Monday, 10 October 2011

Walking on Exmoor: some walks we've done in summer and autumn 2011

 Recently we’ve discovered more new (to us) Exmoor walks which I’d like to share with you.

Withypool to Landacre Bridge: about 4.5 miles. Along the River Barle to the bridge, then back to Withypool via lanes and fields. It was a sunny late-summer day when we went, and the riverbanks were full of meadowsweet and montbretia, which made a stunning contrast with the bright blue sky. A small herd of Exmoor Horn sheep were totally unfazed, idly watching us as we walked through their field; the Exmoor ponies grazing near Landacre Bridge were similarly unbothered. Withypool’s pub, the Royal Oak, is cosy and homely, with local beers and great food.

Dulverton and Court Down: about 4 miles. Another walk that starts off by following the river. Be warned: the riverside path is closed at one point, after a landslide a couple of years ago. Follow the diversion signs and you’ll stay on the right track, emerging near Kennel Farm. There’s a leg-stretching climb up to the trig point on Court Down and a different perspective on Dulverton as you go back down into the village.

Dunster and Grabbist Hill: about 4.5 miles. Starts near Frackford Bridge, just outside Dunster on the road going up towards Wheddon Cross. There’s a longish climb up Grabbist Hill, fabulous views from the top and from Knowle Hill, a meander through plantations and finally a choice between a very (and I mean very) steep descent down towards Dunster and a less steep one (which, personally, I would choose next time!).

Hawkridge: about 3.5 miles. This one passes Tom Lock’s workshop (he’s known as the Antler Man; you’ll see why) and the church (worth a look: one of those charming, simple moorland churches with a lovely peaceful atmosphere). Then it follows an ancient trackway through fields and woods, emerging by Castle Bridge. You can also take a diversion to visit the remains of Brewer’s Castle, an Iron Age fort. A bridleway takes you along part of Dane’s Brook before meeting up with the original track to return to Hawkridge.

All these walks except the Dunster one are in ‘Shortish Walks on Exmoor’ (Robert Hesketh) published by Bossiney Books