PUBLISHED: 13:01 20 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:12 28 April 2010
Straddling the border of North Devon with Somerset, the Exmoor National Park is a haven from the pressures and noise of modern-day living. It is the home of the red deer, the famous ponies, soaring buzzards and remote villages.
Exmoor is the smallest of Englands National Parks, but has a character all its own. From its coastline, there are magnificent sea views across to the mountains of Wales.
Inland, there are miles of heather-clad moorland, wooded valleys hiding tinkling streams and remote villages, all with a story to tell.
Set aside a whole day to enjoy the leisurely drive across the moor and visit the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth at the head and foot of the highest sea cliffs in England. The National Parks 692 square kilometers 267 square miles has heather-clad moorland, deep wooded coombes, ancient churches, old packhorse bridges and cosy inns. It is home to herds of wild red deer, ponies and birdlife.
There are numerous ways to get to the moor and the Lyns, including via the A39 to Blackmoor Gate, or from South Molton to North Molton, or from Combe Martin on winding roads through the spectacular Valley of the Rocks with its wild goats.
Watersmeet is the National Trusts glorious wooded valley with walks, tumbling waters and a tearoom in what was once a fishing lodge.
On your journey across the moor you just might also catch a glimpse of the elusive, legendary Beast of Exmoor. But thats one thing we cant promise you!
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor is one of 14 areas of the United Kingdom given the highest landscape protection and was designated as a National Park in 1954. Exmoor National Park covers an area of 267 sq miles (692 sq kms) two thirds of which is in Somerset and a third in Devon.
The National Park Authority works with other organisations and its local communities to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the park and to help people understand and enjoy it. It also has a duty to foster the economic and social well-being of its local communities.
Exmoor is rich in hidden places where you can still get away from it all or, if you are after some activity, theres plenty going on. For a full list of guided walks and events call in at a National Park Centre or visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk. If you are into cycling, horse riding, mountain biking, fishing or walking Exmoor has some of best around.
Youre never far from useful information so if you need a hand to plan a walk, a day out or how to get about without your car, call into one of our National Park Centres and make sure that you get the most out of your stay. Youll find them at Blackmoor Gate, Combe Martin, Dunster, Dulverton and high on the hill at County Gate. Friendly and knowledgeable centre staff are there to help and will provide you with everything you need to know. There is also an independent visitor centre at Porlock that can assist you with accommodation bookings.
A wide range of books, maps, and leaflets are also available at the Centres to guide you during your stay, aswell as souvenirs for you to take home as a lasting impression of this special place.
As in most rural areas, village services are under threat. You can help by using local village shops, pubs or post offices during your visit, some are also Local Information Points where you can find out more information about the National Park. Without your support many local people may lose the kind of services that many take for granted.
Information: A wealth of information can be obtained by visiting www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or by phoning a National Park Centre, the one at Dulverton is open all the year round. tel: 01398 323841.
One of Exmoors most distinctive sights is the Exmoor Pony, a rare breed whose ancestry goes back thousands of years and is closely descended from the original wild horses of Europe. The World Wide Fund for Nature classifies the Exmoor Pony as critically endangered and there are currently around just 1,100 worldwide, including 400 actual breeding pairs, which make them rarer than the Giant Panda.
The National Park Authority has two herds of Exmoor Ponies that live free on the open moorland. Exmoor Ponies are also used in many parts of the country for conservation grazing the way that they graze small amounts of scrub at a time is an important part of the conservation management of an area. The ponies are wonderful to watch but should not be fed man-made food.