Thematic Trails

Exmoor Coast

Hidden Edge of Exmoor - Valley of Rocks,  Lynton - Lyn in Flood, Watersmeet to Lynmouth Flood - Cliffs of Saunton - Classic Landforms of the North Devon Coast - Croyde and Baggy area Walks

THE HIDDEN EDGE OF EXMOOR David Kester Webb & Elizabeth Webb
ISBN 978-0-948444-57-9 Thematic Trails 2011 £12.00
A4. 128 pages. 124 illustrations, 115 in colour including photographs, paintings and maps.
Cover of Hidden Edge of Exmoor bookWithin this book there unfolds a fascinating history of the exploration of the cliffs of the Exmoor coast. It should have a wide appeal for anyone interested in the landscape of this often hidden coastline, if only to be enchanted by the way Kester Webb has captured the, often fleeting and intangible, beauty of the cliffs. This he has done with a remarkable set of photographs and paintings. He and his wife Elizabeth have written vivid descriptions of their experiences, born of a long period of exploration.

The continuous unifying element running through the book is the development of the ‘Exmoor Traverse’ which involves a series of cliff ‘climbs’ and scrambles connecting the sea cliffs of this coast from east to west. Kester is at pains to stress that this book is not written as a climber’s guide and should never be treated as such. However, it does allow readers the pleasure of climbing these cliffs, even if only in their imagination.

VALLEY OF ROCKS: LYNTON Peter Keene & Brian Pearce.
ISBN 978-0-948444-25-8 Thematic Trails 1993. £2.95 A5. 44 pages. 35 illustrations. Etching of Valley of Rocks
It's hard to imagine a more congenial walking companion, with its abundant quotations from the past and its attempt to marry the beauty and theatricality of the landscape with geological explanation." (Geology Today)

▲" Described as ‘a landscape companion, guided walk, souvenir and reference booklet’ and it admirably fulfils these roles. It uses a combination of techniques from geology, geomorphology and history to discuss the issues behind the formation of the now dry valley and man's use and appreciation of it. Quotations and illustrations are used to explore the changing perceptions of the valley." (Exmoor Review)

Image of Lyn in Flood book LYN IN FLOOD, Watersmeet to Lynmouth Peter Keene and Derek Elsom

ISBN 978-0-948444-20-3
Thematic Trails 1990. 2003. £2.40
A5. 48 pages. 36 illustrations.
A riverside walk from the National Trust shop and café at Watersmeet following the East Lyn downstream to Lynmouth and the sea. Explanation for the variety of physical moods of the East Lyn river are interwoven with emotional responses to the river including the flood of 1952.

▲"The book is of value not only for the walk but also for the way in which it provides a framework for looking at other rivers. A useful reference book for visitors once they have returned home." (Exmoor Review)

▲"This ‘landscape companion’ explores not only the history and causes of the flood, but prompts emotions and reactions in the reader, to what is seen along the way. Creating an atmosphere is what this trail is all about - chatting to Winston Singleton, warden in charge of the Watersmeet estate for the last 20 years and investigating the various moods of the river, from tumbling brook to raging torrent! It also explores the topical problems of acid rain, the effect of chemicals on the river bank and the dangers of over-development." (North Devon Journal).

CLASSIC LANDFORMS OF THE NORTH DEVON COAST (2nd edition) Peter Keene Geographical Association 1996. Re-printed by Thematic Trails 2005.
ISBN 978-1-899085-18-7 48 pages. 29 illustrations. £5.95
This booklet provides a serious explanation of the varied landforms of the North Devon Coast. In particular the aim is to offer an interpretation which is not only useful to visiting tutors and students but is also presented in a way which is digestible and fascinating for the interested non-specialist member of the general public. The booklet, drawing attention to a large number of coastal features, encourages readers to make an inquisitive interpretation of the landscape.

Contents: Hartland Peninsula, Westward Ho!, the Taw-Torridge estuary, Croyde Bay and the Exmoor coast with the Valley of Rocks. Each of these five areas has a nesting set of Thematic Trails (see this catalogue). Each trail provides a detailed commentary and clear instructions on walks covering selected themes within this guide. The overarching strategy for all thematic trails is to evoke a sense of place by tempting the participant to play the role of interpreter early in each walk.


Locally you can buy Lynton and Lynmouth Thematic Trails at:
The Studio
, 8/9 Lee Road, Lynton North Devon EX35 6HW T: 01598 - 753382
Lynton Tourist Information Centre, Town Hall, Lynton. EX35 6BT T: 01598 - 752225
Mother Meldrum’s Tea Gardens, Valley of Rocks, Lynton, EX35 6JH T: 01598 - 53234
Lynmouth National Park Centre, Pavillion, The Esplanade, Lynmouth, EX35 6EQ T: 01598 - 752509 

THE CLIFFS OF SAUNTON Peter Keene and Chris Cornford
ISBN 978-0-948444-24-1 Thematic Trails 1995. £2.95
A5. 44 pages. 30 illustrations.
Today's beach and dunes are compared with ‘fossil’ cliff sediments revealing a record of dramatic climatic and environmental change.

▲"If you really want explanations served up to you... then go elsewhere, but if you want to learn, by self-assessment if you like, start here. Ideally you should go there, to Saunton Sands, but it's not absolutely necessary. The booklet is so cleverly done that you can learn much without leaving your armchair. Not that we are encouraging such sloth, you understand." (Geology Today)

▲ The Cliffs of Saunton reviewed

"At first glance one may wonder if this is a trail or an encyclopaedia? The answer, according to Thematic Trails, is ‘both’. The inside cover suggests it is a ‘reference book and landscape companion” and this aptly describes its function. Ideally, it should be taken onto the Saunton foreshore where it may provide a fascinating commentary on what can be found. It gives active encouragement to the reader to try to reconstruct for oneself, the prehistory of this area using what can be seen in the cliff face from the beach. However, it is clear that the depth and quality of information provided will also make it a reference booklet that will be read by many without visiting the cliffs and will find a useful place on the bookshelves of many libraries and homes.

Image of erratic

The booklet, which deals with the recent geological past has sections on sea level changes, the characteristics of beaches and sand dunes, climatic change including North Devon in the last ice age and a discussion about the curious giant boulders found on the shore (illustrated on the front cover of the book - see right!). As with all Thematic Trails, the booklet is designed to appeal to two groups, non-specialist visitors and educational parties. It assumes intelligent interest and is written in a language and style accessible to the general public, but does not shy away from taking the curious visitor to the research frontier. Clear instructions advise the interested visitor to follow the story in bold text which threads it’s way through the book and to simply dip, as provoked, into the many detailed text boxes of finer type provided.

For the teacher and student this booklet is a masterpiece of detailed information written in a form which clearly casts the reader as interpreter and yet, ultimately, never leaves the reader in the dark or without the background information to play this role. The text boxes are written as mini resource packs, equipping the reader with a tool kit of knowledge with which they can genuinely participate in the role of decoder and speculator proposed for them.

The Cliffs of Saunton is well illustrated and reflects the polish and presentation which the series has acquired with years of experience in this genre." (Earth Science Teachers review)

Green Guides by Ro, Paul & Abbi Madgett (Madgett Publications) 1998 – 2003.
Sold as a pack of six walks £1.80.
Each walk consists of a double-sided, A4 sheet, folded into three to make six, six-page black and white pamphlets. Maps and clear walking instructions guide the walker but the real attraction of these small brochures is the way attention is drawn to intriguing features encountered in this landscape from rocks and buildings to animals and plants.

1. Baggy Point and Middleborough Hill. Cliffs, coastal heath, birds, butterflies, sea mammals, rock formations and views. Distance: 2.75 miles (2 hours without hurrying). Good paths with some stiles.

2. Green Lanes and Saunton Down. Ancient tracks, flowers, butterflies, birds, mammals, far-reaching views and local history. Distance 2.5 miles (3 hours without hurrying). Well-marked tracks and paths. Some stiles and steep slopes.

3. Putsborough Sands and ancient Manor. Green Lanes, cliffs, sandy beach, traditional buildings, wild flowers and local history. Distance: 3 miles or 4 from Baggy car-park. (2 or 3 hours). Quiet, mostly green lanes and footpaths. A few stiles.

4. Middleborough Lane and “Back of Baggy”.  Green lanes, cliffs, birds, butterflies, flowers and views. Distance: 3 miles (2.5 hours without hurrying). Good path with some stiles. Supervise children on the cliff paths.

5. Rocks and Landscape of Croyde.  The ancient history of this landscape is revealed by visual clues within the changing landforms of rock, cliff and hillside. Distance:? A variety of routes selected from other green walks may provide the most appropriate route so it may take 3 hours to explore this landscape adequately.

6. The Flowers of Baggy Point. Over 200 species of flowering plants have been seen on Baggy Point in one year. Use this guide in association with guides 1 to 4 to help you select an interesting route in and around Baggy Point and Croyde. Distance will be a matter of planning but a 3-mile (3 hour) walk can easily be constructed.

The set of six walks sold as a pack costs £1.80.