With some of Britain’s most unspoiled woodlands, leafy lanes and the cutest of English villages on route, Exmoor is an idyllic place to escape. Whatever the season, pretty walks, secluded beaches and wild corners are just a modest drive away from our idyllic grounds at The Northcote Manor Hotel. The list of walks, special sites, attractions and places to visit on Exmoor awaiting the curious visitor are endless. But if we could only pick a handful of destinations, these would be especially high on our list:
One of Britain’s best-preserved ancient woodlands, this is a truly special place for any visitor with a love of the leafy, wild countryside. Every season has its beauty and this is noted as one of the finest Exmoor walking locations of all, with plenty of peace and quiet to be had even in midsummer (the only “rush” you’re likely to experience is the sparkling water of the East Lyn).
A protected site rich in wildlife, the very next few steps you take could reveal anything from a greater spotted woodpecker to the incredibly rare whitebeam trees still found here. In simple terms, it is one of the finest places to go birdwatching, rambling or simply relaxing anywhere in Devon and Somerset. See the National Trust site HERE for suggested walking routes and more on the site.
Ideal for: Woodland walks, birdwatching
Lynmouth & the North Devon Coast
Lynmouth is pretty and prehistoric, in all the right places (Image: Dietmar Rabich /Wikimedia Commons)
If the very mention of Exmoor made you think of forests, heaths and ponies, a trip to North Devon is a must to experience the full splendour of the National Park’s coastal beauty. “Dramatic” doesn’t come close here; from the pretty town of Lynmouth to rambling along the South West Coast Path, there is a thrillingly wild, craggy character here. It is an especially good area for adventure pursuits such as sea kayaking, rock climbing and coasteering, although more relaxed pleasures are also plentiful. Nearby Martinhoe has an amazingly lofty waterfall, while the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway is a fascinating slice of Victorian engineering with amazing views.
Ideal For: Photography, adventure sports
Culbone Church is a miniature marvel (image: Neil Halling/ geograph.org.uk)
It’s a bit of a drive, given the narrowness of the country roads, but for anyone jaded with grey spaces and the din of modern life, the little town of Porlock is beautifully quaint and quiet, not to mention set amidst some fabulous scenery. Look out for Culbone Church (the smallest church in England), 16th Century Coaching Inn The Ship, not to mention fabulous views to reward the footloose visitor along the South West Coast Path. The area has some fascinating local geology and ancient history too, with an Iron Age hill fort (Bury Castle), fossilized wonders and even the remains of a sunken forest on Porlock Beach. Visit the town’s own site for further activities and places to visit: www.porlock.co.uk
Ideal for: Costal views, history and geology
Wimbleball is wonderful for summer walks, watersports and fly fishing (image: Channel Kayaks)
Manmade this vast body of water might be, but it is every bit as pretty as any natural lake. Helped by sensitive management, it bristles with wildflowers and life of all kinds in the summer. It goes without saying that this is a delightful place for walks- or if you prefer getting wet, this is one of the best places to visit for outdoor activities on Exmoor, whether you fancy sailing, windsurfing or fly fishing for the lake’s rainbow trout.
A more recent development has been to combine activities, with kayak fishing now also popular. And if all that exercise made you hungry, you could always stop for a bite at The Duck Cafe (carnivores will love their fantastic “Duck Dog” made using local duck and plum sausages!). See the South West Lakes Trust site for further details HERE.
Ideal for: Watersports, Fishing
Holnicote Estate & Dunkery Beacon
Holnicote Beacon is Exmoor’s highest vantage point (Image: Sheila Russell / geograph.org.uk)
An area of winding paths and cute, quintessentially English village life, Holnicote is a charming and intriguing place to explore on so many levels. Whether you want to spot red deer and other Exmoor wildlife, go pony trekking or head for Bossington Beach, it is a truly lovely location. Another huge draw are the views from Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor. But if you thought it was impressive by day, nights can be even more breathtaking, with the area’s status as a dark sky reserve guaranteeing one of the purest views of the stars you will ever see. For more on this National Trust managed site, click HERE.
Ideal for: Stargazing, Wildlife
Northcote Manor Hotel, For Idyllic Mini Breaks in North Devon
Situated just a modest drive from Exmoor National Park and fine beaches , Northcote Manor is the most delightful of country house hotels in North Devon. With tranquil, elegant grounds and a wonderfully peaceful location, it is the perfect place to unwind and explore some of England’s most beautiful coast and countryside. We specialise in gourmet and luxury breaks in Devon. Do look out for our special offers section and Facebook page for further news, ideas and special hotel deals throughout the year.