Lydford Gorge geology

About this route

The impressive Lydford Gorge has a depth of 35 meters, is almost 2km long and is of considerable importance for interpreting the geology of the local area.  It’s possible to see extensive exposures of mudstones, sandstones, limestones and cherts ranging in age from Upper Devonian (c370 million years) to Lower Carboniferous age (350 million years). Some of these rocks contain important fossil remains that have proved crucial in dating the geology. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the site is the structure of the gorge itself. This provides a classic example of river gorge formation followed by ‘river capture’ and has many features associated with this process. These include the spectacular 27-metre high Whitelady waterfall and the exciting Devil’s Cauldron whirlpool, along with the imprints of potholes, now many metres above the present river level.

Getting Around

By bike: Lydford Gorge is close to two cycle routes – Devon Coast to Coast and Drakes Trail.


By bus: a number of buses stop at Lydford Gorge, including from Plymouth.


By car: Located halfway between Okehampton and Tavistock and one mile west of the A386 opposite the Dartmoor Inn. The main entrance is at the west end of Lydford village.  The waterfall entrance is near Manor Farm.

There is a circular walk of three miles and separate shorter, easy access paths for wheelchair users. Admission charges apply. There is a seasonal shop and tearoom. During the winter, access if to the waterfall only.
Footpaths. Some accessible trails.

Interesting information

Lydford Gorge is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Photo of Whitelady waterfall at Lydford Gorge
Whitelady waterfall, Lydford Gorge Copyright Rob Wilcox (geograph.org.uk)

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