Our 7 things to do in Exmoor National Park guide covers everything from hiking and cream tea to river swimming and exploring medieval castles and villages.
Exmoor National Park is one of 10 National Parks found in the UK. In 1954 Exmoor was designated as a National Park, so that the land could be conserved and to enhance the natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage.
It is a natural beauty with clean air, plenty of open space, and amazing landscapes. Not to mention lots of wildlife, such as Exmoor Ponies and deer that bring thousands of people to the park every year.
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7 Things To Do In Exmoor National Park 🗺️
We started our Devon and Cornwall road trip by visiting our family in Exmoor National Park, after spending a week exploring the rugged moorland and coastal towns such as Minehead and Lynmouth, that surround the northern edge of the park.
There is so much to do and see in Exmoor, but we are confident we have captured the top 7 things to do in Exmoor.
1. Discover The Valley Of The Rocks 🐐
Close to the village of Lynton in North Devon, the valley of the rocks is one of the most scenic coastal walks in Exmoor National Park. Running along the rugged coastline, the tarmac footpath makes the walk very accessible for everyone.
Starting in the centre of Lynton, the Valley of the rocks walk is a 5 km circular stroll. As you begin you will cross over the famous cliff railway with the tracks running up the steep rock face.
As you continue along the southwest coast footpath you will be able to look out over Lynton Beach. When you start walking passed the large rock formation keep a lookout for the feral goats roaming the cliff edge.
Halfway around the walk, you will enter the huge dry valley. At the end is a large rock formation you can climb on top of to get those spectacular views. This is our number 1 walk on our 7 things to do in Exmoor.
💡 TRAVEL TIP – If you are short on time you can drive through the valley to a small car park and tea shop at the end.
2. Explore Tarr Steps
Between the villages of Liscome and Hawkridge, winding through the valley runs the river Barle. Across the river, you can find the medieval Tarr Steps, which is also known as the Clapper Bridge. The bridge is entirely made of large stone slabs and is the largest clapper bridge (17 span) in England.
When visiting Tarr Steps you should complete the circular walk. Leave your car in the car park and at the top of the hill and make your way down to the river.
The shallow water makes it a great place to paddle in the water and further upstream you can even swim on a hot day. Follow the woodland footpath that follows the river Barle upstream.
You will come to another more modern bridge which is a great place to play pooh sticks. For those of you who don’t know, it’s where you each throw a stick in the river, and the first to exit from the other side of the bridge wins.
Close to the end of the walk, you will notice 3 fallen trees next to the path. Look closely as these are money trees. Over many years people have inserted coins into the trunk of the trees and made a wish.
Over time the coins have become stuck which holds onto your wish in the tree trunk. Don’t forget to leave your coin and make a wish! The circular walk is an easy stroll and will take you 1 hour.
If you are feeling more adventurous there is a long circular walk. The Tarr Steps to Withypool walk is picturesque with plenty of wildlife to spot on the way. Once in Withypool, there is a pub and tea room to refuel for the return journey.
3. Dunster Castle And Gardens 🏰
In the far east of the Exmoor National Park is the historical town of Dunster. The highest point in this town is where you can keep watch over the whole town from the amazing Dunster Castle and Gardens. This medieval castle is somewhere you cannot miss on our list of 7 things to do in Exmoor.
Part of the National Trust but was previously owned by the Luttrell family. Dunster Castle makes for a great day out for the whole family. You will need to book your tickets on the National Trust website.
Your ticket will include access to the castle where you can explore its history. There are also two circular walks we recommend completing.
The first walk will take you around the outside of the castle and up to the top where spectacular views are looking out over the Bristol Channel. Once you have finished inside the castle make your way into the gardens and towards the watermill.
The stream running through the castle ground offers a place to stop and reflect on the sounds of running water in the background.
Once you have finished at the castle pop into Dunster high street. You can find some great places to eat and explore more of the town.
4. Hike To Dunkery Beacon 🥾
The highest point in the Exmoor National Park and Somerset is the Dunkery beacon. The summit stands at 519 meters and the views across the park are spectacular, on a clear day you can see the Bristol Channel.
Around the summit, you will find bronze-aged burial mounds which make the hill part of a site of special scientific interest. Now part of the National Trust the hill is also a national nature reserve.
To reach Dunkery Beacon head to the Dunkery gate car park which is close to Wheddon Cross. The walk to the cairn at the top is 0.6 miles which follows a gradual inclining footpath. In the summer months, the moors are surrounded by beautiful purple heather, this makes the walk that extra bit special.
5. Visit The Wild Exmoor Ponies 🐴
One thing that the Moors are most famous for is its ponies. Exmoor National park has had lots of wild ponies roaming the hills and they have done for thousands of years. But after the second world war, their numbers declined and this rare breed of the pony was placed on the endangered list.
Most Exmoor ponies are recognizable by their brown colour with a wide head and broad chest. There isn’t a definitive answer to where to see Exmoor Ponies, mainly because they are wild and move around the National Park, but we can give you a clue to where to start looking.
There are several heards dotted around the Park, some good locations to check out are, Dunkery Beacon, and anywhere along the road that runs between Simonsbath and Lynmouth (B3223).
6. Try A Local Cream Tea 🍓
Cream teas are somewhat of a delicacy when it comes to the South West. Although you can find them all over England some of the best cream teas we have tried have been right here in Devon and Somerset.
The smell of freshly baked warm scones, filled with delicious clotted cream and strawberry jam is the perfect way to break your afternoon up.
As you can probably tell we are suckers for a Devon cream tea. There are plenty of Devonshire tea rooms to choose from especially around the Exmoor National Park.
This is one thing you must do on our 7 things to do in Exmoor. Here are a few of the best cream teas in Exmoor.
- Withypool Tea Room
- Periwinkle Cottage Tea Room
- The Copper Kettle
7. Relax On Beach 🏖️
Devon is known for some of the best beaches in England. Whilst Exmoor isn’t particularly known for its beaches there are a few hidden gems nearby which are defiantly worst a visit.
A lot of North Devon’s coastline is rugged and rocky, this means white sandy beaches are hard to come by. We have chosen 3 of our favourite beaches to visit in Exmoor, each with its unique characteristics.
- Combe Martin Beach 🏖️
In the far west of Exmoor National Park is the town of Combe Martin. This is a popular tourist location as the beach is slightly sandier and the water is clear and blue.
- Porlock Weir Beach 🏖️
A small fishing village with a quaint harbour at the heart of it. Porlock Wier beach is pebbly, look out for the sunken pillbox.
- Wringcliff Bay Lynton 🏖️
You can find Wringcliff Bay at the bottom of the valley of the rocks. The beach is small and secluded but is one of the best places to visit on our 7 things to do in the Exmoor guide. There is a steep and narrow path that zig-zags along the cliff that leads down to the beach.
Getting Around Exmoor National Park 🚗
The Exmoor National Park is made up of rolling hills, deep valleys, and winding roads that take you through the heart of the park. When visiting we make the 4-hour drive from London to Exmoor by car. This is the best way to explore the National Park as public transport is not great.
Alternatively taking a tour around the Moors is a great alternative. Rabbies UK tours of one of the best, we visited places like Stone Henge and Dartmoor National Park with them.
Exmoor National Park Map 📍
Stay safe whilst out walking in Exmoor. The weather can be unpredictable and in many areas, you cannot get a phone signal. The best way to do this is by grabbing an offline OS map for the area.
Where To Stay In Exmoor 🏠
When it comes to accommodation in Exmoor National Park you are spoilt for choice. We have picked out a few of our favourite hotels and cottage in the more central locations. This means less travelling and more time exploring Exmoor’s wildlife and landscapes.
Hotel’s in Exmoor 🛏️
Cottages in Exmoor
All across the Exmoor moors, there are hundreds of cottages ready to be rented out for your break in the countryside. Many of these cottages are pet friendly and offer a real sense of tranquillity. Find the best deals cottage deals.
Camping in Exmoor ⛺
Throughout the Exmoor National Park, you can find campsites dotted around, each with its unique qualities. From your 2 man tent in a field with no amenities to the luxury glamping retreat in Lynton, Exmoor has something for everyone.
A great website that we like to use to find campsites all around the UK is Ukcampsite. You can filter down each campsite to show exactly what is on offer in a certain area.
We like to travel in a campervan and have completed many road trips around the UK and Australia. By camping instead of staying in a hotel not only is it cheaper, but you get to connect more with the outdoors. We love having the freedom to pack up and move to a new site whenever you like.
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What Camera Gear Do We Use
- Main Camera: Panasonic G80
- Go To Lens: Panasonic 12-60mm
- Tripod: Manfrotto Adventure Tripod
- Camera Bag: Manfrotto Backpack
- Underwater Camera: GoPro Hero 8
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- Power Bank: Anker Power Bank
- Hard drive: WD 1TB hard drive