Guided Walking Holiday - 7 Nights
Exmoor National Park, the best kept secret in England.
- Discovering the variety that Exmoor has to offer, from the panoramic vistas of the coastline to the sweeping moorlands and ancient woodlands.
- Walking through salt marsh habitat at Porlock with its fossilized trees, bird life and ancient history.
- The Valley of the Rocks is perched on the Bristol channel and creates fantastic cliffs and has been an inspirational place for writers and poets.
- Cross over Tarr Steps, an ancient 17-span clapper bridge across the river Barle
- Visit some of Somersets most picture postcard villages.
- Spend your evenings in medieval Dunster where we can share a drink and relive the day’s walk.
- Half board en suite accommodation (breakfasts and dinners in the hotel)
- Private coach transport to and from Trailheads
- Picnic lunches where there is no pub at lunchtime
- Five guided walks led by a dedicated walking guide (me)
Exmoor National Park:
To me, being near the seaside is the best kind of holiday with the space to breathe in the salty air, view the seascape vistas as well as the distant horizons, walk the lush green wooded dells and open moorland which are abundant in Exmoor National Park. I also love the contrast of visiting the coast, and I am really passionate about spending time close to the sea.
The Exmoor National Park is split: 30% in North Devon and 70% in West Somerset, and here it has many secrets to discover, for example: on this tour we will walk along England’s highest sea-cliffs, walk through the longest stretch of coastal woodland in England and Wales, and visit a Douglas Fir which is in the Guinness Book of Records as being the tallest tree in England. We will explore all these places, and so much more. Undoubtedly one of the best kept secrets is the unique and beautiful hideaway location where we are based, the village of Dunster. With the castle at the end of the High Street to the south, the folly tower to the north… Dunster and its ancient buildings and medieval layout is like taking a step back in time.
In bygone years, Dunster village hosted a market where moorland shepherds brought their fleeces from Exmoor to Dunster to sell. The striking octagonal structure in the High Street was the focal point for the market and dates from 1609. It’s still there in the High Street adjacent to the Yarn Market Hotel, which is my preferred place to stay for walking groups. Antony and his friendly team at the hotel offer great hospitality to the visitor and especially to Hikers like us, with hearty meals, a drying room and lots of nooks and crannies to explore – it’s like your ‘home away from home’.
The ‘Enticing Exmoor’ walking program includes five full days of coastal and inland walking plus, a day off to explore. We will walk some linear coastal routes as well as circular inland ones to thoroughly explore this area. Leave your cars and cares behind as we have our own dedicated coach, and the coach and driver are included in the costs. Other features of this holiday include ‘en suite’ rooms, hearty breakfasts, three course dinners, free parking in the village, and some packed lunches are included on days when we don’t have a pub or café at lunchtime.
If you join me I can assure you we will have a great time exploring this beautiful part of England.
Here is the day-by-day itinerary, click on the day to learn more.
Independent travel to ‘The Yarn Market’ hotel (YMH) in Dunster.
Check-in is from 15:00pm.
At 17:00 we will meet for an orientation walk around the village, followed by a cheeky drink in one of the local pubs.
At 18:30 we will gather for a short briefing before dinner.
Distance: 16km/ 10 Miles. 500m Ascent/ descent 1640ft
Today is an introductory walk to familiarise ourselves with the local area. It will be a circular walk from the hotel, beginning by heading around Dunster Castle and passing a working Watermill before continuing out of the village via Gallox bridge. Some plantation woodlands and field margins take us scenically into the small village Timberscombe, then we aim for Wootten Courtenay where we will take our picnic lunch today. Returning via mixed woodland, then the MacMillan Way and back to Dunster via Grabbist Ridge. It has been said that Grabbist Hill is one of the most beautiful places in England and that it was the place that inspired the hymn ‘All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small..’
Distance: 16km/10 miles. Ascent/ descent: 650m/ 2132ft
Following breakfast we will be taken by private transport to the start of the South West Coast Path, which is a short distance away. We will walk through stunning woodland to North Hill, before the trail takes us above the highest sea cliffs in England and Wales. The coast views are sublime and we will break to enjoy our picnic lunch nearby to Bossington Hill overlooking Porlock Bay.
The second section takes us off the hillside and around the Bay to Porlock Weir, via some amazing salt marshes. There will be a chance to enjoy a well earned drink at a local Inn in Porlock Weir before being driven back to the hotel.
(Pic: Porlock Bay salt marshes)
Distance: 17km/ 10.6 miles Ascent/ descent: 750m/ 2460ft
Porlock is only 20 minutes drive from our hotel, and today we do a circular walk from this beautiful village which offers tremendous views over coast, vale and moorland and its certainly worth the effort to climb up.
Horner Wood is owned an run by the National Trust. It is the largest unenclosed Oak woodland in Britain and has many veteran trees.
Stoke Pero at 300m above sea level, is the highest church on Exmoor.
There are so many touristic and walking options today which your guide will discuss with you.
Why not head to Watchet and do a short coastal walk on the English coast path where there are fossils to discover on the beach
You could take the Exmoor Coaster open top bus along the coastal route stopping at places on route
Visit the National Trust's Dunster Castle in our village
Distance: 15.2km/ 9.4 miles. Ascent/ descent: 700m/ 2296ft
Starting from the hamlet of Countisbury, we gradually lose height and make our way down to Lynmouth which is the end of the Two Moors Way. We take a coffee break here before starting again, up to the top of the cliffs or if you prefer, you could take the 'Cliff Railway' up. Perched on the side of the cliffs, the Valley of the Rocks or 'Little Switzerland' awaits us for our lunchtime, with its wild goats and stunning views.
We continue onto the Heddon Valley and Hunters Inn, where we finish our coastal walking for the tour.
Distance: 10 miles (16km) Ascent/ descent: 1195ft / 365m.
Our transport will drive us out and back for our circular walk today.
No walking holiday in Exmoor is complete without visiting Tarr Steps, and this is no exception. Starting from the beautiful little village of Withypool, we walk the east side of the river Barle down to Tarr Steps. Look out for Dippers darting above the water as we meander southwards by the riverside. Crossing the river using the ancient Tarr Steps as a bridge, the return will take us up and over Withypool Hill and past the prehistoric stone circle before finishing at Withypool village for a well earned drink.
If the weather is good we will stop on the way back to walk to the highest part of Exmoor National Park, at Dunkery Beacon. From here you can have spectacular far ranging views across Moorland and Coast.
Departure after breakfast
Please note that if weather conditions are bad, or conditions change locally then it may be necessary to diverge from a part of the programme at short notice. Please be assured that every effort will be made to keep to the advertised programme.
Dunster and the Yarn Market Hotel:
Dunster was recorded in the Doomsday book of 1086 as having 15 households and is perhaps the best-preserved medieval settlement in England. Today’s Dunster is a bustling small town but retains one the UK’s best examples of medieval town layout.
The castle, originally a Norman fort built out of wood but later built from stone dominates the main street that still retains the main shape of the original borough town today.
The wool trade became a key contributor to local income and in Dunster you can still see the wonderfully preserved Yarn Market built in 1609, just outside our hotel.
Yarn Market Hotel: High Street, Dunster, Exmoor National Park, Somerset. TA24 6SF
Located in the heart of medieval Dunster village and immediately adjacent to the Yarn Market building, our hotel is full of character and quirkiness. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind at the end of a long days walk.
Our hotel is particularly suited for group walking, its comfortable, quiet and serves good honest locally sourced food. Each evening we will meet for a briefing on the follow days walk, before sitting down to a three-course dinner.
The holiday is priced on a per person basis, with no supplemental charges for single occupancy rooms.
All rooms are Sole Occupancy of a ‘Standard Double’ or ‘Twin’ room at the advertised price of £895 per person. There is no single supplement.
(A room upgrade may be available, please ask if you would like to know more).
You will need to pay a deposit of £100 to secure your place. The final balance will be due 8 weeks before departure.
All payments can be made via BACS. Please ensure you put your surname and initial as a reference.
Sort code: 11-03-67
Account number: 13435862
Reference (surname and initial)
The Yarn Market Hotel do not have a car park for guests. There is however, lots of free on street parking in the High Street, which apart from two spaces outside the shop called 'Five Quarters' is all free and unlimited.
Two minutes walk from the hotel there is a 'pay as you go' car park, which is next to the Exmoor National Park Centre. There are always spaces available. If you need to park in that car park then these costs will be returned to you by the hotel to a maximum of £25 for the week. Please keep you receipts. This applies only for this car park, and no other parking used elsewhere.
If you are coming by car, let me know at the booking stage and I will talk you though the process.
This is not an exhaustive list but highlights the main requirements.
Please note, some of the tracks can be boggy after prolonged rain.
- Waterproof walking-boots, properly worn in and which provide good grip
- Waterproof jacket and over trousers
- Gloves and a warm hat
- Water bottle – 1 ltr
- Sunscreen and sun hat
- Several layers of clothing – which can be added or removed as required
- Gaiters – these can be useful after rain
- Personal first aid kit
- Sit Mat
- Specialist walking socks
- Blister kit
- Flask for hot drinks
- Walking poles (can be useful)
You can get to Dunster:
By car: Dunster is in Somerset and lies just 2-minutes south off the A39 before the seaside town of Minehead.
By train: Using the Great Western Railway from London Paddington it is possible to get to the town of Taunton in Somerset. From here, the number 28 bus runs regularly between Taunton Railway station South Side to Minehead. The closest stop to our hotel is DUNSTER STEEP on the A39. Advise the bus driver to stop there and our hotel minibus will collect you at an agreed time.
PLEASE NOTE: Many mobile networks do not have a phone signal on much of the bus route including Dunster Steep. Please call 01643 821425 on departure from Taunton if you want a lift from Dunster Steep.
One map covers our holiday. I have a copy of this map to show you each evening in our briefings.
1:25:000. OS Explorer Map OL9 for Exmoor: covering Barnstable, Lynton, Minehead and Dulverton.