National Parks are given special protection to safeguard their beautiful landscapes, wildlife and cultural heritage. The sky does not usually feature on the list yet the one above Exmoor definitely contributes to the magic of the place. In 2011, the Park was designated the first international dark sky reserve in Europe. It is the first place in Europe to achieve this prestigious award and only the second in the world. Exmoor has long been famed for its night time sky laden with stars, attributed to its rural character and the tranquillity of the area.
And there’s as much to see in the day time too thanks to its joyous jumble of deep valleys, moorland, cliffs, streams, lakes and farmland and the diversity of wildlife it supports including herds of wild red deer, rich lichen communities, rare butterflies, bats and other species not well known in southern Britain. You may even see salmon return from sea to leap up the Exe and Barle rivers. The landscape is pleasant and green thanks to the frequency of rain.
The precipitation on Exmoor is higher than anywhere else in England. You may want to pack a waterproof! But even if you and your map get a bit soggy you will be rewarded by fantastic walks and beautiful views day and night. On a clear day you can see all the way to Dartmoor and in the other direction over the Bristol Channel to Wales.
There are a number of guided walks in the Park including some suitable for wheelchair users and families with small children. There are also several long distance trails including The Coleridge Way, South West Coast Path, The Two Moors Way, Tarka Trail, Exe Valley Way, Macmillan Way West, Exmoor Perambulation and the Samaritans Way South West. We are proud to say that the Samaritans Way South West was devised by the Bristol Ramblers to help bring visitors to the countryside and boost the rural economy, with profits going to the Samaritans to recognise their support for the Farmers Helpline.
Exmoor was granted a designation order for National Park status in 1954. Situated in the south west of England, three quarters of the land in the Park is in Somerset and the rest in Devon, making up the 69,280 hectares/267 square miles of the Park. The Park has been given the “Walkers Are Welcome” stamp of approval in recognition of its friendliness to walkers.
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