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24 September 2014

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Get your toes wet at Lydford Gorge
River Lyd
The river Lyd at the gorge is enveloped by trees, and even on a bright day is virtually dark.
The walk around Lydford Gorge is three miles long and includes some treacherous sections.

But if you're prepared to get your feet a bit mucky, you'll be rewarded with some breathtaking views...and then there's the fresh air too!
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Lydford Gorge is the deepest gorge in South West England.

It is a designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

Acquisition of the gorge by the National Trust began in 1944, and the trust now owns 116 acres of the valley.

The parish of Lydford is ancient, and it is claimed that Julius Caesar spent some time there.

Lydford - a stannary town - once had a Royal Mint, striking pennies frm locally mined silver from the 10th century.

Lydford Castle was built in the late 12th century. It was a court and gaol, and its ruins still stand on a grassy mound in the heart of Lydford.

Lydford also boasts the historic St Petrock's Church.
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Lydford Gorge is one of Devon's's the deepest gorge in the whole of the south West, and it's surrounded by ancient woodland.

The river Lyd at this stretch is fast flowing, and the gorge features two "must see" attractions - the White Lady Waterfall and Devil's Cauldron.

To take everything in, it's best to do the entire walk - but this is only suitable for fit, able-bodied people. There are alternative, easier, and shorter routes for disabled people and those who are less fit - but even these aren't exactly easy walks.

The full route is around three miles long, and takes approximately two hours. If you want to stop to take in the views and fresh air - or to make use of the much-needed seats - the walk could take three to four hours.

White Lady Waterfall
White Lady Waterfall

The start is sign-posted from the National Trust's entrance and shop at Lydford Gorge.

There is also a free map of the route, which helps you to make your way around the gorge by following the numbered posts.

The first section of the walk takes you through Lambhole Wood - a mix of lime, elm, hawthorn, cherry, laurel, and horse chestnut trees. The flora around the streams here make it a real haven for wildlife.

You're completely surrounded by the trees in this section, and it can feel almost dark even on a bright day.

Passing through the dense Watervale Wood, you enter the gorge...and at the bottom of the steep slope is the White Lady Waterfall. The waterfall is 90ft high and the rushing water comes down almost vertically.

The birds love this spot, and if you're lucky you'll catch a glimpse of a heron, or a kingfisher.

The gorge
Sunlight sneaks through

Of course, the problem with walking down a steep slope is that at some point, you'll have to go up a steep slope too. So be prepared...

First of all though, there's Oldcleave Wood - full of oaks - and Tunnel Falls, where a series of potholes have been formed by erosion.

The walk here is next to the river, and takes your over slippery granite, so you have to hold on to the rail which is provided. Depending on the river height, the water can be quite close to your feet!

The secret here is to take things carefully. Pixie Glen offers a rare moment of calm, before The Devil's Cauldron. The potholes and black rock take a battering from the white, foaming water, which is heard long before it's seen.

This is the highlight of the walk for many people, so make sure you take in the view before negotiating the climb back to the top: the end of the walk.

The National Trust, which manages Lydford Gorge, stresses this walk can be arduous and dangerous - so you must wear suitable footwear.

The opening hours vary according to the time of year, and some sections can be closed to the public in certain conditions.

It's a good idea to phone ahead first for details. The National Trust at Lydford Gorge is on 01822 820320.

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