Best walks in Exmoor
Sitting on the edge of Somerset, Exmoor National Park covers an area of approximately 692 square kilometres and includes the highest land point in South West England, Dunkery Beacon, at 535 metres above sea level.
In this awesome expanse of open countryside, you'll find some of England's best walks, from short rambles to challenging hikes that take in some of Exmoor's most dramatic scenery. Here are the top walks in Exmoor National Park, which are all a great day out when you stay with us at the delightful Doniford Bay Holiday Park.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: moderate, tricky in places
If you're looking for some of the most well-preserved remnants of ancient history on the moors, then Tarr Steps should be your first stop. The steps were built to lead over the Barle Valley and up onto the moorlands, following a route created by the Romans more than 2000 years ago.
Tarr Steps is also an important part of heritage tourism as it offers superb views across Blackworthy Water and is only accessible from the Higher Tarr Farm car park. Accessibility can be tricky, so make sure you call ahead if there are mobility or accessibility needs in your group. There's also a cafe there with tea, coffee and cakes with the proceeds going towards the upkeep of the steps, and there are walking sticks available to borrow at no charge if you need them.
Distance: 4.5 miles
This circular walk begins from Dunster and heads to Stoke Pero before returning via Holnicote. Passing along the coast, you can enjoy long views stretching from Lynmouth Bay to Westward Ho! as well as inland towards South Hill and then over the moors to Cothelstone.
Along the way, there are also plenty of amazing villages to explore, so make sure you make time for this looping walk in Exmoor National Park. For wildlife lovers, it is an absolute must to include on your list of trails. Enjoy some fantastic natural sightings, with around 75% of the UK's butterfly species found in Somerset and Cornwall to be seen here too!
Distance: 3 miles, 9 miles around the entire perimeter of the lake
Near Bridgwater and Minehead, the village of Woolacombe on the south coast has a lovely seaside feel. With its long promenade and wide beach, it's also dog-friendly, with cafes, bars and souvenir shops that welcome man's best friend. The countryside around is mostly farmland but with spectacular views across hills. There are plenty of opportunities for country pursuits - you can even try clay pigeon shooting if you're so inclined.
There are plenty of great day hikes from the south coast, too. For example, the trail up to Wimbleball Lake is said to be one of Exmoor's most beautiful routes, taking in rugged scenery and dramatic coastal paths. It's about a six-mile-round trip and takes about four hours, but there are other shorter walks nearby. You'll need sturdy footwear or boots to tackle this terrain, which is reasonably steep at times, especially at the start, where you climb up onto the moorland plateau.
Distance: 8 miles
The peak of Dunkery Beacon is the highest hill found within the National Park. The views from the 2,519ft top stretch for miles, and although it's a challenging climb, it’s achievable for most reasonably fit walkers.
When you get to the top, make sure you go inside one of the two Jubilee Cairns and admire the beautiful views. It has a number of trails and tracks, which makes it perfect for exploring on foot. There are also good facilities at the summit with benches, picnic tables and sheltering walls. If you're feeling adventurous, there are even a few little ledges to climb on, or if you want to experience some adrenaline, why not try paragliding?
Porlock Weir circular walk
Distance: 5 miles
Difficulty: moderate, steep in places
For any visitor to the lowland West Somerset coast of Exmoor, Porlock Weir is a must-see. And it's also a must-visit. On one side, you'll have views of Poole Bay, and on the other side, you'll have vistas up towards Simonsbath and Heddon Hill with its trig point and Iron Age hill fort.
It's not too long at 5 miles, but there are two steep hills to climb (one about 3/4 of the way round), so this is a challenge in places!
Combe Martin & Croyde
Difficulty: 4.5 miles
The coastal village of Combe Martin and the inland village of Croyde are wonderfully different but offer some of the best walking routes in Exmoor. A particular highlight is the Croyde Beach Loop Trail.
This walk starts from Lynton and takes you past the dramatic cliffs of the highland crags to Croyde Bay and then around the coast to Combe Martin. Walking along this stretch is not recommended when the tide is out or before 9am or after 5pm as there are cliff edges that can pose safety issues. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy yourself as you explore these beautiful coastal paths. Dogs are allowed on most long-distance routes; however, they must be kept on a lead at all times.
Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway path
Distance: 862 feet
This path is a rare example of a railway not powered by steam but by water. The Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway opened on 22 September 1898 to carry passengers from the top of the cliffs at Lynmouth down to Lynton below. It has been working continuously ever since - one of only three remaining cliff railways in England and Wales still operating today.