Skip to content
East Lyn River at Watersmeet, Devon
Part of the route follows the East Lyn River | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Countisbury to Arnold's Linhay circular walk

This interesting walk crosses a variety of landscapes, including the rare opportunity to walk along the bottom of a deep Devon combe without having to wade through a river.

Total steps: 10

Total steps: 10

Start point

National Trust car park at Barna Barrow, grid ref: SS744497

Step 1

Walk up through Barna Barrow Car Park towards the Bristol Channel. At the top of the car park turn left and follow the grassy path to the right of a wall. When the paths fork take the left-hand route until you reach the finger post. From here you can enjoy extensive views across to Lynton and Lynmouth. Look across to Countisbury Church and aim for the pedestrian gate which is at the right-hand side of the churchyard wall. Go through the gate and through the churchyard. Follow the lane through Countisbury down to the road and into the car park of The Blue Ball Inn. Turn right out of the car park and cross the road where it is safe to do so.

Step 2

Next to the Exmoor Bunkhouse take the path to the right, signposted 'Lynmouth Watersmeet' through the metal gate. Follow the path across the field to the wooden gate. Go through the gate and walk a little way down to the finger post that reads 'Public Footpath Lynmouth 2'. Turn right here, towards Lynmouth, along the path that skirts around the small dew pond supported by a dry-stone wall. From here, there is a panoramic view down Chiselcombe to your left. On the far side of the pond the path forks. Take the left-hand path.

Step 3

Approximately 90 yd (80m) along, you'll come to another finger post on your right signed 'Countisbury/Arnold's Linhay' and 'Lynmouth' to the left. Take the grassy path to your left that skirts high along the north-west side of Chiselcombe. As you walk look over to your left to the sweeping views across the East Lyn Valley and over to the grassy swathe of another Iron Age earthworks, Myrtleberry North. You can also see a wide variety of fungi here - on trees, in the grass and on the stems of the gorse. Please do not touch or pick any as many species are poisonous.

Step 4

Go through the wooden gate. To your left is a large area of sessile oaks called Westerwood that stretches along this side of the valley all the way to the outskirts of Lynmouth. The trunks and boughs of many of the trees are covered in lichen and moss, testament to the fact that Devon has some of the cleanest air in the British Isles. Take a close look at the dry stone wall to your right as you walk along - home to a wide variety of small plants, providing an important habitat for insects. As the woodlands open out you can, for a short while, look up to your right towards the base of the Iron Age fort of Wind Hill.

Step 5

At the next fingerpost, take the fork to the left, signposted 'Lynmouth 1 1/4 miles via Arnold's Linhay', and follow this path as it winds its way down the side of the valley to the river. Keep a keen eye out for wildlife in the woods; if you're very fortunate you may see roe deer, easily identified by their white tails. This wood is also a haven for birdlife, and even in winter you'll hear birdsong competing with the rush of the East Lyn River as it makes its way to the sea. In the autumn and winter, when they are stripped of foliage, you can see the wonderful shapes made by the oaks in Westerwood as their boughs have twisted and curled in their search for light.

Step 6

As you walk through the wood look for a fingerpost on your right - it's where the path you are walking on reaches a T-junction, but it's easy to miss. At this fingerpost you turn sharp left off Arnold's Linhay, which continues on to Lynmouth, and take the path signposted 'Footpath Watersmeet 1'. You're now walking upstream with the East Lyn river on your right.

Step 7

Where the path forks there's a fingerpost signed 'Footpath Watersmeet 1 Riverside Walk' to the right and 'Footpath Watersmeet 1 Woodland Walk' to the left. Turn left and follow the path as it meanders its way along the side of the valley through the woodland.

Step 8

At the next 3-finger signpost, that has Chiselcombe written on its vertical post, turn left, signed 'Footpath Countisbury 1/2 mile.' (If you like, you can follow the path straight on at this point, signed 'Watersmeet 1/2 mile', and have one of our cream teas in the tea-garden - please check the website for opening times. You can then retrace your steps to this point and carry on with your walk).

Step 9

After a short climb, go through the wooden gate and stay on the grassy trail as it winds its way up the bottom of this steep-sided valley called Chiselcombe. During the last Ice Age the summer thawing of the top layer of permafrost resulted in a slow flow of loose rock and soil downslope, clearly visible as the large areas of scree on both sides of the path.

Step 10

At the head of the valley, you'll return to the fingerpost mentioned in point 2 of this walk. From here you can retrace your steps back to the car park at Barna Barrow. Please be careful when crossing the main road.

End point

National Trust car park at Barna Barrow. Grid ref: SS744497

Trail map

Ordnance Survey map of the Countisbury and Westerwood figure-of-eight walk
Map of the Countisbury and Westerwood figure-of-eight walk | © Crown copyright and database rights 2022 Ordnance Survey

You made it

Share your experience

More near here

A broad river rushing around rocks flows under a wooden footbridge, framed by green-leaved trees

Countisbury and Westerwood figure-of-eight walk 

Explore the varied landscape around Countisbury and Watersmeet, from open Exmoor coast path to sessile oaks, riverside paths and the impressive ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort.

DistanceMiles: 3 (km: 4.8)
Visitors at the tea garden in the 19th-century fishing lodge, surrounded by trees, at Watersmeet, Devon, with water rushing over rocks in the foreground and a footbridge crossing the river in the background

Watersmeet to Ash Bridge circular walk 

Enjoy amazing views of the Devon countryside on the Watersmeet to Ash Bridge circular walk along the East Lyn river, with the chance to spot otters and herons.

DistanceMiles: 2.2 (km: 3.52)
A small waterfall in a river

Lynmouth circular walk via Watersmeet and Countisbury 

This interesting and varied walk from a picturesque harbour town offers spectacular coastal views, woodlands, waterfalls, Iron Age archaeology and some intriguing wildlife.

DistanceMiles: 5.5 (km: 8.8)

Get in touch

Watersmeet Road, Lynmouth, Devon, EX35 6NT

Our partners

Cotswold Outdoor

We’ve partnered with Cotswold Outdoor to help everyone make the most of their time outdoors in the places we care for.

Visit website 

You might also be interested in

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

History of Watersmeet 

Discover more about Watersmeet, once a romantic retreat and fishing lodge and a popular tea-room since the early 1900s.

Rangers leading a group of visitors on guided walks around Watersmeet during the South West Outdoors Festival, Devon

Our work at Watersmeet 

From woodland and moorland management to the preservation of Iron Age hillforts, find out about our important ongoing work at Watersmeet, and how to apply if you'd like to help out.

Man canoeing down river rapids at Watersmeet

Things to see and do at Watersmeet 

From fishing to canoeing, there's an outdoor adventure to suit everyone at Watersmeet. Take a walk through ancient woodland or along the banks of the river.

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

Eating and shopping at Watersmeet 

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.

A person walking along the South West Coast Path at East Soar, South Devon


Explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.

Visitors with a dog walking through the woodland in the summer

Walking in Devon 

From rugged coastline with captivating views to gentle woodland strolls, these are some of the best walks in Devon this winter.

A group of people in a hiking group are being guided on a hike by rangers at Marsden Moor, West Yorkshire

Cotswold Outdoor: our exclusive walking partner 

Find out more about the National Trust’s ongoing partnership with Cotswold Outdoor as our exclusive walking partner.

A visitor carrying a backpack and walking along a footpath at Divis and the Black Mountain with stone walls either side, the countryside visible in the background.

Follow the Countryside Code 

Help to look after National Trust places by observing a few simple guidelines during your visit and following the Countryside Code.