Walking

Walking trail

Horner's Neck Wood extended walk, Countisbury

Walking trail

An interesting walk that 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.

The walk goes through a large sessile oak woodland noted for its beauty, traverses an ancient linhay and passes alongside one of the most important Iron Age forts in Devon. It is rich in wildlife with the possibility of seeing deer and otters.

National Trust oak leaf sign showing the land that we care for

Map

Map route for Horner's Neck Wood extended walk, Countisbury

Start:

National Trust car park at Countisbury, grid ref: SS747496

1

Walk out of the National Trust car park at Countisbury to the main road and turn right. Please be aware of traffic as this is a public road. Walk down the hill in the direction of Lynmouth, with the inn on your left and a row of cottages to your right. Countisbury is thought to mean 'camp on the headland' and comes from the spectacular Iron Age fort on Wind Hill about ½ mile (800m) west of the Blue Ball Inn.

2

Cross the road at the end of the row of cottages and take the signposted National Trust Centenary path. Follow this to the right, signposted 'Lynmouth Watersmeet', through the metal gate and across a field to a wooden gate. Go through the gate and walk a few paces down to the fingerpost that signs 'Footpath Lynmouth 2 miles', 'Winstons Footpath Watersmeet' and 'Countisbury Off Road Path.' Turn right here towards Lynmouth, along the path that skirts around the small dam supported by the dry stone ditch. From here, there's a panoramic view down Chiselcombe to your left. A 'combe' is the local name given to a steep-sided valley.

3

Approximately 90yd (80m) along you'll come to another fingerpost signed 'Countisbury' to the right 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. In the autumn, bright yellow gorse flowers colour this section of the walk and on a sunny day fill the air with their coconut fragrance. 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.

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. 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.

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5

At the next fingerpost, take the fork to the left, signposted 'Lynmouth 1 ¼ 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're 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.

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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 turn sharp left off Arnold's Linhay, which continues on to Lynmouth, and take the path signposted 'Watersmeet-Rockford'. You're now walking upstream with the East Lyn River on your right.

7

Where the path forks there's a fingerpost signed 'Watersmeet Riverside Walk' to the right and 'Watersmeet 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 to Watersmeet House.

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8

Before continuing your walk up the East Lyn Valley, cross the two wooden bridges to the right of the house and take a look at the waterfalls at the confluence of the East Lyn River and Hoar Oak Water. Return across the bridges to the house and turn right to follow the path up the East Lyn River, past the house on your left and keeping the river on your right. Follow the path signed 'Public Footpath and Fishermans Path Rockford and Brendon'.

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9

Stay on the path to another finger post - follow the sign to Brendon. The path climbs a little way up the side of the valley before coming back down to the water's edge when you enter Barton Woods. Follow the path by the side of the river, still to your right, until you can see Ash Bridge - a footbridge over the river - ahead of you.

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10

Do not go as far as the footbridge. About 33yd (30m) before the bridge, take the path up to the left signposted Countisbury. Follow the path uphill, with a small brook to your right, until you come to a signpost. Don't go right through the gate, but instead turn to left up the steep steps through Horner's Neck Wood. As you walk up the steps along this steep section give thought to the rangers who carried in the tools, stones and wood needed to build them - quite a task as the nearest vehicle access is a good distance away. This is a good place to see pioneer trees - young growth that indicates that woodland is growing and thriving. Follow the path as it goes uphill and then undulates through the woodland, stopping a while at the bench where the view opens out to your left there's a wonderful view down the East Lyn Valley and across to the grassy swathe of Wind Hill fort.

11

Stay on this path until you reach a T-junction; there's a gate to your right that is overgrown. This is another good spot to look for deer. Turn left here and follow the path through the opening in the dry stone wall - watch out for grey squirrels running acrobatically through the trees. Follow the path through the woods until you come to a finger signpost in a clearing. Turn right here through the gate signed 'Countisbury ½ mile'.

12

Follow the wide grassy path through the gorse, up onto Trilly Ridge. Go into the field and walk to the waymark ahead of you.

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13

Turn back round and carry on walking across the field to the top right corner to a signpost showing 'Countisbury'. On a clear day there are far-reaching views cross the Bristol Channel to Wales. Go through the field gate and walk straight along the grassy track back towards Countisbury, through a couple more gates until you reach the main road. Please be careful here and watch out for traffic. Turn left and walk a short distance back to the car park.

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End:

National Trust car park at Countisbury, grid ref: SS747496

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Horner's Neck Wood extended walk, Countisbury

Terrain

This circular walk follows footpaths, grassy tracks, uneven stony paths and steps across hilly terrain. There are a some steep inclines.

Dogs welcome; please keep on lead if there is livestock in surrounding fields. No litter bins along the trail so please take back with you. Thank you.

Horner's Neck Wood extended walk, Countisbury

Contact us

Horner's Neck Wood extended walk, Countisbury

How to get here

Address
Countisbury, North Devon, EX35 6NE
By train

Barnstaple 20 miles (32km); Minehead 15.7 miles (25km).

By road

National Trust car park at Countisbury 2.7 miles (4.5km) out of Lynmouth or 15.7 miles (25km) from Minehead on A39, opposite Blue Ball Inn. Postcode for Sat Nav: EX35 6NE.

By foot

Access via the South West Coast Path.

By bus

Service 39, Minehead to Lynmouth, alight Blue Ball Inn, Countisbury.

By bicycle

National Cycle Network Regional Route 51 passes near the property.

Horner's Neck Wood extended walk, Countisbury

Facilities and access

  • National Trust tea-room, toilets and garden at Watersmeet House
  • Dogs welcome; please keep on lead if there is livestock in surrounding fields