The rumble of the cattle grid beneath the wheels announced our arrival on Exmoor, and immediately the landscape changed. Trees gave way to vast green plains, peppered with gorse and sprays of heather. Here and there a paint splash of pink as rhododendrons grow wild, making an easy home, tipping the hat of irony at my futile attempts to cultivate them in my own garden. A smile rushed onto my face and took up permanent residence for the next two days.
5 Reasons to visit Lynton and Lynmouth
Immediately there were sheep, suicidal as they wandered the roads, peering quizzically at the car as if vehicles were a new phenomenon. We contemplated the memory span of a sheep – perhaps every car was a novelty for them.
Wild ponies, red cows, buzzards, pheasant and falcon – we swiped a leaflet from our hotel and the Bug diligently ticked them all off as we saw them. He even swore he’d seen The Beast, the temptation of an extra 100 points being too much for him to pass up.
We continued our journey, plunging down through lush foliage into Lynmouth, narrowly avoiding the sheep napping on the tarmac. The physical requirement to slow down coaxing us into the more relaxed pace we needed for our holiday.
From the pretty little harbour, to the breathtakingly steep water-powered Cliff Railway, being in Lynton and Lynmouth is like yoga for the soul. You breathe more deeply, move more slowly, stay longer in the moment as you soak up the beauty and peace of this place.
The Lyn Valley Hotel
We didn’t know what to expect from a B&B with the kids but we couldn’t have been more impressed. The family suite was modern, with a separate bedroom for the children, good-sized comfortable beds, great free wi-fi, and the essential ingredient for Actually Daddy – a power shower. With a complimentary decanter of sherry in our room, we very swiftly settled into admiring the view!
Right outside our window was this sight. The beautiful Lyn valley is carved by this river, which pours into sea just a few hundred metres away. Nestled around the harbour are countless little pubs, fudge shops, and proper ice-cream vendors. No Mr Whippy on these narrow lanes! You can spend a very happy morning pottering through the merchandise, pasty in hand, before taking the quaint railway trip up to Lynton for the most incredible views. A little bit of crabbing on the rocky beach will while away another hour, before hungry tummies drive you to one of the many pubs.
Steer clear of the Rising Sun: whilst it is the oldest and most famous pub in Lynmouth, they “can’t have children in the restaurant. Or the bar…” We decided our children were better behaved than the offer of a table in the lobby deserved, and found a much kinder attitude, good food, and great service at the Rock House Hotel. They got our business again the next night, but if you fancy a change there’s a fabulous range of fish dishes at Fish on the Harbour.
The clifftop views from Lynton are as pretty as the little flower-covered houses on the hill, but venture further afield and you’ll find all sorts of breathtaking scenery. A drive to Porlock Weir afforded us a happy afternoon watching the boats while the children built stone barricades, then played at sabotaging each other’s handiwork…
Luckily, there were daisy chains to be fashioned, and the best afternoon tea of the week to be devoured at the Wortleberry Tea Rooms, in the main village of Porlock.
I can happily say this was the most relaxing couple of days we’ve spent so far this year as a family. I might have broached the concept of retirement with Actually Daddy…
You can find the Lyn Valley Hotel here. Our 2 bedroomed family suite cost us £150 per night, which we decided was great value for money. They declared our children beautifully behaved, and allowed them to pinch the biscuits from the tea tray 🙂