Saturday, 21 September 2019

"Little Switzerland"



The twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth are situated along the heritage coast of Exmoor National Park in North Devon. Lynton sits at the top of a cliff above the village of Lynmouth which itself nestles down at the harbour. There is a very steep high road that links the two villages together. I recall driving up it with my parents as a child, and as we chugged upwards my fathers concern that his car might not make it to the village. It was quite a common feature back then to come across cars abandoned along roads with such a steep incline.
Whilst thinking about those childhood memories I was then rather taken aback to see this little old Austin seven parked in Lynton, which had seemingly, and successfully, recently climbed the hill.

Following a visit in 1799 these two villages acquired the title 'Little Switzerland' from England's Poet Laureate Robert Southey. He said "I am assured by one who is familiar with Switzerland, that they resemble Swiss villages. Having visited Switzerland on numerous occasions myself, this description does rather stretch the imagination!!! However, that does not negate at all from the fact that both are lovely villages to visit.
Arts & Crafts designed Town Hall at Lynton
Although we drove up to Lynton from the harbourside in Lynmouth we had no intention of walking or driving back down. Instead we took a ride there and back on the famous Clifftop railway.
The historic Victorian cliff railway was built in 1888, and rises 500ft on 862ft of steep track with a gradient of 57%. It is the UK's only fully water powered railway and also the highest, steepest, water powered railway in the world!
The two rail cars are connected by hauling cables which operate on a simple balancing principle. 
Water from the West Lyn River fills the 700 gallon tank of the top 'docked' passenger car, and then water from the lower car is discharged until the heavier top car descends and pulls the lower car up the incline.
The speed is controlled by each driver using a Deadman's Handle, a breaking system engineered and first patented for this particular railway. 
It's a quick turn around for us on reaching the bottom of the cliff,
we have a date with with a rather stylish 1930s building further along the Devon coast. 

36 comments:

  1. You have just taken me on a trip down memory lane. Tony and I stayed in Lynmouth many years ago. We rented the flat above the post office and took some lovely walks in the area.

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    1. I am pleased that this post brought back so many memories for you.

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  2. This post is like a little holiday for me. Lovely.

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    1. When I was there the council was trying to get all the wild goats culled. There were signs saying 'Save the goats' up. I wonder what happened.

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    2. Maybe Heidi has taken them all back to Switzerland!

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  3. What a beautiful village and lovely views. It's a shame I didn't have time to visit Devon while visiting Cornwall.

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    1. It is so difficult to see everything whilst travelling - I haven't been back here myself since I was a child.

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  4. How perfectly not-Swiss! But beautiful in it's own way! I found out I was scared of heights in a cable car...fortunately on the way down...but it was not a pleasant ride for me!

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    1. Oh! that is a shame Barbara - I am one of those people who loves heights.

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  5. Another nostalgic trip for me. We would ride up on the cliff top railway and walk back down savouring the wonderful views of the bay from the bridges. We loved living down south. Best, Jane x

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    1. I am sure that you are right Jane and that it is a lovely walk down.

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  6. Replies
    1. I suppose that it is environmentally friendly too.

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  7. Sounds like a fun excursion and not one I have enjoyed yet. Such a pretty stretch of coastline :) B x

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    1. I am sure that you too would enjoy a visit to that area Barbara.

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  8. I used to finish lots of walks there when I was a walks leader and got to know all the tea-shops very well. The walk along the riverside from Rockford is delightful as is the high-level route over Lyn Cleave - now you've got me thinking I ought to go back there some time!

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    1. This is my first visit there since I was a child - I am sure that you would enjoy a return visit. I don't think very much has actually changed there over the years.

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  9. It's a special place. I have really fond memories of all that coastline- Lynton, Valley of Rocks with its peregrine falcons, staying in Ilfracombe for a few nights and exploring Exmoor.

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    1. We should drive down there more often - it is such a very easy journey for us to make.

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  10. Dearest Rosemary,
    What a surprising cliff with such an incline and height! That circular photo so nicely captured all of it, perfect view.
    The incline of this very funicular is not that spectacular but a nice one. Our neighboring state of Tennessee got a 72.7 percent grade in Chattanooga for Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. Lucky that we both don't have any problems with heights...
    Anxious to see where you went from there...
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - we enjoyed our break in this area but only had time to take in this lovely old Victorian Cliff Railway. We ought to return and spend more time exploring in the surrounding area.

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    2. Dearest Rosemary,
      Just thought due to your final line: 'we have a date with with a rather stylish 1930s building further along the Devon coast'... 🚃

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    3. I will show that next time - it is a place that we moved on to but in another area.

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  11. There are so many wonderful places to visit in the U.k. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. For such a small country you are right - it is surprising.

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  12. Hello Rosemary, Lynton and Lynmouth rate high on charm and scenery. I prefer to avoid steep walks, but I think I could put up with a day of them, especially for the privilege of riding on that railway.

    The name Lynton brings back a peculiar memory. Linton was the brand of my first oboe (belonging to the school). Lintons, at least of that period, were terrible instruments, although I have heard that they earlier made some decent ones. When I finally got to play on a fine Loree, it was pure magic--a good instrument will let you do anything.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - Lynton and Lynmouth are two quaint villages where time appears to have stood still.
      I expect that you miss being able to play your oboe, I seem to remember you saying that because you lived in an apartment it made it difficult because of close neighbours.

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  13. So much to see UK has got it all, beautiful view from the top !

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    1. This area is lovely especially in such lovely weather too.

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  14. What an interesting bit of engineering, and in such a pretty spot.

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    1. We normally head further south, now I wonder why, as this northern part of Devon is much nearer for us to visit and has lots to offer.

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  15. That looks rather scary for people with a fear for heights...:) But an ingenious find!

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