Monday, 24 August 2015

Exmoor's variety, part 1: Water

Exmoor National Park is not only incredibly beautiful, but incredibly varied. Some people hear the word ‘moor’ and think ‘bleak’ – but I want to show you that on Exmoor this is very far from the full story.

I’d intended to make this post about scenery and landscape in general, but this is such a huge subject that it needs breaking down into several episodes. So this time I’m going to concentrate on one theme – water. Who doesn’t love picnicking by a river, or relaxing by the sea?
 The river Barle at Withypool

 The moorland is criss-crossed by many small rivers, e.g. the Barle...

...and there are areas of marshland, rich in wildlife.
Porlock Marsh
Wimbleball Lake at dusk

We’ve a lake (a man-made reservoir but none the less attractive for that) at Wimbleball.

And Exmoor National Park has an amazing coastline, from Minehead
View from the Valley of Rocks, Lynton
to Porlock, from Lynmouth to Heddon’s Mouth and many places in between. Beaches, high and rugged cliffs, dramatic ravines, charming harbour towns…

Walking to Heddon's Mouth
There are plenty of water-based activities to choose from on Exmoor, including coasteering, kayaking, fishing - and of course coastal walking or cycling.

Find some ideas at Visit Exmoor

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The mysterious Culbone Stone

Last Saturday the owners of an area of wild woodland high on Exmoor opened up part of their land so that people could visit the Culbone Stone, a mysterious remnant of the moor’s ancient past. 

The Culbone Stone with its inscription

Once the Culbone Stone may have formed part of an ancient line of standing stones dating from about 3,000 years ago; some of these are still in place in the surrounding woods. 

A cross within a wheel or circle has been cut into the stone. Who carved it, and when? 
Although a ‘wheeled cross’ is a well-known Christian symbol, crosses within circles have been used as symbols since well before Jesus’ time. 
Also, one arm of the cross, which extends outside the wheel, seems to have been added after the rest of the carving (possibly as a parish boundary marker). So, who knows…?

Twisty trees in the woods surrounding the Culbone Stone
Gnarled and twisted trees, dense undergrowth and winding paths lend an atmosphere of mystery to the woods themselves. 

The land was once owned by Ada Lovelace (check her out on Wikipedia) and her husband.   

Some of the trees that they planted there as part of a grand vision for the estate did not do well in our moorland climate, but they linger on, like ghosts, adding to the slight spookiness of the place.