If you love the great outdoors and don’t mind abandoning your car for short spells then check out some of our favourite things to do in Exmoor and North Devon.
It’s probably the most magnificent places in Exmoor and the closest to Highcliffe House. This dry valley is approximately 500ft (150m) above sea level and boasts some incredible scenery and diverse wildlife. Whether you’re walking along the cliff edge that is the South West Coast Path or rambling through Hollerday Hill at 800ft (240m) – the views are simply breath-taking.
This is a wonderful 5-mile circular riverside and woodland walk enjoyed by Julia Bradbury on her TV show. The walk starts in Lynmouth along the raging East Lyn River to Watersmeet House – a National Trust Tea Room. Follow the river as it journeys through the ancient trees of the Watersmeet gorge. This is the perfect escape from the everyday; the effervescent river, the birdsong, the feeling that you’re arrived somewhere really magical.
If you love rummaging around an old house and submersing yourself in its history then this is perfect for you. Arlington Court is a regency-style house bursting with trinkets and treasures from decades long gone. It’s a National Trust property so you can expect all the typical conveniences and highlights; stunning gardens, the quintessential tea room, thoughtfully stocked gift shop, ample parking and accessible toilets.
We think one of the jewels of this property is the Carriage Museum. The museum is home to over forty horse-drawn vehicles. Learn about the finest and most elegant state coaches to the humblest of carts for servants. Each vehicle has been painstakingly restored and researched to offer a glimpse into to its intriguing past.
Still in Exmoor and very close to Highcliffe House, we move from North Devon to Somerset for this beautiful escape. Selworthy is located within the National Trust’s beautifully diverse Holnicote Estate.
This is a timeless village of quaint thatched cottages, a striking white medieval church and an abundance of delightful wooded walks. Whether short or long, whichever walk you choose will take you on a wonderful journey through this beautiful landscape. We think the best views are from Selworthy Beacon and rising over 1000 ft (308 m) you can be assured of some magnificent sights over the vale and beyond.
One of the best ways to see the real Exmoor! Let someone else do the driving and you just sit back and relax whilst your safari driver guides you through the heart of Exmoor. Usually your safari will be done in a jeep or land rover and drive you along hidden tracks through woodland and moorland. It’s the perfect way to see the native wildlife; the iconic Exmoor ponies, red deer, stags, birds of prey and much more.
Some of the Safari tours have exclusive access to off-road tracks and ancient by-ways owned by the National Trust.
Not so much steps … more stepping stones. The Tarr Steps is a medieval ‘clapper bridge’ spanning the Barle River. The bridge is constructed of numerous free-standing stones laid to form a bridge approximately 180ft (55 m) long, with 17 spans. Each stone is said to be approximately 1-2 tonnes with the longest being over 8 feet (2.4 m).
This ancient Exmoor monument is the perfect way to cross the River Barle as part of a short circular walk (1-2 miles) along the river through beautiful woodland. This walk returns you to the Tarr Inn which is a great stop for a snack or lunch.
The village of Dunster is home to the magnificent Dunster Castle. It rises majestically out of the Somerset countryside and offers the most incredible views. This castle has a fascinating and chequered history spanning centuries beginning in 1066. The National Trust lovingly take care of this ancient fortress and former home to the Luttrell family.
The gardens are just beautiful and a must if visiting the castle. We love meandering through the different areas of the gardens from the Mediterranean-like South terrace to the wild wooded area of the River Garden. There are some rare and interesting plants growing at Dunster Castle, like the rare ‘handkerchief tree’, which adds to the delight of spending time here.
Very few people know that North Devon is home to some of the best beaches in England. Some say that Woolacombe Beach and Putsborough Sands are amongst the best beaches in the world.
The Woolacombe end of the beach has more facilities (cafes, shops etc.) than Putsborough. The Putsborough end attracts the thrill seekers; surfers, body boarders etc. Somewhere in the middle of this 3km beach is a moderate escape from the crowds.
This is amongst our favourite section coastal walks in North Devon. We like to start our walk in the picturesque village of Mortehoe. There are several trails of varying length and all offer the most incredible scenery and here are a few highlights.
Sandy Cove is a delightful and secluded beach with fascinating rocks and pools. Continue along the coast path along the Damage Cliffs to Bennett’s Mouth – a beautiful and rugged inlet. Walk past Bull Point Lighthouse towards Rockham Bay – a wild and rugged sandy beach great for a paddle.
Moving on along the coast path to Morte Point itself. This point is a bizarre as it is beautiful with its jagged rock formations and lunar-like landscape. There’s sometimes a chance of glimpsing seals playing in this area. Finishing the walk along the lush ‘velvet mile’ back to Mortehoe for tea and cake in Miss Fee’s café.
North Devon has plenty of gardens to be enjoyed throughout the year, but Rosemoor has a very special place in our heart. It’s an absolute vision of floral splendour with each section offering something creative and unique. The roses are without doubt splendid, and the fragrance is quite intoxicating and deeply satisfying.
Delight in other speciality gardens at Rosemoor like the hot garden, the cool garden and the Winter garden. There are so many enchanting highlights to discover and as you walk around. Look out for the minutest of details scattered throughout the grounds, it’s intriguing what you can find.