Lynton's Wild Goats
On arriving in Lynton, having moved here from Northamptonshire, we had heard of "the goats" and seen one or two grazing in and around Valley of Rocks. We did not know we would get to see some of them more often than our guests!
Goats on the path above the cliffs
In looking into the history of the goats, they seem to have been here in the Lynton and Hollerday Hill area from time in memoriam. Apparently they were even mentioned in the Doomsday Book as being in the area. There is recorded evidence that in the 1850s all goats were removed from the Valley Of Rocks as they were thought to be killing sheep by butting them off the Cliffs!
At the end of the 19th century they were re-introduced by the Hewitt's, these were thought to have come from Sandringham, but they died out by the mid 1970s. By the end of the 1970s more goats were introduced, this time from the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland. These were of a more hardy breed, and since then have flourished in and around the Valley Of Rocks.
Feelings run high in the area as to whether the goats are good or bad, but whatever one thinks you cannot deny that they are a unique discussion point and have made Lynton famous for something else apart from tourism and the flood of 1952.
Here at Ingleside the goats usually come down to visit us from the back of our garden, from higher up Hollerday Hill. They graze as they go, eating most things including the bark of trees. They will visit us from February up until May. Usually it is the billies who make their way down to us, keeping away from the Nannies who are suckling their new kids. I have had up to 25 goats at once in the garden, some will even walk down our drive past the dining room window!
A billy in our garden!
Not having known anything about wild goats before moving here, I have found them to be a most impressive animal, hardy, versatile, strong, and adaptable. Careful and compassionate management needs to be put in place to make sure they live at peace with the environment and locals alike. For them to survive the harsh winds and horizontal rain, sleet and lack of food of a North Devon winter makes these particular goats a true survivor.
You may also like to see some of the views from Ingleside or have a look at some of the wonderful scenery in this part of North Devon in our Photo Galleries: