Most of the 267 square miles (693 km²) of Exmoor is open heath and moorland. The highest point on Exmoor is Dunkery Beacon, at 1704 ft (519 m), also the highest point in Somerset.
Flora and fauna
Some moors are covered by a variety of grasses and sedges, while others are dominated by heather. Land is mainly used for livestock, although there are some areas which are cultivated such as the Brendon Hills.
Sheep have grazed on the moors for more than 3000 years and traditional breeds include Exmoor Horn, Cheviot and Whiteface Dartmoor and Greyface Dartmoor sheep. Devon red cattle are also farmed in the area.
Exmoor ponies can be seen roaming freely on the moors. They are a race rather than a breed of pony, and are the closest breed remaining in Europe to Wild Horses. The ponies are rounded up once a year to be marked and checked over.
Red deer have a stronghold on the moor and can be seen on quiet hillsides in remote areas, particularly in the early morning.
The famous Beast of Exmoor is reputed to haunt the moor, with many sightings since the 1960s. It is possibly a Cougar or Black Leopard which was released sometime in the 1960s or 1970s after a law passed making it illegal for them to be kept in captivity outside zoos. It has been blamed for many sheep kills over the years.
The moorland habitat is also home to hundreds of species of birds and insects. Birds seen on the moor include Merlin, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Eurasian Curlew, European Stonechat, Dipper, Dartford Warbler and Ring Ouzel.
The closest stations are Tiverton Parkway, Taunton and Barnstaple.
Buses to the edges of the national park are plentiful. There are regular buses from Taunton to Dulverton, the 25B, and Minehead, the 28. From Barnstaple there are regular buses to Lynton & Lymouth.
Fees and permits
Villages below are in the county of Somerset unless otherwise stated.
1 Brendon (Devon). in 'Lorna Doone' country.
2 Combe Martin (Devon). A long village with a beach.
4 Dunster. retains a central yarn market building and has a castle above the village.
6 Oare. centre of 'Lorna Doone' country, where Carver Doone shot Lorna in the church on her wedding day with John Ridd.
9 Selworthy. tiny but one of the most striking. Thatched cottages around the green, a fine church and great views from Selworthy Beacon.
10 Simonsbath. a small village.
11 Winsford. fine inland village, where a small tributary joins the River Exe with a thatched pub and numerous bridges.
The Valley of Rocks. A short walk from Lynton either via high up along the coast path or inland. Well known for its dramatic geology, coastline and herds of wild goats.
Other beauty spots
1 Dunkery Beacon.
2 Doone Valley.
3 Tarr Steps. a clapper bridge on the Barle near Dulverton.
4 Valley of Rocks (Devon). spectacular clifftop road from Lynton - not a valley in the normal sense.
Walk - Exmoor is a great area for walking. . To get great enjoyment from this no particular fitness level is required, although there is plenty to satisfy long distance walkers too (like the Two Moors Way).
Plenty of Somerset produced local food and drink, boxes of fudge and clotted cream are always popular.
2 Cloud Farm Campsite, Hookway Hill, Oare, Lynton EX35 6NU (entrance track west of The Buttery and ford), ☏ . A National Trust run campsite next in the small Badgworthy Water Valley, with excellent showers and outdoor table tennis.