Planning a summer visit?
During winter the Devil’s Cauldron and river path are shut to visitors. This is for safety reasons and to allow the rangers time to maintain the nearly four miles of steep and remote paths. From Saturday 3 March, the whole gorge will be open to visitors, granting access to the depths of the gorge. Experience some extraordinary natural features including the roaring Devil’s Cauldron pothole.
The Whitelady Waterfall
At 90 feet, the Whitelady Waterfall is the highest in the south west of England. Depending on the weather it can be a gentle flow of water over the cliff face or a raging torrent crashing into the pool below. After a day of heavy rain it can be an exhilarating experience standing at the base of the Whitelady feeling the spray on your face.
The river path takes you up and over a series of potholes. These are named after the tunnel cut into the rock, which was created for Victorian tourists to see the gorge, and is still part of the path today. The river swirls like whirlpools as it tumbles and cascades down this stunning section of the gorge.
The Devil’s Cauldron
You'll hear the roaring of the Devil's Cauldron before you see it. Head off the main path and you enter a dark ravine surrounded by dripping rock faces covered in mosses and ferns. Brave the narrow rock hewn steps which take you onto a platform suspended over the water. Here the river seems to boil and it is this action and the tremendous force of the water that created this giant pothole over the centuries.
Lydford Gorge is only accessible on foot; the paths can be steep, narrow and slippery with high drops. There are not always barriers or hand rails and so a relative degree of fitness and agility is required to do the full gorge walk. Sturdy foot wear is also recommended, and a walking pole can be very useful. Depending on your ability and time frame there are shorter and longer walks available, the friendly visitor welcome staff are very knowledgeable about the gorge and will be happy to advise you. Allow at least two hours to see the Devil’s Cauldron and Whitelady waterfall on either the full gorge walk or two shorter loops with a mile drive between.
In exceptional circumstances some paths might be shut due to fallen trees or flooding, and if high winds are forecast the gorge will be shut completely. Check the website or the facebook page before heading out to find out about any closures.
Food and drink
Take the opportunity to refuel at one of two tea-rooms. You can choose to stop off before, after or even half way through your walk as there is a tea-room at each of the two entrances to the gorge. They sell a range of drinks, snacks and treats including the traditional cream tea which can be enjoyed guilt free after a hike in the gorge. You could also pick up takeaway items to add to your picnic basket. Sorry only assistance dogs allowed inside the tea-rooms, outside seating is available.
Keep your eyes peeled on your walk; the gorge is teeming with wildlife. Near the river look out for grey wagtails with their bright yellow rumps, and dippers, recognisable medium sized brown birds with white chests that 'bob' on stones. Brown trout can often be spotted swimming against the current in the deeper pools. There is also a bird hide at the end of the old railway path where you can see a host of woodland birds on the feeding station.