North Devon coast classic

NEAREST LOCATION

Lee Bay

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

8 miles (12.9kms)

ASCENT
426ft (130m)
TIME
4hrs
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Hard
STARTING POINT
SS457452

About the walk

This walk is included because it is simply beautiful. Although this part of the North Devon coast is very popular with holidaymakers, you can escape pretty quickly. Just a few minutes' walk from the car park you will see tremendous views of the coast opening up to the left. On a clear day you can see the Gower Peninsula in South Wales, and within half an hour you've left civilisation behind. It's a wonderfully varied route, too. You'll pass the ancient farmstead at Damage Barton to cross a lovely area of unimproved meadowland and penetrate deep down into the wooded Borough valley to discover the secluded cove at Lee Bay. This is followed by a tough walk along the coast path to the jagged headland of Morte Point, off which the white horses of the strong tidal race rage. It's a walk that shouldn't be rushed – take it gently and revel in the peace and solitude.

Fuchsia valley

Lee Bay is a very special place. The small village, with many cottages dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, lies along a narrow, winding lane running down to an attractive rocky cove. It's one of those places that many people never discover. Its sheltered position has encouraged a wealth of flowers, including hedges of naturalised fuchsia bushes.

Tennyson said of St Mary Magdalene Church in Mortehoe 'that tower of strength which stood four-square to all the winds that blew', and you certainly get a feeling of solidity when you look at the little Norman church, with its tower dating from around 1270. In a sheltered position just inland from Morte Point, it was probably founded in 1170 by Sir William de Tracey, and it may be his tomb that lies in the south transcept. The church is dark, pretty and simple. There is some glorious stained glass, and a superb mosaic chancel arch, completed in 1905.

Walk directions

Take the lane opposite the car park to 'Lighthouse & Lee'. Pass North Morte Farm Camping & Caravanning Park to reach the lane end at the private road to Bull Point lighthouse.

Follow the footpath to the right of the right-hand gate across Easewell Farm campsite. Continue ahead between buildings as signed (to Lee); pass a pond and through a gate. Bear left uphill across the field to a footpath post, and continue along a track uphill to a gate/stile into a field. Keep the hedge on the left, descend through a gate; keep along the left edge of the next field, and through a gate/stile on to a tarmac drive.

Bear left, following signs through Damage Barton Farm, bearing right as signed (Burrough Woods) at the end of the buildings. After a few steps a footpath sign directs you left. Soon after, another sign points right, then left through a gate. Bear right uphill through gorse to reach a footpath post. Go right towards another signpost, fork right, then follow the track through a gate. Head up the field to the next signpost atop a small hill on the left. Turn left through a gate, then bear half right across the field to a lane via a stile.

Cross the lane and over a stile into an 'Open Access area'. Follow the footpath across the meadow. Cross over a stile and go steeply downhill into the wooded Borough Valley. At the bottom turn left over a stile.

Follow the stream down the valley to the bottom of the wood; turn right over a bridge and stile. Cross the field then a stile and turn right up the lane to The Grampus Inn.

Retrace your steps down the path past toilets to the rocky cove at Lee Bay. Turn left steeply uphill and follow the coast path right through a gate. Follow the path down steps to pass the access to Sandy Cove (see below). Continue on to reach a gate/footbridge/gate in a deep combe, then a steep ascent. A gate leads to a descent into another combe and rocky Bennetts Mouth. Cross the footbridge/gate and continue across cliffs above Bull Point, passing to the left of the lighthouse.

If the tide's out when you reach Lee Bay, you can make a short diversion to the route to get to Sandy Cove. When you reach Lee Bay, walk across the beach left, near the cliff, and along a deep gully through the rocks – with wonderful rockpools – to reach Sandy Cove. You rejoin the main route by climbing up a steep flight of wooden steps to the coast path.

Follow the coast path towards Morte Point. Go through a gate into a small combe – 91 steps ascend the other side. Cross Windy Lag and go through a gate to reach Rockham Bay, where steps lead to the beach. Ascend steps and follow the path on to Morte Point, passing through two gates on the way.

Follow the coast path past Windy Cove. Go through a gate, walk past Grunta Beach, then follow signs left, parallel to the road and steeply uphill, to regain the road via a gate by The Old Chapel. Turn left uphill to return to the car park.

Additional information

Fields, tracks and coast path, many stiles

Rolling farmland, wooded valleys and cliff tops

Keep on lead near livestock and unfenced cliffs

OS Explorer 139 Bideford, Ilfracombe & Barnstaple

Station Road car park, Mortehoe

Lee Bay and car park at Mortehoe

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Walking in safety

Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

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About the area

Discover Devon

With magnificent coastlines, two historic cities and the world-famous Dartmoor National Park, Devon sums up all that is best about the British landscape. For centuries it has been a fashionable and much loved holiday destination – especially south Devon’s glorious English Riviera.

Close to the English Riviera lies Dartmoor, one of the south-west’s most spectacular landscapes. The National Park, which contains Dartmoor, covers 365 square miles and includes many fascinating geological features – isolated granite tors and two summits exceeding 2,000 feet among them. 

Not surprisingly, in Dartmoor the walking opportunities are enormous. Cycling in the two National Parks is also extremely popular and there is a good choice of off-road routes taking you to the heart of Dartmoor and Exmoor. Devon’s towns and cities offer stimulating alternatives to the rigours of the countryside.