Exmoor Overview

Exmoor National Park, established in 1954, is located in the southwest of England, United Kingdom, straddling the counties of Somerset and Devon. It covers an area of about 693 square kilometers (267 square miles), showcasing a diverse landscape of rugged coastlines, moorland, wooded valleys, and rolling farmland. This varied terrain not only offers breathtaking views and a sense of wild, natural beauty but also serves as a habitat for a rich array of wildlife and plant species.

The park is named after the River Exe, which originates within its boundaries, and features the distinctive Exmoor moorland, characterized by its open, sweeping landscapes. These moorlands are home to the iconic Exmoor ponies, a native breed that roams freely and is one of the park’s most famous residents. In addition to the ponies, the park supports a variety of wildlife, including red deer, the largest wild land animals in England, and a multitude of bird species, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife watchers.

Exmoor’s coastline, part of which is known as the Heritage Coast, offers some of the most dramatic seaside cliffs and landscapes in England, including the highest sea cliffs on the British mainland at Great Hangman. The park’s network of trails and footpaths, including the South West Coast Path, provides ample opportunities for walking, hiking, and exploring the natural beauty and scenic vistas.

The park is not only a place of natural wonder but also of rich history and culture, with ancient stone circles, medieval villages, and historic landmarks dotting the landscape. Exmoor’s charming towns and villages offer a glimpse into rural English life, with local pubs, tea rooms, and accommodations providing warm hospitality.

Exmoor National Park is a place of inspiration and recreation, where the natural environment is preserved and celebrated. Its diverse landscapes, wildlife, and cultural heritage make it a cherished destination for visitors seeking to explore the natural beauty and rural charm of southwest England.

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Park Map
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Exmoor National Park Pictures

Exmoor National Park Trails

Valley of Rocks

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round trip, minimal elevation gain

Description: This gentle walk takes you through the dramatic Valley of Rocks, a notable dry valley offering spectacular views of unique rock formations and the sea.

It’s perfect for families and those looking for a scenic, leisurely walk with opportunities to spot wild goats among the craggy landscape.

Dunkery Beacon

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip, elevation gain of 500 feet (152 meters)

Description: Hike to the highest point in Exmoor and Somerset, offering panoramic views across the park and beyond.

The trail to Dunkery Beacon is well-marked and traverses through heather-covered moorland, providing a sense of wilderness and isolation.

On clear days, the vistas extend across the Bristol Channel to Wales.

Tarr Steps Woodland

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4 miles (6.4 km) loop, elevation gain of 200 feet (61 meters)

Description: This picturesque circular walk explores the ancient clapper bridge known as Tarr Steps, along with beautiful riverside scenes and woodland.

The route is well-defined, offering a tranquil walk through nature, with opportunities to spot local wildlife and enjoy the serene atmosphere of the woodland and river valley.

South West Coast Path: Porlock to Lynton

Rating: Challenging

Distance and Elevation Gain: 13 miles (21 km) one way, significant elevation changes

Description: Part of the South West Coast Path, this strenuous section offers breathtaking coastal views, steep ascents, and descents.

Hikers will experience rugged cliff tops, secluded coves, and woodland.

The path requires a good level of fitness but rewards with some of the most dramatic seascapes in the region.

Heddon's Mouth Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2.5 miles (4 km) round trip, elevation gain of 150 feet (46 meters)

Description: A relatively easy walk that takes you from the Heddon Valley to Heddon’s Mouth beach, following the course of the River Heddon.

The trail runs through ancient woodland before reaching the dramatic rocky beach.

It’s a great family walk with the chance to see wildlife and enjoy the peace and quiet of the wooded valley.

  • All Trails, Best Trails in Exmoor National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Britannica, Exmoor National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Exmoor Magazine, Exmore National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Exmoor National Park, Government Site,, retrieved April 2024.
  • UNESCO, North Devon Biosphere Reserve,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Visit Exmoor, Exmoor National Park,, retrieved April 2024.