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Family-friendly things to do at Lydford Gorge

View of the suspension bridge over the River Lyd surrounded by trees at Lydford Gorge, Devon
Bridge over the river at Lydford Gorge | © National Trust Images/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.

Winter opening

From Monday 30 October 2023 only the trails to Whitelady Waterfall and the bird hide are open. The rest of the gorge trails are shut every winter for safety and essential maintenance work. This can include tree work, path work and rock face inspections, so please do not pass any locked gates. We plan to reopen from Saturday 16 March 2024, although the river path will remain closed while we work to repair a section of path damaged by a landslide.

Planning your family visit

  • All facilities, including the toilets, are closed for winter
  • Birde hide open and birds fed twice weekly
  • Nature activities on chalkboards around walking trail
  • Unsuitable for buggies or pushchairs due to uneven terrain, narrow paths and steep slopes
  • The trail has steep slopes, slippery surfaces, and un-barriered drops next to the river
A chalkboard on the walking trail at Lydford gorge, Devon. Lydford Gorge is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as it has some very rare plants. Please help us keep it special by taking only photographs and leaving only footprints.
Help keep the temperate rainforest at Lydford Gorge special. | © National Trust/Rose Cooke

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 can avoid the steps to make this route easier - there are over 200 uneven steps on the shorter path down to the waterfall. You could also take in the bird hide if you choose the green route to head back out of the gorge.

A family watching the birds from the bird hide at Lydford Gorge, Devon
Watching the birds from the bird hide at Lydford Gorge, Devon | © 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:

No. 6 Go welly wandering
Get out and about in the rain - wellies essential - and splash through the puddles and mud. Can you leave a trail of footprints? Or perhaps spot some other footprints left behind by a wild animal?
No. 19 Play Pooh sticks
The River Lyd will be flowing well after some winter rain - just right for a fast game of Pooh sticks. The suspension bridge at Whitelady Waterfall is a great place to play. Get the whole family lined up with their chosen stick to see who will win.
No. 44 Watch a bird
Why not escape to the bird hide this winter? As well as a dry place to sit - perhaps with a tasty snack - you can watch the woodland birds on the feeding station. Find the hide at the end of the railway line an easy stroll from the car park along the line of the old Great Western Railway.
No. 1 Get to know a tree
Now the trees have lost their leaves the views in the gorge can be very different. Can you see how steep the gorge is? Can you spot any funny shapes in the bark or branches?
No. 15 Go on a wintry adventure
You don’t need snow to have a wintry adventure at the gorge. On a bright frosty morning the mist hangs in the valley making it feel magical.

Planning a visit from spring 2024

We plan to reopen the gorge from Saturday 16 March. This is when the visitor welcome, tea-room, second-hand bookshop, and toilets will be open again. Plus, the Devil's Cauldron walking trail and orchard meadow will be open once more to explore.

Take in the might of the Devil's Cauldron

A short way off the main path 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's this action and the tremendous force of the water that created this giant pothole over the centuries.

Visit the orchard meadow

This is a great space to escape the crowds. There's plenty of space for picnics and free play. It's full of blossom during spring, insects in summer, and autumn colour as the season turns. During most school holidays there is a free family trail running too.

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.

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