At the bottom of the hill that formed one of King Alfred’s defences a stone bridge over the Lyd, a river that flows fast and southwards from the hills of Dartmoor. Immediately below the bridge the river falls sharply down into the deep and beautiful, tree-lined ravine known as Lydford Gorge. Lydford Gorge is 1.5 mile (2.4km) long gorge which forms one of the natural physical defenses of Lydford.
It is deepest river gorge in the South West and It was formed by a process called River Capture where the start of a nearby river eroded backwards until its origin intersected with the Lyd diverting its course into the second channel. It also has a spectacular 30m (100ft) waterfall known as the ‘white lady’ which is the longest in Devon.
During the 17th Century Lydford Gorge was infamous for being the hide-out of a large family of outlaws, the Gubbins, who terrorised the neighbourhood and stole sheep from the farms of Dartmoor. In the years at the beginning of the 19th Century during the war against Napoleon of France, Lydford Gorge became, for many travellers, a replacement for the Grand Tour of Continental Europe, and was much appreciated and valued for its grandeur and beauty.
Lydford Gorge has been owned by the National Trust since 1947. It is an extremely popular attraction with good parking, a coffee shop, childrens play area and great walks. As well as the Waterfall there is also a series of whirlpools also known as ‘Devil’s Cauldron’.
There is a long circular walk which allows you to visit ‘Devils Cauldron’ and the ‘White Lady’ waterfall and there also a shorter walk by the second entrance for those who wish to just see the Waterfall.
Access with Pushchairs and Wheelchairs
The southern end of the Gorge that leads to the Waterfall, and the northern end (main entrance, shop and tea-room) are completely accessible with a pushchair, and very worthwhile. However it is not possible to walk the whole length of the Gorge with a pushchair because, although the top southerly-going path is suitable for a pushchair, the return northwards along the river is a narrow rocky path with some steep awkward parts. But from both the southern and northern ends you will have a good view of the river, and at the northern end there is the spectacular “Devil’s Cauldron” which is easily reached (but you will need to leave the pushchair a little way back). For wheelchairs, some of the main southerly-going path is accessible but it has many ups and downs. A new path suitable for wheelchair access is being brought into use; please enquire about this via one of the Gorge telephone numbers stated below.
Contact: Lydford Gorge
The National Trust telephone numbers at the two ends of the Gorge are 01-822-820-320 and 01-822-820-441 respectively.