Towering cliffs; secret coves; ponies, pirates, smugglers and standing stones are concentrated in one of Britain’s smaller National Parks, an area of 267 square miles, in Devon and Somerset in the South West of England.
An area of breathtaking dramatic scenery, it includes “Up over” - the local’s way of referring to the Moor.
Remote, wild and home to a diverse range of birds, animals and a rare fritillary butterfly, Exmoor is a haven for wildlife and those who want to see it in its natural habitat, as well as those following the ancient trail of Bronze and Iron Age habitation.
The Tarka Trail provides a delightful route for those walking, cycling or riding, along 160 miles of disused railway track or a short sea voyage to Lundy Island provides access to a marine nature reserve and sight of the spectacular series of hogs-back cliffs which form part of its unspoilt Heritage coast.
Exmoor claims the highest cliffs on the British mainland reaching 314 metres (1350ft) at Culbone Hill; the longest village in England : Combe Martin , and a section of the UK’s longest national trail: the 630 mile long South West Path .
Though wildlife and walking are two of its main attractions, the appealing villages with hotels and inns steeped in dark and mysterious history are places to linger and savour tales of smuggler’s tunnels and notorious pirates, including Captain Kidd, particularly over the delights of local food.
Those of a literary bent leisurely retrace the steps of Lorna Doone , search for the descendants of Tarka the Otter or visit the holiday home of the Wordsworths at Alfoxton Park . Coleridge penned the lines of The Ancient Mariner while more recently Margaret Drabble ’s “Witch of Exmoor” and Ted Hughes ’ poetry encapsulate Exmoor’s rich atmosphere.
Fictional disasters abound but the true tales of disaster astound. As one of the highest ever recorded rainfalls fell on the Chains, the catchment area for most of Exmoor’s main rivers on the 15th August 1952 , the residents of Lynmouth prepared for floods which brought loss of 34 lives and vast destruction.
Now the picturesque ‘Little Switzerland’ towns of Lynmouth and Lynton , linked by an ingenious Victorian water powered railway , attract many of Exmoor’s visitors and host many of the events and activities of Exmoor’s Spring Festivals. Live entertainment, the arts and sport link with a celebration of local produce ,wildlife and natural beauty in a series of events throughout June.
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