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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 - 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.

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

Take part in an Easter trail


The trail takes place between Saturday 23 March and Sunday 14 April 2024, from 10am to 4.30pm, with last entry at 3.30pm, so come along and explore the beautiful temperate rainforest of Lydford Gorge. Prices are £3 per trail which includes an Easter trail sheet, bunny ears and dairy or vegan and Free From* chocolate egg at the end.

Follow the trail around the orchard and complete the 10 activities that are hiding along the way. Can you safely cross the 'river'? Find out how far you can fling your fish, have a go on the wall of sound, and lots more.

*Suitable for people with milk, egg, gluten, peanut and tree nut allergies.

Fun things in spring

The wild flowers really put on a show, pick up a free spotter sheet from Visitor Welcome and see how many different ones you can find. Count how many different colours you see around the gorge; make sure to breathe in all the different scents too. The wild garlic can be pretty strong, you may even smell it before you see it.

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.

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. 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 walk the Devil's Cauldron trail too you could play pooh sticks on all the bridges and see which is your favourite.
No. 44 Watch a bird
In spring the woodland birds will be singing their hearts out trying to attract a mate. Listen out for them on your walk or find a bench to stop and see what appears. Visit the bird hide at the end of the railway line to watch the birds feeding.  Great tits and blue tits especially like the peanut feeders. The chaffinches prefer to feed from the ground on the seed the other birds spill.
No. 5 Skim a stone
Find a stretch of river with a pebble area to stand on, where the river flows past nice and calm. Then see who can skim the furthest or get the biggest number of skips.
No. 8 Spot a fish
Find a high spot next to the river and watch to see what appears. Choose a dry day and look somewhere the sun is not reflecting off the water. The brown trout that live in the river can often be seen swimming in the deeper pools. If you’re lucky you might even spot them taking a fly from the surface of the water with a ‘plop’ sound.
Visitors standing on the new railway inspired bridge at Pixie Glen bridge in Lydford Gorge, Devon

Discover more at Lydford Gorge

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