Samaritans Way South West

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A 100 mile/ 160 km Walk from Bristol to Lynton


Illustrated by Lorraine Orriss
Edited by Jill Holley

Acknowledgments: Pam Roberts & Cyril Trenfield (Ramblers' Association)
Neil Burlton, Beverley Bleasdale & Annette Goodall (Samaritans Way South West Association)

© Illustrations: Lorraine Orriss, Text: Graham Hoyle 2000
Published by: Graham Hoyle 2000 - ISBN:0-9537767-0-0
Revised Internet Edition 2009
Amendments to walk directions in
red. Links to web sites in green.
All profits to the Samaritans

Somerset Map

Samaritans Way South West



This is an ideal link path between the two National Trails ,the Cotswold Way and the North Devon section of the South West Coastal Path. The sixteen miles bridging the walks between Bath and Bristol is on the River Avon Trail, a well-established footpath, much of which runs along the banks of the River Avon.

This book covers in detail the one hundred miles from Bristol to Lynton in Devon. The last thirty miles of the journey, from Lynton to Croyde Bay, provides an interesting addition, with a very good stretch of coastal path nearly all of, which is the property of the National Trust, thus avoiding the hazards of caravan parks, etc. Several books detailing this area have already been written, so the description will only be brief. The coastal path is extremely well way marked and easy to follow. Should you be fortunate enough to have a couple of weeks to spare, there will be ample time to cover the walk. If you only have one week then it is best to set off on a Saturday from Bristol. The city is easily accessible to outsiders, as it is served by good train and coach transport.

Ideally, you should arrive in Bristol on a Friday evening, have an overnight stay in bed and breakfast or Youth Hostel accommodation, and arrive at Clifton Suspension Bridge early next morning to start the walk, aiming to complete it on the following Saturday afternoon. This should allow you plenty of time to travel by bus from Croyde Bay to Barnstaple, then by coach or train home.

Don't forget to check bus and train timetable details, as these do vary during the seasons. Also check that Youth Hostels are open on your chosen day.

Now for a little geographical detail about the areas surrounding the walk. Ninety-three miles of the walk is in Somerset. The county resembles an elbow, fitting snugly around Bridgwater Bay in the Bristol Channel. It is cushioned by its neighbouring counties of Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, only broken by Bristol, a city and county in its own right for over 600 years with a brief interruption of approximately twenty one years before the boundaries were reinstated.

The walk will take you through the L-shaped county with its great variety of scenery: from Bristol to Long Ashton, up and over the slopes of Dundry, at the top of which one can see as far as the Cotswold hills. Then across the Chew Valley with its peaceful lake and attractive villages, and on over the Mendip hills to Cheddar, famous for its cheese, the Gorge and the rare Cheddar Pink, which flowers on its crags around June.

From the Mendips, move on across the Somerset Levels to historic Glastonbury with its Abbey and Tor, on which is the tower of St Michael's Chapel. Next to the village of Street, with the Shoe Museum and then along the Polden Hills with views of the Somerset Levels. You will pass through Bridgwater and on to the Quantock Hills with a spectacular ridge path, before dropping down into the villages around the Brendon Hills.

The next stage of the walk will take you across the Exmoor National Park, known for its wild ponies and one of the very few environments in England where the wild red deer may be found. After leaving Exford village, you will walk over the roof of Exmoor and down into the Doone Valley and Badgworthy Water, which feature in R. D. Blackmore's novel "Lorna Doone".
Moving further on along the East Lyn River you arrive at Watersmeet, where the Rivers Lyn and Hoaroak Water meet, then a steep climb takes you up into Myrtleberry Cleaves. As you progress through the Cleaves, glance to your right. You have arrived at the sea, and Lynton, a worthy ending to the one hundred-mile link path from Bristol. At this point you may decide to end your journey. Should you decide to continue for the next thirty miles to Croyde Bay you will not be disappointed.

In order to avoid infringement of Copyright Laws, which limit the use of maps less than 50 years old, the book utilises Ordnance Survey maps of approximately 1938 edition. For route maps please purchase the original guide book.

The map scale used is not completely consistent throughout the book, although the greater part of the route is depicted at approximately one and a half inches to the mile, with direction North always at the top of the page. Sections of the map have been produced on a larger scale giving a little more detail where difficulties may be found. Youth Hostels (YH), and also various towns and villages on route where refreshment and rest may be taken, are marked with their mileage from Bristol. e.g. "Cheddar 20".

It is advisable when embarking on this walk to be equipped with a compass and relevant Ordnance Survey maps, as listed.
The walk is fully way marked from Bristol to Goathurst with the apple symbol which represents the cider orchards of Somerset producing some of the best cider in the UK. By using the public rights of way the walker should be able to proceed unhindered (a few minor obstacles have been taken up with the Local Authorities and will in time be cleared).

A key to map reading has been purposely omitted, for the route map can easily be followed when used in conjunction with the written description of the journey.

No responsibility can be taken for any directional or descriptive error, but every endeavour has been made to avoid this.

1 1/4 inches to the mile
1:50000 Landranger Series: SHEETS: 172, 182, 181, 180.

2 1/2 inches to the mile
1:25000 Explorer Series: Sheets : 154, 141, 140, 139 and Outdoor Leisure Map No 9

Conversion Chart
Miles    Kilometres                            Miles    Kilometres
1           1.61                                      20       32.19
2           3.22                                      30       48.28
3           4.83                                      40       64.37
4           6.44                                      50       80.47
5           8.05                                      60       96.56
6           9.66                                      70      112.65
7         11.27                                      80      128.75
8         12.88                                      90      144.84
9         14.48                                    100      160.93
10       16.09

 p06 Backpack


1). BRISTOL to CHEDDAR: 20 miles Chew Valley and Mendip Hills

2). CHEDDAR to BRIDGWATER: 29 miles Somerset Levels, Polden Hills and Villages

3). BRIDGWATER to LUXBOROUGH: 25 miles Quantock Hills and Brendon Villages

4). LUXBOROUGH to - LYNTON: 26 miles Exmoor, Doone Valley and Cleaves

5). LYNTON to CROYDE BAY: 30 miles Coastal Path with Ilfracombe and Combe Martin

All sections can be split to suit the walker's requirements.