16 places to discover in Exmoor
PUBLISHED: 17:14 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:14 21 April 2020
Whether it’s for a day trip or a longer break, there is nowhere quite like Exmoor. HOLLY LOUISE EELLS shares a taster of what to discover in this magical place.
Exmoor National Park is no doubt one of the most picturesque and peaceful National Nature Reserves in the UK. Tarr Steps is one of its incredible and more popular features, which is famous for its clapper bridge, the longest and oldest of its kind in Britain.
Dramatically sited on a wooded hill, Dunster Castle has existed here since the Norman times. The spectacular Medieval gatehouse and the ruined tower is a reminder of its eventful history. Hundreds of years old, expect to be blown away by the vistas and subtropical gardens.
Around 12,000 acres of Exmoor National Park, this estate covers a varied landscape and beautiful wildlife. This National Trust treasure is home to Horner Valley, one of the largest and most stunning ancient oak woods in Britain. Also, Luccombe a picture-perfect thatched village boasting history stretching back to the Domesday Book.
In the heart of Exmoor, Porlock Vale is dotted with idyllic villages all protected by the National Trust such as Selworthy, Allerford, and Culbone. Also, surrounded by the heather-clad hills of Exmoor, it encompasses a stunning sea marsh to The Coleridge Way Walk (51-miles across Exmoor).
Exmoor Owl & Hawk Centre
This 15th century National Trust farmstead within Exmoor National Park boasts the finest collection of owls, birds of prey, and friendly animals to greet you and your family. It is a fabulous day out with the children, that arranges walks around the village with alpacas and horse riding on Exmoor.
Exmoor Pony Centre
This animal charity-run business helps to protect the rare-breed of Exmoor Ponies and offers you an opportunity to meet them. It is scientifically proven, animals offer a great way to reduce stress and nourish the soul, so a visit to the Exmoor Pony Centre is the perfect treat for all.
The Quantock Hills
Impressive scenic walks, panoramic views, the famous Jurassic coastline and wildlife - it is easy to see why it was England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are many long walks linking Exmoor National Park to The Quantock Hills, which captures indescribable beauty along the way.
Exmoor has some of the brightest stars in the country owing to its impressive status as Europe’s first designated International Dark Sky Reserve. Brendon Common (South of Lynmouth), Wimbleball Lake, Bossington Hill near Minehead or Dunkery Beacon and Webber’s Post are just a taster of where to go for stargazing.
One of Somerset’s prettiest gardens, this hidden gem was founded by the gifted plantswoman Joan Loraine. This inspirational woodland garden and organic showpiece of international renown was laid out in 1946. Located on a north-facing hill it offers outstanding views over ancient fields onto Porlock Bay.
The South West Coast Path
The world-renowned South West Coast Path - England’s longest distance footpath and National Trail, stretches for 630 miles running from Minehead. Whether you want to spend a day or week exploring Exmoor, The South West Coast Path Association has created seven one-day circular walks around the Wilderness Coast of Exmoor.
Part of Europe’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust looks after this peaceful coastal hamlet located in Porlock Vale, which sits within the Holnicote Estate. A walk from Bossington, it can lead you to its pebbly beach or high up to the lookout of Hurlstone Point.
West Somerset Railway
Did you know this heritage steam railway operates between Minehead and Bishop’s Lydeard and is the longest independent railway in Britain? This historic train line with retro engines gives you the perfect opportunity to see Exmoor at its finest, from the medieval village of Dunster to the ancient harbour town of Watchet.
Somerset is steeped in history and magical landscapes that have inspired and attracted some of the world’s best poets and writers, including romantic novelist Sam Coleridge. Discover National Trust’s Coleridge Cottage, the former Georgian home of Coleridge, which became the birthplace of British Romanticism.
In the village of Washford lies one of the undiscovered jewels of Somerset. This English Heritage treasure is one of the best-preserved medieval monastic sites in the UK and boasts a huge amount of history, which makes it an ideal place for a great day out.
There are some wonderful, stunning stretches of coast from Exmoor, with various beaches, coves, and gems to explore. From Porlock – Bossington Bay, Blue Anchor beach, Kilve beach to Combe Martin beach, you are really spoilt for choice. Also, many are dog-friendly, often with walks extending into neighbouring ancient woodlands.
Head up Dunkery Hill to get to the highest point in Exmoor at 519 metres. Capped with Bronze Age barrows, this wonderful moorland site is managed and owned by the National Trust. Here you can see amazing views of the Mendips and Quantock Hills, Devon and across to Wales.