Named after the River Exe and covering 692 sq. km. of countryside, Exmoor National Park nestles between West Somerset and North Devon. Designated National park status in 1954, the park is home to over 10,500 people and is rich in ancient oak woodland, deep river valleys, dramatic rugged coastline in the North and an abundance of charming and attractive villages and towns.
There is a wide range of recreation activities on offer including walking, riding, fishing and cycling as well as more specialist activities such as deer or bird watching. The Brendons and the Quantock Hills offer large expanses of heathland, woods and river valleys (called ‘combes’) ideal for country walks.
Numerous castles, houses and gardens can be explored as well as the more popular tourist attractions such as Tarr Steps - the ancient ‘clapper’ bridge over the magical River Barle - and the medieval village of Dunster dominated by its famous castle. Finish the day in a country pub or a coastal seafood restaurant sampling some fine locally sourced produce.
Although one of the smaller National parks, Exmoor offers the visitor large areas that are unspoilt and peaceful. The park is home to the rare breed of Exmoor pony and to some of the finest herds of red deer in Europe which roam the park freely. From bats to badgers and the ‘mewing’ of the buzzards circling above high in the air, Exmoor has an abundance of wildlife to interest nature lovers.
Historically Exmoor has inspired many people and has many strong literary connections – Doone Country which is the area centred around Badgworthy Water inspired Blackmore’s famous novel Lorna Doone. The beautiful coastal village of Porlock stirred the imagination of the likes of Wordsworth and Coleridge – the latter composed his famous poem ‘Kubla Khan’ on a nearby farm.
From the pretty villages of Porlock and Lynmouth, to Dulverton and Exford, Exmoor is a place of great hospitality which enjoys hosting traditional local festivals, village fairs, beach activities and special events and celebrations.
All year round Exmoor is host to a variety of art events from theatre and concerts in Minehead to weekends of music, entertainment and dancing like that at the famous ‘Dunster by Candlelight’ event in December.