Five of the best places for walks in Exmoor
By Lucy Handley
Exmoor showcases some of the best of England’s landscapes, from dramatic clifftops to shady woodlands, and walking is one of the best ways to discover the countryside.
Lynton to the Valley of Rocks
The small town of Lynton is perched high up on the cliffs above pretty Lynmouth village and the short walk to the Valley of Rocks is surely one of England’s finest.
Prepare for your walk with a coffee or takeaway lunch from the friendly and delicious Charlie Friday’s café, close to North Walk Hill where the coastal walk begins. It’s about a mile along the South West coast path to the Valley of Rocks, a stunning clifftop location with jaw-dropping views.
There’s a beach to cool down on at Wringcliff Bay, which is worth the steep walk down the valley. Alternatively, relax with a tea at the café near the cricket pitch a short walk inland.
To extend the walk, continue along the South West coast path and then head steeply inland towards Lynton Camping and Caravanning Club site, around two miles, and back down to Lynton a further two miles or so. You’ll need an Ordnance Survey map.
Dunster Castle and around
The National Trust’s Dunster Castle (you pay to park and to visit) has great views across the Bristol Channel to Wales on a clear day and is worth visiting for its tropical summer garden and fascinating kitchen tour.
There is a footpath along the River Avill below the castle, or you can walk down to the water mill, also run by the National Trust (maps are included in the entry price). For something longer, follow this 4.3 mile circular walk published by the Exmoor National Park Authority.
Afterwards, Dunster village has various pubs and tearooms for refreshments.
Luxborough village and around
Luxborough is a string of three fairly remote hamlets set in glorious Somerset countryside, Churchtown, Pooltown and Kingsbridge, which also has great pub with food, the Royal Oak. There’s a car park at the village hall close to the pub, a good place to start a walk on the Coleridge Way. Turn right out of the car park and walk a little way until you reach a right turn to walk along by the river and up into the woods.
An Ordnance Survey map will show you the footpath through Roadway Wood and Church Wood, along the road to Churchtown and then up towards Croydon Hill, then down the side of the woodland at Monkham Hill and back down to the car park.
Porlock Weir to the church at Culbone
Pretty Porlock Weir is the starting point for this woodland walk to the tiny St Beuno’s church, only accessible on foot. Pay-and-display parking is available and the walk starts between the Bottom Ship pub and Anchor pub (closed at the time of writing), on the South West Coast Path.
The path heads uphill through woodland along the coastline until it reaches the church (1.5 miles), said to be the smallest church in England that is still in use. You can walk the same path back to Porlock Weir, for refreshments at The Harbour Gallery and Café (open all week, April-October), or continue uphill towards Ash Farm and back along the Worthy Toll Road, about five miles in total, with hilly sections.
Exmoor views from Bossington
The South West Coastal Path starts in Minehead and begins with a steep walk up to Exmoor, continuing along towards the village of Bossington. The views across the heather and gorse-clad moors are beautiful and worth the hike. Alternatively, drive out of Minehead up Moor Road and on to Hill Road where there are several places to park, and start walking from there. Regular hikers can continue to Porlock Weir, an 8.9 mile walk in total, and can take the West Somerset Railway back to Minehead.
Where to stay: All walks are accessible by car from Stone Barn, one of three self-catering cottages in Minehead owned by Exmoor Character Cottages, where the author was a guest. It’s a beautifully-converted barn that sleeps up to six, welcomes children and dogs, and has a hot tub.
Further details of walks can be found in in Exmoor: Leisure Walks for All Ages (Crimson Short Walks), or Pathfinder Exmoor & the Quantocks (Pathfinder Guides).