Devon isn’t short of dramatic landscapes and towering rock formations, but The Valley of Rocks in Exmoor National Park is something special. Here’s what you need to know if you are planning a Valley of Rocks walk with children.
What is the Valley of Rocks?
The Valley runs parallel to the sea and is topped by rocks that look like they’ve been dropped there by giants.
The geology is quite amazing and the views speak for themselves. But how did this natural wonder happen?
The Visit Lynton and Lynmouth website says: “A dry river valley, it is believed to owe its existence to a former extension of the East Lyn River which now meets the sea at Lynmouth.”
What’s been left behind are soaring rock formations now called home by a herd of feral goats.
Our girls didn’t need much encouragement to climb to the top of the Valley and walked into neighbouring Lynton without a grumble.
You can walk south from the car parks and pick up the South West Coast Path at the bottom of the valley.
We decided to walk back up to the Upper Valley Car Park for a wee before joining a steep, rocky footpath opposite. This weaved up the side of the valley until we reached the top with the Bristol Channel stretching out in front of us.
We walked north and soon deviated off the rough coast path and onto a woodland path above Lynton. This path took us onto Hollerday Hill.
In the woods we passed the ruins of Hollerday House. If it isn’t for some information signs about it we would have missed it. The mansion was built in the late 19th Century for Sir George Newnes, the publisher of ‘Titbits’ and ‘Strand’ magazine. He was the Rupert Murdoch of his day.
The house mysteriously burnt down after his death. Today you can still get a glimpse of the view of Lynton that made this such a desirable spot for a coastal retreat.
Your walk continues down the house’s old winding driveway, which brings you out onto Lee Road opposite Lynton Town Hall.
Turn left and you’ll soon reach Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. We rode this down into Lynmouth and returned to the Valley of Rocks via the Westerway. This criss crosses the railway track back to North Walk which is part of the South West Coast Path.
We followed this all the way back to the Valley, taking a slightly different route that was lower down the cliff. It’s very difficult to get lost when you have the sea as your marker.
The coast path from North Walk is tarmac and flat until you reach the first rocky outcrop. From here the path is not very accessible as it is narrow and steep
Here’s the suggested South West Coast Path walk if you’d like proper directions.
Handy things to know
Here’s some information that might help you plan your Valley of Rocks walk:
When is the Valley of Rocks open?
The Valley is always open and is free to visit.
How long does it take to walk the Valley of Rocks?
The round trip from the Valley of Rocks to Lynton is less than three miles.
But unless you’re on a route march you’ll want to appreciate the views. I’d recommend paying for a few hours parking at least. We spent four hours walking into Lynton, riding the cliff railway, stopping for a snack and walking back.
Dogs and goats
There’s a herd of feral goats in the Valley, so keep dogs on leads. You might like to keep them on a lead for the coast path too as there are steep drops and no fences.
Keep and eye on young children
For the same reason as you need to know where your hound is at all times, keep an eye on small children. It would be easy for them to wobble off the path or be caught by a strong gust of wind.
Where to park for the Valley of Rocks
There are two car parks: the Upper Valley of Rocks Car Park and the Lower Valley of Rocks Car Park. They have pay and display machines or you can use the Ringo parking app.
We arrived at 11am midweek in August and there was plenty of room in the car parks but they quickly filled up by lunch time.
Here’s a map showing where to find the Upper Car Park:
Where to eat
Speaking of lunch, we had the most amazing pie and chips from Mother Melrdrums Tea Garden next to the Lower Valley of Rocks car park. The cake display is quite something. Sadly we didn’t have room for a slice.
There are accessible toilets at the Upper Valley of Rocks Car Park. Mother Melrdrums doesn’t have public toilets.
Where is the Valley of Rocks?
Find The Valley of Rocks by following signs from Lynton or by using the postcode: EX35 6JH.
We enjoyed our walk at the Valley of Rocks so much that I’ve included it in the Devon Colouring Book for Kids.
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:
- Clovelly Village
- Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway
- Hartland Abbey
- The Milky Way
- The Big Sheep
- North Devon beaches
You might also like my guide to things to do near Barnstaple and my free to download 101 days out in Devon guide.