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One of the prettiest places to visit in North Devon is the Valley of the Rocks in Exmoor National Park.
It’s a stunning location that is famous for its geological formations, stunning coastal views and a herd of feral goats.
I’ve been visiting the Valley of the Rocks since I was a child and always keep coming back now that I’m older.
In my opinion, this is one of the most magical places to visit in the UK. As it’s so remote, it’s like a sanctuary and it’s the perfect place for a peaceful walk in nature.
Here is how to visit the Valley of Rocks Exmoor and things to do here!
What is the Valley of the Rocks?
The Valley of the Rocks is a dry valley that is located in a dramatic location on the North Devon coastline.
It’s parallel to the sea and it’s famous for the Lynton Beds that have extraordinary rock formations. Some of these rocks are the oldest Devonian rocks ever recorded.
It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a place of natural beauty that boasts lots of wildlife and coastal flowers.
It’s also famous for its ancient herd of feral goats. They’ve been grazing here for hundreds of years and you can often see them hanging off the sharp cliffs!
Valley of the Rocks history
There are many theories as to how the Valley of the Rocks formed. One is that the East Lyn River used to flow through here and the water eroded and formed this valley.
The other is that the Lyn River was blocked during the Ice Age due to an ice sheet. The water blockage then caused a giant lake to form creating the mouth of the valley.
None of these theories can be proved and so that’s why there is so much mystery to this place on Exmoor.
There is a local legend that says Pagan Druids used to reside here. One Sunday, they were having a gathering at the Rugged Jack. The Devil appeared amongst them and turned them all to stone!
Over the years, this valley has attracted many poets and artists. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth visited the valley in 1797. They started a prose called “The Wanderings of Cain” about this valley that wasn’t finished.
Later, R. D. Blackmore wrote his famous novel ‘Lorna Doone’ and mentioned this valley in his works.
Today, it’s a popular tourist attraction in North Devon. It’s also home to the Lynton & Lynmouth Cricket Club and there are regular outdoor theatre performances that take place here.
Where is the Valley of the Rocks in Devon?
The Valley of the Rocks is in Exmoor National Park which is located in North Devon in the South West of the UK.
It’s very close to Lynton & Lynmouth, a picturesque coastal resort, and can be found in between the larger towns of Ilfracombe and Minehead.
Many people visit on a scenic walk via the South West Coast Path but you can easily drive there making it a popular tourist attraction.
Valley of the Rocks address is South West Coast Path, Lynton, EX35 6JH. Click here for a Google Pin!
How to visit Valley of the Rocks
Although Exmoor is quite a remote area, it’s really easy to visit the Valley of the Rocks.
You can approach the area by car, on foot via the South West Coast Path or the funicular that is located 20 minutes away in Lynton town.
Here are all your options for visiting the Valley of the Rocks in Exmoor;
Valley of the Rocks walk
One of the most popular ways to visit Valley of the Rocks is the short walk from the Lynton Cliff Railway Station.
If you didn’t know, Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway is one of the oldest and steepest funiculars in the UK. It gives you an easy route between Lynmouth Harbour and Lynton Town.
From the Cliff Railway Station, the Valley of the Rocks walk is only 1-mile. It will take you around twenty minutes to reach the valley via Lee Road.
Or, you can take the scenic route via the South West Coast Path which is a flat concrete path beside the coastline.
I would recommend going this way as, although the walk is a little bit longer, the panoramic views you get on this walk are breathtaking, especially on a sunny day.
Driving to Valley of the Rocks
If you were on a road trip through Exmoor National Park, it’s very easy to drive to Valley of the Rocks.
You can follow the coastal road from Lynmouth, up towards Lynton and then all the way down to the valley.
You can even drive through the valley if you wanted to as it has a public road that snakes right through it.
There is a roundabout with a turning area in the centre. So, you can always drive through the valley first to see it and then park your car afterwards to explore on foot!
Valley of the Rocks parking
There is a large parking area located at the top of the Valley of the Rocks that is only a few minutes’ walk away from the coastline. It’s called the SW Coast Path parking and is near the tearoom.
This is chargeable 7 days a week including bank holidays from the hours of 10 am to 6 pm, it’s free outside of those hours but there is no overnight parking allowed.
You can pay in cash, contactless card payments or the RingGo phone app (but fair warning, the phone signal here is rubbish). Prices start at £1 an hour.
The car park is in a very convenient location and you can follow the flat road down to the main valley area to start exploring! Just be careful as you’ll be sharing this road with other cars.
Things to do in Valley of the Rocks
When you arrive at Valley of the Rocks, the spectacular views here will take your breath away!
This area of coastline in North Devon is also known as ‘Little Switzerland’ due to its similarity to the Swiss Alps.
There are many hills and green spaces in this valley, views of the coastline and, you guessed it, lots and lots of rocks.
Here are all the things to do in Valley of the Rocks Exmoor!
1. Explore the incredible coastline
My favourite part of Valley of the Rocks is the coastline path that leads up to the valley from Lynton.
There is a flat pathway that wraps around the cliffs and you can see for miles over the peninsula. These views are some of the most magical that the Exmoor National Park has to offer.
Birdwatchers will love this walk as you can find many different species here including Peregrine falcons, Golden eagles, Red Kites, and Great egrets.
Plus, there are lots of coastal wildflowers too in pink and yellow that give the cliffs a pop of colour.
2. Climb up the rock formations
There are many hills and peaks around this valley for you to climb up and explore.
Pretty much all of the valley is open for walkers to climb and there are some fabulous rock formations to be found here. It’s a geologist’s dream.
Climbing up to the highest peaks can give you some incredible views over the cliffs too.
Just be very careful when climbing any of the hills and rock formations in the valley. Many of these have no safety barriers and the paths are very steep and uneven.
3. See the Valley of the Rocks goats
One of the favourite things to look out for here is all of the wild goats that you can see grazing in the valley.
On my most recent visit in spring, we saw lots of kids grazing too and feeding off their mothers. It was so sweet.
Always remember to keep your distance and watch from afar. Their horns are very sharp and they won’t hesitate to headbutt you if they feel intimidated. Also, do not feed them.
Although they seem wild, they are a rare herd. So, they are all protected by the local council and the Lynton Feral Goat Preservation Society. They have tags and are monitored for their safety.
Fun fact: these Lynton wild goats were recorded in the 1086 Domesday Books and the classic novel, Lorna Doone!
4. Visit the Valley of the Rocks at sunset
Although this valley is wonderful all year around. The best time to visit the Valley of the Rocks is at sunset as you can see some magical views.
Once the sun starts setting behind the hills, the valley lights up and the sky starts turning all sorts of colours like oranges, pinks and reds.
It’s absolutely stunning and makes a perfect photo opportunity. There are a few benches dotted around to relax and watch the show.
5. Visit Mother Meldrums Tea Room & Garden
If you fancy having a spot of tea or something to eat at the Valley of the Rocks you can visit Mother Meldrums Tea Room & Gardens near the car park.
They serve up Devon cream teas and homemade treats throughout the day as well as cold drinks and light lunches.
When the weather is warm, you can sit in their tea gardens and relax whilst taking in the views of the rocky valley.
It’s only open in the UK ‘summer season’ (April – October) so opening times vary. It’s best to check their Facebook page for updates.
6. Walk the South West Coast Path
The Valley of the Rocks is a very convenient place to park to explore more of the South West Coast Path in this area.
From here, you can walk over to Heddon’s Mouth, Holdstone Down, Watermouth Castle and even as far as Ilfracombe.
Or, you could head the other way and stop at the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage, Porlock Weir, Bossington Beach, Hurlstone Beach and even as far as Minehead!
Valley of the Rocks opening times and prices
As the landscape is part of Exmoor National Park it is completely FREE to visit in North Devon.
It’s also open to explore 24 hours a day but I wouldn’t recommend visiting this area at night time as there is no lighting at all!
My top tips for Valley of the Rocks
- Wear sensible shoes – The paths are flat for the Valley of the Rocks walk but if you wanted to climb up any of the formations, you should wear sensible ankle-supporting shoes.
- Wrap up – even in summer this area can get chilly due to the high winds as it’s on the coast and inclement weather is always possible as it’s England. Layer up.
- Dog-friendly – dogs are allowed to visit the Valley of the Rocks but must be kept on a lead due to the wildlife and steep cliff edges.
- Be careful on the cliffs – There are flat pathways around the area and it’s very safe. But, be careful on the edges of the cliffs as it’s a steep drop!
- Free public toilets are available – there are free accessible public toilets available near the parking area opposite the tea garden.
Looking for more things to do in Lynton & Lynmouth?
Just a mile away from Valley of the Rocks is Lynton & Lynmouth which is a scenic area to explore in North Devon. Although small, it’s as pretty as a postcard perched right beside the sea.
Lynmouth has the nickname ‘Little Switzerland’ and it’s easy to see why when you get here. You’ll find gorgeous houses along coves, rivers, and gorges!
From the bottom of the cliff railway, you can take a walk along Lynmouth Harbour to the Rhenish Tower.
Or, you can take a stroll up the cobbled Lynmouth Street to go shopping. You’ll find lots of independent shops, galleries, fudge parlours, and places selling bric-a-brac.
The Glen Lyn Gorge is really spectacular and the path takes you towards a cascade on the West Lyn River. Also, the East Lyn River to Watersmeet walk has amazing views along that gorge!