, and crystal clear river water.
The 340 acres of the Watersmeet estate, near Lynton on Exmoor, was originally owned by the Reverend Halliday, Lord of Countisbury Manor who built a hunting and fishing lodge at the convergence of two rivers, the East Lyn river and Hoak Oak water, in 1852.
The lodge still stands there, now owned by the National Trust, and run as a busy tearooms for much of the year.
A perfect place to relax and watch the birds…
…and feed them too.
The lodge is always a focus for wildlife, and you will always see dozens of finches, robins, tits, and if you’re lucky, woodpeckers and kingfishers. Even when we go there during off season when the tea rooms are closed, we are soon surrounded by birds posing for photos in exchange for picnic crumbs.
The walk up the river from the lodge is never less than stunning, the walls of the gorge enclosing you in a private, leafy world, never without the sound of rushing water.
There are plenty of places to rest on the journey upstream, and a bridge across the river to allow access to alternate routes of varying steepness back to the lodge.
The woods themselves are a delight, giving a dappled shade in hot weather, and a little respite from the occasional shower of rain you may get in a british summer too.
You can visit Watersmeet ravine all year round, and the lodge reopens for the 2013 season around Easter. See the National Trust website for opening times, and we’ll see you there for a cream tea in the summer.