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Exmoor National Park

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Exmoor National Park

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Exmoor National Park is situated in the south west of the United Kingdom. It spreads across north coast of Devon and west Somerset and is one of Britain's first National Parks.


Valley of the Rocks, Lynton

For many, R.D. Blackmore's novel Lorna Doone, set about Brendon in Devon and Oare, in Somerset provides an extra appeal for the park, as do associations with the poet Coleridge.


Exmoor earned its National Park status in 1954 and is named after its main river, the River Exe, whose source is near Simonsbath, Somerset.


Most of the 267 mi² (693 km²) of Exmoor is open heath and moorland. The highest point on Exmoor is Dunkery Beacon, at 1704 ft (519 m), which is also the highest point in Somerset.

Exmoor has 34 mi (55 km) of dramatic coastline, including the highest sea cliffs in England. The South West Coast Path passes along these cliffs and was voted Britain's favourite trail in 2006.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Some moors are covered by a variety of grasses and sedges while others are dominated by heather. Land is mainly used for livestock, but there are some areas that are cultivated, such as the Brendon Hills.

Sheep have grazed on the moors for more than 3000 years, and traditional breeds include Exmoor Horn, Cheviot and Whiteface Dartmoor and Greyface Dartmoor sheep. Devon red cattle are also farmed in the area.

Exmoor ponies can be seen roaming freely on the moors and are a race rather than a breed of pony. They are the closest breed remaining in Europe to wild horses. The ponies are rounded up once a year to be marked and checked over.

Red deer have a stronghold on the moor and can be seen on quiet hillsides in remote areas, particularly in the early morning.

The famous Beast of Exmoor is reputed to haunt the moor, with many sightings since the 1960s. It is possibly a cougar or black leopard released sometime in the 1960s or 1970s after a law was passed that made it illegal for them to be kept in captivity outside zoos. It has been blamed for killing many sheep over the years.

The moorland habitat is also home to hundreds of species of birds and insects. Birds seen on the moor include the merlin, the buzzard, the Peregrine falcon, European stonechat, the dipper, the Dartford warbler and the ring iuzel.

Get in[edit]

By boat[edit]

There is a ferry from Swansea to nearby Ilfracombe, to the west.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]


Villages below are in the county of Somerset unless otherwise stated.

  • Brendon (Devon) - in 'Lorna Doone' country.
  • Dulverton - a large and attractive village on the River Barle.
  • Dunster - retains a central yarn market building and has a castle above the village.
  • Lynton and Lynmouth (Devon) - hillside and coastal villages with a funicular between them.
  • Oare - centre of 'Lorna Doone' country, where Carver Doone shot Lorna in the church on her wedding day with John Ridd.
  • Porlock - large village with picturesque houses.
  • Porlock Weir - delightful coastal village and the start of a superb 5 mile cliff walk to Culbone Church
  • Selworthy - tiny but one of the most striking. Thatched cottages around the green, a fine church and great views from Selworthy Beacon.
  • Winsford - fine inland village, where a small tributary joins the River Exe with a thatched pub and numerous bridges.

Other beauty spots[edit]

  • Dunkery Beacon
  • Doone Valley
  • Tarr Steps - a clapper bridge on the Barle near Dulverton.
  • Valley of Rocks (Devon) - spectacular clifftop road from Lynton - not a valley in the normal sense.
  • Watersmeet (Devon) - where the East Lyn River meets Hoar Oak Water.

Do[edit][add listing]

Exmoor is a great area for walking. [3]. To get great enjoyment from this no particular fitness level is required, although there is plenty to satisfy long distance walkers too.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Chough's Nest Hotel, North Walk, Lynton, Devon, EX35 6HJ, 01598 753 315 (), [1]. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. £42 B&B, £62 B&B&Dinner.  edit


  • Heddon's Gate Hotel (A tranquil country house hotel set on the steep slopes of the wooded Heddon Valley), Martinhoe, Parracombe, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 4PZ, 01598 763481 (), [2]. Half board £75 - £101 pppn.  edit



Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

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