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Small villages on the northern coast of Exmoor National Park between the dramatic jagged cliffs

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On the northern coast of Exmoor National Park between the dramatic jagged cliffs lies the small village of Lynmouth. It's located at the point where the West and East Lyn rivers meet, making it an extremely picturesque place to visit. You can hire boats and float out to sea, fishing the days away. Back on land, you can unwind on the beach, or explore the quaint streets and local shops.

The East Lyn river at Lynmouth
Photo DaveOnFlickr
The village has a history and a harbour too. The quay, with its old craft and surrounding fishing cottages is definitely worth a look. The harbour is also the scene of one of Lynmouth's most famous stories, when, in the year 1899, a ship was seen just off the shore in desperate trouble. Unfortunately, the tide was too high to launch a lifeboat, so the local residents all joined together and proceeded to carry the rescue craft 21 kilometres up the coast all the way to Porlock harbour, where it could finally be launched. The task took nearly all night, but in the end, the stricken ship's crew were all rescued, with no loss of life.

Lynmouth Harbour
Photo yrrek
Lynmouth was not so lucky in August of 1952 though, when it became the scene of a devastating flood. After heavy rain on the moors, the Lyn rivers burst their banks causing extensive destruction to the village. 34 people lost their lives, all the boats in the harbour were washed out to sea and 4 main road bridges were destroyed. One eyewitness said he saw a row of cottages fold up like a pack of cards! There is a model of how the village looked before the disaster in the Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall. Many plaques relating to this fateful event can also be found dotted throughout the settlement.
Things are much calmer these days, with Lynmouth being known as one of the quietest and prettiest places in Devon County. The famous 18th century artist Thomas Gainsborough once described it as "the most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast".
Lynmouth's sister village is Lynton, situated a little way back from the shore. In fact, it's sometimes difficult to think of one place without the other - and it would certainly be a shame for any tourist to not visit both. Historically, it was quite difficult to make the journey, which requires a climb of some 200 metres up an extremely steep hill. Thankfully though, this problem was solved in the late 19th century with the construction of the "Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway".

Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway
This fascinating rail line, built on a straight, steep track is more like a lift than a train. There are two cars, connected by an ingenious pulley system, which switch back and forth between the two stations. Incredibly, the only fuel consumed is water from the West Lynn River. Once a car reaches the top, water is fed into a tank and the increased weight drags it down the track. The water is always released when a car reaches the bottom, so the heavier car can pull the lighter one up, repeating the process indefinitely!
Once you've arrived, you're free to enjoy the sights and sounds of Lynton village. The local history and culture is on display in the Lyn and Exmoor Museum, housed within an eye-catching whitewashed stone cottage. Another landmark is St. Mary's church, which overlooks the sea.

Lynton, overlooking the sea
Photo yrrek
The two villages are within easy walking distance of another popular destination called Watersmeet. This 19th century house used to be a fishing lodge, but it has since been taken over by the National Trust, and converted into a shop and tearoom. It is an ideal place to use as a base, as you explore the surrounding area of streams, woods, and waterfalls.

Watersmeet House
Photo dan taylor
Of course, both Lynmouth and Lynton are part of Exmoor National Park, which makes them perfect as jumping-off points for the area's vast expanses of rolling hills, gentle rivers, and sweeping moorland.
Visitor Information
Lynton Tourist Information Centre, Town Hall, Lee Road, Lynton, EX35 6BT. Tel: 0845 6603232
Lyn and Exmoor Museum is open Easter to October, Sunday to Friday from 10am to 4pm (afternoon only on Sundays). Entry costs around £1 for adults, 50p for children. St Vincent's Cottage, Market Street, Lynton, North Devon, EX35 6AF. Tel: 08456 603 232
Watersmeet (NT) is open February to October daily from 10:30am to 5pm (reduced hours during non-peak times). Entry is FREE. Watersmeet Road, Lynmouth, Devon, EX35 6NT. Tel: 01271 850 887

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