The Doone Valley

This is a seductive region of tea shops, pubs, medieval bridges – and Lorna Doone.

From Watersmeet the lovely East Lyn River draws you towards Brendon and on into Somerset where it becomes Oare Water. This is a seductive region of tea shops, pubs, medieval bridges – and Lorna Doone.

Further along the road or path from Rockford is Brendon, another small village with a welcoming pub, the Staghunter’s Inn, highly praised for its excellent food, atmosphere, and as a base for walkers. From here an inviting path runs along the bottom of a steep escarpment into Somerset and then back along the top to Brendon.

You are now in Lorna Doone country. In Malmsmead, at the Lorna Doone Inn (01598 741450) if you sit outside, your cream tea will be shared by bold wild birds. Near the packhorse bridge over Badgworthy Water, which marks the boundary with Somerset, is Lorna Doone Farm. A walk to the legendary Doone hideout starts from here.

Doone Valley, Exmoor, UK by Hilary Bradt
The Doone Valley’s river is punctuated with deep pools and fast-flowing sections © Hilary Bradt

Park in the long-stay car park and walk back to the village and up the hill straight ahead to the start of the bridleway on your left, signposted Badgworthy Valley. Follow this track and then a grassy path next to the wire fence. Drop down to the river and the little footbridge to Cloud Farm Tea Room and Oare.

For the Doone Valley, keep the river on your left. With its deep pools and fast-flowing sections it fits the description in the book where the boy John Rudd went fishing for loach. Soon after the Cloud Farm footbridge you’ll come to the Blackmore Memorial Stone on your right, erected for the centenary of the book’s publication. Passing through a gate into Badgworthy Wood, you cross over Yealscombe Water, and come to the loveliest part of the walk with fern and moss-covered oak trees flanking the river.

Shortly before the Lankcombe Water footbridge the path forks. Ignore the right-hand fork and continue beside the river and over the footbridge, through woods as the path gently rises to meet open moor. This is the site of the medieval village – you can see the remains of stone walls – and the legendary Doone Glen.