Lynton and Lynmouth, England
The twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth are the gateway to ‘England’s Little Switzerland’, the wilds of Exmoor. Each has its own character: Lynmouth is a quintessential seaside town, with a harbour full of fishing boats, while hilltop Lynton is elegant and Victorian. However, they share a sleepy, old-world charm that makes them an ideal location from which to base a tour of North Devon.
Odyssey Traveller makes a visit to this quaint village as part of our tour of Devon and Cornwall. Designed to delve into the long history of this English region with a Celtic twist, we visit Tintagel Castle on the north Cornish coast, held in the legends of King Arthur to be the birthplace of the mytical king, and the famous Glastonbury Tor, associated with Celtic mythology.
As we wind our way down the magnificent Cornish coastline, we see some of England’s most striking and varied scenery, ranging from the granite headland of Land’s End, to the subtropical Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly. We pass along country lanes and through charming towns, including St Austell, Penzance, and Newquay.
Since 1983, Odyssey Traveller has specialised in educational tours for active mature and senior travellers. Our tours are designed for guests who want to learn as they travel, developing an authentic sense of place. We travel as a small group, led by an experienced travel director and local guides chosen for knowledge and expertise.
Our tour price generally includes accommodation, attraction costs, and the majority of meals. For more information, click here.
About Lynton and Lynmouth
The two villages are closely intwined, both geographically and culturally. Lynmouth, the busier and older of the two, sits on Devon’s north coast, while Lynton sits 700 feet (210 metres) above and is accessible by a cliff railway. The two towns share a local council, and together have a population of around 1,600.
The fishing village of Lynmouth appears to have become a tourist destination in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It attracted Romantic poets and artists, who sought inspiration for their work in the surrounding wilderness of Exmoor. For the painter Thomas Gainsborough, who honeymooned there with his wife, Margaret Burr, it was ‘the most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast’.
The Romantic poet, Robert Southey, gave it the title ‘England’s Little Switzerland’, while Percy Bysshe Shelley stayed in Lynmouth with his wife and sister-in-law in 1812, writing political pamphlets and his first long poetic work, Queen Mab.
By the end of the 19th century, Lynmouth had become accessible to the mass numbers of tourists who travelled by railway. As Lynmouth became crowded with tourists, the newspaper publisher Sir George Newnes paved the way for the development of Lynton.
Though little known today, Newnes played a crucial role in many of the cultural events of the late Victorian Era. Considered the ‘founding father’ of popular journalism, he was the editor of The Strand magazine, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries were first published. Newnes financed the British Antarctic Expedition 1898-1900, which preceded the more famous journeys made by Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton. Having fallen in love with the area, Newnes built an elaborate clifftop mansion, Hollerday House, at the top of the cliffs.
Though the area that would become Lynton had been home to an church since the 13th century, it was barely developed. Newnes financed the building of the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway, the gala opening of which was attended by celebrities from around Britain, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and contributed to the building of several other buildings in the new town, including the Town Hall.
The cliff railway remains in operation today, with the only addition a new track built in 1908, and is a charming way to go from one town to another. Though Newnes’s mansion, Hollerday House, would burn down under mysterious circumstances in 1913, Lynton remains shaped by his legacy, a showcase of late 19th and early 20th century civic architecture.
Exmoor National Park
Lynton and Lynmouth are the ideal point from which to launch your tour of Exmoor National Park. A high plateau above the sea, the moors of Exmoor are among the highest land in southern England, and among the wildest. Exmoor has the highest and most remote coast in England, lined with craggy cliffs that are often inaccessible by either boat or land.
The Valley of Rocks is a dry valley with panoramic sea views. It is well known for the wild goats that roam over the cliff edges. In 1797, the site was visited by the Romantic poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The poets were inspired to write a prose tale called ‘The Wanderings of Cain’, but it was never completed. The valley has also inspired the Australian composer Miriam Hyde, who wrote the piano piece Valley of Rocks, after a 1974 visit with her husband.
The national park is home to over three thousand red deer, England’s largest wild land animals. Deer have lived on Exmoor since prehistoric times while in the Middle Ages, Exmoor was strictly protected as a Royal Forest, to provide hunting grounds and a source of venison to the King.
Exmoor was also the first place in Europe to be named an International Dark Sky Reserve, which recognised the national park’s particularly starry skies. Here, stargazers can easily marvel at distant wonders: while in the city, roughly 200 stars are visible to the naked eye, on Exmoor, it is easy to see over 3000 stars. The National Park Authority runs night time strolls, and rents out telescopes to aid in gazing.
On the eastern edge of Exmoor is the charming medieval village of Dunster, home to the fairy tale-like Dunster Castle. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 13th century, though the turrets were built in the 19th in neo-medieval style. Inside, the castle is filled with Tudor furnishings, 17th century plasterwork, and a grand staircase. Guided tours are on offer, with one taking you ‘behind the scenes’ to see how the servants lived and worked.
Articles about England published by Odyssey Traveller:
- Why Join a Small Group Tour?
- Ten Things We Never Knew About London
- Exploring Newcastle upon Tyne
- Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England
- Life in the Medieval British Village
- Victorian England Rural Life
- Queen Victoria’s Britain
- New Discoveries About Britain’s Stone Circles
- Dry Stone Walls: An Alternative History of the British Isles
- British Village Icons: Pubs and Cottages
- Roman Roads in Britain
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to England:
- Getting Around Devon
- Travel Devon
- 10 Must Visit Beaches in Devon
- Visiting the Beautiful Cornwall Region of England
- 48 hours in. . . Cornwall, an insider guide to England’s wild west
- Ten books about Walking in Britain from the Guardian
- UNESCO World Heritage sites of Britain
- Neolithic Britain (British Museum)
- Guide to Neolithic Britain (Country File)
- History: Middle Ages (BBC)
- An Introduction to Medieval England (English Heritage)
- The top 9 UK countryside breaks for 2018 (Country Living)
- 21 Most Beautiful Villages in the UK (Travel Away)
- These are the top 10 most picturesque towns, villages and cities in England (House Beautiful)
Updated August 2021.
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