Combe Martin - Hidden Path - Great and Little Hangman

You need to log in as a member of Walkingworld to access the details for this walk and have an active subscription. Please join, or log in above if you are already a member.

Little Hangman is a seaside hill near Combe Martin that measures roughly 750ft. It is located along the South West Coast Path on the edge of Exmoor and is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are many stories about how little Hangman got its name; the most popular is about an unfortunate sheep rustler. The story goes that a sheep rustler was plying his trade one night on Little Hangman. A rustler would steal a whole herd of sheep by finding the lead ram or sheep and tie some rope around its neck as a makeshift lead. Then the rustler would lead the ram and sheep away from the herd and out of their field. The sheep would follow their leader and the rustler would have control of where the flock would go. Anyway, in the story the rustler puts the rope around a particularly boisterous ram which makes a run for it, dragging the man with him. Unfortunately, sheep are not known for their brains, so the spooked ram runs off the cliff taking the rustler with him. Somehow the rope gets around the man's neck and then gets snagged on a rock, causing the man's and ram's descent to come to a sudden stop. Of course, having a rope around your neck in this case does not help and the man's neck is broken. It is not told how the ram fared! The next morning a fisherman in Combe Martin Bay saw a strange sight as he drew closer to Little Hangman; he sees that there is a man hanging dead from the cliff. After a little investigation from the villagers they worked out what happened and they leave the little-respected thief to hang from the hill named Hangman. And if you go wandering on Little Hangman after dark you'll certainly meet the spirit of the rustler who perished all those years ago. Of course, this is just legend.

Another story that people will tell you is that Hangman received its name due to the fact that there were gallows on the hill, but this does not explain how there are two hills, Little Hangman and Great Hangman. The more probable way that Hangman hills got their names was from a word that over time has become mutated into hangman. The most likely derivation of the name is from the Celtic word 'muen' meaning stone and the old Cornish qualifying article, au, Boundary Stone.

Great Hangman is 1,043 feet (318m) high with a cliff face of 800 feet (244m). It is the highest sea cliff in England and the highest point on the South West Coast Path. Its sister cliff is the 716 feet high (218m) Little Hangman, which marks the edge of Exmoor.

Great Hangman is part of the setting of one of the first-ever books featuring The Saint by Leslie Charteris, entitled 'Meet The Tiger!' Simon Templar stays on Great Hangman in an abandoned pillbox (World War I) so he can find out about a Chicago gangster staying in Baycombe, aka Combe Martin.

England - South West England - Devon - Coast


Birds, Butterflies, Cafe, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Good for Kids, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Moor, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, Sea, Tea Shop, Toilets, Waterfall, Wildlife

Walkingworld members near this walk

Distance away
11.8 Miles