PLACES TO VISIT IN AND AROUND EXMOOR
ROADWATER – take a walk along the historic Mineral Line. This was built in the mid 19th century to take iron ore from the mines on the Brendon Hills to Watchet harbour. Just down the road at Washford is the Cistercian abbey of Cleeve, and English Heritage site. This is a haven of peace and tranquillity, said to contain the finest cloister buildings in England.
WATCHET – a friendly, vibrant harbour town. The town lies on the West Somerset coast, with its fascinating geology and unspoiled beaches, popular for fossil hunting and rock pooling. Exmoor National Park, the Brendon Hills and the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty provide a dramatic green backdrop to the town. It is a lovely place to spend some time enjoying the gift shops, cafes and pubs. It’s a fun place for a night out – we especially love Pebbles as they often have great live music! You can also join the Mineral Line from here and take a walk along the river to Washford – you could then take the steam train from Washford station back to Watchet!
DUNSTER – a wonderful place to explore and probably the largest and most intact medieval village. Dominated by Dunster Castle, Duster has a wealth of history to discover including the iconic 17th century Yarn Market, a working watermill and the remains of a Benedictine priory. There’s also the late medieval Gallox Bridge across the river Avill that once carried packhorses bringing fleeces from Exmoor to Dunster. The church also contains the longest Rood screen in the country. The town had become a centre of the wool trade by the 13th century. Dunster has a good selection of cafes, pubs and gift shops.
MINEHEAD – on the edge of Exmoor National Park is the areas largest town. It is also the starting point of the South West Coast Path, England’s longest waymarked footpath and a National Trail which stretches for 630 miles. It boasts a wonderful long flat sandy beach, a charming harbour, the iconic North Hill and a bustling town with a good selection of shops, cafes and pubs. Just a short stroll from the seafront you’ll find Blenheim Gardens, with a bandstand and a variety of free entertainment during the summer months. Across from the promenade and gardens is West Somerset Railway’s western terminus – originally opened in 1874. A trip on the steam train makes a wonderful day out.
BOSSINGTON & SELWORTHY – continuing on from Minehead you will come to the picturesque villages of Selworthy, Allerford and Bossington with their chocolate-box thatched cottages and other delightful architectural features. There are great walks from here. Selworthy has a fine medieval church and walks through wooded combes up onto the cliff top for incredible views along the coast. It’s a good place to start discovering the wonderfully varied landscape within the 12,000 acre Holnicote Estate.
Bossington is a peaceful coastal hamlet with traditional Exmoor cob and thatched cottages. The pebble beach is a great place for bird watching. Old lime kilns and Second World War sea defences line the shore. There are good walks along the coast from here to Hurstone Point and Porlock Marsh – if you are lucky you may sight porpoises.
PORLOCK & PORLOCK WEIR – Porlock is a well loved by visitors to Exmoor, with its characterful cottages, independent shops, galleries, pubs and cafes. Only a short distance from Porlock is Porlcok Weir, the small harbour hamlet. A secluded and idyllic spot. Take a deep breath of sea air, wander around the gift shops and enjoy a bite to eat. From here you can take the woodland walk to Culbone Church, which is the smallest church in England.
LYNMOUTH & LYNTON – situated on the North coast of Devon within Exmoor National Park. Noted for its breath taking natural beauty, high sea cliffs and stunning scenery. Lynmouth with its charming fishing cottages and shops that cluster around the pretty harbour of gently bobbing boats. Lynton perched high above is a vibrant Victorian village. Lynton and Lynmouth are connected by the Cliff Railway, the highest and steepest fully powered Victorian railway in the world!
If you continue along the road through Lynton you come to the dramatic Valley of the Rocks. It is well known for its feral goats that roam freely and its unusual rock formations and caves.
COMBE MARTIN – lies on the western fringes of Exmoor. It has a shingle and sand beach when the tide is high, but at low tide there is a lovely sandy beach with lots of rock pools to explore. There are spectacular views across the bay.
ILFRACOMBE – lies to the west of Exmoor and is the largest town on the coast in this area. Its attractive harbour is home to Verity, a magnificent statue by Damien Hirst. It is also the departure point for Lundy Island. Ilfracombe has a modern theatre and the high street has a wide selection of independent shops, cafes and pubs.
DULVERTON – a beautiful historic market town situated on the River Barle, on the edge of Exmoor and is a vibrant local hub. It has the oldest medieval bridge on Exmoor. It has a lovely selection of independent shops, cafes and pubs. There are pleasant walks along the riverbank and several options to walk looping through Burrdige Woods.
BAMPTON – set in a wooded valley, a tributary of the Exe valley. Most buildings are of local stone. Bampton has a warm, friendly and attractive atmosphere and has a great selection of independent shops, cafes and pubs. Bampton is on the Exe Valley Way walking route and on the West Country Way cycle route.
WIVELISCOMBE – is a charming little town situated on the edge of Exmoor at the foot of the Brendon Hills. It is a former cloth making and market town. It’s a delightful place to visit! We would particularly recommend going on a Saturday morning so you can enjoy the delights of the Farmers Market. Wiveliscombe is also home to Courthouse Interiors, a stunning shop set on 3 floors, packed full of Persian carpets, unique objects and home furnishings. Its also got a great café.
TARR STEPS – an ancient clapper bridge possibly dating back to 1000BC. It is a Grade 1 listed Building and Scheduled Ancient Monument. It crosse the River Barle about 6.5 miles upstream of from Dulverton.
DOONE VALLEY – made famous by RD Blackmore in his infamous novel Lorna Doone. Bagworthy Water, the well known ‘Doone village’ is strangely beautiful, set in a valley scattered with patches of scree. There are traces of stone walls (thought to be from the twelfth century, which were once home to a remote farming community living on the edge of Exmoor. Today these medieval houses and field terraces are one of the best preserved of this type in South West England.
WIMBLEBALL LAKE – a fab place for a day out. Surrounded by rolling hills and stunning views Wimbleball offers something for everyone. Miles of off-road foot and cycle trails, woodlands, wildlife, water sports, bird watching and cafes.
EXMOOR DARK SKIES
Exmoor National Park is home to some of the darkest skies in the country owing to its status as an International Dark Sky Reserve. On a clear night, the night sky of Exmoor is simply stunning, so don't forget to look up!!
WEST SOMERSET RAILWAY
Our AirBnB studio is just 10 minutes drive away from the renowned West Somerset Railway, our nearest stop to board the steam train is Washford. This is a privately run steam railway running between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead. www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk
WALKING & CYCLING ON EXMOOR
Exmoor offers spectacular walks for both the experienced walker and those who prefer a gentle stroll and has over 1000km of footpaths and bridleways. There are also a huge variety of cycle routes within the park for all abilities. The National Park has wonderfully diverse terrains to offer, from rolling countryside hills, to dramatic heather-covered moorland, magical woodland paths and stunning riverside walks.
Passing through Exmoor are several of the UK’s long distance routes including The Coleridge Way, The South West Coast Path, The Two Moors Way and The Exe Valley Way.
• The Coleridge Way – a 51 mile route through the Quantock Hills, the Brendon Hills and Exmoor.
• The South West Coastal Path – 630 miles of spectacular coastline stretching from Minehead in Somerset to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset.
• The Two Moors Way – this 102 mile route runs from Ivybridge on the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park and Lynmouth on the North Coast of Exmoor.
• The Exe Valley Way – a 50 mile route along the stunning river valley stretching from the South West Coast Path National Trail on the Exe Estuary to the village of Exford in Exmoor National Park.
• The Tarka Trial – a 18- mile route that is most famous for the stunning cycleway section that runs between Braunton and Meeth in North Devon.
• The Quantocks – in 1956 this area was awarded the national status of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Quantock Common is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The hills are situated outside Exmoor and are well worth a visit both for cyclists and walkers. A good place to start a walk is from the top of Crowcombe Hill. Or another place I like to start is to park outside the Blue Ball pub and head up the hill from here. www.blueballquantocks.co.uk