Pony on a hill overlooking a lake n Exmoor National Park

The Best Places to Visit in Exmoor

Arguably one of England’s lesser-known national parks, Exmoor is a fantastic place to get away from it all. On the outskirts there are bustling coastal towns and market towns surrounded by beautiful countryside. In between there are charming villages to discover where you can embark on stunning walks, dine at country pubs and simply relax.

Discover the best places to visit in Exmoor.

Sandy beach in the bay at Combe Martin

Combe Martin, Devon

Combe Martin is sandwiched between Exmoor National Park to its east and the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to its west. The coastline attracts visitors to the South West Coast Path, while the sheltered bay is good for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding.

Soak up the sun on the shingle and sand beach, where at low tide there are rock pools to explore, so make sure to pack the kids’ buckets and spades. Meanwhile, the village high street stretches around 2 miles and the main hub near the beach has independent shops and places to eat.

Nearby attractions include Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park. Or head to Ilfracombe for an array of boat trips including to Lundy Island.

Fishing boats bobbing on the water at Lynmouth in Exmoor

Lynton and Lynmouth, Devon

The villages of Lynton and Lynmouth make up a pretty coastal resort in North Devon and is one of the most popular places to visit in Exmoor. Lynton is situated at the top of a cliff and retains much of its Victorian charm, while 500ft below is Lynmouth with its picturesque harbour, fishing cottages and boats.

Connecting the two is the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway that was opened in 1890 and is the highest and steepest water powered railway in the world. A ride onboard rewards with incredible views of the bay.

The area, affectionately called ‘Little Switzerland’, is also good for walks in the forested valleys of the East and West Lyn River. Walkers should also visit the nearby Valley of the Rocks, which is part of the South West Coast Path, and Watersmeet river gorge.

View down on the village of Porlock in Exmoor with a church steeple in view and the sea in the distance

Porlock and Porlock Weir, Somerset

Porlock is a traditional village in the heart of the Porlock Vale. Meandering streets lined with thatched cottages and English country gardens vie for attention with the 13th century village church, quaint shops, art galleries and tea rooms.

Easily while away the hours by walking in the countryside of Porlock Vale, or perhaps along the Coleridge Way that links sites to do with poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Or visit other picturesque villages in the vale such as Bossington, Allerford and Selworthy, stopping to enjoy lunch in one of the vale’s cosy pubs.

Port Weir, about a 5-minute drive away from Porlock village, is a great place for coastal walks. Although small, it has some good places to eat and the area is good for kayaking, windsurfing and coasteering.

Winding cobbled street with thatched cottage in the town of Minehead

Minehead, Somerset

Minehead, a gateway town to Exmoor, is located at the eastern border of the national park. The town is one of the places to visit in Exmoor for a long, sandy, family-friendly beach where hours of fun can be had. There’s also a delightful harbour and it is a good place for fishing.

Minehead is also the starting (or finishing) point of the South West Coast Path, so you can enjoy some lovely coastal walks. Plus, there are water-based activities and bikes to hire locally to help you explore.

For something gentler, pop into Blenheim Gardens, just a few minutes’ stroll from the harbour. The town itself is a hive of activity with shops, cafes and a station for the heritage West Somerset Railway where you can embark on a scenic train journey.

Early Spring Snowdrops, Galanthus Nivalis, Selective Focus And Diffused Background

Wheddon Cross, Somerset

Wheddon Cross is the highest village on Exmoor and is surrounded by beautiful Somerset countryside. It is one of the best places to visit in Exmoor for fantastic views of Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in the national park.

If you’re feeling fit, walking to the top of Dunkery Beacon is one of the best things to do in Exmoor. Exmoor ponies can often be seen here too.

There are plenty of circular walks and cycle routes from the village, plus the Coleridge Way passes by. If you’re visiting in February, there is a lovely walk in the Snowdrop Valley.

Back in the village, there is a real sense of community, and you will find a friendly welcome whether you pop into the local shop or the local pub.

Hills and green fields in the countryside near the village of Exford in Exmoor

Exford, Somerset

Exford is a pretty village on the banks of the River Exe and is a fantastic place in Exmoor to base yourself for cycling, horse riding and some very fine walks. You can walk up to Dunkery Hill and Dunkery Beacon. Or get on the Exe Valley Way to walk to the village of Withypool and back. Other long distance paths pass through or close to Exford too.

At the heart of the village is the large village green around which are places to eat including two pubs, tearooms and village shops.

Exford can also easily be incorporated with Exmoor beauty spots including the Tarr Steps. It is also a good place to visit in Exmoor to take advantage of the dark skies for some stargazing.

Old bridge with six arches over the river at the village of Withypool in Exmoor

Withypool, Somerset

Withypool is a small village which is another excellent place to visit in Exmoor while exploring the central and southern areas of the national park. Pretty as a picture, is the six-arch, old stone bridge across the River Barle. The village also has a shop, pub and tearoom.

It is said that the pub, The Royal Oak, was where President Eisenhower planned the D Day landings, while R.D. Blackmore is thought to have written part of the Lorna Doone novel here.

There are many walks across the moors from Withypool with a delightful remote feel to savour. Set off along the River Barle towards Simonsbath. Or venture to the Tarr Steps returning to Withypool via Withypool Hill for spectacular views from the summit.

Sun rays shining through the trees of a forest

Dulverton, Somerset

Dulverton is a small but vibrant market town known as the southern gateway to Exmoor National Park. The town’s high street has award-winning restaurants, boutiques and independent shops. Plus, there is a Farmers Market on the last Saturday of the month where you can buy local produce.

Situated on the River Barle, with a stunning medieval bridge, Dulverton has plenty of charm. The town is also set in a wooded valley and is a good place for a nature walk. Or venture into the national park for walks on the moors.

The Exe Valley Way passes through Dulverton, while the Two Moors Way is nearby. Dulverton has one of Exmoor’s Visitor Information Centres, so you can easily find out lots more information about the local area.

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