ye olde medieval village
The delightful town of Dulverton lies on the southern edge of Exmoor National Park – Europe’s first International Dark Skies Reserve - and makes an excellent base for exploring the moor, day or night, summer or winter.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the town is close to Iron Age hill forts and a castle. With a proud history of serving generations of farming communities as a market town, Dulverton still has many independent shops and award-winning eating places.
Tucked in a spectacular and steeply wooded valley which, along with the river Barle that runs through it, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the town is a natural draw for visitors who flock to it for the wildlife and famous bridges.
Tarr Steps - the bridge the devil built!
cross this bridge at your peril...
The Tarr Steps are what is known as a clapper bridge across the River Barle in the Exmoor National Park.
It is made up of stone slabs which weigh up to two tonnes each.
This type of bridge is known to have been commonly built hundreds of years ago, and the bridge has stood since 1000bc.
According to local legend, they were placed by the devil to win a bet, and he still retains sunbathing rights over the bridge.
The bridge is 180 feet long and was designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.
Half of the bridge was washed away by the river in 2012 by storm Angus and was reassembled.
Valley of the rocks
The Valley of Rocks is one of those places where words are just not enough. I could tell you about the stunning beauty of the country, the spectacular coastline and the opportunities to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. But all I can say is feral goats!
Zoo, aquarium and adventure playground
Tropiquaria Zoo is a small tropical house and zoo in West Somerset, England. It is located 9 miles from Minehead.
It is based in a 1930s art deco BBC radio transmitter hall of Washford transmitting station, which is now a Grade II listed building.
A zoo has been run from this site since the early 1990s. There is a mainly African theme to the tropical hall and aquarium as well as the large number of outside enclosures. The zoo has successfully bred a number of endangered species of mammals, reptiles, birds and fish.
Tropiquaria includes a Tropical Hall with a variety of snakes and lizards, and birds. The zoo also features an aquarium with several species of endangered, critically endangered and even extinct in the wild species of fish. Outside are macaws, helmeted curassow, cockatoos, parrots, agoutis, gibbons, serval, wildcats, wallabies, emus, rheas, tapir, cotton-top tamarins, red-handed tamarins, ring-tailed lemurs, ruffed lemurs, brown lemurs, coatis, yellow mongoose and meerkats amongst many others.
There is also a number of outdoor play areas, and an indoor play area and cafe.
Lynton & Lynmouth
Picturesque twin coastal villages joined by funicular railway
Two villages on the coast, one above the other, Lynton and Lynmouth where known by the Victorians as Little Switzerland. Lynton is an attractive village with a museum and good range of restaurants, cafes, tea shops and 'art/craft' shops. There are many hotels and guest houses in Lynton and Lynmouth. The town hall is very grand and is home to the Visitor Centre as well as films, drama and exhibitions.
600 feet below Lynton is the small harbour of Lynmouth. The two villages are linked by a famous and ingenious cliff railway which is well worth a ride.
Two rivers - the East Lyn and the Hoaroak - combine just inland from the harbour at Watersmeet and sweep down a spectacular gorge and through the village to the sea. Reminders of the disaster in 1952, when the rivers flooded and a torrent of water washed many cottages into the sea with great loss of life, can be seen in the Memorial Hall.
There are some lovely walks from Lynmouth, notably up the river gorge to Watersmeet where the National Trust have a shop and tea rooms, West along the coast path to the Valley of Rocks with its wonderful scenery and flock of wild goats or round Hollerday Hill overlooking Lynton.
Dunster Viallge and Castle - just stunning
The pretty village of Dunster sits on the north eastern fringes of Exmoor National Park, near Minehead. The village is dominated by Dunster Castle, a Norman fortress later transformed into a Victorian country house by the Luttrell family, who have held the manor of Dunster for over 600 years.
The village sits about 2 miles from the sea, but in the 12th century the water came right to the edge of the village, and Dunster was an active port, trading in grain, beans, wool and wine.
Then the sea retreated, and the busy port was no more. But Dunster made the most of the burgeoning medieval wool trade, and became a centre of the new weaving industry. Mills sprang up to create woven cloth, evolving a new type of weave that is still; known as Dunster cloth. The main reminder of these heady days is the glorious octagonal Yarn Market on the cobbled High Street. This timber-framed building acted as a trading centre for the prosperous wool merchants, and though it was rebuilt in the Jacobean period it is actually much older. Look for the hole made by a Civil War cannonball.
A charming little coastal town with an active Marina, an Old Port, quaint houses and shops. Many walks in beautiful countryside, along the interesting coastline or just sit on the Esplanade with a cider or an ice cream - both locally made of course.
Places to visit include The Mineral Line, both museums, the Watchet War Memorial, the steam railway, the fossil beach and paddling pool, St. Decumens Church and Holy Well, the marina and the memorial sports ground, which includes public tennis courts and an outdoor gym.
Village, weir and beach
Porlock is an attractive village with old thatched cottages and a good selection of shops, cafes, restaurants and places to stay. The ancient parish church is dedicated to St Dubricius and the medieval manorial dower house contains a museum of local history. Porlock Hill is notorious for its steepness and can be by-passed by the toll road. It crosses the heathland of Porlock Common, from where there are beautiful views to Porlock Bay and Dunkery Beacon.
Porlock Weir is a picturesque hamlet, once a busy port, is a peaceful and delightful harbour for yachts and fishing boats. Situated along the South West Coast Path, Porlock Weir is also a good starting point for walks to Porlock Marsh and Culbone - home to England's smallest church.
The Coleridge Way, a 36 mile walking route, ends in Porlock and outside the Visitor Centre you will find a garden and art installation which marks the finish. Here the pleasure dome is depicted and the "person from Porlock" steps out of the garden wall.
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park is a unique natural environment consisting of romantic open moorland, ancient wooded valleys and stunning Heritage Coast.
Explore Exmoor National Park to discover:
- Europe’s very first International Dark Sky Reserve
- The tallest tree in England
- The highest cliffs in England
- Almost 250 species of bird and over 1000 different flowering plants and grasses
- The highest number of wild Red Deer in England
- Free living native Exmoor ponies, perfectly adapted to the upland conditions of Exmoor
- The second highest and lowest tides in the world
- Over 4,000 archaeological sites representing some 8,000 years of history
- An area dedicated to green tourism – Exmoor was the first National Park in England to gain the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism
- An adventure playground offering numerous opportunities for active adventures
- For more information go to the National Park website.