Exmoor National Park, Devon
Take the Watersmeet walk and wind your way through the picturesque East Lyn river gorge to the idyllic Watersmeet House National Trust property
The Picturesque Watersmeet Trail
Where is the Watersmeet Trail?
The Watersmeet trail is located in the quaint, picturesque north Devon coastal town of Lynmouth, situated between the towns of Minehead and Barnstaple.
How to Get There?
If you are heading to Lynmouth from the north or east of the UK, the best option would be to take J23 off the M5. Then join the A39 and this will lead you right into Lynmouth.
If your journey start point is from the south or south-west the quickest route would be, J27 of the M5, followed by the A361 North Devon Link Road. Take the A361 to South Molton where you will join the A399. Follow this road to Blackmoor Gate where you will turn right (east) on to the A39 that will lead you to Lynmouth.
Where to Park?
There are a couple of perfectly located pay & display car parks for the Watersmeet Trail. These are the Upper and Lower Lyndale car parks and are situated minutes from the start point.
There is also free parking available along Riverside Road and the Esplanade but here you are limited to a maximum of two hours from Good Friday to the 31st of October.
You may have difficulty completing the walk in two hours, so the pay and display option is the best in our opinion. Take a look at the other paid parking options in Lynmouth.
About the East Lyn River
The East Lyn River is one of the UK’s most spectacular, clean and accessible salmon rivers, boasting an abundance of wildlife. The river valley has been looked after by the National Trust dating back to 1934, having been offered by the local community to guarantee its ongoing protection.
This has helped to ensure that the area’s unique and special qualities are protected by law enabling the National Trust to play a pivotal role in conserving the wildlife and landscape for all to enjoy and appreciate.
Lynmouth to Watersmeet Walk – Step by Step
If you are planning on heading to Lynmouth for a short break, we can highly recommend the Lyn Valley Guest House. Furthermore, it is perfectly located, just a stone’s throw from the start of the Watersmeet walk.
The Watersmeet trail commences on Tors Road, just off the A39, on the north bank of the East Lyn River. The first section of the walk takes you in an easterly direction along Tors Road, past a row of quaint stone b&bs and holiday lettings.
A short distance after passing the last property, the road ends and the real trail commences. You now enter the beautiful steep wooded gorge with the spirited East Lyn River thundering its way past you to the sea a short distance back.
Enjoy the East Lyn River up close
After approximately 0.75 miles (1.20 km) you will reach a wooden signpost where two route options are available to you – the Riverside Walk or the Woodland Walk. Both lead you to Watersmeet House so the choice is yours.
We decided to take the Riverside option outbound. Initially, the trail hugs the northern bank of the river but you will soon reach a wooden footbridge taking you to the southern bank upon which the Watersmeet walk continues.
Did you know? Watersmeet is part of the National Trust’s 4000 acres on West Exmoor and is in a special area of conservation because of its extensive oak woods. Keep an eye out for herons, dippers and grey wagtails as well as otter and red deer. In winter, you can even spot salmon leaping upstream to spawn
The trail briefly climbs up the valley side before dropping once more to regain its position immediately alongside the river. Next, the path momentarily breaks away from National Trust land as you cross the private, Lodge at Myrtleberry. This would definitely be an idyllic location in which to enjoy a weekend getaway!
As you pass the Lodge at Myrtleberry the path becomes very narrow for a short distance, with the gushing waters dancing precariously close to your feet. Thankfully, the trail soon opens up once more and one’s fear of tumbling into the fast-moving torrent ebbs away as it does so.
As you continue along the Watersmeet Trail, you will catch sight of a stone bridge. Do not cross the river at this point but continue on the right-hand side. The Watersmeet National Trust House will soon come into sight across the river.
Watersmeet – The meeting of two rivers
Continue a short distance further and a wooden footbridge will appear on your left. This takes you across a moorland tributary of the East Lyn River. What’s more, this is the point at which these two rivers meet, hence the name, Watersmeet.
Whilst on the bridge, take the time to gaze upstream at the Watersmeet waterfall cascading towards you. If you would like a closer look at the waterfall from above, take the steps on the right immediately after crossing the bridge.
To get to the Watersmeet cafe for that well-earned cream tea, cross the next footbridge and then the delightful Watersmeet House sits before you, boasting one of the most spectacular locations for a tea garden anywhere!
Did you know? Watersmeet House was built as a fishing lodge in 1832 and has been owned by the National Trust since 1934
On the homeward section of the Watersmeet walk, we opted for a little variety so took the trail aptly named, Woodland Walk. Upon leaving Watersmeet House, remain on the same side of the river and follow the path downstream.
Initially, the path sticks to the water’s edge but soon the gradient increases as the trail leads you up the valley side leaving the river far below. This elevation gain certainly offers some superb views back up the river valley, when sporadic breaks in the woodland occur.
After walking for approximately 1.25 miles (2 km) on this woodland section, you will find yourself back at the wooden signpost that you reached earlier in the walk. Here you rejoin the path on which you came, for the final stretch of the Watersmeet Walk back to the starting point in Lynmouth.
Watersmeet Walk – Our Thoughts
This really is a special walk through some of the finest nature that Exmoor has to offer. Mixing it up by taking the riverside route on the outbound leg and the woodland walk on the return was a good idea and certainly added some variety.
There are certainly sections where you must exercise real caution, especially where the fast-flowing river thunders right alongside the narrow path.
Of course, the break at Watersmeet House to enjoy refreshments in the idyllic tea garden is a real bonus as it truly is a perfect location.
Lynmouth is a beautiful town surrounded by some extraordinary natural beauty. As such, there are plenty of attractions to keep the activity minded individual busy for days. But, do not leave the area unless you have experienced the Watersmeet trail.
It will take just over two hours of your time to complete but the memories will stick with you for a lifetime!
Watersmeet Walk FAQs
How far is the Lynmouth to Watersmeet walk?
The round trip (out & back) measured using our ViewRanger App was 4.29 miles (6.91 km)
How difficult is the walk?
For the most part, the trail is fairly flat. There are a few gentle inclines but certainly nothing too taxing.
How long does the walk take?
We completed the Watersmeet walk in 2 hours 22 minutes but this included our break at Watersmeet House to enjoy our cream tea.
What other walk options are there?
Have you already completed the Watersmeet trail that we have described here and are looking for other great walks in the local area? Well, you are in luck as there are plenty of walks close by that you may wish to try:
- Countisbury figure-of-eight walk
- Countisbury to Arnold’s Linhay circular walk
- Countisbury circular walk via Winston’s Path
- Watersmeet to Ash Bridge circular walk
- Lynmouth circular via Watersmeet and Countisbury
- The Valley of the Rocks Walk
If you plan on venturing a little further to the east, in the direction of Porlock, why not climb Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Exmoor. Pick a clear weather day and you will be treated with far-reaching, panoramic views.
What are the Watersmeet house opening times?
Visit the calendar to see all the opening times at Watersmeet House.
Want to find out more?
Visit Watersmeet to learn more about the house, the dramatic river gorge and ancient woodland.