Exmoor National Park have created a series of ten easy-going, self-guided walks to help people discover the incredible scenery, wildlife and history of the National Park, following the easing of travel restrictions last week and reopening of many shops, outdoor hospitality and attractions, and self-contained accommodation.
From the heather-clad heights of Dunkery Beacon and shaded ancient oak woodlands of Horner, to the riverside beauty of Heddon’s Mouth and romance of the Doone Valley, the routes take in different aspects of Exmoor’s distinctive landscape and history. Each is accompanied by OS mapping plus a short video available at exmoorwalks.org
After browsing the website to choose your favourites, accompanying route guides are available to purchase online or from National Park Centres
in Lynmouth, Dunster and Dulverton (RRP £1 each or £8 for the complete set). Printed in full colour and on water and tear resistant paper, the routes are easy to follow, with relatively gentle terrain, and last between under an hour to about two and a half hours. It’s hoped they will particularly help those planning future trips to Exmoor, or who have never been before, to plan their visit carefully and form a deeper connection with the landscape.
Dan James, Rural Enterprise Manager for Exmoor National Park, said: “It’s been great to see the gradual return of visitors to Exmoor, with communities, businesses and partners all working together to encourage safe, responsible visits ahead of a busy summer. Our Explorer Walks are a great way to find your new favourite place on Exmoor and discover not just its best-known parts, but also lesser-known ones.
"We want to help people really get under the skin of the place, to understand something of the story of people and nature that has given rise to this amazing landscape, and to do so in a way that is sustainable and accessible to most visitors. So whether this is your first or 50th trip to Exmoor, we hope you’ll enjoy learning about this special place and discovering its many wonders.”
There are ten stunning walks to choose from:
Doone Valley, 7.8km
Beautifully romantic – an inspiration to writers and poets throughout history.
Dunkery Beacon, 3.9km
Heather moorland amid Exmoor’s highest point.
Dunster Village, 2.2km
One of the country’s best-preserved medieval villages.
Haddon Hill, 2.3km
Spectacular views and the chance of seeing Exmoor ponies.
Heddon’s Mouth, 3.6km
Follow a babbling stream to this wild smuggler’s cove.
Horner Woods, 5.4km
Winding combes along one of the country’s finest oak woodlands.
Lynmouth and Watersmeet, 5.9km
Explore the tree-lined banks of the fast flowing East Lyn River.
Porlock Marsh, 5.8km
Where the sea and the land combine and the views change with the tide.
Simonsbath and Wheal Eliza, 3.8km
This there-and-back walk takes in a classic Exmoor Valley steeped in history.
Tarr Steps, 3.5km
The home of Exmoor’s famous clapper bridge.
The new walking series has been informed by work with Exeter University researchers to explore key drivers of tourism behaviour on Exmoor, which identified a link between the special qualities of the National Park and opportunities to experience them. Long before the pandemic, research pointed to walking as the top activity undertaken by visitors to Exmoor. In a survey 70 per cent were found to undertake short walks of under two hours, whilst 43 per cent said they enjoyed longer walks over 2 hours. This new collection aims to cater for the majority seeking a shorter walk, while helping to disperse visitors more widely.
In recent years the National Park Authority has also put significant investment into the rights of way network and particularly some of Exmoor’s most iconic long distance walking routes – The Two Moors Way, The Coleridge Way and the South West Coast Path being among the most well-known. Thanks to this sustained effort, and despite increased extreme weather patterns and visitor pressure, the condition of Exmoor’s rights of way network is perhaps the best it’s ever been.
Emma Thomasson, Director of Visit Exmoor, said: “Many people have discovered the joys of walking in lockdown and are perhaps looking for inspiration take their new hobby to the next level, which is one of the reasons we’re so excited to see the launch of these new self-guided walks. Exmoor has inspired poets, writers and artists for centuries, and put simply is an absolute paradise for walkers.
“We’re expecting some places will get busy, especially during bank holidays and weekends, so please do your bit by planning ahead and always having a plan B in case it’s too crowded when you arrive. As well as helping with social distancing, this will also minimise your impact on this special place, ensuring we can all enjoy its unique beauty and history for generations to come.”
“For those not quite ready to visit yet do join us on social media where, over the next two weeks, we’ll be showcasing snippets from the walks and taking you on a virtual journey around Exmoor.”