Exmoor is beautiful whatever the weather, but there is no time like the present to explore it in it’s autumnal glory, just before it tips over into winter. The seas are wild, the moors are wind swept and auburn, and the villages are peaceful. But don’t let the peaceful aspect fool you – there is still plenty to see, do, experience and enjoy while you are here in the lull between the seasons.
1. Flora & Fauna
Exmoor ponies in the snow
No trip to Exmoor would be complete without seeing the Exmoor ponies, or trying to spot some of the 3000 red deer who live here in the wild. Historically, Exmoor was a Royal Forest governed by Forest Law which protected the deer in order to maintain a supply of venison, and a hunting ground, for the king.
Nowadays, the stags and hinds are free to roam across Exmoor, using woodland for cover. This time of year is rutting season, where the stags compete for hinds. Multiple stags will engage in displays of dominance, including the eerie roaring that can be heard echoing around the valleys, as well as fighting. It is very important not to disturb the stags or hinds during the rutting season, as doing so may put you (or them) at risk. We recommend, with advice taken from the British Deer Society, that you observe from a minimum of 100m away, through binoculars. Though you may hear the roaring from much, much further away!
A young stag on the moorland.
A little closer to the ground, the fungi on Exmoor are in their element at this time of year. Spot some of the 25 species of waxcaps known to occur on Exmoor, including the ballerina or scarlet waxcap. Or see if you can find the infamous puffballs as you stroll around Watersmeet. Oh, and please don’t try to eat any fungi if you are foraging without checking with an expert that it is definitely edible – some of them can make you very poorly!
The chillier weather is the perfect time to wrap up snugly and take a trip over the moors from Lynton and Lynmouth, via Porlock (more on that later) over to Dunster – a beautiful medieval village on the edge of Exmoor, complete with a huge National Trust castle, and a wealth of history. There is the iconic and picturesque Yarn Market in the centre of the village, along with many historic remains, from Iron Age settlements to a Benedictine priory.
Dunster Castle, a short drive away from Lynmouth
The village of Dunster is home to many unique and independent shops, tea rooms, cafes and restaurants, as well as a museum. In a previous blog, we wrote about Dunster by Candlelight – a very special Christmas Shopping experience which allows you to enjoy a pedestrianised Dunster, filled with twinkly lights, late night shopping, a lantern parade and much more. Click here for our blog, with links to the orgnaisers website. Stay with us on our Walking Package to enjoy an incredible value stay on Exmoor, and tie in with a visit to Dunster.
3. Lynton and Lynmouth
We could wax lyrical about the things to do in Lynton and Lynmouth when the weather is chillier and threatening rain. With just a small selection mentioned here, we can suggest…
The Exmoor National Parks Centre at The Pavilion, Lynmouth which is just round the corner from us is in Lynmouth, and holds a wealth of information on local activities and plenty about the history of Lynton, Lynmouth and Exmoor.
Lynmouth, and the Valley of Rocks in Lynton
The Lynton Toy Museum up in our twin village of Lynton is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon – with a huge collection of ‘I forgot about that one!’ toys, there’s something in there for everyone to enjoy. Why not pop up to Lynton, and explore the shops and cafes up there at the same time? Top Tip: as well as an excellent selection of homemade cakes and savory treats, Charlie Friday’s Coffee Shop, Lynton has a HUGE selection of board and card games to help yourselves to.
A bit closer to us is the Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall, which is an educational way to spend a bit of your holiday time. Learn more about the devastating flood that occurred here in 1952, and have a look at the scale model of Lynmouth.
The start of the walk to Watersmeet, looking back towards Lynmouth.
In our own bar and restaurant, The Ancient Mariner, there’s board games, colouring sheets for mini Mariners and over 50 gins to get involved with (as well as lots of rums and whiskey of course, and a great selection of locally brewed ale AND lager). There’s also a whole host of maritime artifacts and art installations to have a look at; perfect for an afternoon gazing out at the sea and counting white horses.
Around a 20-30 minute drive from Lynmouth is the gorgeous Porlock Vale. Another coastal village like Lynmouth and Lynton, this sleepy little corner of Exmoor belies an undercurrent of activities worthy of all adrenaline junkies!
Down at Porlock Weir, looking over to Bossington in the distance.
Try your hand at kayaking, surfing, abseiling or coasteering, horse riding or mountain biking. Local company Exmoor Adventures run a whole host of activities – check out their website for more information.
There’s also a great collection of pubs, cafes, shops and eateries – like Ziang’s. This hugely popular Asian street food, family run restaurant has two branches – one at Porlock Weir and one in the main street of Porlock; Ziang’s at The Olde Chapel. Check opening times before making the journey over to see them – Ziang’s at the Weir frequently sells out in a matter of hours over lunchtime, and Ziang’s in the main street is only open on certain evenings over winter.
Exmoor is in it’s element in autumn, and there are a whole host of walks that allow you to soak up the best scenery there is to offer, in all of it’s autumnal glory!
Exmoor in a range of gorgeous autumnal colours.
As part of our walking package at The Bath Hotel, we give you a range of local maps filled with facts about the area, and detailing all the footpaths, tracks and trails that you could ever need to go waking on Exmoor. There are also a huge range of online resources to have a look at:
https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/ – if you head to this website, and select ‘Map’ at the top of the page, you can zoom in and out of walks and paths. It doesn’t just include the South West Coast Path, but other tracks and paths that interact with it. A great resource!
https://visitlyntonandlynmouth.com/attractions/exmoor-walk-guide – this is a great option if you’re looking for guided walks of the area – how better to explore the secret spots on Exmoor than with a local guide?
http://lyntonwalks.co.uk/walks – don’t be fooled by the name! This hand website features walking that goes through Lynton, Lynmouth and beyond. It features a fantastic interactive map, and lots of local information.