A winter walk along the South West Coast Path from Heddon's Mouth Cleave, Exmoor
Thu Nov 08 00:00:00 GMT 2012
- Start: Heddon’s Mouth Cleave
- End: Heddon’s Mouth Cleave
- Country: England
- County: Somerset
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Hunter’s Inn
- Ordnance Survey: NULL
- Difficulty: Medium
A short but challenging walk up into a wilderness full of wildlife, high above an inspirational landscape of sea and scree
A winter walk along theSouth WestCoast Path
Discover some of the drama and exhilaration to be had in one of Somersets favourite winter coastal walks from Heddons Mouth Cleave, Exmoor
Terrain:Paths, tracks and lanes. Some very steep ascent on a rough path, and a high exposed path round the headland
Public transport:TW Coaches routes 309 and 310 travel several times a day on the A39 between Barnstaple and Lynmouth, but the nearest bus stop is at Woody Bay Station, some distance from this walk. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map on the SWCP website and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.
A short but challenging walk up into a wilderness full of wildlife, high above an inspirational landscape of sea and scree, with steep-sided valleys plunging to a stream flowing gently through peaceful woodland. The Tarka Trail is another long-distance footpath, with stretches of cycle path included along the way. It runs 180 miles in a figure of eight around northern Devon, and features locations mentioned in Henry Williamsons book Tarka the Otter. Williamson himself lived a little way down the coast, at Georgeham, and his eponymous otter is celebrated in numerous ways throughout the region.
Heddons Mouth and neighbouring Woody Bay comprise the West Exmoor Coast and Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest, because of their areas of ancient sessile oak woodland, maritime plant communities and rich bird population. There are also important geological features within the site.
Only the sessile oaks and downy birch trees flourish high up on the scree-clad slopes here; but lower down, where the soil is richer, there are clumps of rowan, holly and hazel. Bracken, ferns, bilberry and lichen also flourish, and violets and primroses in the spring and summer; while a little further around the headland, the coastal heathland, featuring heather, bell heather and gorse, provides a useful habitat for many species of insect, including moths and butterflies, and a number of bird species, including winchat, stonechat and wheatear. Coastal plants abound, too, like the pink-headed thrift and the spotted white flowers of the sea campion.Woodland birds, across the valley, include pied flycatchers, redstarts, wood warblers and woodpeckers; while this is the best place in North Devon for spotting nesting seabirds like guillemots and razorbills. Keep an eye open for peregrine falcons, too: their 120-mile-an-hour plunge after prey is a rare but spectacular sight.
For more information about this walk, and many other walks along the South West Coast Path, please visit www.southwestcoastpath.com