The Hartland Peninsula's stretch of the Southwest Coastal Path is one of the most visually stunning (and vertigo-inducing) sections of the walkway, maintaining its jagged ruggedness defiantly against the Atlantic's constant battering.
Inland, the high moors maintain their own personality against the gales and storms brought ashore from that same Atlantic.
And between moor and coast the landscape is further defined by the rivers and streams which add a gentle and yet assertive defining character to the landscape as they gouge out their valleys.
The Spekes Valley is the confluence of a couple of streams which rise from Bursdon Moor and meet the Atlantic at Spekes Mill Mouth pouring seawards spectacularly down the sheer cliff-face.
This is well worth a wander, whether from Hartland Village itself or to take in as part of the Coastal Path and is a reasonably accessible walk from all directions.
From the village you have the option of sticking to the back roads (and the high ground) or to follow the footpath down and up the valley - both have their own merits and for a circular walk the combination is ideal. From the Coastal Path the waterfall is about a mile south of Hartland Quay where (if you have driven) you can park the car and it makes for a relatively easy stroll.
Whichever your choice the end result is more than gratifying!
The Hartland Peninsula really is great walking country. The coastal path provides stunning vistas of the wild rocky Atlantic shoreline whilst inland there are high moors, river valleys and mature woodland to explore.
Some of the walking is easy-going, whilst certain sections of the coastal path are more challenging and there is certainly some superb scenery to be enjoyed. If planned appropriately some decent pubs can be enjoyed too - though even I would recommend aiming for them at the end of the walk rather than midway if travelling the coastal sections!
The website has some downloadable PDF's of popular routes.
The sheer cliff faces on Hartlands coast make this area quite popular with rock climbers and on a blustery October day I should imagine makes for a pretty challenging climb.
Not my thing though - me, I just enjoy my stroll with the pub as my destination!
Hartland Point is the tip of the peninsula, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bristol Channel. The Point itself is about 3 miles NW of Hartland village (TOWN!) and is quite a pleasant walk over the moorland.
Whilst the walk to the point is quite pleasant it is the destination that takes your breath away - this is North Devon at its most glorious, where the gentle pastures and rich arable land suddenly become confronted by the ravages of the Atlantic Ocean whose might constantly batters the county's rocky shoreline.
Here the precariously perched lighthouse sends its beam over 20 miles out to sea to warn approaching shipping of the treachery of the shore. The radar dome guides incoming planes from their Atlantic journeys to their inland harbours.
This is the place to really start your walk, heading south to the Quay, with the vertigo-inducing cliffs to stimulate both heart and mind and the bar at the Quay Hotel as good an incentive as any to justify the hard-going undulations encountered enroute.
Hartland Quay is situated on the Atlantic coast about 3 miles west from Hartland village (TOWN!) and is another of the peninsula's places where you can really appreciate the stunning ruggedness of the North Devon coastline. To both north and south the jagged rocks jut into the ocean and the contorted strata of the cliffs themselves offer fascinating insights into the geological history of the area.
The actual quay is a relatively recent reconstruction of what used to be (from the 16th century to the late 19th) quite a busy harbour which fell into disuse in the latter half of the 19th century and was all but washed away by the unrelenting battering of the Atlantic. The quay overlooks a small sandy beach at low tide and adjacent is the eponymous hotel, with its popular "Wrecker's Retreat" bar - which serves a pretty good pint of HSB at a pretty reasonable price. Here too are a small gift/souvenir shop (where you can get your postcards) and a little museum dedicated to the local wrecks - that's the ships, not the drunken Scotsman!
This can be quite a busy tourist destination in the summer, especially at weekends, and if you are driving there is a small fee for car parking. Even during the summer though you don't have to walk far from the quay itself to escape the madding crowds and the coastal path connects both northwards and south. The walk from Hartland village is also quite a pleasant one and you get the treat of your first glimpse of the Atlantic soon after passing the magnificent St Nectan's church.