THE first North Devon & Exmoor Autumn Walking Festival will take place between September 18 and 21 with more than 30 guided and speciality outings over the four days. Ten of the walks will be linked with the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natura

THE first North Devon & Exmoor Autumn Walking Festival will take place between September 18 and 21 with more than 30 guided and speciality outings over the four days.

Ten of the walks will be linked with the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The walks cater for most levels of ability ensuring everyone will be able to discover the region's beautiful and diverse scenery on foot.

Exmoor is particularly beautiful at this time of year when there's still a chance to catch some warm sunshine and the leaves start taking on the golds and russets of autumn.

Organised by West Country Walks, which also runs a highly successful spring walking festival, and supported by Active Exmoor, the new autumn festival will feature several new routes as well as a number of firm favourites.

Highlights will include fungi forage and deer search walks with an Exmoor National Park ranger. Amongst those linked with the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be a guided walk by Sir Hugh Stucley around the Hartland Abbey estate and their lovely old Blackpool Mill Cottage. This was featured in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, when it was transformed into 'Barton Cottage' as a home for Mrs Dashwood and her three daughters.

The majority of walks are priced from £5 - £6 for adults and £4 - £5 for children. All have a ticket allocation and should be booked in advance; dogs on a lead are welcome on some walks. Reservations can be made online at www.walkingnorthdevon.co.uk (from early July) or by calling the Tourist Information Centre at Ilfracombe on 01271 863001 who can also assist with accommodation suggestions.

Details about other things to see and do in the area can be found on www.exmoor.com or call the Minehead Tourist Information Centre on 0845 166 1001 for a copy of the Exmoor Coast and Country holiday guide. Information about the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be found on www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk.