Simonsbath to Lynton
Explore north Devon’s market towns, ports and seaside resorts
Simonsbath to Lynton itinerary
Follow the route – Simonsbath to Lynton
> From Simonsbath use unclassified roads to cross the moor southwards, and join the A399, then the B3226 for South Molton.
Visiting South Molton
Formerly important for the wool trade, but now a cattle market town and tourist centre, South Molton is known to have existed as a Saxon colony. The square is given grandeur by the Guildhall and Assembly Rooms which overlook it, and the splendid church has a magnificent tower and a remarkable stone pulpit. On the road west, the Cobbaton Combat Collection recalls World War II with tanks, artillery and radio equipment.
Places to stay in South Molton
> Follow the B3227 for 15 miles (24km) to Great Torrington.
Visiting Great Torrington
Great Torrington was a market town in Saxon times and the scene of fierce fighting in the Civil War. The original church was used as a gunpowder store but an explosion blew it to pieces. At Dartington Crystal you can watch fine crystal glass being blown, and just outside the town the Royal Horticultural Society has a garden at Rosemoor.
Things to do in Great Torrington
> Take the A386 to Bideford.
This interesting little town was a major port in the 16th and 17th centuries. There is a new high bridge for the main road, but ships still move upstream to the old stone bridge across the estuary. The Royal Hotel, which dates from 1688, was where Charles Kingsley wrote part of his novel Westward Ho! Follow the old road to Barnstaple and you will pass Instow, a resort by the dunes with colourful views across to the port of Appledore.
Tapeley Park, on the way to Instow, has Italian terraced gardens and a traditional kitchen garden.
Places to stay in Bideford
> Follow the coast road along the B3233 for around 10 miles (16km) to Barnstaple.
Barnstaple is one of North Devon’s major market towns. It was once a busy ship-building town and a port trading with America, but the River Taw became too silted in the 19th century. There are many fine examples of Georgian architecture. Queen Anne’s Walk is a pleasant colonnade, and you can still see the Tome Stone, where merchants used to set their money to make their contracts binding. The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is here, at The Square. The fine long bridge over the River Taw has 16 arches and dates from the 13th century.
AA-Rosette restaurants in Barnstaple
> Continue northwards on the A39 for Arlington.
Arlington Court is one of the few great houses of North Devon. Formerly the home of the Chichester family, it has been owned by the National Trust since 1949. Sir Francis Chichester, the yachtsman, is the most famous descendant of this old family. The house contains a rich collection of model ships and there are walks in the park and woods. During the summer there are horse-and-carriage rides between the house and the collection of old carriages kept in the stables.
Walks near Arlington
> Continue along the A39 to Blackmoor Gate.
Visiting Blackmoor Gate
Blackmoor Gate is really a road junction, but Exmoor Zoo is nearby along the A399 and provides entertainment for all the family. For the next few miles the road is narrow, winding and very steep in places, with dramatic views of coastal cliffs.
There is a short stretch of toll road, before entering the Valley of the Rocks, a gorge littered with enormous slabs of granite. Walk up to the top of Castle Rock, where the vertical drop is 800 feet (244m).
Things to do near Blackmoor Gate
> Take the A399 north and then an unclassified road via Trentishoe and Martinhoe back to Lynton.
Paired with Lynmouth, Lynton is 500ft (150m) above it, joined by a zig-zag path and a cliff railway of 1890. Lynton was just a hamlet which became a Victorian resort, and features many Victorian and Edwardian buildings and a very fanciful town hall of 1900. The Lynton and Exmouth Museum is here, and the Valley of the Rocks, to the west, has very romantic scenery.