Exmoor is a protected area that is a national park in Somerset, though a bit of it actually lies in Devon. Before it was a park Exmoor was a hunting ground and Royal forest but was sold in 1818. It was one of Britain’s first National parks and was named for the river Exe. A few areas in the park are sites of special scientific interest, mainly for their flora and fauna. Most of the park is a moor but it also contains some coastline.
The coastline has some of Britain’s highest cliffs and can be found at Culbone Hill. The forest between Porlock and The Foreland actually reaches the shoreline and this area is the longest stretch of coastal woodland in England. There are many waterfalls, ravines, and cliffs along the headlands making it a dramatic and adventuresome place to visit. The longest national trail is along the coast and starts at Minehead had running the full length of Exmoor’s coast.
There is an Iron Age fort called Cow castle where White Water meets the Barle River. A Neolithic henge or earthen ring is at Parracombe. A prehistoric clapper bridge, Tarr Steps, runs across the Barle River. There is a Norman Motte and bailey castle at Parracombe called Wolwell castle. It was erected to guard the junctions for trade in the area. I also might have been constructed for tax collecting purposes or to provide support to the silver mining in the area.
During the Middle Ages sheep farming and wool was the primary industry. Much of the land was open but the eventual enclosure of land stopped this. Wheal Maria later changed to Wheel Eliza was amine built alongside the Barle River. It first was a copper mine, then iron mine and eventually was used as a water powered sawmill. It has been restores to working order by the National trust.
Find your next Exmoor hotel – here.