Best Walking Routes in Exmoor - Outdoors Magic

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Best Walking Routes in Exmoor

There's nothing like a good long walk along a UK coastline. Even better if it comes with fish and chips. Here are five routes around Exmoor, along with helpful tips from local guides.

This is part of our series with Komoot, the route planning app for runners, bikers, and long-distance hikers. We’ve reached out to local experts and asked them to plot their five favourite walking routes.

Covering the grassy coastal region of Exmoor we have Jennie Wild and her husband, Malcolme. These two are seasoned walkers who know everything there is to know about the area. Together, they run Wild About Exmoora central hub of resources for anyone looking to plan their next holiday in the UK. As well as helping you plan your trip and even organising accommodation, Jennie and Malcolme provide guided tours of Exmoor, offering a range of private walks in the day, and opportunities for star gazing during one of their night hikes. Without further ado, here are their five best walks in Exmoor.

Take it away, Jennie:

The Best Walks in Exmoor

  1. Valley of the Rocks and Wringcliffe Bay
  2. Dulverton to Exford via Marsh Bridge and Tarr Steps
  3. Exford to Dulverton via Winsford and Yellowcombe Cottage
  4. Lorna Doone Valley
  5. Room Hill Circuit

Valley of the Rocks and Wringcliffe Bay

Distance: 4.5 miles
Start/End: Valley of the Rocks car park

A beautiful walk taking in “Little Switzerland” as the poet Southey called the Valley of the Rocks.

We’ve started this hike off at the top station of the historic cliff railway which runs between the towns of Lynmouth and Lynton. Down at sea level, Lynmouth is lovely to explore and boasts brilliant fish and chips; Lynton is perched 500 feet above. The two are connected by the cliff railway, a miracle of Victorian engineering which will whisk you up the cliff using 100% water power. Once you’re up, follow our route through the quaint Victorian town of Lynton, well worth a visit with plenty of cafes, pubs and restaurants for refreshments.

As you come to the coast through the Valley of Rocks, you’ll find the secret little bay of Wringcliffe. It’s accessed via a treacherous path which may be closed for repair as it is subject to landslides, but it’s a great place for a swim if possible, and rarely busy – one of Exmoor’s little gems. The views across the Bristol Channel to Wales are stunning from this stretch of the Southwest coast path with sheer drops to the sea below. Look out for peregrine falcons and the ubiquitous stripy rock pipits.


Dulverton to Exford via Marsh Bridge and Tarr Steps

Distance: 14 miles / 22 km
Start/End: Rosemary Lane, Dulverton / Church Hill, Exford

A great walk through deep green valleys to the town of Exford in the heart of Exmoor National Park. Combine this route with the one below to make a weekend of it, staying in Exford where there are a number of options (2 coaching inns, several guest houses and Spindrift Barn luxury holiday let).

It features a mix of terrain with deciduous woodland along the banks of The Barle River, crossing by a medieval clapper Bridge at Tarr steps Inn (a very special place for lunch or a cream tea). An easy walk along the river with swimming spots and then a steep climb up out of Withypool to cross moorland and then descend along an old drovers’ track. After only a brief detour away from the water, you’ll pick up the river Exe footpath and follow it straight into Exford.


Exford to Dulverton via Winsford and Yellowcombe Cottage

Distance: 10 miles / 14 km
Start/End: Chapel Street, Exford / Fore Street, Dulverton

A wonderful complimentary walk to the one above, very different terrain over mainly farmland and ancient woodland. Winsford is a pretty village with its ford and war memorial, tea gardens and thatched cottages. This route follows old paths and tracks to give you a flavour of the Exmoor of old, well away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Dulverton is a lovely little town, home to the fabulous ‘Woods’ Restaurant and The Bridge Inn by the river, as well as many independent shops and cafes, rather French in character. It is a pleasant place to while away an hour or two at the end of your walk.


Lorna Doone Valley

Distance: 9 miles / 14 km (plus 2.5 miles / 4km to take in the loop to Oare Church)
Start/End: Rosemary Lane, Dulverton / Church Hill, Exford

A varied walk, starting at the National Trust campsite at Malmsmead and taking in the pretty river valley of Badgeworthy (pronounced” badgery”) with a great National Trust campsite at Cloud farm on the riverbank.

R.D. Blackmore wrote the story of Lorna Doone with inspiration from this area, drawing on the history and scenery that surrounded him. It is therefore possible to visit the waterslide up which the brave (or foolhardy) John Ridd clambered to find and fall in love with the beautiful Lorna, ‘Queen’ of the lawless ‘Doone’ Clan, and to soak in the atmosphere of the delightful 16th century church where the honest and steadfast John finally stood next to his bride-to-be.

In all, this is a brisk, medium ability circular walk with a few uphill sections, and an opportunity to picnic at the medieval village that may have been the original hangout of the evil Doone Clan. The route goes over the moorland that John Ridd and Carver Doone knew so well and conjures up the steamy atmosphere of the book, especially on a louring, rainy day.


Room Hill Circuit

Distance: 5 miles / 8 km
Start/End: Exford Carpark

The main carpark in Exford can be tricky to find, so for convenience-

Map reference: SS 854383
Satnav postcode: TA24 7PP

Anyway, here’s a great circular walk that gives you spectacular views out to Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Somerset, with an easy detour to the iron age Hillfort of Roadcastle. A mixture of pasture and moorland with ancient farmsteads and a walk along the upper reaches of the Exe river, where the bridge provides a good picnic spot.

Facilities in Exford include 2 pubs and a tearooms plus village stores. Spindrift Barn is ideally placed to spend a couple of nights exploring this area.

Dark Skies Trail

Distance: 1 mile up and back
Start/End: Larkbarrow Corner

The Dark Skies Trail is an interesting one, it’s a super short there-and-back night walk newly created by the National Park. It is waymarked in luminescent paint, an easy to follow track accessed from a small layby near Larkbarrow Corner on Wellshead lane (‘what 3 words’: notices.reworked.rebel.).

This trail does not exist to challenge travellers, but to inspire those who walk it with stunning views. The sky blazes with flickering stars and stubbornly bright planets here at Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. The trail leads to a ruined farmhouse, Larkbarrow, which is marked on the Komoot map and a great place to stargaze and/or picnic. Unfortunately wild camping is not allowed on Exmoor, but the nearby “Westermill” is a handy and very unspoilt campsite, and there is a wealth of accommodation in Exford.

Maybe join an event at the Exford Bridge Tearooms Dark Skies Discovery Hub to learn all about the night skies before you head off on this trail.

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