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advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please

Vancouver Island...
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advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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We would like to drive from Bath to Dunster, then Porlock, then Lynmouth. We love Nat Trust properties and I think this area has 3 -4 we can visit. I was thinking about staying one night in each place to cut down on the driving. However, I have been reading about Porlock Hill (the toll road sounds worst to me). I have an extreme dislike (fear) of driving on steep roads with edges/drop offs. Can anyone tell me what this road is like in that respect. From Lynmouth we are going to Bodmin to spend a week there. Would it be worth doing a detour to avoid the A39. I have driven Bath to Dunster before and that was fine but I haven't been past Dunster. I am also wondering now about driving into Lynmouth. I may be anticipating this too much. The trouble is I now live on a small island with no traffic lights so obviously not much traffic and therefore driving in the UK more challenging.

Thanks so much.

9 replies to this topic
Stirling, United...
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1. Re: advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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You can 'drive' it on Google Maps Streetview

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.2062117,-3.6022344,3a,60y,44.48h,77.22t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sq4wp8AP43V93ow5z5ak0hA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

It's a road on a hill, it doesn't look like it's clinging to a sheer cliff edge.

http://www.rural-roads.co.uk/a39/a39_4.shtml

Plymouth
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2. Re: advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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Porlock Hill is very steep, as is the hill down into Lynmouth and up to Lynton. However, none of these run along cliff edges or have sheer drops. They have 'escape roads'- long flat stretches branching off for you to run into if the worst happens and your brakes fail. There is a toll road that avoids the worst of Porlock Hill.

This is an incredibly scenic route, IMO one of the best in the country, and I encourage you to go for it.

Bath UK
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3. Re: advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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Can you reverse a car? If so, you'll be fine.

The only tricky bit of the journey are a few narrow lanes where you might have to reverse back to a passing place. I'm not sure how many tractors are out and about at this time of year.

It is a beautiful route.

Vancouver Island...
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4. Re: advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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Thanks for the advice, it's good to know there are no sheer edges and I will be on the 'right' side of the road.

Exeter, United...
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5. Re: advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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Porlock Hill doesn't have a steep dropoff on either side and you will be going up it, not down it. Up always seems less hairy than down. Even so, I find the toll road easier and a delight and this is always my preference. Don't worry: the A39 is not one of those narrow lanes where you need to reverse when you meet someone.

The main road down into Lynmouth is fairly steep and bendy but not scary. If you don't want to drive it, go to Lynton instead and take the splendid water-driven cliff railway down to Lynmouth. This is anyway more fun.

Dunster is worth a lengthy stop - allow extra time - such a lot to do and see for a small place.

England, United...
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6. Re: advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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This is a road I drive frequently because it must be one of the most beautiful in the UK. It comes under 'Great Drives' for Europe.

There is only one set of traffic lights and that is at Dunster on a wide streatch. If you are going into Dunster you don't have to deal with them at all. Just bear left as you aproach them and you head into the village in about 2mins.

I'm not sure where the narrow lanes are as the road to Lynmouth is a 2 lane quiet route over the moor and the direction you are going you will be driving on the side of the road against the moor so no drops there. Just take the hills steady, 2nd gear for Porlock hill and maybe 3rd for going down into Lynmouth. Both hills are short but the views and the wild ponies and birds of prey are worth it.

I would suggest you come off your route down at Taunton and drive the A38 for the most scenic and relaxing. It joins the A39 again half way to Dunster.

Also when you leave Dunster about 10mins on drop into Selworthy, a turning on the right between Minehead and Porlock. There's a car park at the top and a walk to the white church and the green which is surrounded by thatched cottages set in woodland. beautiful and really unique. About half an hour should do it. This is National Trust but free.

There is an ice cream van at the top of Porlock hill on the right in a parking area selling local clotted cream ice cream which you can treat yourself to for doing the hill ;-) again, fabulous views.

There is a stop and park at the border of Somerset & Devon with lovely views and loos. Also a pull in where the wild unique ponies graze a bit further on.

Park in Lynmouth. If it's busy turn down to the harbour road and there's another car park at the end less used.

You could take the cliff railway (if you dare) to Lynton to look around. To travel on you have a choice of heading up towards Lynton but continuing straight on which will take you along the Devon coast. It's a bit narrow, steep at the start. If you don't fancy this take the road on the left marked for caravans which is surprisingly quiet but a normal 2 lane road uphill.

I think it's worth tackling as if I directed you away from the hills you have very little good scenery in comparison.

I'll attach a link to an article I wrote about this drive and the National Trust properties.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g186369-c218734/Somerset:United-Kingdom:A.Beautiful.Journey.A39.html

Exeter, United...
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7. Re: advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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What Toopaz said

Vancouver Island...
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8. Re: advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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Thank you so much for your encouraging response and the helpful tips. I really appreciate it and will follow your advice.

England, United...
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9. Re: advice about the A39 Dunster to Lynmouth please
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Lol Rogeroos, I did go on a bit but it's my favourite bit of the whole of the UK. I never get fed up with it or of that feeling of huge skies, seas and moor all in one drive.

Marolyn, if you really feel so worried it's getting to you just ask and I'll give you the roundabout road route through the inland countryside.

But my driving instructor took me up there in the snow when I was learning so it can't be too bad.

I have a feeling though that if you come from a small island you will love this part of the country. Still places you can easily get away from the masses. Quiet beaches, quiet rivers and valleys.

Edited: 2 years ago
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