things to do on Exmoor
Exmoor is an activity-packed place, whether you are looking for a quiet break away from the hustle and bustle or an active break for you and your family.
For an active holiday there are miles of wonderful walks or cycle rides, or horse riding across the myriad of bridleways over the moor. Fishermen can fish beautiful fast flowing rivers or still waters, or take a boat sea fishing from various coastal ports.
Or just unwind by visiting one of the fabulous open gardens or National Trust houses within a short drive of Westerclose.
Withypool is an excellent location for a walking holiday, being at the centre of the Exmoor National Park. Westerclose is 100yds from the Two Moors Way and there are numerous circular walks directly from your door, along the wooded Barle valley or over the beautiful heather-clad moorland. With over 650 miles of footpaths in the Park you’ll be spoilt for choice! Our information room has details of popular walks suitable for all abilities. A very good and useful guide to walks on Exmoor and the Quantocks can be found at www.exmoorwalker.uk with easy to download maps/guides.
Cycling on Exmoor is one of the most rewarding ways of seeing the countryside. Although hilly, Exmoor provides a wide choice of routes for both on-road and off-road cyclists, including the Exmoor Cycle Route. You can discover all the touring bike and mountain bike routes around Withypool here.
The Ordnance Survey Map Outdoor Leisure 9, with its clear marking of the various rights of way, is a good starting reference. More specific leaflets showing designated cycle routes are available in our Information Room here at Westerclose. We also have secure undercover bicycle storage.
There is excellent river fishing for trout and salmon on the Exe, Barle and tributaries. Wimbleball Lake is a South West Water Class 1 fly lake (about 20 minutes by car) and other trout lakes are nearby. Also excellent specimen carp and coarse fishing lakes with first-rate facilities – all within easy distance.
There is good sea fishing along the north coast and boat trips are available from Minehead, Lynmouth and Ilfracombe.
We have stables, loose boxes and turnout paddocks available on a DIY livery basis for those who want to bring their own horses to Exmoor. There is excellent hacking directly from our yard. See more information here.
Alternatively, horses and ponies can be hired locally by the hour or day – we are happy to advise on suitable local stables.
Exmoor National Park is home to some of the darkest skies in the country so it’s a great place to gaze at the stars.
The Exmoor Dark Skies Festival runs from Friday 13 – Sunday 29 October 2023. This annual festival comprises a series of stargazing events all over the National Park. Click here to go the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival webpage
For thousands of years, humans have looked up at the night sky and wondered at what they saw. This wonder helped to define our sense of who we are, our myths and legends, our religious beliefs and a sense of our place in a wider cosmos.
But truly dark skies are becoming less common and at places like Exmoor, where there is minimal light pollution, on a cloudless night you can see thousands of stars and astronomical sights with the naked eye.
So why not take the time on Exmoor to look up and rediscover your sense of wonder?
The Dark Sky Discovery Trail at Larkbarrow near Exford has been well received and this is a self-led activity that you can enjoy all year round. Read more at https://exmoorwalks.org/darksky
The Exmoor National Park is renowned for its stunning herds of wild Exmoor Ponies and Red deer.
For birdwatchers, Exmoor is home to buzzards, merlin, harriers, chats, nuthatches & redshanks – to name just a few! It is a wonderful sight to see birds of prey in their natural habitat, watch kingfishers swoop along the waters of the River Barle just below Westerclose and hear the hooting of owls at night.
Exmoor has many varied places to visit. There’s an endless choice of historic sites and glorious gardens, colourful family attractions, steam railway rides, craft workshops and wildlife parks as well as the acres of unspoilt countryside and beautiful coastline.
There are numerous local bus routes into the area such as
Taunton to Minehead / Dunster / Dulverton
Tiverton to Minehead / Dunster / Dulverton
Barnstaple to Lynton & Lynmouth
Ilfracombe to Combe Martin / Lynton & Lynmouth.
The West Somerset Railway offers a great way to travel in a relaxed style along the vale between the Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park between Bishops Lydeard (bus link to Taunton) and the coast at Minehead.
Bus services cross the moor between Dulverton and Minehead and along the north coast between Minehead and Barnstaple taking in the pretty towns of Lynton & Lynmouth, Combe Martin and Ilfracombe.
This is a local Moor Rover service provided for walkers and cyclists within the National Park and along the length of the Coleridge Way. You can arrange a bespoke pick-up and drop-off at a time to suit you between 8am and 8pm 7 days a week, enabling you to get transport to and from anywhere on Exmoor. You need to book your journey at least the day before. You can also use it to transfer your luggage on linear walks. For more information see the Moor Rover web site.
Here are some local links which we hope you will find useful and assist with the planning of your holiday. If you need more help, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Exmoor National Park – a good start to planning your holiday
Visit Exmoor – great website listing attractions and activities on Exmoor
Active Exmoor – a guide to outdoor activities and events on Exmoor
West Somerset Steam Railway – fantastic scenery and a wonderful day out
Exmoor Pony Centre – visit this wonderful charity and meet the Exmoor ponies. Take part in pre-booked riding activities at the Centre or on a ride across the moor
National Trust – there are lots of historic properties, National Trust owned coastline and protected countryside within 25 miles of Withypool
Quince Honey Farm – visit this working honey farm and honeybee exhibition in South Molton
Two Moors Festival – festival of music and arts taking place in October each year
Simonsbath Festival – local music and arts festival (our neighbouring village to Withypool) taking place from May Day to Midsummer’s Day in June each year