Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A trip to Lydford Gorge

Recently I headed over to Lydford Gorge; somewhere I had been past before but not taken the time to stop. As usual, there are so many great opportunities for walking in Devon that it is hard to know which to do first!

  So eager was I to experience the gorge that I actually arrived at the National Trust car park half an hour before it opened. Nor was I the only one looking to make the most of the early morning sunshine. After changing into my boots, the doors were thrown open and in I went.

During the winter there is restricted opening of the Gorge to allow for essential maintenance work, so check opening times before you go. It also meant that the lower river path was closed to visitors, which was a shame for me but provides a reason to go back. As compensation, there is a reduced entrance fee, which felt very fair. 

I headed along the top path looking out over the steep wooded gorge. This is a fun windy path with lots of great views and the odd piece of woodcarving for added interest.

The path also performs a clever trick of disguising the waterfall from you so that as you approach it you don't get a sneak preview. Just before you descent to the waterfall you run alongside a fast flowing stream which feeds the waterfall. Here you can see it rushing towards the edge with no idea of the plummet it is about to experience.

There is a choice of two paths down to the waterfall- short & steep and long & gentle. We opted to go down the short and back up the long path. Had the river path been open you would only need to head down one of these paths.

The waterfall is quite spectacular. At first, it is hard to get a sense of scale, appearing quite small to begin with. However, as you stand below it you can feel the force of the water and realise just quite how powerful it is.

Along from the waterfall on the long & gentle path is the remains of an exploratory mine operation that is now home to several species of bat.

Overall, this was a very pleasant walk. It is not too strenuous and the National Trust facilities add a welcome bit of comfort for a leisurely Sunday morning coffee.

For walkers that are more adventurous there is a longer circular walk that takes in part of Dartmoor before returning through the Gorge over at the Devon Walks site.

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