A nine acre slice of Exmoor landscape that inspired the much-loved novel Lorna Doone has been snapped up by the National Trust, it has been announced.

The camping site at Cloud Farm, which has been acquired by the National Trust. Picture: Mark JohnsonThe camping site at Cloud Farm, which has been acquired by the National Trust. Picture: Mark Johnson

The trust acquired the land which includes Lorna Doone Farm and the nearby Cloud Farm campsite in the heart of Exmoor for £1.5million.

The purchase was competed before the coronavirus crisis, and the trust – which estimates it will lose £200million in income this year as a result of the pandemic – has said it is likely to be the last acquisition it makes for some time.

Set in the heart of the coastal landscape which inspired the much-loved RD Blackmore novel Lorna Doone: A Romance on Exmoor, the site is set to become a gateway to the book’s inspiring landscape.

The trust aims to open up the site and improve the facilities which include a tea room, holiday accommodation, campsite, shop, car park and public toilets.

The 'waterslide' as referenced in the novel, Lorna Doone. Picture: Fiona HailstoneThe 'waterslide' as referenced in the novel, Lorna Doone. Picture: Fiona Hailstone

It hopes to open the campsite in line with government guidance in July.

April Braund, visitor experience Manager for the National Trust said, “For those familiar with the book, RD Blackmore’s descriptions of the Exmoor landscapes of rolling hills and deep wooded valleys are at the heart of the site and visitors will have plenty to see; ‘a deep green valley, carved from out the mountains in a perfect oval…wooded hills swept up to the sky-line…a little river glided out from underground with a soft dark babble, unawares of daylight; then growing brighter, lapsed away, and fell into the valley.’

“We are hoping that by making this beautiful spot more accessible, we can encourage more people to connect with nature.”

Rob Joules, general manager for the North Devon coast and countryside said, ‘It’s really exciting to be able to take ownership of this special place just after the 150th anniversary of the book, ensuring its future for everyone to enjoy.

The Lorna Doone Valley. Picture: Sarah HailstoneThe Lorna Doone Valley. Picture: Sarah Hailstone

“Every penny donated or spent on site will be reinvested on our land in the area, helping nature thrive and adding to the enjoyment of people.

“It’s great that visitors will be able to stay in this landscape and able to get active in the outdoors by walking along the river, up on the moor or down to the sea along the South West Coast Path.

“By diversifying our income streams on this part of Exmoor we will be able to increase the funds we spend improving access, creating amazing outdoor experiences and space for nature to thrive.”