Exmoor is a large National Park located on the Bristol Channel coast. It has an area of 267 square miles (692 Km) and includes Porlock Vale, the East Lyn valley and the Brendon Hills. The area was once the hunting ground of kings and gets its name from the River Exe which springs from the waterlogged uplands. The highest point on Exmoor is the 1703 ft (519 m) Dunkery Beacon. Exmoor lacks the rugged granite outcrops of Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor but has its own more gentle characteristics. Not only are there areas of bleak uplands covered with heather, bracken and gorse but around the edges of the Moor can be found tree lined valleys and pleasant streams.
Exmoor has a spectacular coastline with mighty headlands, rocky ravines and some of the highest cliffs in England. The moor is known for its large number of red deer and for the native Exmoor ponies. The evidence for early man on the moor is shown by the fact there are 208 scheduled ancient monuments.
Tourist Information Centre:
|National Park Centre, 7-9 Fore Street, Dulverton, Somerset, TA22 9EX
Tel: 01398 32384
Tarr Steps is a much photographed prehistoric clapper bridge constructed around 1000 BC across the River Barle. It is situated in woodlands some 3.7 miles (6 km) north west of Dulverton, has 17 spans and is 180 ft (55 m) long with stone slabs weighing up to 5 tonne.
The village of Bury is best known for its picturesque medieval packhorse bridge and ford. Be sure to take your camera when visiting.
The deeply wooded Heddon Valley leading down to the stark cleft in the coast at Heddon's Mouth is one of the most spectacular walks in the West Country but is strictly one for the dedicated hiker.
This is highest peak of Dunkery Hill and the spot where a fire beacon once flamed. Today, the summit is marked by a National Trust cairn and can easily be reached from car parks at Dunkery Gate and Rex Stile Head. On a clear day you may not be able to see "forever" but the all round views come close. There are several Bronze Age burial mounds near the summit.
Here, in a leafy woodland setting, the East Lyn River merges with Hoar Oak Water to form a series of pools with water tumbling over the rocks from one to another. Sometimes a salmon may be spotted leaping amid the waterfalls and rapids. The National Trust cares for this famous beauty spot and there is an information centre and tea rooms. A network of riverside paths allows visitors to explore this idyllic wooded valley. It can be reached by car.
Many visitors make their pilgrimage to Oare Church looking for places described in R. D. Blackmoor's romantic tale Lorna Doon. In the tiny village church, they are shown the small window through which the black hearted Carver Doone shot the lovely Lorna as she stood at the altar beside the mighty John Ridd. The more energetic visitor then tramps the 5 mile trail beside Badworthy Water to Holcombe, the imagined hideaway of the Doone robber band.