Lydford Gorge is the deepest in the southwest, with the highest waterfall at 30m (100feet) and a breathtaking and varied walk. It’s not long, but it can take a while as there’s so much to absorb. You’ll find yourself stopping to take in the sights and take photos.
Lydford is a small village within the Dartmoor National Park, north of Mary Tavy outside Tavistock, off the A386. There are two places to access the walk – one is closest to the Devils Cauldron, and the other is closest to White Lady Falls. We recommend parking at the White Lady Falls car park, then walking to the Devils Cauldron, up to the cafe for a cup of tea and a piece of cake, then walking along the top of the gorge back to the car park. The walk is about 3 miles long, and takes about 2 hours, depending how long you stop in the cafe. It’s best to allow plenty of time so you can savour this one, watch the water, watch the wildlife
Starting at the car park, there is a choice of two descents into the gorge – a short steep path, with steps, and a longer, more gradual path. Both take you to the waterfall, which is a remarkably tranquil place. The waterfall is actually a small tributary to the River Lyd, but it joins the main river quite spectacularly. There’s a small rope bridge to cross the river, or you can admire the falls then head back. Crossing the bridge takes you up the river, close to the water. The path can be rocky and uneven, but it’s fairly level. It’s rare that it’s dry here, so it can be wet and slippy too. Make sure you wear decent shoes or boots for the terrain.
Halfway to the Devils Cauldron is the Tunnel Falls, a series of pools worn by the water. There’s also a impressive tree crossing the water that used to be at the top of the gorge. A localised landslide in 201? caused a large part of the land to slide towards the river exposing the bedrock.
Devils Cauldron is named as the water seems to be boiling as it gushes through a series of pools, and twists and turns through the rock. There’s a platform out to get close to the water, and the mist in the air and roar of the water is quite magnificent. Carry on walking through the romantically named Pixie Glen, and you can choose to walk on to ???? Pool, or head up to the car park and cafe. The Pool is a peaceful spot after the roar of the cauldrons, but it is effectively a dead end you’ll have to trace back your steps. A quick cup of tea or coffee in the cafe is a good idea by now. The walk back is along the top of the gorge where you get fantastic views over the valley, with occasional glimpses of the river. You also pass by the very top of White Lady Falls, and the top of the landslide, which looks even more impressive.
You’ll need decent shoes or boots.
This is a good walk for anytime of the year. In winter the trees are bare and you can see more of the gorge. Plus the river is likely to be fuller. Summer brings flowers, wildlife and greenness. Sheltered from sun, wind and rain, it’s a great place to go whatever the weather.
The walk is one way and in the height of the season, this walk can get very busy. Dogs are welcome, but must be kept on a lead at all times. I’ve no idea if paddling is allowed, but the river is so fast flowing you’d be a bit daft to try, so best not go in the water.
The whole area is owned by the National Trust, so there is a fee for non members of £8.90. The car park is free, and there are toilets available. Members go in free.