60 things you should know about Exmoor

10 Exmoor legends

The Beast of Exmoor Shadowy feline that’s still the subject of periodic ‘sightings’ despite fruitless searches by Ministry of Agriculture in 1988
Brandy Path Steep path to the sea below Glenthorne-now, the writer Christopher Ondaatje’s house-where an old man and his donkey, which bore three lanterns, guided smugglers
The Devil’s Cheesewring Formation in the Valley of the Rocks where the Devil caught some druids dancing on a Sunday and turned them to stone
Hope Bourne, wild woman, writer and artist who lived off the moor
Lorna Doone R. D. Blackmore’s epony-mous heroine
Moorland Mousie Golden Gorse’s eponymous Exmoor pony hunter from the books illustrated by Lionel Edwards
Mystery of Codsend Moor In 1929, 17-year-old Mollie Phillips left Exford to visit her aunt in Cutcombe and vanished. Her remains were found in a bog on Codsend Moor, but the mystery of her death remains unsolved
The Person from Porlock An individual who interrupted Coleridge’s train of thought when he was writing Kubla Khan
The Sydenham Ghost Two of Charles l’s soldiers, Maj George Sydenham and Capt Dyke, both of Dulverton, argued about the afterlife. Sydenham died first and terrified Dyke by app-earing at his bedside
Tarka the Otter Henry Williamson’s much-loved creation met his fate after a 10-hour hunt on the
East Lyn

10 inspired by Exmoor

Coleridge wrote Kubla Khan after a drug-induced sleep at Culbone and conceived The Ancient Mariner when walking the coastline
The 19th-century romantic novelist Marie Corelli set The Treasure of Heaven in Porlock Weir and The Mighty Atom in Combe Martin
R. F. Delderfield based To Serve Them All My Days on his schooldays at West Buckland
Porlock’s Margaret Drabble wrote The Witch of Exmoor in 1996
Archaeologist Hazel Eardley-Wilmot wrote Yesterday’s Exmoor (1990), regarded as the definitive history of the area, aged 80
Poet Laureate Ted Hughes wrote In the Dark Violin of the Valley about the East Lyn river and Crow Hill about Exmoor
Naturalist Richard Jefferies was helped in his research for Red Deer by Arthur Heal, huntsman of the Devon & Somerset Staghounds
Munnings took regular hunting/painting holidays, as did fellow artists Aldin and Edwards
Samuel Palmer painted After The Storm (1861) when he visited Lynton 

Shelley worked on Queen Mab during his honeymoon at Lynmouth

10 pubs and places to stay

The Culbone, Porlock (01643 862259; www.theculbone.com) Spectacular coastal walking and a cookery school
Fox and Goose Inn, Parracombe (www.foxandgooseinnexmoor.co.uk; 01598 763239) Authentic and remote
London Inn, Molland (01769 550269; www.londoninmolland.co.uk) Friendly and unspoilt
Millers at the Anchor, Porlock Weir (01643 862753; www.millersuk.com/anchor) Hunting lodge by the sea created by Martin Miller of gin fame
The Rockford Inn, Lynton (01598 741214; www.therockfordinn.co.uk) Leaping salmon and wild swimming on the doorstep
Royal Oak, Withypool (www.royaloakwithypool.co.uk; 01643 831506) Has a legendary barman, Jake, and a proper local feel
Staghunters Inn, Brendon (01598 741222; www.staghunters.com) Traditional inn with hunting memorabilia
Tarr Farm Inn, Dulverton (01643 851507; www.tarrfarm.co.uk) Peaceful, riverside setting; can organise shooting, fishing and surfing
White Horse, Exford (01643 831229; www.exmoor-whitehorse.co.uk) Cosy, sporting inn at hunting’s nucleus
Woods, Dulverton (01398 324007; www.woodsdulverton.co.uk) Deservedly included in The Good Pub Guide’s top 10 for 2014

Dogs, walking boots and muddy breeches are allowed at most of the above

10 dates for the diary

June 1 and 8 Point-to-points (Exmoor and Tiverton hunts) at Bratton Down, Blackmoor Gate, Devon (Talking Point, 09068 446061; www.pointtopoint.co.uk)
June 18 The Tempest (outdoor production), Lynmouth Manor Green,(www.ploughartscentre.co.uk; 01805 624624; )
June 21 Exmoor Perambulation, a 32-mile walk around the Exmoor Forest perimeter, registration essential (www.exmoorperambulation.com)
July 2 Nightjar evening guided walk, Holnicote estate, 8.30pm-10pm (01643 862452; www.nationaltrust.org.uk)
July 30 Dunster Country Fair (01984 640253; www.dunstercountryfair.co.uk)
August 13 Exford Show (www.exfordshow.co.uk)
September 13-14 Somerset Real Ale Festival, Minehead Railway Station
(01643 704996; www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk)
September 25-28 Porlock Arts Festival (01643 863150; www.porlockfestival.org)
October 16-25 Two Moors Festival (www.thetwomoorsfestival.com; 01643 831370; )
For more walks, talks and events, visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

10 Exmoor landmarks

Caractacus Stone, Winsford Hill First recorded in the 13th century, its inscription translates as ‘grandson or immediate descendant of Caractacus’
St Beuno’s, Culbone Said to be the smallest church in England, it has regular services for the hardy-you have to walk across a field first
Dunkery Beacon Cairn at 1,705ft, the highest point in Somerset
Froude Stone Memorial near the Sportsman’s Inn, Sandyway, at his favourite vantage for watching hounds, in honour of P. Froude Hancock (d.1933), the second heaviest man to play rugby for England
Heddon’s Mouth, Martinhoe During the Second World War, a German U-boat moored up in the gorge for fresh water and the men swam and played football on the beach, vowing to return in peacetime
Landacre Bridge Late-medieval bridge over dreamy, meandering section of the Barle, downstream from Sherdon Water
Pinkworthy Pond Bleak Two-acre artificial lake created by landowner John Knight in about 1830 by damning the head of the Barle; it’s twice had the wooden ‘plugs’ pulled to drain for body searches
Tarr Steps Ancient clapper bridge over the River Barle that eventually collapsed in the recent storms and has been rebuilt
All Saints’, Selworthy Beautifully preserved 15th-century church with white-washed walls that are an uplifting sight viewed from Dunkery
Valley of the Rocks, Lynton Dramatic rock formation inhabited by feral goats on the South West Coast Path

10 places to visit

Allerford Museum, near Porlock Houses the West Somerset Rural Life Museum and Photographic Archive. Well-behaved dogs are welcome (01643 862529; www.allerfordmuseum.org.uk)
Arlington Court, Barnstaple Houses the National Trust Carriage Collection, including the Speaker’s State Coach (01271 850296; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/Arlington-court)
Combe Sydenham Hall, Monksilver Tudor house that has Francis Drake’s ‘cannon ball’, an iron meteorite said to have crashed into Stogumber Church, halting the marriage of his betrothed Elizabeth Sydenham to another man and signaling his return from sea. The house is open by appointment (01643 702259)
Dulverton Heritage Centre Houses the Hope Bourne and model railway exhibitions plus a remarkable stuffed red-deer stag (07969 243887; www.dulvertonheritagecentre.org.uk)
Dunster Medieval village with a yarn market at one end of the cobbled main street and a castle at the other (www.dunster.org.uk)
Heddon Hall Gardens, Parracombe Walled gardens laid out by Penelope Hobhouse (01598 763541; www.northdevon.com)
Lynton and Lynmouth Boat trips for birdwatching and fishing, the Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall commemorating the disaster of 1952, plus the Cliff Rail-way, a Victorian water-powered lift that connects the two coastal villages (www.visitlyntonandlynmouth.com)
St Mary’s Church, Molland Interesting medieval church that escaped Victorian refurbishment. Features include village stocks, a heart box-thought to contain the hearts of Courtenay family members and a memorial to the emigrating Pincombe family, who drowned six hours into their journey to Canada
St Mary’s Church, Oare Where Lorna Doone was shot by the jealous Carver Doone. Plenty of cream-tea spots nearby and walks up beautiful Badgeworthy Water, the ‘Doone Valley’
Moorland Mousie Trust, Ashwick, Dulverton Everything to do with Exmoor ponies (www.moorlandmousietrust.org.uk; 01398 323093)

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