Skip to content

Family-friendly things to do at Lydford Gorge

Family with dog on lead walking along the river at Lydford Gorge, Devon
A family walking along the River Lyd at Lydford Gorge, Devon | © National Trust/Dianne Giles

A walk at Lydford Gorge takes you into a temperate rainforest, past cascading waterfalls and fascinating rock formations. On the way try some of our favourite '50 things to do before you're 11¾' activities and get back to nature.

Planning your family visit

  • Free entry for under 5s
  • Map with colour-coded walking routes given on entry
  • Baby-changing facilities at both toilet locations
  • High chairs and children's meals available in the tea-rooms, Devil's Cauldron tea-room has a bigger range of food choices
  • Free seasonal spotter sheets to pick up in visitor welcome
  • Nature area in the second-hand bookshop, with seating, and childrens books for sale
  • Baby carriers admitted, a limited number available on loan from visitor welcome - first come first served
  • Unsuitable for buggies or pushchairs due to uneven terrain, narrow paths and steep slopes

No swimming at Lydford Gorge

We ask visitors not to swim, however tempting, as it's not safe. If something were to go wrong the area is very inaccessible. Please avoid disturbing the wildlife and special habitats of the gorge and don't go in.

Visitors by the river at Lydford Gorge, Devon, standing on a grassy bank with large trees behind and flat shore on the nearer bank
Visitors admiring the river at Lydford Gorge, Devon | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Choice of walking trails

Railway path

Perfect for little ones to explore as this mainly flat route follows the line of the old Great Western railway to the bird hide. From here it can be made into a short circular walk with some narrower paths and steeper slopes or just return the way you came to keep it simple.

Waterfall trail

Good for a range of ages, this circular trail takes you down into the gorge, to see the 30-meter high Whitelady Waterfall. It takes around 1 hour, over pretty good paths with some slippery bare rock, and mud in places. You could also take a break half-way around to stop by the bird hide and see what's visiting the feeding station.

Devil's Cauldron trail

This slightly more challenging trail takes you into the deepest part of the gorge on a 45-minute circular one-way route. The paths can be steep, narrow and slippery in places. There the seven narrow steps, with a handrail but no barrier, that take you into the Devil's Cauldron pothole on a platform over the water - however this section can be avoided. Once in the cauldron there are dripping moss-covered rock on all sides and the water roars past just below your feet.

Tall white waterfall dropping almost vertically through the middle of green trees, feeding into a calm, reflective pool
Whitelady Waterfall in summer, Lydford Gorge, Devon | © National Trust Images/Paul Stapleton

Summer fun

Lydford Gorge is a temperate rainforest, a habitat that is globally rare. Nearly every surface is covered with plants, moss, lichen, and liverworts. As the River Lyd and Whitelady Waterfall crash through the gorge they release moisture into the air and help to keep it lush and green. While on a walk, look out for chalkboards to learn some river factoids, plus try out some fun, moss-themed activities.

The orchard meadow at the Devil’s Cauldron entrance has space to explore and plenty of room for picnics.

Stop by the second-hand bookshop and leave us a thought or a drawing on our Comment Tree.

Moss and more trail

Saturday 20 July to Monday 2 September, running every day between 10am and 4pm.

Free event (admission applies), booking not needed. Pick up a trail sheet from the visitor welcome team.

Follow the trail around the orchard to investigate the tiny world of moss and how by making tiny changes we can help tackle climate change.

Please note there's some rough ground and slopes, sorry it's not buggy friendly, dogs on leads are welcome.

Rainy day adventures

Don't let rain keep you inside – being a temperate rainforest, Lydford Gorge is real adventure when it’s raining. So put on your waterproofs and get outside. There are plenty of puddles to splash in and the raindrops on the river make some mesmerising patterns. Water trickles down the rock faces and over the ferns and mosses as it makes it way to the river, creating an ever-changing soundscape as you walk through.

Try out some ‘owl ears’ to get the full effect. Cup your hands behind your ears and turn you head to intensify the different sound around you.

Family standing on bridge looking for fish in the river at Lydford Gorge, Devon
Family looking for fish in the river at Lydford Gorge | © National Trust/Dianne Giles

Join in with '50 things to do before you're 11¾’

Lydford Gorge is a perfect place for ticking lots of things off the list. Here are some suggestions to get you started this summer:

No. 8 Spot a fish
Brown trout live in the River Lyd and can often be seen swimming in the deeper pools. To be in with the best chance of spotting a fish, choose a dry day and from a high spot next to the river look somewhere the sun is not reflecting off the water.
No. 19 Play Pooh sticks
The suspension bridge at Whitelady Waterfall is a great place to play Pooh sticks. The whole family can line up with their chosen stick to see whose will win. If you also choose to hike the Devil's Cauldron trail then you could play Pooh sticks on all the bridges and see which is your favourite.
No. 4 Build a den
Try using the trunk of one of the bigger trees in the orchard meadow to build a den against.
No. 50 Take a friend on a nature adventure
The Devil’s Cauldron trail and Whitelady Waterfall trail both have some lovely temperate rainforest habitat. See mosses, liverworts, and ferns, that love the damp and shady environment on the Devil's Cauldron trail. Descend into the ancient woodland with its tall trees on the Waterfall trail. Follow the colour-coded route on the map to find your way.
Visitors standing on the new railway inspired bridge at Pixie Glen bridge in Lydford Gorge, Devon

Discover more at Lydford Gorge

Find out when Lydford Gorge is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

Family with two children and a dog on a short lead walking along the railway path in spring with wild garlic in flower, Lydford Gorge, Devon

Bringing your dog to Lydford Gorge 

Lydford Gorge is a two pawprint rated place. Discover how to have a dog-friendly visit, including where to walk, what to be aware of and what facilities are available for your four-legged friend.

A stylised photograph looking down on table with a cream tea for two, with scones and jam and mugs of tea.

Eating and shopping at Lydford Gorge 

Discover where to eat and drink when visiting Lydford Gorge, what’s on the menu and the literary gems you’ll find in the second-hand bookshop.

The base of Whitelady Waterfall in spring as it flows down the moss covered rock face into a deep pool, Lydford Gorge, Devon

Lydford Gorge Waterfall trail 

This rugged circular walk descends into steep-sided Lydford Gorge, to the foot of the 30-metre high Whitelady Waterfall, before returning through oak woods abundant with wildlife.

DistanceMiles: 1 (km: 1.6)
The River Lyd flowing through the deep ravine of Lydford Gorge with green plants on the steep banks.

Devil's Cauldron Trail 

Immerse yourself in the deepest part of the gorge where the River Lyd crashes through a rocky landscape, and brave the Devil's Cauldron pothole on a platform over the water.

DistanceMiles: 0.8 (km: 1.28)
A family watching the birds from the bird hide at Lydford Gorge, Devon

Lydford Gorge Railway Path 

Take an easy stroll along the line of the old Great Western Railway, passing through deep cuttings that have now returned to nature.

DistanceMiles: 0.8 (km: 1.28)
Three children and an adult use twigs to build a den in woodland at Killerton Devon in the summer

Family-friendly places around Devon and Exmoor 

From rock pooling on beautiful beaches to exploring historic houses, there are plenty of places to enjoy a great family day out. .

Girl playing with a football on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset in summer

‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’ 

Fancy running free in the fresh air, learning new skills and trying new things? Grab your gear and start your adventure.

Three rangers working from ropes on the steep slopes of Lydford Gorge, Devon

Our work at Lydford Gorge 

At Lydford Gorge in Devon we're putting a pause on a section of the gorge walking trail, which has become unsafe to open, while we assess the effects of a changing climate on the rare temperate rainforest it contains.