Exmoor, the national park on the North Devon coast, may be more difficult to get to than Dartmoor but, it is nevertheless worth a visit. I recently took a trip to Exmoor and was very pleasantly surprised by a lovely few days of walking.
Spanning the coastline, moorland, farmland and some beautiful villages and towns, Exmoor has a little something for everyone. I headed on the train to Barnstaple and then got a bus from there to Lynton and Lynmouth. Admittedly, this takes quite a long time: one hour and a half approximately from Exeter St Davids to Barnstaple and then another hour to Lynton and Lynmouth which does not take into account the transition time in between. This is quite the day out with a lot of travel time to factor in. Yet, the price tag is not too steep and is very possible on a student budget as the train ticket will only set you back just under £8 for an open return according to Trainline (with a 16-18 railcard) whilst the bus was around £4. All in all, not too bad compared to the bus prices on the Dartmoor Explorer. However, if you do want to explore more of Exmoor than is possible on foot, then the Exmoor Explorer will rack up the bill.
Lynton and Lynmouth are two small villages that are often joined together due to their close proximity. Though it is a steep walk, Lynmouth is at the bottom of the cliffs whilst Lynton holds the upper area. There is also a cliff railway which connects the two which is water powered and was built in 1888. To this day, it remains the world’s highest and steepest fully water powered railway in the world. I opted to walk down but, if you would prefer a little bit of history by taking the railway, ticket prices for adults for a single trip cost £3.30. This may be a good option for those with accessibility issues. Each town is host to quaint stores and tea rooms and some incredible views across the cliffs. You could also have a wander down to Watersmeet, a National Trust site which is only a short walk from Lynmouth.
If Lynton and Lynmouth doesn’t sound like your kind of place, there are many other options along the coastline to explore. However, on my trip I headed inland to explore the walking trails of the National Park. There are many more marked and gravelled footpaths within Exmoor than Dartmoor from my experience, with more signposts and easier accessibility for tourists than it’s neighbouring national park. Whilst still immense, Exmoor’s sweeping hills are also a slightly less steep alternative than the Tor’s of Dartmoor. Though, we are still in Devon and the coast path is known for being quite the challenge in this area, so don’t expect flat ground! Regardless, the views are beautiful and there is so much wildlife to be spotted. Walking through the national park, I was followed by a Cuckoo, easily identifiable by its distinctive sound. There were many birds of prey, sheep (of course) and Exmoor ponies. It’s definitely worth the visit to see those.
I would suggest that Exmoor is a perfect area to walk for those who are perhaps not frequent walkers as you could certainly have a more casual walk if you choose to. Many dog walkers seem to use this area and the many different terrains that Exmoor spans means that there is something for everyone. If you want a day on the coast, Exmoor can provide that. If you want to hike through the national park, you can do that too.
Although it is more time consuming to get there, a visit to Exmoor should definitely be on your list of things to do in Devon.
– Amie Greenhalgh
Featured Image Source: Photography by Amie Greenhalgh // Exmoor Ponies