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Things to see and do at Watersmeet

Man canoeing down river rapids at Watersmeet
Canoeing at Watersmeet | © National Trust Images/Tracey Blackwell

Whether you’re looking for a stroll, a hike or a spot of canoeing or fishing, the area around Watersmeet, Exmoor has a wide variety of trails and landscapes to explore. From the sea cliffs of Countisbury to the wooded East Lyn river, there are outdoor activities for everyone to discover.

Canoeing at Watersmeet

Canoeing is possible on the East Lyn River from Watersmeet House down to Lynmouth between 1 October and 31 March if there's enough water.

Read about how you can help avoid spreading non-native species on clothes, equipment and boats.

Safety notice

Please be aware there are set points to access the water and that the East Lyn is one of the most difficult rivers to canoe in England (grade 5 in places) and should only be attempted by experienced canoeists. There’s a gauge under the bridge at Watersmeet House: if the water level is green you’re welcome to canoe. If the water level is red, it's too low for safe paddling. 

A man in a purple top fishing in the East Lyn river at Watersmeet
Fishing in the East Lyn river | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Fishing at Watersmeet

Day and week permits are available from Watersmeet House and other local businesses. The full list of fishery regulations are printed on the rear of the permits.

  • Salmon season runs from 1 March - 30 September (no worm or maggot before 16 June, catch and release of all salmon is mandatory for the whole season).
  • Sea trout and brown trout season runs from 15 March - 30 September (no worm or maggot for sea trout before 16 June, catch and release of all sea trout is mandatory for the whole season, brown trout fishing by artificial fly only).
  • All salmon and sea trout (including school peal) must be returned to the river alive. This applies for the whole of the season.
  • Worm or maggot may be fished from 16 June, with the exception of Long Pool where these baits are prohibited for the whole of the season.
  • Worm or maggot is only allowed if fished on a single Circle patterned hook, no larger than a standard size 4. We recommend the use of barbless hooks for all methods (ideally singles for flies and lures), to reduce damage to released fish.

Towering cliffs of Exmoor

The towering cliffs of Foreland Point and Countisbury are worth exploring when you visit this part of Exmoor. They’re some of the highest sea cliffs in England and have views towards Wales.

A good place for a short walk from your car is Countisbury, or if you’re feeling more energetic, take a longer walk along the South West Coast Path.

Go wildlife spotting

Look out for otters, red deer, buzzards, dippers, heron and a variety of flowers and insects. You may spot the local whortleberry, a small bluish black berry often used to make jam. Like a wild bilberry, it grows on shrubs from July to August.

Places to stop and unwind

A short walk upstream from Watersmeet House is Ash Bridge, a tranquil spot surrounded by crystal-clear waters and shady ancient woodland. Look out for dippers bobbing on the rocks, and if you’re lucky, the salmon that come here to breed.

Wilsham, near Countisbury is a great place to see the famous Exmoor ponies, and you may even spot some red deer and birds of prey too. Stop for an in-car picnic and make the most of the far-reaching views.

Combe Park is just up the road from Watersmeet and is an ideal place for kids to play in the river or explore the woods.

The house at Watersmeet surrounded by bright orange autumn trees

Discover more at Watersmeet

Find out how to get to Watersmeet, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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The indoor seating area at Watermeet, full of colour and life, decorated with bold colour on the walls and flowers on each table.

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After a walk or a spot of canoeing, grab a bite to eat or a drink at Watersmeet tea-room. You can also pick up a pre-loved treasure from the second-hand bookshop.

The outside of the tea room at Watersmeet, with tables and an umbrella

History of Watersmeet 

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