For wonderful views of the North Devon coast, a ride on Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway is a must. We visited last summer after numerous recommendations. We were not disappointed. Here’s what you need to know about riding this Devon funicular.
About Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway
You may think that green travel is a very modern concept. But the Victorians in this part of Devon were way ahead of the game.
Tourism was booming in Lynton and Lynmouth in the 19th Century, and the poor donkeys used to transport people and goods between the two towns were flagging.
This was when the idea of the cliff railway was conceived to help visitors go up and down the cliff and see more of the two towns.
It was completed in 1890 and became the world’s steepest and tallest water-powered funicular.
How the cliff railway works
According to the cliff railway’s visitor guide it operates on “a simple balancing principle. Water from the West Lyn River fills the 700 gallon tank of the top ‘docked’ passenger car. Water from the lower car is then discharged until the heavier top car descends and pulls the lower car up the incline.”
Here’s a video with more about this historic, eco-attraction:
We walked to Lynton from the Valley of Rocks. It’s a scenic coast walk that is a lot of fun, but may be a little hair raising with tiny tots. There’s no barriers between you and the cliff faces that are the highest in mainland Britain.
When we arrived in Lynton there was a queue at the station. But this moved quickly with the railway team walking up the line to take card payments.
Soon we were at the front and boarding the vintage passenger carriage. I’ve shared a video of our ride on my Instagram Reels.
The ride is a strange sensation – it’s a bit wobbly and the only reason we could think of what because of the water sloshing around in the tank under the carriage as you travel down the cliff.
If you are lucky to board first you can stand on the open platform at the front for the best views. Inside there are curved bench seats and a space to stand at the back.
At the bottom we wandered around the independent shops and harbour of Lynmouth, stopped for an ice cream and had a walk on the beach.
There was a reasonable queue to ride back up the cliff so we decided to walk the Westerway back up to Lynton.
It’s an ancient route that was once trodden by donkeys and smugglers. It’s also another way to make the most of the views of Lynmouth and the railway carriages rumbling up and down the hill.
We enjoyed our experience so much that I’ve included a picture the cliff railway and its view in the Devon Colouring Book for Kids.
A child-friendly Devon guide & activity book supporting Devon Air Ambulance Trust
Handy things to know
If you fancy a ride on Lynton and Lynmouth’s funicular, here’s some useful information:
Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway prices
When we visited in 2021, rides cost £3 for adults, £2 for children and £1 for dogs. You pay for single trips at a time. Pre-booking is not possible.
Check the attraction website for the most up-to-date prices.
There are no toilets or baby changing facilities at the cliff railway. There are accessible toilets in Lynton Town Hall and round the back of the The Memorial Hall in Lynmouth.
The railway’s Cliff Top Cafe serves light lunches, cream teas and cakes. There are also plenty of cafes in Lynton and Lynmouth.
Wheelchairs and pushchairs must be folded when onboard the cliff railway. The historic carriage cannot accommodate mobility scooters or larger wheelchairs.
Read the cliff railway’s full accessibility guide.
Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway parking
The closest car park in Lynton is on Cross Street (EX35 6HG). There’s also on street parking in Lynton.
In Lynmouth the closest car park is Bottom Meadow on Castle Hill (EX35 6AR). There’s also some on street parking.
You can also make a day of it and park in the Valley of Rocks and walk the South West Coast Path to Lynton and Lynmouth.
The cliff railway is usually open daily.
At time of publishing it was closed for winter maintenance until February 2022. Check the website for the latest updates about reopening.
Is Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway dog-friendly?
Yes. Well behaved dogs can ride with you if they are on a lead.
Where is Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway?
You can find the top station on Lee Road in Lynton and the bottom station on The Esplanade in Lynmouth. Here’s a map:
The railway is classed as public transport so face masks are essential unless you are exempt. There’s hand sanitiser dispensers as you queue for your ride.
More things to do in North Devon
Find more ideas for places to visit in my guide to things to do in North Devon.
Here’s some more places we can recommend:
You might also like my guide to things to do near Barnstaple and my free to download 101 days out in Devon guide.
Download the 101 Days out in Devon with kids ebook
Grab your copy of this guide to family-friendly things to do across the county, from coast to coast, in the cities, on the moors and whatever the weather.