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Exmoor National Park – North Devon

The Valley of Rocks

People gathered for a journey through our imaginations, to recreate the river which formed this spectacular landscape and evoke folk tales that have clung to the stones for centuries.

Valley of Rocks is a puzzle of a place. A deep valley with no river.  A landscape littered with stones but no-one knows which stones were placed by human hands and which fell from the tops of the rocks or who named them Rugged Jack, Eros, Icarus, the Devil’s Cheesewring.

With over 350 Lumenators we explored the enigma that is the valley and created some new memories that will remain with us all for some time to come.

We began with the absent river, which ran for thousands of years, carving its way through the fossil ridden sandstone. Some say that the river ran dry 100,000 years ago, perhaps before human eyes even encountered the place. Accompanied by musicians, Lumenators on bicycles and on foot reimagined this river, building from a drop to a trickle, into a stream and finally, a full bodied river of flickering blue lights.

Event Notebook

Lumenators holding their Geolights above their heads

Our river meandered past the long, rocky ridge of Rugged Jack where local folktales tell of dancers turned into stone by the Devil. Figures appeared in silhouette against the sky and hollered down to Lumenators below. And the river gathered in a pool by the enigmatic Castle Rock. There a Step Dancer tapped her feet on an upturned barrel and the beat echoed throughout the valley.

While the archeology is scant it’s believed that the Valley was occupied by people in the Bronze Age.

These people placed boulders on top of each other, creating circular pounds for animals and circular huts for people and circular spaces for thinking circular thoughts. They looked to the moon and the sun and considered the circles and the cycles that they make and they followed in their wake. And they spiralled sometimes, out of control and out onto the edge of our history.

Paschale Straiton
Creative Director, Red Herring Productions

These are amazing events, they are fun on the coach there & back, accessible, easy terrain, wheelchair friendly, free tea, fruit & biscuits, lovely people kind, caring and friendly throughout, making amazing memories together in amazing outdoor spaces, a chance to really watch the sun go down, and the lights begin to glow! Xx


Watery Atmosphere

Music evoking the sound of water composed by Jules Bushell

A young lumenator holds up her Geolight

The story goes that Jack and his friends danced here on a Monday and they danced at night. And they kept the Devil up with the sound of their feet.

They danced on a Tuesday, a Wednesday and a Thursday. And all the time, the Devil didn’t sleep.

They danced on a Friday and a Saturday. The Devil, he shook.

They danced on a Sunday and he turned them to stone with one hard look.

And in stone they remain with their backs to the sea.

If you listen, you can hear their voices in the scree.

Paschale Straiton, inspired by old folktales
Creative Director, Red Herring Productions

Rugged Jack

Jules Bushell reciting ‘Rugged Jack’ by Paschale Straiton (Red Herring Productions)

The Valley of Rocks at sunset

For I have learned to look on nature, […]
—And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

William Wordsworth
excerpt from ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey’

William Wordsworth

Helena Payne (Pleasuredome Theatre) reciting William Wordsworth

Congratulations….I haven’t been to Lynton for 30+ years but I’ll definitely be back to The Valley of the Rocks…especially at sundown…for four and a half hours I was transported away from my chaotic life to somewhere really spectacular with really special people.

Lumenators gather in a circle with green and red lights

About The Valley of Rocks, Exmoor National Park

Dream. Discover. Explore.

Exmoor is one of 15 UK National Parks and an International Dark Sky Reserve. Famous for its wild deer and ponies, dramatic coastline and rugged heather moorland, there’s plenty to see and do.

The Valley of Rocks is arguably the most spectacular scenic location on Exmoor.  As the Lumenators went on a journey with us they dreamed into, discovered and explored The Valley of Rocks.

Had a really brilliant time in the most beautiful setting and boy did we have just the best weather for it too with the added bonus of a beautiful sunset … amazing.

Wander Women North Devon, Castle Rock Team
A family walking along a path with an autumnal coloured bush to their left

About Exmoor National Park

First designated in 1954, Exmoor National Park has an amazing variety of landscapes within its 267 square miles. Large areas of open moorland come alive with purple heather and yellow gorse in summer. They provide a sense of remoteness, wildness and tranquillity rare in southern Britain. Spectacular high sea cliffs provide breath-taking coastal views, while deep wooded valleys, incised by fast-flowing streams, provide shelter for rare Atlantic rainforest. Catch a glimpse of wild red deer or the region’s famous herds of free roaming Exmoor ponies.

We’d like to thank all the groups who participated:

  • Big Noise Street Band, Bridgwater
  • Community Resources CIC, Ilfracombe
  • Exmoor National Park Young Rangers
  • Exmoor National Park Volunteers
  • North Devon Cycling Group
  • North Devon Downs Syndrome Group
  • Simonsbath House Outdoor Centre
  • Space Youth Centre, Bideford
  • Wander Women North Devon
  • Wednesday Wanderers, Barnstaple Library
  • Wren Music, Okehampton

Thanks to our partners who supported this event:

  • Exmoor National Park
  • Natural England
  • Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council
  • Mother Meldrum’s Cafe
  • Charlie Fridays
  • Sarah Bonner Catering
  • Streets Coaches


Event produced by Red Herring Productions

Photography by André Pattenden