Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council has begun projects to enhance the famous Valley of Rocks, thanks to a major grant of £93,000 awarded by the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund and £40,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Amory and Heathcoat Trusts via the Heart of Exmoor Scheme.
Works include restoring coastal path access to the hidden beach at Wringcliff Bay, renovating the 19th-century Poet’s Shelter and installing a traditional estate railing fence at the Cricket Club, similar to the one seen in early photographs of the area. Visitors will be welcomed by a resurfaced car park, made greener to reduce its impact in the landscape. New interpretive resources will highlight walk routes and the valley’s geology, history and wildlife.
Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council’s success in raising funds has brought in more than £130,000 to match its own £40,000 investment in the projects. Councillors worked hard to listen to the community and develop suitable designs in consultation with experts in landscape, historic environment and wildlife.
Mayor Suzette Hibbert said: “This project has been on the Council wish list for some years. Thanks to the appearance of the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership and the leadership of Councillor Bernard Peacock we have at last seen the start of this major scheme. Once again we are indebted to the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund and so we say thank you to them and to the Heart of Exmoor Scheme.”
Jason Ball, Heart of Exmoor Scheme Manager, praised the initiative: “The projects cleverly maintain visitor capacity and access, yet with less
clutter and tarmac – always a good thing – so it emphasises the wild moorland character and unique features that visitors find so attractive. We are proud to support this thanks to money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Amory and Heathcoat Trusts which the Exmoor Society secured for exactly this type of project.”
The changes will sensitively restore a sense of wildness while simultaneously helping people to enjoy and explore the Valley of Rocks – a favourite destination for locals and visitors to Exmoor National Park. The dramatic clifftop valley on the North Devon coast is crowned with rock features and its special geology earned it status as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). The Valley of Rocks is home to hardy free-roaming goats, Exmoor ponies and cliff-nesting birds such as peregrine falcon and fulmar. Cradled in the valley are a village green cricket pitch, a tea room and the Poet’s Shelter which alludes to poets inspired by the amazing location.
Coleridge, William Wordsworth and his sister, the poet and diarist Dorothy Wordsworth, visited the Valley of Rocks as part of a longer exploration of Exmoor’s coast in November 1797. Coleridge and the Wordsworths fell in love with the Lynton area and even thought of settling there. Coleridge wrote to a friend: “We will go on a roam to Linton and Linmouth, which if thou camest in May will be in all their pride of woods and waterfalls, not to speak of the august cliffs, and the green ocean, and the Vast Valley of Stones all of which live disdainful of the seasons or accept new honours only from the winter’s snow.”
View of The Valley of Rocks taken from behind the Devils Cheese Wring that is also the site of Mother Meldrum’s Cave as mentioned in R D Blackmore’s Lorna Doone