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Exmoor
Exmoor
is loosely defined as an area of hilly open moorland in west Somerset
Somerset
and north Devon
Devon
in South West England. It is named after the River Exe, the source of which is situated in the centre of the area, two miles north-west of Simonsbath. Exmoor
Exmoor
is more precisely defined as the area of the former ancient royal hunting forest, also called Exmoor, which was officially surveyed 1815–1818 as 18,810 acres (7,610 ha) in extent. The moor has given its name to a National Park, which includes the Brendon Hills, the East Lyn Valley, the Vale of Porlock
Porlock
and 55 km (34 mi) of the Bristol Channel
Bristol Channel
coast. The total area of the Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park is 692.8 km2 (267.5 sq mi), of which 71% is in Somerset
Somerset
and 29% in Devon. The upland area is underlain by sedimentary rocks dating from the Devonian
Devonian
and early Carboniferous
Carboniferous
periods with Triassic
Triassic
and Jurassic age rocks on lower slopes. Where these reach the coast, cliffs are formed which are cut with ravines and waterfalls. It was recognised as a heritage coast in 1991. The highest point on Exmoor
Exmoor
is Dunkery Beacon; at 519 metres (1,703 ft) it is also the highest point in Somerset. The terrain supports lowland heath communities, ancient woodland and blanket mire which provide habitats for scarce flora and fauna. There have also been reports of The Beast of Exmoor, a cryptozoological cat roaming Exmoor. Several areas have been designated as Nature Conservation Review and Geological Conservation Review sites. There is evidence of human occupation from the Mesolithic. This developed for agriculture and extraction of mineral ores into the bronze and Iron
Iron
Ages. The remains of standing stones, cairns and bridges can still be identified. The royal forest was granted a charter in the 13th century, however foresters who managed the area were identified in the Domesday Book. In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
sheep farming was common with a system of agistment licensing the grazing of livestock as the Inclosure Acts divided up the land. The area is now used for a range of recreational purposes.

Contents

1 National character area 2 Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park 3 Geology

3.1 Coastline 3.2 Rivers

4 Climate 5 History

5.1 Establishment of royal forest 5.2 Wardens

6 Wool trade 7 Ecology

7.1 Flora 7.2 Fauna 7.3 Beast

8 Government and politics 9 Sport and recreation 10 Places of interest 11 See also 12 References 13 Further reading 14 External links

National character area[edit] Exmoor
Exmoor
has been designated as a national character area (No. 145) by Natural England, the public body responsible for England's natural environment. Neighbouring natural regions include The Culm to the southwest, the Devon
Devon
Redlands to the south and the Vale of Taunton
Taunton
and Quantock Fringes to the east.[1] Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park[edit]

The official " Exmoor
Exmoor
Flag", unveiled at the West Somerset
Somerset
Railway Station in Minehead
Minehead
on 29 October 2014[2]

Exmoor
Exmoor
was designated a National Park in 1954, under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.[3] The Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park is primarily an upland area with a dispersed population living mainly in small villages and hamlets.[4][5] The largest settlements are Porlock, Dulverton, Lynton, and Lynmouth, which together contain almost 40 per cent of the park's population. Lynton
Lynton
and Lynmouth
Lynmouth
are combined into one parish and are connected by the Lynton
Lynton
and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. Exmoor
Exmoor
was once a Royal forest
Royal forest
and hunting ground, covering 18,810 acres (7,610 ha),[6] which was sold off in 1818.[7] Several areas within the Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park have been declared Sites of Special
Special
Scientific Interest due to their flora and fauna.[8][9][10] This title earns the site some legal protection from development, damage and neglect. In 1993 an environmentally sensitive area was established within Exmoor.[11] Geology[edit] Exmoor
Exmoor
is an upland area formed almost exclusively from sedimentary rocks dating from the Devonian
Devonian
and early Carboniferous
Carboniferous
periods. The name of the geological period and system, 'Devonian', comes from Devon, as rocks of that age were first studied and described here. With the exception of a suite of Triassic
Triassic
and Jurassic
Jurassic
age rocks forming the lower ground between Porlock
Porlock
and Timberscombe and from Minehead
Minehead
to Yarde (within Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park but peripheral to the moor itself),[12][13] all of the solid rocks of Exmoor
Exmoor
are assigned to the Exmoor
Exmoor
Group, which comprises a mix of gritstones, sandstones, slates, shales, limestone, siltstones and mudstones. Quartz
Quartz
and iron mineralisation can be detected in outcrops and subsoil.[14] The Glenthorne
Glenthorne
area demonstrates the Trentishoe Member (formerly 'Formation') of the Hangman Sandstone
Sandstone
Formation (formerly 'Group'). The Hangman Sandstone
Sandstone
represents the Middle Devonian
Devonian
sequence of North Devon
Devon
and Somerset.[8] These unusual freshwater deposits in the Hangman Grits were mainly formed in desert conditions.[15] As this area of Britain was not subject to glaciation, the plateau remains as a remarkably old landform.[15][16] The bedrock and more recent superficial deposits are covered in part by moorland which is supported by wet, acid soil.[17] Coastline[edit]

The Exmoor
Exmoor
coastline near the Valley of the Rocks

Exmoor
Exmoor
has 55 kilometres (34 miles) of coastline. The highest sea cliff on mainland Britain (if a cliff is defined as having a slope greater than 60 degrees) is Great Hangman near Combe Martin
Combe Martin
at 318 m (1,043 ft) high, with a cliff face of 250 m (820 ft).[18] Its sister cliff is the 250 m (820 ft) Little Hangman, which marks the edge of Exmoor. The coastal hills reach a maximum height of 314 m (1,030 ft) at Culbone Hill.[19] Exmoor's woodlands sometimes reach the shoreline,[18] especially between Porlock
Porlock
and Foreland Point, where they form the single longest stretch of coastal woodland in England
England
and Wales.[20] The Exmoor Coastal Heaths have been recognised as a Site of Special
Special
Scientific Interest due to the diversity of plant species present.[21] The scenery of rocky headlands, ravines, waterfalls and towering cliffs gained the Exmoor
Exmoor
coast recognition as a heritage coast in 1991.[22] With its huge waterfalls and caves, this dramatic coastline has become an adventure playground for both climbers and explorers. The cliffs provide one of the longest and most isolated seacliff traverses in the UK.[23] The South West Coast Path, at 1,014 kilometres (630 mi) the longest National Trail
Trail
in England
England
and Wales, starts at Minehead
Minehead
and runs along all of Exmoor's coast.[24][25] There are small harbours at Lynmouth, Porlock
Porlock
Weir and Combe Martin. Once crucial to coastal trade, the harbours are now primarily used for pleasure; individually owned sailing boats and non-commercial fishing boats are often found in the harbours.[20] The Valley of the Rocks
Valley of the Rocks
beyond Lynton
Lynton
is a deep dry valley that runs parallel to the nearby sea and is capped on the seaward side by large rocks,[26][27] and Sexton's Burrows
Sexton's Burrows
forms a natural breakwater to the harbour of Watermouth
Watermouth
Bay on the coast.[28] Rivers[edit]

The East Lyn River

The high ground forms the catchment area for numerous rivers and streams. There are about 483 km (300 mi) of named rivers on Exmoor.[29] The River Exe, which Exmoor
Exmoor
is named after,[30] rises at Exe Head near the village of Simonsbath, close to the Bristol Channel coast, but flows more or less directly due south, so that most of its length lies in Devon. It reaches the sea at a substantial ria (estuary) on the south (English Channel) coast of Devon.[31] It has several tributaries which arise on Exmoor. The River Barle
River Barle
runs from northern Exmoor
Exmoor
to join the River Exe
River Exe
at Exebridge, Devon. The river and the Barle Valley
Barle Valley
are both designated as biological Sites of Special
Special
Scientific Interest.[32] Another tributary, the River Haddeo, flows from the Wimbleball Lake.[33] Most other rivers arising on Exmoor
Exmoor
flow north to the Bristol Channel. These include the River Heddon, which runs along the western edges of Exmoor, reaching the North Devon
Devon
coast at Heddon's Mouth,[34] and the East and West Lyn rivers, which meet at Lynmouth. Hoar Oak
Oak
Water is a moorland tributary of the East Lyn River, the confluence being at Watersmeet.[35] The River Horner, which is also known as Horner Water, rises near Luccombe and flows into Porlock
Porlock
Bay near Hurlstone Point.[36] The River Mole arises on the south-western flanks of Exmoor and is the major tributary of the River Taw, which itself flows northward from Dartmoor. Badgworthy Water
Badgworthy Water
is one of the small rivers running north to the coast and is associated with the Lorna Doone legends.[37] Climate[edit]

Horner Woods, Exmoor, in winter

Along with the rest of South West England, Exmoor
Exmoor
has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of England. The mean annual temperature at Simonsbath
Simonsbath
is 8.3 °C (46.9 °F) with a seasonal and diurnal variation, but due to the modifying effect of the sea the range is less than in most other parts of the UK. January is the coldest month, with mean minimum temperatures between 1 and 2 °C (34 and 36 °F). July and August are the warmest months in the region, with mean daily maxima around 21 °C (70 °F). In general, December is the month with the least sunshine and June the month with the most sun. The south-west of England
England
has a favoured location with regard to the Azores
Azores
high pressure when it extends its influence north-eastwards towards the UK, particularly in summer.[38] Cloud
Cloud
often forms inland, especially near hills, and reduce the amount of sunshine that reaches the park. The average annual sunshine is about 1,600 hours. Rainfall tends to be associated with Atlantic depressions or with convection. In summer, convection, caused by the sun heating the land surface more than the sea, sometimes forms rain clouds and at that time of year a large proportion of the rainfall comes from showers and thunderstorms. Annual precipitation varies from 800 mm (31 in) in the east of the park to over 2,000 mm (79 in) at The Chains.[29] However, in the 24 hours of 16 August 1952, more than 225 mm (8.9 in) of rain fell at The Chains. This rainfall, which followed an exceptionally wet summer, led to disastrous flooding in Lynmouth
Lynmouth
with 34 dead and extensive damage to the small town.[29] Snowfall is very variable from year to year and ranges from 23 days on the high moors to about 6 on coastal areas. November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, with June to August having the lightest winds. The wind comes mostly from the south-west.[38] There are two Met Office Weather stations recording climate data within Exmoor: Liscombe and Nettlecombe.[39]

Climate data for Nettlecombe 96 m asl, 1971–2000

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C (°F) 7.9 (46.2) 8.0 (46.4) 10.2 (50.4) 12.2 (54) 15.6 (60.1) 18.3 (64.9) 20.7 (69.3) 20.5 (68.9) 17.8 (64) 14.2 (57.6) 10.8 (51.4) 8.8 (47.8) 13.8 (56.8)

Average low °C (°F) 1.9 (35.4) 1.8 (35.2) 3.0 (37.4) 3.6 (38.5) 6.2 (43.2) 8.8 (47.8) 10.9 (51.6) 10.8 (51.4) 9.0 (48.2) 6.7 (44.1) 4.1 (39.4) 2.9 (37.2) 5.8 (42.4)

Average precipitation mm (inches) 123.6 (4.866) 87.6 (3.449) 80.6 (3.173) 66.3 (2.61) 62.6 (2.465) 58.7 (2.311) 43.4 (1.709) 66.5 (2.618) 85.4 (3.362) 108.6 (4.276) 106.6 (4.197) 128.7 (5.067) 1,018.6 (40.102)

Source: MetOffice[40]

History[edit]

Tarr steps clapper bridge.

There is evidence of occupation of the area by people from Mesolithic times onward.[41] In the Neolithic period, people started to manage animals and grow crops on farms cleared from the woodland, rather than act purely as hunters and as gatherers.[42] It is also likely that extraction and smelting of mineral ores to make metal tools, weapons, containers and ornaments started in the late Neolithic, and continued into the bronze and Iron
Iron
Ages.[43] An earthen ring at Parracombe
Parracombe
is believed to be a Neolithic henge dating from 5000–4000 BC, and Cow Castle, which is where White Water meets the River Barle, is an Iron Age
Iron Age
fort at the top of a conical hill.[44] Tarr Steps
Tarr Steps
are a prehistoric (c. 1000 BC) clapper bridge across the River Barle, about 4 km (2 1⁄2 mi) south-east of Withypool
Withypool
and 6 km (4 mi) north-west of Dulverton. The stone slabs weigh up to 5 tonnes apiece, and the bridge has been designated by English Heritage
English Heritage
as a grade I listed building,[45] to recognise its special architectural, historical or cultural significance. There is little evidence of Roman occupation apart from two fortlets on the coast.[43] Lanacombe
Lanacombe
is the site of several standing stones and cairns which have been scheduled as ancient monuments.[46][47][48][49][50] The stone settings are between 30 cm (12 in) and 65 cm (26 in) high.[51] A series of Bronze Age
Bronze Age
stone cairns are closely associated with the standing stones.[52][53][54] Holwell Castle, at Parracombe, was a Norman motte-and-bailey castle built to guard the junction of the east–west and north–south trade routes, enabling movement of people and goods and the growth of the population.[55] Alternative explanations for its construction suggest it may have been constructed to obtain taxes at the River Heddon bridging place, or to protect and supervise silver mining in the area around Combe Martin.[56] It was 40 metres (131 ft) in diameter and 6.2 m (20 ft) high above the bottom of a rock cut ditch which is 2.7 m (9 ft) deep.[57] It was built, in the late 11th or early 12th century.[58][59] The earthworks of the castle are still clearly visible from a nearby footpath, but there is no public access to them.[60] Establishment of royal forest[edit]

According to the late 13th century Hundred Rolls, King Henry II of England
England
(d. 1189) gave William of Wrotham
William of Wrotham
the office of steward of Exmoor.[61] The terms steward, warden and forester appear to be synonymous for the king's chief officer of the royal forest. Wardens[edit] The first recorded wardens were Dodo, Almer & Godric who were named in the Domesday Book
Domesday Book
(1087) as "foresters of Widepolla", Withypool
Withypool
having been the ancient capital of the forest. The family of Denys were associated with Ilchester[62] and "Petherton". William of Wrotham, who died in 1217, was steward of the forests of Exmoor
Exmoor
and North Petherton, Somerset. Walter and Robert were named as foresters of Exmoor
Exmoor
when they witnessed an early 13th century grant to Forde Abbey.[63] In 1276 the jurors of Brushford manor made a complaint about John de Camera in the Court of Exchequer in which he was described as forester of Exmoor.[64] William Lucar of "Wythecomb", the brother of Elizabeth Lucar, was forester temp. under Henry VI, between 1422 and 1461. William de Botreaux, 3rd Baron Botreaux was appointed in 1435 warden of the forests of Exmoor
Exmoor
and Neroche for life by Richard Duke of York.[64] The Botreaux family had long held the manor of Molland
Molland
at the southern edge of Exmoor, but were probably resident mainly at North Cadbury
North Cadbury
in Somerset. On 10 May 1461 William Bourchier, 9th Baron FitzWarin, feudal baron of Bampton was appointed by King Edward IV as Master Forester of the Forests of Exmoor
Exmoor
and Neroche for life.[65] Sir John Poyntz of Iron
Iron
Acton, Gloucestershire, was warden or chief forester of Exmoor
Exmoor
in 1568 when he brought an action in the Court of Exchequer against Henry Rolle (of Heanton Satchville, Petrockstowe), the powerful lord of the manors of Exton, Hawkridge and Withypool.[66] In 1608 Sir Hugh Pollard was named as chief forester in a suit brought before the Court of Exchequer by his deputy William Pincombe. James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, was named as Keeper of Exmoor
Exmoor
Forest in 1660 and 1661.[67] James Boevey
James Boevey
was a forester in the 17th century. Sir Richard Acland (or possibly Sir Thomas Dyke Acland) was the last forester up to 1818. One of the roles of the Warden was Master of Staghounds[68] and this role continued to be exercised by the Master of the Devon
Devon
and Somerset
Somerset
Staghounds, a position extant today. By 1820 the royal forest had been divided up. A quarter of the forest, 10,262 acres (4,153 ha), was sold to John Knight (1765–1850) in 1818.[69] This section comprises the present Exmoor
Exmoor
Parish, whose parish church is situated in Simonsbath.[70] Wool trade[edit] The parish of Exmoor
Exmoor
Forest was part of the Hundred of Williton and Freemanners.[71]

Dunster
Dunster
Yarn Market (a covered market for the sale of local cloth, built in 1609) and Dunster
Dunster
Castle, Exmoor

During the Middle Ages, sheep farming for the wool trade came to dominate the economy. The wool was spun into thread on isolated farms and collected by merchants to be woven, fulled, dyed and finished in thriving towns such as Dunster. The land started to be enclosed and from the 17th century onwards larger estates developed, leading to establishment of areas of large regular shaped fields. During the 16th and 17th centuries the commons were overstocked with agisted livestock, from farmers outside the immediate area who were charged for the privilege. This led to disputes about the number of animals allowed and the enclosure of land.[72] In the mid-17th century James Boevey was the warden. The house that he built at Simonsbath
Simonsbath
was the only one in the forest for 150 years.[73] When the royal forest was sold off in 1818, John Knight bought the Simonsbath
Simonsbath
House and the accompanying farm for £50,000. He set about converting the royal forest into agricultural land.[72] He and his family also built most of the large farms in the central section of the moor as well as 35.4 km (22.0 mi) of metalled access roads to Simonsbath
Simonsbath
and a 46.7 km (29.0 mi) wall around his estate, much of which still survives.[74] In the mid-19th century a mine was developed alongside the River Barle. The mine was originally called Wheal Maria, then changed to Wheal Eliza. It was a copper mine from 1845–54 and then an iron mine until 1857, although the first mining activity on the site may be from 1552.[75] At Simonsbath, a restored Victorian water-powered sawmill, which was damaged in the floods of 1992, has now been purchased by the National Park and returned to working order; it is now used to make the footpath signs, gates, stiles and bridges for various sites in the park.[76] Ecology[edit]

Caddow Combe, near Foreland Point, representative of much of Exmoor's unimproved landscape

In addition to the Exmoor Coastal Heaths
Exmoor Coastal Heaths
Site of Special
Special
Scientific Interest (SSSI), two other areas are specifically designated. North Exmoor
Exmoor
covers 12,005.3 hectares (29,666 acres)[9] and includes the Dunkery Beacon and the Holnicote and Horner Water Nature Conservation Review sites, and the Chains Geological Conservation Review site. The Chains site is nationally important for its south-western lowland heath communities and for transitions from Ancient woodland
Ancient woodland
through upland heath to blanket mire.[77] The site is also of importance for its breeding bird communities, its large population of the nationally rare heath fritillary butterfly (Mellicta athalia),[18] an exceptional woodland lichen flora and its palynological interest of deep peat on the Chains.[77] The South Exmoor SSSI
South Exmoor SSSI
is smaller, covering 3,132.7 hectares (7,741 acres)[10] and including the River Barle
River Barle
and its tributaries with submerged plants such as alternate water-milfoil (Myriophyllum alterniflorum). There are small areas of semi-natural woodland within the site, including some which are ancient. The most abundant tree species is sessile oak (Quercus petraea), the shrub layer is very sparse and the ground flora includes bracken, bilberry and a variety of mosses. The heaths have strong breeding populations of birds, including whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) and European stonechat
European stonechat
(Saxicola rubicola). Wheatear
Wheatear
(Oenanthe oenanthe) are common near stone boundary walls and other stony places. Grasshopper warbler
Grasshopper warbler
(Locustella naevia) breed in scrub and tall heath. Trees on the moorland edges provide nesting sites for Lesser redpoll
Lesser redpoll
(Acanthis cabaret), common buzzard (Buteo buteo) and raven (Corvus corax).[78] Flora[edit]

Dunkery Beacon, with heather in bloom

Uncultivated heath and moorland cover about a quarter of Exmoor landscape.[17] Some moors are covered by a variety of grasses and sedges, while others are dominated by heather. There are also cultivated areas including the Brendon Hills, which lie in the east of the National Park. There are also 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of Forestry Commission
Forestry Commission
woodland,[79] comprising a mixture of broad-leaved (oak, ash and hazel) and conifer trees. Horner Woodlands and Tarr Steps woodlands are prime examples. The country's highest beech tree, 350 m (1,150 ft) above sea level, is at Birch Cleave at Simonsbath
Simonsbath
but beech in hedgebanks grow up to 490 m (1,610 ft).[18] At least two species of whitebeam: Sorbus subcuneata and Sorbus 'Taxon D' are unique to Exmoor.[18] These woodlands are home to lichens, mosses and ferns. Exmoor
Exmoor
is the only national location for the lichens Biatoridium delitescens, Rinodina fimbriata and Rinodina flavosoralifera, the latter having been found only on one individual tree.[18] Fauna[edit]

A herd of Exmoor pony
Exmoor pony
foals

Sheep
Sheep
have grazed on the moors for more than 3,000 years, shaping much of the Exmoor
Exmoor
landscape by feeding on moorland grasses and heather. Traditional breeds include Exmoor
Exmoor
Horn, Cheviot and Whiteface Dartmoor and Greyface Dartmoor
Dartmoor
sheep. North Devon
Devon
cattle are also farmed in the area. Exmoor
Exmoor
ponies can be seen roaming freely on the moors. They are a landrace rather than a breed of pony, and may be the closest breed to wild horses remaining in Europe; they are also one of the oldest breeds of pony in the world.[80][81] The ponies are rounded up once a year to be marked and checked over. In 1818 Sir Thomas Acland, the last warden of Exmoor, took thirty ponies and established the Acland Herd, now known as the Anchor Herd, whose direct descendants still roam the moor.[82] In the Second World War the moor became a training ground, and the breed was nearly killed off, with only 50 ponies surviving the war.[83] The ponies are classified as endangered by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, with only 390 breeding females left in the UK. In 2006 a Rural Enterprise Grant, administered locally by the South West Rural Development Service, was obtained to create a new Exmoor
Exmoor
Pony Centre at Ashwick, at a disused farm with 7 hectares (17 acres) of land with a further 56 hectares (140 acres) of moorland.[84] Red deer
Red deer
have a stronghold on the moor and can be seen on quiet hillsides in remote areas, particularly in the early morning. The Emperor of Exmoor, a red stag (Cervus elaphus), was Britain's largest known wild land animal, until it was killed in October 2010.[85][86][87][88] The moorland habitat is also home to hundreds of species of birds and insects. Birds seen on the moor include merlin, peregrine falcon, Eurasian curlew, European stonechat, dipper, Dartford warbler
Dartford warbler
and ring ouzel. Black grouse
Black grouse
and red grouse are now extinct on Exmoor,[89] probably as a result of a reduction in habitat management, and for the former species, an increase in visitor pressure.[90] Beast[edit] The Beast of Exmoor is a cryptozoological cat (see phantom cat) that is reported to roam Exmoor. There have been numerous reports of eyewitness sightings. The BBC calls it "the famous-yet-elusive beast of Exmoor".[91] Sightings were first reported in the 1970s although it became notorious in 1983, when a South Molton
South Molton
farmer claimed to have lost over 100 sheep in the space of three months, all of them apparently killed by violent throat injuries. Descriptions of its colouration range from black to tan or dark grey. It is possibly a cougar or black leopard which was released after a law was passed in 1976 making it illegal for them to be kept in captivity outside zoos. In 2006, the British Big Cats Society reported that a skull found by a Devon
Devon
farmer was that of a puma; however, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) states, "Based on the evidence, Defra does not believe that there are big cats living in the wild in England."[92] Government and politics[edit] The National Park, 71% of which is in Somerset
Somerset
and 29% in Devon,[93] has a resident population of 10,600.[18] It was designated a National Park in 1954, under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.[3] About three quarters of the park is privately owned, made up of numerous private estates. The largest landowners are the National Trust, which owns over 10% of the land, and the National Park Authority, which owns about 7%. Other areas are owned by the Forestry Commission, Crown Estate and Water Companies. The largest private landowner is the Badgworthy Land Company, which represents hunting interests.[94] From 1954 on, local government was the responsibility of the district and county councils, which remain responsible for the social and economic well-being of the local community. Since 1997 the Exmoor National Park Authority, which is known as a 'single purpose' authority, has taken over some functions to meet its aims to "conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Parks" and "promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the parks by the public",[95] including responsibility for the conservation of the historic environment.[96] The Park Authority receives 80% of its funding as a direct grant from the government. The Park Authority Committee consists of members from parish and county councils, and six appointed by the Secretary of State. The work is carried out by 80 staff including rangers, volunteers and a team of estate workers who carry out a wide range of tasks including maintaining the many miles of rights of way, hedge laying, fencing, swaling, walling, invasive weed control and habitat management on National Park Authority land.[97] There are ongoing debates between the authority and farmers over the biological monitoring of SSSIs, showing the need for a controlled regime of grazing and burning; farmers claim that these regimes are not practical or effective in the long term.[98] Sport and recreation[edit] Sightseeing, walking, cycling and mountain biking taking in Exmoor's dramatic heritage coastline and moorland countryside scenery are the main attractions. The South West Coast Path
South West Coast Path
which starts at Minehead and follows all along the Exmoor
Exmoor
coast before continuing to Poole. [24][25] The Coleridge Way
Coleridge Way
is an 82 km (51 mi) footpath[99] which follows the walks taken by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
to Lynmouth, starting from Coleridge Cottage
Coleridge Cottage
at Nether Stowey
Nether Stowey
in the Quantocks where he once lived. The Two Moors Way
Two Moors Way
runs from Ivybridge in South Devon
Devon
to Lynmouth
Lynmouth
on the coast of North Devon, crossing parts of both Dartmoor
Dartmoor
and Exmoor.[100] Both of these walks intersect with the South West Coast Path, Britain's longest National Trail. Other Exmoor
Exmoor
walking trails include the Tarka Trail, Samaritans Way South West, Macmillan Way West, Exe Valley Way and Celtic Way Exmoor
Exmoor
Option. For others, although the hunting of animal with hounds was made illegal by the Hunting Act 2004, the Exmoor
Exmoor
hunts still meet in full regalia and there is a campaign to resurrect this rural sport.[101] Nine hunts cover the area – the Devon
Devon
and Somerset
Somerset
Staghounds and the Quantock Staghounds, the Exmoor, Dulverton
Dulverton
West, Dulverton Farmers and West Somerset
Somerset
Foxhounds, the Minehead
Minehead
Harriers, the West Somerset
Somerset
Beagles and the North Devon
Devon
Beagles. During the spring, amateur steeplechase meetings (point-to-points) are run by hunts at temporary courses such as Bratton Down and Holnicote. These, along with thoroughbred racing and pony racing, are an opportunity for farmers, hunt staff and the public to witness a day of traditional country entertainment.[102] Places of interest[edit]

Exmoor
Exmoor
landscape

The attractions of Exmoor
Exmoor
include 208 Scheduled monuments, 16 conservation areas, and other open access land as designated by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Exmoor
Exmoor
receives approximately 1.4 million visitor days per year which include single day visits and those for longer periods.[103] Attractions on the coast include the Lynton
Lynton
and Lynmouth
Lynmouth
Cliff Railway, which connects Lynton
Lynton
to neighbouring picturesque Lynmouth
Lynmouth
at the confluence of the East Lyn & West Lyn rivers, nearby Valley of Rocks and Watersmeet. Woody Bay, a few miles west of Lynton, is home to the Lynton
Lynton
& Barnstaple
Barnstaple
Railway, a narrow-gauge railway which once connected the twin towns of Lynton
Lynton
and Lynmouth
Lynmouth
to Barnstaple, about 31 km (just over 19 miles) away.[104] Further along the coast, Porlock
Porlock
is a quiet coastal town with an adjacent salt marsh nature reserve and a harbour at nearby Porlock Weir. Watchet
Watchet
is a historic harbour town with a marina and is home to a carnival, which is held annually in July.[105][106] Inland, many of the attractions are small towns and villages or linked to the river valleys, such as the ancient clapper bridge at Tarr Steps and the Snowdrop Valley near Wheddon Cross, which is carpeted in snowdrops in February[107] and, later, displays bluebells. Withypool is also in the Barle Valley, the Two Moors Way
Two Moors Way
passes through the village.[108] As well as Dunster
Dunster
Castle,[109] Dunster's other attractions include a priory,[110] dovecote, yarn market,[111] inn,[112] packhorse bridge, mill and a stop on the West Somerset Railway. Exford lies on the River Exe. Exmoor
Exmoor
has been the setting for several novels including the 19th century Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor
Exmoor
by R. D. Blackmore, and Margaret Drabble's 1998 novel The Witch of Exmoor. The park was featured on the television programme Seven Natural Wonders twice, as one of the wonders of the West Country. Wheal Eliza Mine
Wheal Eliza Mine
on the River Barle
River Barle
near Simonsbath
Simonsbath
was an unsuccessful copper and iron mine.[113] Near Wheddon Cross
Wheddon Cross
is Snowdrop Valley, which becomes filled with thousands of little white flowers called snowdrops during early spring. Within the valley is a sawmill, formerly powered by the River Avill, which runs through the valley.[114] See also[edit]

Somerset
Somerset
portal

Holnicote Estate Moor Robber's Bridge Hope Bourne - Author of "Living On Exmoor" (1963)

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

Edwards, R.A. (2000). Exmoor
Exmoor
Geology: Exploring the Landscapes, Rocks and Mines of the National Park. Exmoor
Exmoor
Books. ISBN 0-86183-411-9.  Miller, G.R.; Miles, J.; Heal, O.W. (1984). Moorland
Moorland
management: a study of Exmoor. Cambridge: Institute of Terrestrial Ecology.  Riley, Hazel; Wilson-North, Robert (2001). The Field Archaeology of Exmoor. Swindon: English Heritage. ISBN 978-1-873592-58-8.  MacDermot E.T. A History of the Forest of Exmoor, 1911 Siraut, Mary. Exmoor: Making of an English Upland, 2009. (Author is Somerset
Somerset
editor for the Victoria County History series) Hamilton, Archibald. The Red Deer of Exmoor, 1906, Chapter 12, The Forest of Exmoor
Exmoor
under the Plantagenets and Tudors, pp. 190–210 "Geography of Exmoor – Filex 4". Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2011.  "Geology of Exmoor – Filex 5". Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2011.  "A history of Exmoor – Filex 6". Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park. Archived from the original on 11 March 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2011.  "Wildlife on Exmoor – Filex 9". Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Exmoor.

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Exmoor.

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Exmoor
Exmoor
National Park Authority The Exmoor
Exmoor
Society – a charity to protect and enhance the landscapes of Exmoor Exmoor
Exmoor
at Curlie (based on DMOZ)

v t e

Ceremonial county of Devon

Devon
Devon
Portal

Unitary authorities

Plymouth Torbay

Boroughs or districts

Exeter East Devon Mid Devon North Devon Torridge West Devon South Hams Teignbridge

Major settlements

Ashburton Axminster Bampton Barnstaple Bideford Bovey Tracey Bradninch Brixham Buckfastleigh Budleigh Salterton Chagford Chudleigh Chulmleigh Crediton Cullompton Dartmouth Dawlish Exeter Exmouth Great Torrington Hartland Hatherleigh Holsworthy Honiton Ilfracombe Ivybridge Kingsbridge Kingsteignton Lynton Modbury Moretonhampstead Newton Abbot North Tawton Northam Okehampton Ottery St Mary Paignton Plymouth Plympton Salcombe Seaton Sidmouth South Molton Tavistock Teignmouth Tiverton Topsham Torquay Totnes See also: List of civil parishes in Devon

Rivers

Ashburn Avon Axe Barle Bovey Bray Burn Clyst Creedy Culm Dart East Dart West Dart Erme Exe Heddon Lemon Lew Lumburn Lyd East Lyn West Lyn Meavy Mole Okement East Okement West Okement Otter Plym Sid Swincombe Tamar Tavy Taw Teign Thrushel Torridge Walkham Wallabrooke East Webburn West Webburn Wolf Yealm

Topics

Flag Devon
Devon
County Council Parliamentary constituencies Economy Places Towns by population SSSIs Country houses Grade I listed buildings Grade II* listed buildings Bridges History Schools Museums Lord Lieutenants High Sheriffs Notable people Dartmoor Exmoor Jurassic
Jurassic
Coast South West Coast Path North Devon's Biosphere Reserve

v t e

National parks of the United Kingdom

England

Peak District
Peak District
(1951) Lake District
Lake District
(1951) Dartmoor
Dartmoor
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North York Moors
(1952) Yorkshire Dales (1954) Exmoor
Exmoor
(1954) Northumberland (1956) The Broads‡ (1988) New Forest
New Forest
(2005) South Downs (2010)

Wales

Snowdonia
Snowdonia
(1951) Pembrokeshire Coast (1952) Brecon Beacons (1957)

Scotland

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs (2002) Cairngorms (2003)

Northern Ireland

Mourne Mountains†

Parentheses denote year of establishment as a National Park. An area with ‡ has similar status to a UK National Park. Areas marked † are proposed.

v t e

Rivers of Exmoor, England

Rivers

Aller Avill Barle Bray East Lyn Exe Hoar Oak
Oak
Water Haddeo Horner Heddon West Lyn

v t e

Ceremonial county of Somerset

Somerset
Somerset
Portal

Unitary authorities

Bath and North East Somerset North Somerset

Boroughs or districts

Mendip Sedgemoor South Somerset Taunton
Taunton
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Major settlements

Axbridge Bath Bridgwater Bruton Burnham-on-Sea Castle Cary Chard Clevedon Crewkerne Dulverton Frome Glastonbury Highbridge Ilminster Keynsham Langport Midsomer Norton Minehead Nailsea North Petherton Portishead Radstock Shepton Mallet Somerton Taunton Watchet Wellington Wells Weston-super-Mare Wincanton Wiveliscombe Yeovil See also: List of civil parishes in Somerset

Rivers

Alham Aller Avill Avon Axe (Bristol Channel) Axe (Lyme Bay) Badgworthy Water Banwell Barle Brue Cam Brook Cary Chew East Lyn Exe Fivehead Frome Haddeo Hoar Oak
Oak
Water Holford Horner Huntspill Isle Land Yeo Mells Midford Brook Oare Water Parret Severn Estuary Sheppey Somer Sowy Tone Washford Wellow Brook West Lyn Whitelake Yeo (Congresbury) Yeo (South Somerset)

Topics

Country houses County Council Culture of Somerset Economy of Somerset Flag Geography of Somerset Geology of Somerset Grade I listed buildings Grade II* listed buildings High Sheriff of Somerset History of Somerset Local nature reserves Lord Lieutenant of Somerset Museums National nature reserves Parliamentary constituencies Places Population of major settlements Scheduled monuments Schools SSSIs Transport in Somerset Geographic areas: Blackdown Hills Brendon Hills Chew Valley Exmoor Mendip
Mendip
Hills Polden Hills Quantock Hills Somerset
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Levels South West Coast Path West Somerset
Somerset
Coast Path

Coordinates: 51°06′N 3°36′W / 51.100°N 3.600°W / 51.100; -3.600

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Identiti

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