When we are in Devon we love combining a walk with an afternoon tea. One of the prettiest locations we’ve found for a cream tea is Watersmeet House near Lynmouth. Watersmeet House and the surrounding area is managed by the National Trust.
The dramatic River Gorge and stunning scenery have attracted some of the great romantic poets over the years. Southey, along with Coleridge, Wordsworth and Shelley were enchanted by Lynmouth and its surrounding area, comparing Watersmeet with the Alps
Watersmeet House was designed and built by the Reverend Walter Halliday, a friend of Southey, in 1832 as a fishing lodge. It has been a tea room since the early 1900s.
When Halliday, lover of Romantic poetry, built Watersmeet House in 1832, he had lines from a Wordsworth poem inscribed over its doorway:
The spot was made by nature for herself:
The travellers know it not, and it will remain
Unknown to them; but it is beautiful:
And if a man should plant his cottage near,
Should sleep beneath the shelter of its trees,
And blend its waters with his daily meal,
He would so love it, that in his death-hour
Its image would survive among his thoughts.
Watersmeet is the meeting place of the East Lyn river and Farley Water (Hoar Oak Water) and is one of the largest remaining ancient woodlands in the south west. Oak dominates the canopy, but other species are present including a few rare whitebeams.
The East Lyn River cascades through the woodland, meeting Farley Water (Hoar Oak Water) and giving the site its name.
Walking to Watersmeet House
The walk down from the Combe Park National Trust car park is fairly easy as you meander downstream towards Lynmouth
To get to the car park which is located just above Watersmeet, on the A39, 2.4 miles from Lynmouth follow the A39 past Watersmeet to reach a hairpin bend to the right. Turn left here towards Simonsbath, but do not cross the bridge immediately ahead but turn immediately right and then right again into the National Trust Car Park.
Cross the road and walk over the bridge and take the footpath on your left. Walk down the Gorge until you see the signs for Watersmeet House which takes you right away from the Gorge towards Watersmeet House.
The walk alongside the River Gorge is shaded with the canopy of huge trees including Oak, Ash and Wych Elm. Trees and boulders are smothered with lichens and moss which gives it that enchanted woodland atmosphere.
Watersmeet House Tea Room and Garden
The tea rooms at Watersmeet House are open during the summer months from 10:30 to 17:00, check the website for opening times during other times of the year.
Seating for the tea room is mainly outside. The tea room sells wonderful cream teas with traditional scones, jam and clotted cream and a large pot of tea. There are the usual sandwiches, cakes and sausage rolls available. They also serve soup and toasted sandwiches.
The gardens are set in a stunning location next to the river where you can sit and watch the fishermen fishing for salmon. It is a very peaceful location with the sound of the water and trees that surround you.
The Walk Back to the National Trust Car Park
The walk back up to the car park is a little more strenuous as it’s mostly uphill but there are small benches along the way if you want to sit and listen to the rushing water and just take in the scenery.
If you enjoy walking this is a wonderful walk with the added bonus of the promise of tea and cake which is a great incentive for me.