Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park

Map of Area - Local Towns | Clovelly | Ilfracombe | Woolacombe | Barnstaple | Instow | Appledore | Croyde | Bideford | Instow | Barnstaple | Saunton Sands | Ilfracombe | Lynton & Lynmouth | Barnstaple | Combe Martin | The Exmoor National Park | Great Torrington | Westward Ho!


Ilfracoombe Harbour

The Exmoor National Park straddles West Somerset and North Devon, stretching from the North Devon Coast, near Ilfracombe, towards the Quantock Hills - creating a vibrant collection of varied and inspiring landscapes, punctuated by delightful villages and hamlets.

The Exmoor National Park encompasses over 265 square miles of coastal land, hills, moors and woods, which provides excellent hiking opportunities across wild landscape and among the stone circles and ruins of ancient inhabitants.

The park lies on top of a huge sandstone plateau split by deep 'coombes', or wooden valleys, creating some of the most varied and beautiful scenery in England. This is an area where you can enjoy peaceful, open spaces, clean air, heather-clad moors, ancient forests, deep valleys, sparkling rivers, dramatic coastline, pretty villages and towns and a friendly welcome. The unique and rare breed of Exmoor pony and large herds of red deer freely roam the area. In the sky, you will invariably see buzzards soaring overhead and in the evening you can stalk deer, watch bats or seek out badgers at sunset.

The moors contain large deposits of peat, which form bogs due to the high rainfall. Mist and fog can descend very quickly in Exmoor, so a compass is a must for walkers. The peat moors give way to heather uplands, replete with a variety of grasses and plants, such as gorse and whortleberry.

Wimball LakesLarge portions of Exmoor are controlled by the National Trust, notably the Holnicote estate, containing Dunkerry Beacon, the highest point in Exmoor. The National Trust maintaining over 100 miles of walking paths within this vast (12, 500 acres) estate, alone. The Trust publishes a leaflet detailing 14 walks around Dunkerry. Pretty villages dot the Park, such as Dunster and Selworthy, a favourite of postcard and calendar photographers

Exmoor is also home to Lorna Doone, the fictional heroine of Victorian author R.D.Blackmore. Blackmore's descriptions of the scenery are so precise that even today it is easy to recognise many of the sites described in his book. The village of Malmstead is a good jumping-off place for visiting "Doone country", and Oare contains the church where Blackmore had Lorna and hero John Ridd marry.

Exmoor National Park - Towns and Villages


The gateway to "Doone Country". A lovely whitewashed and thatched village, surrounded by trees. 'Hoccombe Coombe' can be found nearby- called Doone Valley on account of its resemblance to the Doone's hideout in the novel. You can also visit Badgewrothy Water, where there is a memorial to R D Blackmore, the writer of Lorna Doone


Situated amongst some of Exmoor's most beautiful scenery, Dulverton is a small market town, with the river Barle flowingthrough it, a 13th cent church tower and a market square.


A quaint, small town with many 'olde world houses', dominated by a 19th century red sandstone castle. The site of Dunster Castle has been occupied for over a thousand years, originally a Norman Castle, sited on what is now the Keep - most of the original castle was replaced in the 19th century except for the 13th century gatehouse. The castle and park were given over to the National Trust in 1976 by Lieutenant Colonel Walter Luttrell whose ancestors had been at Dunster for 600 years.

Dunster was a port during the 16th century, but the sea has receded about two miles. Dunster has a wide main street and a 17th century Yarn Market. Dunster becomes very crowded in summer, and as a consequence, probably has more tea shops than anywhere else in Devon.


Exford originally developed around a ford in the River Exe, subsequently replaced by a bridge. North of the village is Exford Common which leads onto Dunkerry Beacon - about a five mile trek. Dunkerry Beacon, ownd by the National Trust as is the highest point on Exmoor, with outstanding views over, it is said, 17 counties.


A pretty cottages cluster along the East Lyn River as it runs along a promenade and a small harbour to the sea. A flash flood here in 1952 caused the river to burst its banks, and 31 people were killed . A cliff railway joins Lynmouth to Lynton, 500 feet above. The railway was opened in 1890 and ascends a 1 in 2 incline. Two cars one going up and one going down are "powered" by water ballast being taken aboard at the top and empties at the bottom.


Sitting on top of a 500 dome shaped cliff, overlooking Lynmouth. This mainly Victorian town enjoys spectacular views out to sea.


Once a medieval port, Minehead is now a large traditional seaside resort. There is a wide sweeping bay that offers good bathing.


A pretty little village on the River Barle, in the middle of Exmoor.

Stoke Pero

A small hamlet, home to Exmoor's highest church. A small footpath from stoke pero leads you two miles to Dunkerry Beacon.

Winsford (and Tarr Stepps clapper bridge)

A lovely little village on the River Exe, with a thatched pub and seven bridges, including a pack horse bridge. Tarr Steps are only 3 miles away, a particularly fine "clapper bridge", consisting of 15 spans of "stepping stones", each weighing around 2 tons and are not local in origin




The Tarka Trail, North Devon, over 180 miles in length taking a looping route through North and Mid Devon, from the rugged Atlantic Coast, the Estuaries of the Two Rivers of Tarka the Otter fame, the Rivers Taw and Torridge through rural Devon Countryside onto the Northern Slopes of Dartmoor, and the source of the River Taw. The Trail between Barnstaple, down the Taw, upriver to Bideford, following the Torridge to Torrington takes the route of a disused railway line and is particularly suited for both cyclists and walkers.



WATERMOUTH CASTLE - Situated high on the cliffs overlooking Watermouth Bay, Watermouth Castle is a unique family attraction where a whole day can be spent enjoying the entertainment and fun designed for all ages.

Please ring 01271 867474 for opening times and admission prices. Open from Easter until October daily except Saturday.

Watermouth Castle Near Ilfracombe North Devon Tel 01271 867474


Lynton & Lynmouth railwayLynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway - A unique Cliff Railway in Exmoor National Park where you can discover the wonders of the hidden corner of England - including miles of National Trust, riverside and coastal walks.

Lynton & Lynmouth railwayThe railway the South West's most popular working attraction, as well as an integral part of daily life in the two communities and provides one of the world's most spectacular railway rides.

Lynmouth & Lynton Lift Co, Lynmouth, North Devon, EX35 6EP Tel: 01598 753908, Fax: 01598 752733


ARLINGTON COURT - An award winning National Trust mansion, designed by Thomas Lee in 1820. Originally owned by Miss Rosalie Chichester, it is situated in peaceful informal gardens amidst parkland, grazed by Shetland ponies and Jacob sheep.

The surrounding woods have miles of walks. The house is full of fascinating collections, including shells, model ships and pewter. The working stables has horses, carriage driving tuition at all levels, and the National Trust's renowned Carriage Collection. Carriage drives taking visitors round the gardens start at the front of the house and there are tea-rooms, restaurant and shop.

Open: April - October From 11am - 5.30pm.
Closed Saturdays. November - March
Park and Woods only Daylight Hours only.

Arlington Court. Arlington, Barnstaple, Devon EX 31 4LP
Tel: 01271 850296 Fax 01271 850711


Dunster Castle - Originally a Norman castle, but substantially rebuilt during the 19th Century. The present building was built in 1617 by William Arnold, and has been witness to many changes over the years. The castle was refurbished in the 1680s by Colonel Francis Luttrell who installed many fine plasterwork ceilings and a magnificent carved staircase. The castle was largely remodelled in the Victorian period by Antony Salvin who gave the castle its present appearance by adding two great towers with turrets and battlements.

The castle and park were given over to the National Trust in 1976 by Lieutenant Colonel Walter Luttrell whose ancestors had been at Dunster for 600 years.

The house is surrounded by sheltered terraced gardens, with many subtropical plants including the famous Dunster Lemon Tree, along with breathtaking views over the Bristol Channel and Exmoor National Park.


RHS Garden Rosemoor - Superb Gardens, originally started in in 1959 when Lady Anne Berry (Lady Anne Palmer) caught measles from her children and, while recuperating in Spain, met the noted plantsman Collingwood Ingram. He invited her to visit his garden on her return to England and encouraged her to return to Rosemoor with a few of his plants to start a garden of her own. Lady Anne's Garden, as the original garden of Rosemoor is now known, is a plantsman's garden and is of great horticultural and botanical interest. Inspired by the enthusiasm of plantsman Collingwood Ingram, the garden development continued with the planting of specimens collected by Lady Anne on her travels all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Japan, the USA and temperate South America

Rosemoor, Great Torrington, North Devon EX38 8PH Tel: 01805 624067


The West Somerset Railway - recapturing the era of the branch line country railway in the days of steam. Enjoy 20 miles of glorious Somerset scenery as the train gently rolls back the years on its journey beside the Quantock Hills to the Bristol Channel coast. There are ten restored stations along the route, each having its own individual charm and character; many have signalboxes, engine sheds, museums, displays, steam engines and other rolling stock to see.

The Railway Station Minehead Somerset TA24 5BG
Tel: 01643-704996 Fax: 01643-706349


Cleeve Abbey - Somerset. One of the few thirteenth-century monastic sites left with such a complete set of cloister buildings.

Also home to fifteenth-century wall paintings of St Catherine and St Margaret. Following a conservation programme by English Heritage, the Abbey can now be explored again, but viewing may be restricted in some areas

Combe Sydenham Country Park - Discover the hidden valley of Sir Francis Drake's romance set in beautiful countryside on the edge of Exmoor. There are 10 miles of way-marked woodland walks to enjoy with award winning nature trails, a picnic site; children's play area and toilet. Coarse fishing will be available.

Combe Sydenham Country Park, Monksilver, Exmoor TA4 4JG
Tel: 01984 656364


Wimbleball Lakes - lie just within Exmoor National Park. Its 374 acres of water and 500 acres of surrounding woodland and meadow offer recreation for all. Picnic tables are dotted around the park and there is plenty of room for improvised games. There is an infants' play area and a rustic trail for the more adventurous.
Contact 01837 871565 or e-mail info@swlakestrust.org.uk

Quince Honey farm An entertaining education for young and old!You can stand and watch these wild and wonderful creatures from the distant past. The unique design of the indoor apiary allows close up viewing in complete safety. The glass booths expose the working colonies of honeybees without interfering with their natural lifestyle. Founded in 1949 the farm has grown over the years until today it is the largest honey farm in the country. The large exhibition halls were added in 1980 when the farm moved to it's current site.

Quince Honey Farm. North Road, South Molton, Devon EX36 3AZ
Tel 01769 572401 Fax 01769 574704

Map of Area - Local Towns | Clovelly | Ilfracombe | Woolacombe | Barnstaple | Instow | Appledore | Croyde | Bideford | Instow | Barnstaple | Saunton Sands | Ilfracombe | Lynton & Lynmouth | Barnstaple | Combe Martin | The Exmoor National Park | Great Torrington | Westward Ho!

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