Devon’s woodland secret

Wilsham Wood on Exmoor

Wilsham Wood on Exmoor - Credit: Archant

Country Smallholding and Your Chickens editor Simon McEwan shares his favourite hidden Devonshire spot

Watersmeet, the National Trust beauty spot near Lynmouth, in North Devon, is very popular with visitors.

But not far away – and less well known – is some enchanting woodland which is particularly beautiful in early autumn.

Wilsham Wood can be reached from Watersmeet simply by following the East Lyn River – a walk of an hour or so.

Alternatively, drive to the village of Rockford and cross the footbridge over the river. Then turn left and follow the river in the direction of Watersmeet.

The colours as the leaves turn along this stretch of the river are simply stunning. You will also see the river crashing down through narrow gorges before it opens out for long, quieter stretches. Be sure to take your camera!

If you prefer a cycle ride, the little road going east along the deep valley from Rockford and Brendon through Malmshead is also delightful. The route is fairly flat and offers spectacular views in places.

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You will pass Oare Church – the setting for Lorna Doone’s marriage in R D Blackmore’s famous novel – then Oareford and Robber’s Bridge.

At this point you will have to turn back, unless you tackle the fearsome hill up to the A39. If you do have the energy, and the time, you could press on down the old toll road to Porlock.

On the way back, try a cream tea at the little restaurant and craft shop at Malmshead.

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