Saturday, 28 May 2011

A grand day out

A favourite day out of ours is a trip on the West Somerset Railway. Riding the steam trains is like going back in time and gives a very different perspective on the countryside between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard. Watch out for Dunster Castle, nestled among the trees; further on the line hugs the coast for a while; there are also wonderful views of the Brendons and the Quantocks.

If you have the time, it’s definitely worth changing trains at least once to have a mooch around. All the stations are interesting in their own right; some have second hand bookstalls, gift shops, museums or caf├ęs. However, there is a lot more to see beyond the stations themselves. For example, Watchet is a fascinating little town, there are beaches at Blue Anchor and Doniford (the latter with fossil formations), and medieval Cleeve Abbey is within walking distance of Washford station.

Last time we travelled on the railway we took with us the two little books of ‘Country Walks from West Somerset Railway Stations’ (by Audrey & Ron Short, updated by Malcolm & Natalie Short, published by WSRA – we bought our copies from the gift shop at Minehead station). We walked from Crowcombe Heathfield to Bishops Lydeard, stopping for a very good lunch at the Farmers Arms, Combe Florey. At Bishops Lydeard there was time for a circular walk around the village and tea at the station before getting our train back to Minehead.

You can now buy West Somerset Railway Day Rover tickets from us at a discounted rate when you stay at Exmoor House. There’ll be details on our website soon, or contact us for more information.

Monday, 16 May 2011

More about car-free travel on Exmoor

Suggestions for car-free days out from Wheddon Cross was theme of my last blog post. Actually, it's perfectly possible (as some of our guests have done) to travel to Exmoor and all over the National Park by public transport, so that you don't need a car at all. Here's some food for thought...
For lots more ideas, covering the whole of Exmoor, check out Exmoor National Park's where you'll also find information about walking, cycling, riding and public transport, interactive maps and useful links.

A really useful service is the Moor Rover bus, which can pick you up and drop you off at any pre-arranged point within Exmoor National Park.

The minibuses have 8 - 16 seats and can carry bikes, wheelchairs and dogs; they can even be used to transport your luggage while you walk. From April to June the service is available for group bookings of 6 or more people. From July to September it operates every day, from 8.00am to 8.00pm and is available to individuals and groups. All journeys need to be booked at least a day in advance, by calling 01643 709701 (NB no booking service on Sundays). Visit for more details.

When you stay at Exmoor House Wheddon Cross we can give you details of the Exmoor walks we've done; we have lots of books and maps to borrow, plus information about walking and cycling (including cycle hire and walking guides) and the area in general. Other especially useful facilities here include a drying room and bike storage.

If you've been to Exmoor before, you'll know just what a beautiful and varied place it is - ideal for a brief escape, a short break or a long holiday. If not: what are you waiting for?


Thursday, 5 May 2011

Give the car a holiday too!

As part of our efforts to be more green, we've been looking into how people can give the car a rest for a few days while they're on Exmoor. Of course, there are lots of good walks you can do direct from Exmoor House, but if you use public transport you can go a bit further afield. Wheddon Cross has buses calling about six times most days (except Sundays).

Here are some suggestions for car-free itineraries:

Bus no 399. There’s plenty to see in Dunster, also several good circular walks from the village. If you're feeling energetic, you could walk all the way back to Wheddon Cross (some of our guests did this a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it)

Bus no 399. There's a choice of circular walks in the Barle Valley and the village itself is worth exploring (interesting Heritage Centre and church, some nice shops, several good pubs and tearooms).

Bus no 399 to Minehead then no 39 (or in summer, 300) Porlock and walk back to Wheddon Cross along the Coleridge Way; or walk to Porlock and get the bus back to Wheddon Cross.

West Somerset Railway
Bus no 399 to Minehead, West Somerset Railway to Bishops Lydeard and back (or to any of the other stops en route); bus back to Wheddon Cross from Minehead. There are walks from all the stations along the railway; some circular, some from one station to another.

Lynmouth (April - October)
Bus 399 to Minehead, then the 300 open-top bus to Lynmouth and back to Minehead; bus to Wheddon Cross.

In summer, there is also the Moor Rover bus - especially useful for walkers and cyclists. More about this another time...