Wild open moorland, spectacular coastline, deep wooded valleys, fast flowing streams and lush green pastures are all waiting to be discovered on Exmoor this Discover National Parks Fortnight, starting this Saturday (6th -21st April).
Exmoor is one of 15 National Parks around the UK joining in the two-week long celebration, with events and experiences running throughout the Easter holidays to inspire all ages and interests to get outside and explore these special places.
This year's campaign comes 70 years after the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act that paved the way for UK National Parks, with Exmoor National Park designated five years later. It brought an end to decades of protests to make the enjoyment of these special places the right of every citizen.
Tim Braund, Exmoor National Park Authority's Head of Information and Communication, said: 'From herds of wild red deer and Exmoor ponies to rare butterflies, bats and lichens, there is so much to discover in Exmoor this National Parks Fortnight. The good news is that many of the events and experiences we'll be promoting are free or very low-cost, meaning getting outside to enjoy some of the country's most beautiful landscapes needn't cost the earth.'
Events & Inspiration
For more information about events taking place throughout Exmoor National Park pick up a copy of Exmoor Visitor from National Park Centres in Lynmouth, Dulverton and Dunster or visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/events
Join a Big Adventure Day. Round up the kids and head to Haddon Hill for a #BigAdventure on Wednesday 17th April from 10am - 4pm. Go on a bug hunt, help build a giant den, try your hand at campfire cooking, get your face painted, go on a nature walk, learn forest skills, or simply sit back and enjoy the picturesque moorland views.
Help spot wildlife. From otters and March hares, to returning migratory birds like the chiffchaff and swift, Spring on Exmoor gives way to some extraordinary wildlife. Pick up a free wildlife pocket guide from one of our National Park Centres and do your bit for the #YearofGreenAction by recording what you see at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/wild-watch.
Hug England's tallest tree. Exmoor's 9,375 hectares of woodland provide ample opportunity to connect with nature. Head to Nuttcombe bottom, near Dunster, to track down a record-breaking Douglas Fir that has gone down in history as England's Tallest Tree and look up in wonder at these impressive giants. Find out more in our Woodland Pocket Guide.
Summit Exmoor's highest point. With amazing views extending over Devon, Somerset and across to Wales, along with easily accessible routes from the road, Dunkery Beacon is a great location to experience the exhilaration of reaching a peak without the climb. Park at Dunkery Gate car park to follow the footpath 0.6 miles to the top, marked by a large cairn and plaque. A lovely picnic spot if the sun is out.
See a wild pony. Exmoor's ponies are free-roaming and can usually be found on areas of high moorland - Winsford Hill, Porlock Hill and Molland Moor are particularly good places. For a more hands on experience, head to the Exmoor Pony Centre's activity day from 11am-3pm on Sunday 14th April, with pony rides, grooming, crafts, games and refreshments: www.exmoorponycentre.org.uk
Discover Lorna Doone. A new exhibition marking 150 years since the publication of R.D. Blackmore's tales of derring-do in the spectacular Exmoor landscape opens in the Dulverton Heritage Centre this month, along with a whole host of events in honour of this special occasion throughout the year. The full programme is available from National Park Centres or at www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/lorna-doone-150th-celebrations
Try stargazing. Exmoor's night skies are some of the darkest in the world, thanks to its official status as a protected Dark Skies Reserve. And the cool crisp night skies often seen in Spring create the perfect conditions. So why not wrap up warm and take the kids on a starry adventure? Good spots are Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake. See our free Dark Skies Pocket Guide for more tips.
Explore ancient sites. Head out onto the open moorland for a chance to spot one of Exmoor's many prehistoric standing stones. These often go unnoticed, but are actually part of ancient rituals dating back thousands of years. Use our archaeology website www.exmoorher.co.uk to locate them or join one of our many free guided-walks, including Hidden Dunster on 10th April and Beautiful Bossington on 19th April and North Hill on 20th April. Booking essential on 01598 752509.
Play pooh-sticks. On Exmoor you're never far from running water. So you don't have to stray far to find a quaint footbridge in a scenic spot - the ideal setting for this time-old game. Try the medieval stone Gallox bridge that crosses the river Avill in Dunster, follow the river Barle through Dulverton, or for more ideas pick up a Rivers and Streams Pocket Guide.
Go rockpooling. Exmoor's coast, with its rocky beaches and spectacular tides, has some great spots to search for tidal critters. The beaches at Lynmouth and Lee Bay are ideal, Porlock Weir, with its 15th century harbour and stone jetty, along with its collection of temping shops and eateries, is also a great for crabbing. Or you cound join an expert from Combe Martin Museum for a Seashore Safari on 8th and 17th April: www.combemartinmuseum.co.uk
Join in with #NationalParksFortnight2019 and #DiscoverNationalParks throughout the year.
For events taking place throughout the UK's 15 National Parks visit www.nationalparks.uk/visiting/discover-national-parks.
Photo © Jim Johnston @jjohnstonphoto
Published: 2 April 2019