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Doone Valley

doone valley buttery

Step Into a Storybook World at Doone Valley

Nestled within Exmoor National Park between the valleys of Badgworthy and Malmsmead lies the secluded Doone Valley, the evocative setting that inspired R.D. Blackmore’s classic Lorna Doone novel. Whether you’re already a Lorna Doone fan or just love immersing yourself in new landscapes, Doone Valley offers dramatic scenery and literary allure perfect for exhilarating walks.

With wooded hills rising steeply from the East Lyn River below and remnants of villages destroyed in the 17th century, Doone Valley promises adventure. Here’s everything you need to explore this inspirational Exmoor slice bordering Somerset and Devon.

doone valley

Getting There

Doone Valley lies around 7 miles northwest of Dulverton deep within Exmoor National Park. While isolated, brown National Park signs mark walking routes into the valley from Malmsmead or Brendon.

By Car

Driving and parking in one of Exmoor’s closer villages or towns like Dulverton is recommended before walking into remote Doone Valley. Leave the M5 at Junction 27 signposted for South Molton/Tiverton then follow the A396 towards Lynton.

By Bus

For car-free options, buses connect Dulverton with Brendon village which sits on the valley rim. But onward walking is still required.

When to Visit

Doone Valley’s walking trails are open year round. However, visiting during late spring through fall allows you to enjoy the paths at their best when vegetation is less overgrown and the river passable. The weather is also more reliable.

Being so remote, take all supplies like food and water needed for your walks and clothing for changeable conditions. Mobile service and wifi is very unreliable within the deep valleys.

camping in doone valley

Walking in Doone Valley

Numerous routes allow adventurers to hike into the heart of less travelled Doone Valley. Some suggested trails include:

  • Brendon to Oare – Follows the East Lyn River along the floor of the valley with opportunities to scramble up to hidden relics. 14km loop.
  • Webbers Post to Oare – Traverses the upper slopes of the valley with glimpses into its depths. Passing Lorna Doone Farm. 10km return.
  • Malmsmead to Oare – Descends down from Badgworthy following Doone Valley’s riverbanks and rapids. 13km loop.

With so many criss-crossing routes, you can create your ideal path appreciating Doone Valley’s enchanting slopes, rapids and relics over hours or days.

done valley malmshead

Tips For Walking

To make the most of hiking Doone Valley:

  • Check conditions and take detailed maps and a compass for navigation due to minimal signage.
  • Allow ample daylight. Late returns in darkness along steep paths can be treacherous.
  • Wear waterproof walking boots with ankle support and bring collapsible hiking poles for challenging terrain.
  • Pack a refillable water bottle and snacks to power you along the trails.

By embracing the sense of adventure and being prepared, you’ll get the most from Doone Valley’s inspiring landscapes.

Points of Interest

Along your walk wind past relics from Exmoor’s unique history:

  • Oare Church – Isolated 13th century church in an evocative location surrounded by graves.
  • Lorna Doone Farm – Ideal stopping point for picnics near the East Lyn River.
  • Badgworthy’s Shoe – A natural rock arch formation crossing the river.
  • Remains of 17th century villages destroyed after the Civil War now just low walls and foundations.

Children especially will love letting their imaginations run wild conjuring images of Lorna’s life wandering through the valley where her adventure story was set.

lynton seagull

Seeking Out Inspiration

As you ramble through oak woods, cross bubbling streams and navigate boulder-strewn paths, it’s easy to picture where Blackmore found the inspiration that brought alive Doone Valley’s every cliff, cascade and crag through Lorna Doone’s story.

Look out for locations matching descriptions that sparked your imagination like the twisting Twelve Oaks Valley with its “mossy passes, quivering with old wind-stunted oak.” Listen for the river “leaping down among the rocks, here well seen, and there unseen, flashing through the leaves in glimpses of silver.”

Doone Valley almost becomes a living, breathing entity through the pages of the novel. It’s magic cast a spell over artists and adventurers drawn here through the centuries.

Afterwards in Lynton Continue your Lorna Doone literary pilgrimage afterwards in the village of Lynton, where R.D. Blackmore lived when writing the novel in the late 1860s. See original manuscripts in the local museum. Or stay overnight at the stately manor house of Lee Abbey associated with the Lorna legacy and set beneath the towering Valley of the Rocks.

By treading in the footsteps of Lorna herself through the twisting, plunging landscape that inspired the novel, Doone Valley provides adventure and discovery aplenty for lovers of Exmoor’s rich heritage.

Lorna Doone

lorna doone
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Set in the wild and rugged landscape of Exmoor, England, in the late 17th century, Lorna Doone is a captivating tale of love, family, and the enduring power of the human spirit.

John Ridd, a young and spirited farmer, narrates the story, recounting his fateful encounter with Lorna, a mysterious and beautiful maiden who lives in the secluded valley of the Doones, a notorious outlaw clan.

Despite their opposing backgrounds, John and Lorna develop a deep and passionate love for each other, their forbidden romance set against the backdrop of feuds, vendettas, and the political turmoil of the times.

As their love grows stronger, so do the dangers that surround them. John must navigate the treacherous world of the Doones, facing their ruthless leader and the threat of their violence.

Amidst the challenges and dangers they face, John and Lorna’s love remains unwavering, their bond a testament to the resilience of the human heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there parking in Doone Valley? Yes, a good place to park is at the Buttery in Malmshead

Are dogs allowed in Doone Valley? Yes, as long as they are kept under control

Other places to visit nearby

  • RHS Garden Rosemoor – Fabulous 105 acre gardens with formal/informal planting, specialist collections and peaceful woodland walks.
  • Lynton and Barnstaple Railway – Vintage steam trains running through stunning Exmoor countryside from Lynton to Woody Bay. Nostalgic way to admire the views.
  • Watersmeet – Idyllic river valley walk following the East Lyn River through woodland to a pretty waterfall. Charming National Trust tearoom.
  • Valley of the Rocks – Dramatic natural rock formations on the coast near Lynton forming a scenic valley inhabited by wild goats.
  • Arlington Court – Elegant Regency mansion that was once home to the Chichester family, set in acres of parkland.
  • Big Sheep – Family attraction with shows, exhibits and sheep races. Opportunity to walk with alpacas and feed lambs.
  • Heddon Valley – Dramatic wooded river valley with walking trails leading to the coast at Heddon’s Mouth. More idyllic scenery.

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