Kipling Tors walk
Kipling Tors, Westward Ho!, North DevonRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This route is next to the sea, with stunning views across Bideford Bay and inland to Exmoor. Rudyard Kipling’s novel, Stalky & Co, is based on his school days here. Kipling Tors is where Kipling and his friends used to smoke cigars and pipes and read books together.
- Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder)
- Type of walk: 'Historical Footsteps', 'Waterside Walks'
- Bus stop
Start: Pay and display car park on Merley Road, grid ref: SS421289
From the car park turn right and walk along a wide and reasonably surfaced path, this was once the site of a railway track that continued along the coast to Abbottsham. After approximately 330yd (300m), turn left and follow the steep path next to the National Trust sign.
Kipling Tors were presented to us in 1938 by the Rudyard Kipling Memorial Fund to commemorate the great writers years at the United Services College in Westward Ho between 1878 and 1882. Winston Churchill said of Kipling that life in each of the Dominions [India and Britain] had been adorned and interpreted by strokes of his wand. Stalky and Co, a semi-autobiographical novel about his schooldays appeared in 1899. It recounts the adventures of the school friends Stalky, MTurk and Beetle who often escaped to these hills to plan their escapades, read books and smoke cigars.
As you reach the top of this path, you'll see an old Coastguard lookout. Go inside to be greeted by stunning views and wonderful art work created by the local Primary School. There's also a Toposcope inside with interesting information for you to read. On leaving the lookout go back down the hill a short distance and take the first path on the right.
Despite being only roughly 100 years old, little is known about this lookout. It was built in the early 20th century after 1904 and probably before the First World War. A solid stone structure built on a stone riveted platform, it was described as a watch hut now administered by the Board of Trade in papers given to the National Trust in 1938. The Board of Trade took over the coastguard role, formerly held by the Admiralty in 1923, and this little structure formed part of the network of small stations along the coast watching over seafarers.
This is a long and fairly level path with great views and a great place to watch sea birds and try and spot porpoises in the bay. At the end of this path turn left and walk downhill for a short distance were you'll see a path on your right. Take this one down through some broadleaved woodland. At the end of this path you'll meet another path, turn left here.
Following the huge success of Charles Kingsleys book, Westward Ho!, (published in 1855), a company called the Northam Burrows Hotel and Villa Building Company was formed in 1866 and set out to develop this area as a holiday resort. A large hotel was built, soon followed by a church, lots of villas and a fine golf link over the Burrows. It's the only place in Great Britain with an exclamation mark as part of its name. The Pebble Ridge is a remarkable natural phenomenon and is about 20ft (6m) high, and 50ft (50m) wide, stretching for about two miles.
Where these two paths meet - hidden partly from view in the undergrowth - there are two concrete and stone pads that once supported a large whale bone in each.
Keep going along this path until you reach a wooded gate and a path junction, turn right here and follow the path down through the chalets and back to the car park.
We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
End: Pay and display car park on Merley Road, grid ref: SS421289
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
- Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
- OS Map: Landranger 180
This is a circular walk with some steep sections in places, the route takes you next to the sea and through some woodland. The ground can be a bit muddy, especially after wet weather. Walking boots or good trainers recommended. Dogs are welcome under close control.
- How to get here:
By bus: First North Devon Bus 1, Bideford Quay towards Westward Ho!. Alight Neslon Road and walk west for approximately 5 minutes
By train: Barnstaple, 10 miles (16.1km)
By car: In Westward Ho! continue west along Atlantic Way until reaching Merley Road. Here turn right and continue down Merley road to pay and display car park. Kipling Tors is just behind car park
- Telephone: 01237 441976
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bideford-bay-and-hartland/