Morthoe, Morte Point and Rockham Bay
Mortehoe, just inland from the dangerous rocks of Morte Point is less than a mile from Woolacombe. The lane up from Woolacombe to its cliff top position is steep and narrow but if you don't feel like walking there is a car park in the village. Next to the car park is the heritage centre which is housed in a converted National Trust barn. It has information on the history of the Mortehoe, the local marine life and displays about the many shipwrecks off Mortepoint. It is open from Easter until the end of October. Within its grounds there is also a small children's play area.
The Hertitage Centre - Morthoe |
St Mary's Church - Mortehoe
The village also contains a fascinating old church – St Mary's – the first records of which date back to 1258. In the churchyard there are several interesting graves including those of ship wrecked sailors. Next to the church is a real character pub, just one of three to be found in this small village!
At the north end of the village just opposite the footpath to Rockham Bay is North Morte Well. This was restored in 1993 and forms an attractive feature set in a wall of natural stone. Now it is often used as a wishing well.
The whole area is very beautiful and has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Much of the land is owned by the National Trust and the cliffs to the west of the village are designated as a Site of Special Scientific due to its maritime heath, coastal, cliff and foreshore habitats.
The walk to the secluded Rockham bay is not too strenuous, but there are three flights of steep steps to reach the beach itself. However you are rewarded with clumps of lovely wild flowers growing on the cliffs as you proceed carefully down. High tide is not the ideal time to visit as access is restricted but at all other times there is much to explore – plenty of rock pools, many quite deep, interesting rock formations and plenty of sand for children to play on. As access is by foot this beach does not get as busy as many other beaches. There are no restrictions for dogs – no bins either so you will have to take your litter home.
Rockham Bay with the tide going out
From Rockham Bay you can take the coastal path to Morte Point This is a very rocky headland, with some unusual rock formations. The path runs at a low level around the headland and as you reach the tip of the headland, there are excellent views towards Woolacombe and Baggy Point and if you are lucky you may spot the seals.
Looking out to sea you find Morte Stone. The currents here are treacherous and have caused a great many ships to be wrecked on the jagged rocks. In one winter – that of 1852 - five ships were lost. Maybe Morte Stone really does mean Death Stone
If you still have the energy you can climb another 450ft to the summit of the hill between Morte Point and Mortehoe to enjoy the fantastic views. You can also find large stones believed to have been megalithic tomb and known as the Cromlech. It used to be a large slab supported by two upright stones but over the years the stones have become dislodged and they are now resting just below the old coastguard lookout. This was built in 1914 and demolished in 1982
Mortehoe – From Barnstaple take A361 to Braunton and carry on through towards Ilfracombe. When you reach the Mullacott Cross Roundabout turn left towards Woolacombe on the B3343. Take the second left sign posted Mortehoe. When you reach the village you will find a good size car park on your left.
Having parked your car you can walk to Rockham Bay - take the lane opposite the entrance to the car park. Walk for about quarter of a mile and just after the well you will see the path sign-postedto Rockham Bay on your left. Morte Point can also be reached via this route or you can go through the village.