Exmoor is a great place for walking holidays, with over 1000km of rights of way to enjoy. Since August 2005 the amount of land on Exmoor available to the public for open access on foot has doubled, although walkers must be aware that this applies only to unimproved land, and there is no right of access over farmland. Exmoor National Park runs a series of guided walks, many with a wildlife or historical theme. Details of these walks can be obtained from any National Park visitor centre.
For further details about Exmoor National Park , go to www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk .
The South West Coast Path from Minehead to North Devon has some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the country, including the highest sea-cliffs in England . You can explore the coast path using public transport to discover a new section every day. For more information go to www.swcp.org.uk .
If you enjoy cycling or mountain biking, then Exmoor and North Devon provide a variety of challenges, from exhilarating mountain bike trails to more gentle routes along quiet country lanes. Bikes can be hired from Barnstaple , at the start of the Tarka Trail with up to 21 miles of level traffic free cycling along the Taw and Torridge estuaries. ( www.tarkabikes.co.uk ) Why not visit during late April or early May, when the North Devon and Exmoor Walking and Cycling Festival is taking place? The festival includes guided walks, mountain bike rides and evening talks. More information can be found at www.northdevonfestival.org .
Wintershead can provide stabling facilities if you would like to bring your own horse with you on holiday. Exmoor has some of the best riding country in England , with miles of bridleways and open moorland to explore. There are many riding centres near Wintershead offering escorted rides across the moor, catering for complete beginners to experienced riders. Some useful links are: www.doonevalleytrekking.co.uk ,www.outovercott.co.uk , and www.deanridingstables.co.uk www.equinetourism.co.uk
With its excellent coastline, plus many rivers, reservoirs and small lakes, Exmoor is a fisherman’s delight, offering fly fishing, coarse fishing, and sea fishing. You will need a rod licence and permit, depending on where you want to fish. Sea fishing trips can be booked at Porlock Weir, Lynmouth, and Ilfracombe.
Surfing and Bodyboarding
North Devon‘s beaches are a surfer’s paradise, especially Woolacombe and Croyde beaches, both just a short distance from Wintershead. For less experienced surfers, or those wishing to improve their skills, try one of the surf schools at www.surfsouthwest.com or www.nickthorn.com .
Wimbleball Lake Angling and Watersports Centre
This is a large lake in the Exmoor National Park , surrounded by woodland and meadows, providing opportunities for walking, angling and watersports. For more information go to www.swlakestrust.org.uk .
Places To Visit
North Devon and Exmoor have a wealth of visitor attractions to appeal to all members of the family, many within a short distance from Wintershead. From historical houses and monuments to the amazing natural attractions that this area has to offer, you will find something completely different to do and see every day! Take the opportunity to watch badgers in the wild at Devon Badger Watch ( www.devonbadgerwatch.co.uk ). Visit the Glen Lyn Gorge at Lynmouth, or take a ride on the water powered Cliff Railway (www.cliffrailwaylynton.co.uk ).
There are many other places offering something a bit different from the usual tourist attractions near Wintershead, a few of which are listed below:
- Rock & Rapid Aventures , We are a small company based in the Southwest on the edges of Exmoor. We don’t just work in the outdoors we also play in the outdoors and we have passion for what we do – www.rockandrapidadventures.co.uk.
- Keypitts Stables and Quads at Ilfracombe where you can learn to ride a quad bike, drive a 4WD vehicle off road, have a paint ball battle, or go horseriding in beautiful countryside –www.keypitts.com
- Clay pigeon shooting – www.southwestshootingschool.com
- Travel back in time and meet strange and interesting characters from the 17 th Century, and learn a little more about the history of the English Civil War at Torrington 1646 –www.torrington-1646.co.uk .
- Discover over 300 sculptures in the nature filled park at Broomhill Art, near Barnstaple , or wander around the art gallery before enjoying a meal in their award-winning restaurant –www.broomhillart.co.uk .
Another useful website is www.whatsonexmoor.co.uk , a visitor’s guide to Exmoor National Park with mapping, walking, riding, cycling, fishing, information for the disabled, beaches, tides, weather and much more!
Everything Exmoor is a free encyclopedia, built by the community and business of Exmoor offering information on every aspect of life in the Exmoor National Park. It gathers knowledge of Exmoor in one place and signposts readers to websites containing more detailed information. www.everythingexmoor.org.uk
Throughout the year there are festivals in North Devon and Exmoor celebrating everything from music, art, food, heritage and nature, to sporting festivals including the Goldcoast Oceanfest, the country’s most exciting freesports and music festival. This event brings the top freesports professionals to the beaches of Croyde and Woolacombe with competitions in mountain biking, surfing, skating, volleyball and beach football.
Music festivals include the Bideford Folk Festival, Lynton and Lynmouth Music Festival and the very informal Barnstaple Fringe, where pubs, clubs and restaurants present a mix of jazz, blues, comedy and storytelling.
Ilfracombe has an annual Victorian Week, including a town crier competition!
If you enjoy good food, why not visit during October when the annual Exmoor Food Festival takes place with events across the National Park, from fungi forays to tasting sessions.
To find out more about these and other festivals, click on the website links below: