WALKING ON EXMOOR

Exmoor is a landscape that has inspired poets, writers and artists for centuries, and one of the best ways to experience it is to put on your most comfortable shoes and set out on foot. With over 1,300km of paths waiting to be explored, all carefully signposted and maintained by our dedicated ranger and field services teams, it’s undoubtedly a walker’s paradise.

To help you find your feet are the Exmoor Explorer walks  – a series of 10 short self-guided routes chosen as some of the most iconic and quintessentially Exmoor. Each one lasts up to two and half hours and aims to show you a different aspect of National Park’s distinctive landscape and character.

The coastal village Lynmouth  – a Walkers are Welcome destination – is one of the most popular destinations in the National Park and it is not difficult to see why. The Valley of Rocks, to the west of Lynton, and is one of the most scenic locations on Exmoor. It is reached by an easy walk from Lynmouth along the South West Coast Path or can be appreciated from an alternative viewpoint by following the footpath directly next to Lynton Town Hall up to the top of Hollerday Hill. Ask in the National Park Centre at the Lynmouth Pavilion for directions.

Equally as picturesque is the Watersmeet walk – featured in another of the 10 walks.  This particular walk takes you up the Lyn valley along the leafy tree-lined banks of the East Lyn river and upstream to where it meets Hoar Oak Water. Be sure to stop and admire the newly restored ‘Woodside Bridge’: fundraised for by the community and “CareMoor for Exmoor”,  which reinstated this historic link with Middleham Memorial Gardens, created in memory of the 1952 flood victims. Finally, stop for a well-earned break and a cream tea at the National Trust café and shop before heading back down the dramatic river gorge.

Another Walkers are Welcome location featured in the series is Dunster, renowned as being one of the best-preserved medieval villages in the country. The route starts near another of the National Park Centres (the third is in Dulverton), passing the castle and along to Gallox bridge – a stunning 15th century packhorse bridge spanning the picturesque river Avill. The route then winds its way back through the village, touring many magnificent and historically significant buildings along the way.

For those that enjoy longer walks, some of the UK’s finest waymarked long-distance routes also pass through Exmoor. Notably, if you step outside the National Park Centre in Lynmouth, you’ll be immediately greeted by a wire statue, known fondly as “The Walker” that marks the junction between the Two Moors Way, the Tarka Trail, the South West Coast Path and the Coleridge Way. The latter starts in Nether Stowey on the nearby Quantock Hills, another Walkers Are Welcome destination. You can still visit Coleridge’s former home there, where the pioneering Romantic poet lived when he wrote great works such as ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Kubla Khan’ and others, all inspired by the surrounding landscape.

As stated above, details of all these walks are available online at www.exmoorwalks.org, where there is also OS mapping and video previews to watch,  giving a flavour of each of the ten walks. Those wanting to delve deeper into the wildlife, history and legends of the landscape can purchase guides for £2 (£8 for the complete set of 10).   Also keep a look out on the same website for the new range of longer ‘Exmoor Classics’ walks due to launch later this year.

 

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