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9 reasons why Exmoor is the perfect staycation destination

With its beautiful and varied landscape, Exmoor National Park puts on a spectacular show as the seasons change

10 mins read time  |  Written by Hayley Shedden

A visit to Exmoor is an opportunity to explore, appreciate and immerse yourself in one of the UK’s most wonderfully unique natural environments – from its magnificent moorlands and wild woodlands, to its picturesque valleys and dramatic coastline. Read on to discover just a few reasons why you should make Exmoor your next staycation destination, when it is safe to do so*.

*Please follow all the latest Government covid-19 guidance regarding lockdowns and restrictions when planning your trip.

Exmoor's dark skies

Exmoor National Park is an International Dark Sky Reserve and home to some of the darkest skies in the country. On a clear night, Exmoor’s sky is absolutely stunning. Indeed, many incredible astronomical sights can be seen with the naked eye, and even more can be discovered through binoculars or a telescope. Dark Sky Friendly accredited activity and accommodation providers can help you with the best spots to explore Exmoor's skies, what to look out for, and how to most enjoy the magnificent starscape!

Warm welcome

Across Greater Exmoor there are many charming towns and villages to visit and enjoy. Each is unique, but all with one thing in common, they offer a warm Exmoor welcome! Why not head to the coast – Minehead, Porlock, Lynton & Lynmouth or Combe Martin – for beautiful walks with stunning sea views! And, after all that walking, you’ll find lots of traditional family (and dog) friendly pubs with log fires, as well as plenty of cosy eateries serving up fabulous local produce, where you can refuel and rest your weary feet.

Amazing mountain biking

Exmoor and the Quantock Hills are loved by mountain bike enthusiasts far and wide for the incredible scenery, hundreds of miles of bridleways, varied terrain and, of course, awesome tea gardens and pubs. Riders also often comment on the peace and tranquillity of the area, as there are fairly low numbers of visitors on the trails compared with some of the other more congested national parks. To switch things up a bit, why not take some of the hard work out of exploring by hiring an e-bike while you’re here?

Exmoor’s iconic wildlife

Fancy heading out to see Exmoor’s famous red deer and Exmoor ponies? For your best chances of spotting them, buckle up and take a family-friendly tour of the hidden corners of Exmoor from the comfort of a Land Rover 4x4. You’ll roll through steep, wooded valleys, past crystal-clear rivers and across dramatic windswept moorland to find these majestic animals – you’re sure to spot Exmoor ponies along the way too. These tours are led by local guides who will not only take you off the beaten path but will also share some of their insider knowledge of the area’s history and folklore with you.

Step into Spring

With temperatures starting to rise, lambs and foals appearing across the landscape and fields bursting with yellow daffodils, spring is a great time to explore Exmoor! Try one of the brand-new Exmoor Explorer Walks, a collection of 10 shorter walks (ranging from less than an hour to up to two and a half hours in length). They will take you through oak woodlands, alongside tumbling rivers and across open heather-covered moorland, so the variety is endless. And, if you complete all 10 walks, you will get to see some of the most special places and fascinating features within the park.

Award-winning local produce

Exmoor has an abundance of incredible local produce all year round, but if you're after a tipple in particular, check out the award-winning local gins by Exmoor Distillery and Wicked Wolf Gin. There are also famous local ales such as Exmoor Beast, created by the fantastic microbrewery Exmoor Ales. When it comes to quality food, you can purchase tender beef and grass-fed lamb straight from the local farm shops. And, if you have a sweet tooth – or want to treat someone who does, you must try Grown-Up Marshmallows, which are made from fruits grown on Exmoor.

The medieval Tarr Steps

Enjoy a day out with the family and explore the famous Tarr Steps, a medieval clapper bridge, which crosses the River Barle. Take a leisurely circular walk along the river to work up an appetite, then pay a visit to the fabulous Tarr Farm Inn. It sources local, seasonal ingredients and serves up classic dishes with a contemporary twist. Simply delicious!

See England's Tallest Tree

Head to Nutcombe Bottom and take the Tall Trees Trail to check out England's tallest tree, which has been growing in this idyllic site near Dunster since 1876. The tree was last measured in 2009 and stood at an impressive 60m. Perhaps even more impressively, its 1.75m-diameter trunk is estimated to weigh a staggering 50 tonnes! This trail is smooth and wide, plus it's wheelchair accessible, so it's ideal for all the family.

Climb Exmoor's highest point

Dunkery Beacon is the highest point in Exmoor at 519 metres. It's topped with a large cairn, which enjoys breath-taking views. Indeed, on a clear day you can see across Devon as far as Dartmoor in the south, the Mendips and Quantock Hills to the east, Wales and the Bristol Channel to the north and the patchwork quilt of North Devon and Hartland Point to the west. Position yourself on the sheltered lee slope for a wonderful panoramic vista.

Visit Minehead

Famed for being a ‘gateway’ to Exmoor, Minehead has long attracted visitors to its coastal location. With sandy beaches to explore, a fishing quarter and historic harbour, a 14th century church and easy access to dramatic moorland and coastal walking paths, there is plenty for the whole family to discover at this time of year. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stroll along the vibrant high street, featuring your favourite high street names and a wide variety of independent shops, plus great eateries, making it a top place to while away an afternoon.