Steep-sided valleys, clothed in dense oakwood, unexpectedly crease the landscape. Scenic lakes and
clear-flowing rivers water the moors. Waterfalls tumble down dark, dramatic gorges to the sea.
Pretty villages and robust, stone-built towns maintain a traditional country atmosphere,
untouched by the rush and crush of the modern world. Over the centuries Exmoor has been shaped by its farming
communities – and continues to be so. It’s a breath of fresh air to escape to these rural heartlands.
For the farmer, the Exmoor region offers most in the way of dairying in the soft green lowlands and running sheep on the rugged
uplands. When you find your car stuck behind a slow-moving herd of cows, or have to slow down to walking pace to avoid the
sleepy sheep at the side of the road – relax and take it easy. The locals do! Pheasants, ducks and over-friendly farm
dogs are other ‘natural roadblocks’ along the country lanes of Exmoor – not to mention the wild native
Exmoor ponies with their ragged manes and tails that seem to catch the very spirit of the windswept moors.
The country lanes of Exmoor are twisting, narrow and high-banked, cradling you under the trees in some deep combe bottom,
or climbing to an enormous, stunning top-of-the-world view. Ferns grow in the hedgebanks, along with primroses,
snowdrops and violets in spring, campion and cow parsley in summer. You could easily spend your whole holiday revelling
in the peace and beauty of these lanes that connect the towns and villages lying on the moor itself and around its skirts
on the fringes of the National Park.
These settlements are as full of variety as they are of charm. There are hamlets as small and perfect as high-perched
Stoke Pero with its ancient church, villages as endearing as Withypool in its cleft of the River Barle, stone-built harbour
towns such as Watchet on the Bristol Channel with its new marina and world famous statues, characterful rural centres like
where local socialising and shopping goes on
regardless of whatever may be happening in the outside world beyond the moor.