My Somerset Life: Escape to Exmoor
PUBLISHED: 12:35 30 June 2011 | UPDATED: 21:35 20 February 2013
Whether you are travelling by four wheels or two, by foot or on four legs, <br/><br/>Exmoor offers a wealth of opportunities to explore this summer.
Exmoor has been a National Park for 57 years and its rich variety of coastline and countryside covers 171,189 acres. With some two-thirds of the park lying in Somerset, it is home to a wide range of birds and animals including the red deer and Exmoor pony.
A recent report published by Exmoor National Park Authority reveals that overall visitor satisfaction on Exmoor has risen to 100%, and this month there are plenty of opportunities to experience this beautiful part of the world for yourself.
Head for one of the areas traditional country shows, such as the Dunster Country Fair on the castle lawns on 27 July or Porlocks Horticultural Society Summer show on 23 July.
For music lovers the Minehead and Exmoor Festival will be staged in various locations from 24-30 July.
Later this year the 2011 Exmoor Food Festival (1-9 October) will provide a showcase for a variety of independent food and drink producers. But if you cant wait that long why not indulge in a Somerset clotted cream tea this summer or pop into a traditional pub for a pint of real ale from the likes of Cotleigh Brewery or Exmoor Ales.
For further information about forthcoming events go to www.exmoor-nationalpark.co.uk or call the National Park Centre at Dulverton on 01398 323841/Dunster 01643 8218335 or call Porlock Visitor Centre 01643 863150.
My Somerset Life: Elke Koessling-Winzer
Having moved from Germany to Somerset in 2002, Elke lives with her two sons, three dogs and two guinea pigs in a cottage near Porlock. Together with a friend she is setting up CultureLine, a PR and Events consultancy. They are working on a series of events which will bring local and international acts to venues around Exmoor and West Somerset. Elke also conducts weddings for the Somerset Registration Service.
What attracted you to this part of Somerset?
Its the combination of the Exmoor wilderness and the proximity of the sea, the dramatic cliffs, the picturesque villages, the moor, the red deer and the ponies, the narrow lanes, and, last but not least, the genuine Exmoor people who all make Exmoor a very special place to live.
What would be your perfect weekend on Exmoor?
Walking the dogs up to Hurlstone Point and then across pebbly beach and marsh towards Porlock Weir is a pretty good start to any weekend. I also love being on the top of the moor, looking across the Bristol Channel. The best time of the year on the moor is late August when the heather is in full bloom. The air is full of buzzing bees, and it smells of honey.
Where would you eat?
Andrews on the Weir is my absolute favourite. The food is fantastic and the view across the bay is stunning at any time of the year or day. The owners, Andrew and Sarah, make everyone feel very special.
What do you think is the best pub in the area?
We have lots of lovely pubs on Exmoor. I like the Top Ship in Porlock as it is close to home, but I also enjoy a visit to Culbone Stables Inn, the Royal Oak in Winsford or the White Horse in Exford.
And the best tearoom?
Lewiss Tearooms in Dulverton undoubtedly deserves every single award and accolade it has ever won. But Caf Deli in Malmsmead is also worth a visit, as is the Whortleberry Tea Room in Porlock. The list of places for sheer indulgence is endless!
What is your favourite walk on Exmoor?
I love my daily walk to the beach with the dogs. However, another favourite is a walk along Badgeworthy Water in the Doone Valley, the setting of RD Blackmores famous novel Lorna Doone. The ancient oak trees make this a very mystical, magical place.
What events sum up Exmoor?
A day out with the Minehead Harriers or the Devon and Somerset Stag Hounds is quintessential Exmoor, as are the Point-to-Points at Holnicote and the many country shows.
Where would you take friends out for the day?
Whenever friends come to stay, I take them for a drive along the narrow lanes past Webbers Post, through Cloutsham and across Dunkery. I show them Stoke Pero, the highest church in England. Apparently all the building material had to be brought up from Porlock by donkey.
Tarr Steps near Dulverton is usually on our itinerary as is Wimbleball Lake. Often we just stop somewhere to watch red deer in the fields or Exmoor ponies grazing by the wayside.
Where would you buy local produce?
I have subscribed to a local veg box scheme which delivers fresh local fruit and veg to my door once a week. Stuart Lowens farmshop in Minehead is another favourite for veg, and Gerald David is great for meat. Porlock butcher Clive Downs makes lovely sausages, and Costcutters in Porlock sell locally made cakes. Court Farm in Withycombe is the place for home-grown asparagus from April to May.
Whats your favourite view on Exmoor?
The car park on the top of Porlock Hill also home to the Styles Ice Cream van! offers a most spectacular view across Exmoor and the Bristol Channel.
Are you involved in any special forthcoming events?
We are currently organising the Porlock Summer Ball in support of St Dubricius C of E First School, Porlock. It takes place on 9 July at Porlock Village Hall and will be hosted by SoSomerset Ambassador and well-known BBC presenter Martin Roberts. We hope to raise lots of money for our local school, which is very much at the heart of the community.
For further info about the Porlock Summer Ball go to exmoorevents.com