Exploring the Heddon Valley
Heddon Valley is a deep wooded river valley reaching inland down to the sea. Explore the natural woodland with riverside walks suitable for families, or try a longer hike up steep sided slopes. Discover the best places to see in Heddon Valley and find out about the area's accessible routes.
Places to explore in Heddon Valley
Follow the level path alongside the river and take shade under oak trees as you stroll. As you approach Heddon’s Mouth you’ll be able to hear the sounds of the Atlantic ocean. The space begins to open out to high steep sided rocky slopes that dominate the skyline. Wander further to the pebbly beach at the end of the path.
Look out for native brown trout fish in the river that can often be seen. A tell-tale sign that fish are in the area is a sudden splash of water on the surface as they quickly retreat to deeper levels. Listen out for woodland birds hiding in the tree or you may see herons and dippers by the river.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle, Woody Bay is the perfect location. Walk down the steep track to the secluded pebble beach which is towered over by cliffs. Look out for and listen to the sounds of seabirds soaring overhead. It’s fantastic place to dip your toes in the water or for a quiet family picnic.
Look out for moorland birds such as golden plover and warblers.
For an adventurous energetic hike venture towards Hangman Hills. Pass along well-worn miners’ paths and see old iron ore works at Blackstone point. The towering sea cliffs and moorland scenery offer strenuous walking opportunities that are rewarded with far reaching views over Combe Martin and the Bristol Channel.
On a clear day you’ll be able to see as far as Wales in the distance. Look out for dolphins and sea birds such as gulls and razorbills.
A short but steep walk rewards you with good views across the Heddon Valley and along the coast to Woody Bay. Look out for peregrines, deer, porpoise, dolphins and one of the best sea bird colonies in the South West.
Holdstone and Trentishoe Downs
These apparently unspoilt heathlands have been marked by human activity for millennia with evidence of Bronze Age huts and cairns. Beneath the heather lie the remains of mortar positions, a tank turret and shell casings from military exercises in the 1940s.
Today the low lying heather provides a habitat for a variety of wildlife, including one of the UK’s rarest butterflies, the high brown fritillary. This is one of only four sites in the country where they thrive in good numbers, thanks to careful habitat maintenance by the ranger team. Look out for them resting on top of thistles in the riverside meadows or flying in the sunny bracken slopes between June and July.
Protecting butterfly habitats
Over many years, we have been working towards improvements for the butterfly habitats. There are complexes of bracken slopes which, when maintained correctly, provide perfect habitat for the rare high brown fritillary to thrive.
As well as the high brown, the work is beneficial to a lot of other butterflies. On his weekly surveys Ranger Dan has recorded up to 11 species on these sites. These include other fritillary species, such as the dark green, small pearl-bordered and silver-washed.
Planning your visit
A walks leaflet is available as a useful guide as well as a souvenir. Six circular walks are featured including information on the area. The leaflet can be purchased from the information centre at the Heddon Valley for £2.
Tide times for Heddon's Mouth can be found here.
Two accessible routes starting from the Heddon Valley have been put in place following partnership working with Countryside Mobility South West. There’s a 2 mile circular route to Heddon’s Mouth and a 5 mile linear route to Woody Bay. Both routes take in the natural woodland and clifftop views along the West Exmoor coastline.
These routes are suitable for all-terrain mobility scooters and also pushchairs so the whole family can come along too. Both routes cover challenging terrain so we recommend that you have prior experience of using a Tramper before attempting these routes.
Booking the Tramper mobility scooter
We recommend that you book your Tramper mobility scooter in advance as they are very popular and an instructor must be present on the day of your hire. On your first visit you need to allow 30 minutes to complete a short form and to have a Tramper driving lesson. You must be aged over 14. If you are under 18 you will need a parent or guardian's permission. You must be accompanied by a walking companion throughout your journey.
Please note: the Tramper is available all year round but it is essential to book by calling 01598 763402. Please leave a message as this line is not answered every day.
Countryside Mobility membership
If you are not already a member you can sign you up at the Heddon Valley Shop as a Countryside Mobility taster or as an annual member. A small Countryside Mobility membership fee applies. If you're already a Countryside Mobility member please bring along your membership card on the day of hire.
Find out where to eat and drink in this wooded valley on Exmoor, from classic pub lunches in the historic Hunters Inn to takeaway food and ice cream from The Pantry.
Find out more about the history of The Hunters Inn and Woody Bay. Discover tales of fraud and fire and how the estate became increasingly popular with Victorian tourists.
The Orchard Workshop in the heart of the Heddon Valley is a versatile space that can be booked for a variety of events and activities. It’s also a great spot for a picnic.
Discover how the West Exmoor ranger team look after 1,200 acres of woodland, an area roughly the size of 16,000 tennis courts, containing around 400,000 trees.
Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.
The beaches and coast along the rugged Devon landscape are ideal for a day out with the family. Take a coastal walk in the fresh air or enjoy games on the beach.
There's a network of woodland paths and trails to await you in Devon from riverside walks to gentle hill climbs with far-reaching views. Keep the family interested this winter with a visit to Devon.