Situated at the western edge of Exmoor national park, in Devon but very close to the border with Somerset, Lynton and Lynmouth are sister towns that are connected to each other by a funicular railway (the only of its kind in the UK, but we’ll get to that later in the post!).
Sometimes called “the Switzerland of England” because of the beautiful views of its hills that can be enjoyed from the water, Lynmouth is a popular coastal town with plenty of attractions to enjoy. With beautiful rolling hills and harbour scenery, it is definitely is one of the most beautiful places in north Devon. Lynton is quieter, but is the gateway to the Valley of the Rocks and the South West Coastal path.
How to get to Lynmouth and Lynton
Lynmouth and Lynton are located on the western edge of Exmoor National Park. If travelling from elsewhere in Devon or Cornwall, you will be following A roads (potentially the A39) to Lynton. If you want to drive down to Lynmouth, be ready for a very steep road with lots of turns!
From elsewhere, take the M5 to Taunton and drive through Exmoor to get to Lynton and Lynmouth.
There are a few car parks available in both towns, with rates at around £1 per hour.
Things to do in Lynton and Lynmouth
A lot of these small Exmoor villages, while incredibly picturesque, don’t have a huge amount in the way of attractions – often just walking around them is the main attraction. This couldn’t be further from the truth for Lynmouth and Lynton. There are so many things to do in the sister villages – we spent a whole day there!
The Valley of Rocks
My favourite part of Lynton, and located just outside the village, the Valley of Rocks are mesmerising. The prehistoric rocky outcrop was made during the last ice age, and they are a really unique natural attraction that you won’t find anywhere else in Exmoor. This makes it undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Lynton and Lynmouth.
The path is paved, so it is relatively accessible and easy to explore, but for those who want a bit more of an adventure, you can climb up the rocky hillsides to reach the peaks of the rocks. Just make sure to stick to marked pathways and be very careful at the top – there is no railing!
From the Valley of Rocks, you can follow the path to reach Lynton, and from there descend into Lynmouth.
Taking the zig-zag path down to Lynmouth, you can enjoy the poetry dotted en route. This is poet’s walk, named so because of the poets who used to be inspired by the landscape of Exmoor. Most notable is perhaps Coleridge – Lynmouth is located at the the end of the 50 mile Coleridge trail. This long distance walking route starts in the Quantocks in Somerset and encompasses some of the natural beauty featured in his poetry. Famous poets Wordsworth and Shelley also visited the sister villages.
The view of Lynmouth is really something special. Green hillsides dotted with coloured houses and a harbour looking out to sea make up this landscape, which has been called the ‘Switzerland of England’ (despite Switzerland being nowhere near the sea…). Many people come to Lynmouth for the view alone, and I certainly don’t blame them. It really is something special.
Top tip: if you are in Ilfracombe, you can take a boat trip to see Lynmouth from the sea; it is even more spectacular at this vantage point. There is also a stop to see a seal colony and a waterfall
Flood Memorial Hall
The coastal location of Lynmouth is a blessing and a curse; it has proved vital for the towns’ economies by enabling their two main industries over the years (fishing and tourism), but it has also caused multiple boats heading out to sea to be destroyed and the passengers to drown.
The flood memorial hall discusses the establishment of the RNLI in the village and how they have saved people out at sea. It’s a sobering reminder that, while people in these villages have been using the sea for centuries, it can be extremely treacherous.
The Lyn model railway is one of the best things to do in Lynmouth. It is based on a British train network in 1935-40, and is a must visit for railway enthusiasts. However, it is still worth a visit for people who don’t know anything about trains; the intricate features are incredibly interesting. Entry is free, but donations are appreciated.
This is where Lynmouth and Lynton get interesting. The funicular railway is the only still functioning fully powered water railway in the UK; it operates on water from the Lyn River and works by gradually displacing the water and balancing the two carriages, which run at the same time. There used to be a few of these in the country, including one in Clifton, Bristol, but all of the others have been discontinued.
You can take a ride on the Grade-II listed funicular railway for £3 each way, enjoying sweeping views of Lynmouth as you progress up or down. At the top, there is a Cliff Top Cafe – the perfect place for afternoon tea.
This one is just a quick Lynton attraction! Look out for the independent Lynton cinema while walking around; it is the smallest UK town to have its own cinema. If you are staying, of course, you might want to check out a movie there.
This National Trust managed area is one of the countries deepest river gorges and is the meeting place of the River Lyn and Hoar Oak Water. Watersmeet is a great area for some short walks, and there are even some more adrenaline boosting activities like canoeing on offer!
Once you’ve done exploring, have a rest at Watersmeet House, which is a fishing lodge from the 19th century and has the title of England’s oldest Edwardian tea room. Watersmeet is a ten minute drive from Lynmouth, up some not-very-enjoyable country roads.
Glen Lyn Gorge
Another must-do for nature loving visitors to the town is exploring the Glen Lyn Gorge. Here, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the gorge – which is partially accessible for mobility reduced travellers – and learn about how hydropower is used as a renewable source of energy for the village! The entrance of Glen Lyn Gorge is located in Lynmouth itself, just a few steps from the centre.
Where to eat in Lynmouth
Most of the dining options are in Lynmouth rather than Lynton. We ate at the Pavilion, which offers very affordable pub-style food with a terrace with a fantastic view. They have plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options. Also extremely popular was the Esplanade Fish Bar, which had a queue going around the block – so it must be good! Also on our list was Rock House, which has a menu full of traditional seaside pub food (ie. fish and British staples) and a lovely outside gardens.
Where to stay in Lynmouth
Many tourists just pass through Lynmouth, but if you want to stay I don’t blame ya, it’s a lovely place. There are lots of small B&Bs in town; including the aforementioned Rock House, which is right by the waterfront and offers homely, individual styled rooms. Click here for more information.
Another option is the highly rated Lyn Valley Guest House, which offers a delicious included breakfast and has very hospitable hosts. Click here to read more.
There isn’t much in the way of budget accommodation in Lynmouth, so if you are looking for somewhere relatively cheap, I would recommend camping in Exmoor or looking for accommodation in nearby Minehead, where there is more of a range of options. Click here to see Minehead hotels.
Undecided about where you want to stay in Devon? Here is my where to stay in Devon – towns guide.
Things to do in Lynmouth and Lynton
There are so many fun things to do in Lynton and Lynmouth; it’s somewhere that really surprised me on our trip to north Devon! I hope that you’ve found this guide useful, be sure to check out my Devon page for more posts from this wonderful county.