Unforgettable new ways to experience Exmoor

PUBLISHED: 09:31 11 April 2019

Fishing and dining at Locanda on the Weir. Picture: Daniel Wildey

Fishing and dining at Locanda on the Weir. Picture: Daniel Wildey

Daniel Wildey Photography

You may have admired Exmoor’s scenery or enjoyed hiking across its rugged terrain, but have you caught your own Porlock Bay fish for lunch, spent the day with an Exmoor ranger or ridden on the Victorian Lynton and Lynmouth funicular cliff railway?

Locally caught oysters at Locanda on the Weir. Picture: Daniel WildeyLocally caught oysters at Locanda on the Weir. Picture: Daniel Wildey

A range of new ways to experience the landscapes, wildlife and heritage of Exmoor has been developed.

The activities are designed to attract overseas tourists, but they also offer local residents the chance to explore and enjoy the moorland in ways they may not have tried before. The Exmoor National Park Authority has been working with local businesses and attractions to come up with ways to immerse visitors in the moorland’s landscapes, heritage, wildlife and modern-day life. They are the kind of experiences you wouldn’t have if you just turned up for a walk across the moors; you will go away with a new understanding of Exmoor.

The nine experiences are:

1. Seafront Dining Adventure. Take a boat trip with a mackerel fisherman across the Bay of Porlock, catch your lunch and sample Porlock Bay oysters with a local sparkling wine at Locanda on the Weir, a stunning waterfront hotel and restaurant in the 15th-century harbour. Hotel proprietor, Pio, a passionate foodie, will then cook the catch and include some locally foraged fare to create a magnificent meal, to enjoy in a beautiful setting.

Handling owls and birds of prey in Exmoor. Picture: Daniel WildeyHandling owls and birds of prey in Exmoor. Picture: Daniel Wildey

2 Fly back to nature with owls and hawks. Visit a beautiful 15th-century thatched farmhouse on the National Trust Holnicote Estate, and meet the birds of prey, which are trained through trust and social interaction with humans, and are comfortable sitting on gloved hands. Finish with a traditional local Somerset cream tea.

3. Exmoor with a National Park ranger. Spend the day out in the Land Rover with one of Exmoor’s rangers ,who can take you to some special places behind the scenes, and introduce you to wildlife, history and folklore. The rangers have some extraordinary stories to tell about their day-to-day work. You will also meet the team who turn local timber into distinctive waymarking, explore a working hill farm and enjoy a fabulous farmhouse lunch of local produce.

4.Medieval Dunster. Dunster Castle has more than 1,000 years of history and plenty of stories to tell. Explore the castle, grounds and medieval village, and enjoy a hands-on demonstration of the flour-milling process, which has been done on the site since Domesday. This is followed by a traditional local lunch or cream tea with bakery products made from Dunster flour.

5. Wildlife Safari. A 4x4 safari to discover the native Exmoor ponies, iconic red deer, rare birds, flora, fauna and much more. Visit historical sites, the birthplace of local legends, the rugged coastline and other points of interest, with a local driver who has a lifetime’s experience of living and working on the moor.

Exploring by Land Rover on a wildlife safari. Picture: Daniel WildeyExploring by Land Rover on a wildlife safari. Picture: Daniel Wildey

6. Old English Rural Life. Discover the history of the Holnicote Estate, the largest single land ownership gifted to the National Trust, and the family who called it home. On a guided walk through ancient woodland from Selworthy to Allerford Rural Life Museum, you can look out for the varied wildlife that makes Holnicote important today, and learn how the National Trust rangers look after this habitat. Start with a locally sourced breakfast and end with a traditional cream tea.

7. Literary footsteps. A choice of two walking trails through the landscape which inspired the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth, and authors such as RD Blackmore, who wrote Lorna Doone. Classic tales and poetry are woven through the routes, with guides pointing out notable scenes or the inspiration behind the epic poem, Kubla Khan. Each walk finishes with a Devonshire cream tea or a jug of local cider or ale at a traditional pub.

8. Moods of Exmoor. Experience Exmoor through a photographer’s eye, and capture scenes on your camera or mobile phone. Peter Hendrie, a professional local photographer, will show you hidden views, breathtaking landscapes and seasonal changes. He will also share his tips and advice, along with his own passion for photography, enabling you to capture some wonderful images to take away with you.

9. Victorian Exmoor. A choice of two guided walking tours and a trip on the famous Lynton and Lynmouth funicular cliff railway which opened in 1890, the highest and steepest totally water-powered railway in the world. Sit back and relax in a Victorian heritage carriage behind a steam engine on the 2-mile (3.5km) round trip through some of the loveliest countryside in North Devon, with a locally sourced cream tea at Woody Bay Station.

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