Exmoor has a lot to recommend it to the intrepid motorhome or campervan owner. This area of hilly open moorland, wooded coombes, splashing streams and dramatic coastline straddles the counties of Devon and Somerset.
Famous for its unique Exmoor ponies, diverse wildlife and clear night skies, there’s plenty for those who love the great outdoors.
From heritage railways to romantic pubs, here are six unmissable things to try when you next travel to this secret location in the south west of England.
But while we’ve got some great suggestions for what to do and where to stay, we also have some important advice.
Get the best insurance for motorhomes to keep your trusty motorhome and its contents covered during your remote moorland adventure. Give the team at Motorhome Protect a call today.
Step back in time with a walk across Tarr Steps
Perhaps the best-known monument on Exmoor, Tarr Steps is a clapper bridge that crosses the River Barle just north of the quaint Somerset town of Dulverton.
An ancient form of bridge constructed with large slabs of stone resting on top of each other, this one is the largest to still exist and spans a phenomenal 50 metres.
There are well marked footpaths to allow you to explore the internationally significant flora and fauna in this valley between Simonsbath, Dulverton and the village of Withypool.
If you’re interested in wild swimming then a 20-minute walk upstream will bring you to the secluded pools and quiet atmosphere of one of the UK’s best spots.
And after all that swimming, walking and exploring you’ll have a great appetite to indulge in some of the local Exmoor produce at the nearby 17th Century Tarr Farm Inn.
This award-winning inn sources only the finest local and seasonal ingredients.
From pub classics to a la carte meals with a contemporary twist using Exmoor lamb, Devon Red Ruby beef, fresh Cornish seafood and local venison. Be sure to try a pint of Tarr Farm Best Bitter. Idyllic indeed!
Where to stay: Exmoor House Caravan and Motorhome Club Site is an amazing location just a short walk from Dulverton. Exmoor National Park's Information Centre is conveniently located a short stroll from the site.
On the southern edge of the national park, it’s a great place to plan out a bespoke schedule of activities for your stay.
Wonder at the night sky at Dunkery Beacon
If you’re wondering how to get the most out of your motorhome in 2021 then get wrapped up and treat yourself to a night hike to Dunkery Beacon to stargaze across the stunning moor.
Recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve thanks to its low light pollution and miles of untouched countryside, this is the perfect place to reflect on our precious planet.
Watch the weather reports and if there’s a clear night, then pack some of that lovely local produce and a blanket, and head to Exmoor’s highest point.
Let your jaws drop and your eyes expand at the thousands of stars and celestial bodies in this late-night astronomical show.
Other sites worth visiting include Bossington Hill near Minehead, County Gate car park, Brendon Common, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Winsford Hill and Wimbleball Lake.
It’s wise to bring telescopes and binoculars if you want to get the best view of the magnificent constellations of our Milky Way. However, such specialist kit can get expensive so make sure your motorhome insurance includes adequate contents cover.
Where to stay: Not far away lies Halse Farm Caravan and Camping Site. A peaceful, family run campsite surrounded by stunning scenery and abundant wildlife. Simply walk out of the farm’s front gate onto Winsford Hill for miles of marked walks through moorland, woodland and along river banks.
The nearby village of Winsford lays good claim to being the moor’s prettiest village and is well worth the short walk. A scattering of thatched cottages nestled around a classic sleepy village green and the rambling old inn The Royal Oak.
The village has so many streams and rivers running through it, so you’re never far from the peaceful sound of babbling brooks. Let the stresses and strains of modern life wash away in this magical spot.
Get some poetic inspiration at a Porlock pub
The village of Porlock has an enviable seaside position in a deep hollow, cupped on three sides by the hills of Exmoor. With gorgeous thatch and cob houses and a charming main street, this town has drawn admiring visitors for many years.
Among these was romantic poetic genius Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his old mate Robert Southey who both downed pints in the 13th Century thatched Ship Inn.
If you time it right you can even sit in a snug still dubbed 'Southey's Corner'. Be warned, it can get crowded!
When you’ve had a hearty lunch and pint of ale then set off west for two miles over reclaimed marshland to the stout granite quay that is Porlock Weir. With a history dating back over 1,000 years this is a great spot for an amble with stirring views across the Vale of Porlock.
A further stroll two miles west along the South West Coastal Path brings you to one of the smallest churches in the country, St Culbone. The area also forms part of the Porlock Ridge and Saltmarsh Site of Special Scientific Interest, a popular spot for birdwatchers.
Where to stay: Porlock Holiday Park is a well maintained and dog friendly site just a short stroll from the centre of Porlock village. With a great location, great views and great facilities this site is a hidden gem in the stunning Exmoor landscape.
Many parts of Exmoor appear almost untouched by human hands, so be aware of steep inclines and narrow country lanes when exploring in your home on wheels. Motorhome insurance and breakdown cover are well worth the investment in this secluded area.
All aboard the longest heritage railway in Britain
From the upbeat holiday town of Minehead, the West Somerset Railway curves 20 miles eastwards along the Bristol Channel Coast through the Quantock Hills as far as the splendid village of Bishops Lydeard.
The longest heritage route in Britain you can hop aboard a variety of steam and diesel trains stopping off at a series of ten renovated stations along the route.
Every station is well worth a visit if you have the time. Beginning with the first station in the old village of Dunster.
Dominated by the ancient towers and turrets of the National Trust’s Dunster Castle there is much to entice the history buff here.
From a bedroom once occupied by Charles I to a richly decorated banqueting hall and stunning terraced gardens. Below the castle itself can be found the fine 17th Century octagonal Yarn Market and the 300-year-old working water mill. Both relics of Dunster’s past wool-making trade.
And if you haven’t spotted any of Exmoor’s famous ponies yet then head to the Exmoor Pony Centre nearby. While many of these short and stocky animals roam the treeless heartland of the moor this is the best place to get up close to this hardy breed.
Admission is free but if you want to try your hand at grooming, tacking and riding one of these cuties then the great value one-hour taster session costs £30.
Other station highlights include a visit to glimpse the traditional Cistercian architecture of Cleeve Abbey or take a tour of family-friendly Torre Cider Farm at Washford. Or perhaps the ancient harbour town of Watchet or a long ramble over the Quantock Hills from Stogumber or Crowcombe Heathfield.
Where to stay: There are plenty of options at Minehead or along the route of the West Somerset Railway. We’ve chosen the well-established Minehead Camping and Caravanning Club Site for its stunning views and handy position a mile and a half outside of Minehead.
Ride the water-powered cliff railway between Lynton and Lynmouth
Perched 500-feet above a lofty gorge with splendid views out to sea, the seaside town of Lynton has long been a popular destination for tourists.
Full of independent shops, galleries and tea rooms, Lynton’s fame was sealed with the publication in 1869 of RD Blackmore’s romantic melodrama Lorna Doone. This classic novel was a runaway success based on the outlaw clans which inhabited this wild area during the 17th Century.
But it’s the village’s link with its sister village of Lynmouth at the bottom of the gorge that has visitors reaching for their cameras today. Connecting the two is a very distinctive Grade II-listed funicular railway – the highest and steepest water-powered railway in the world!
Gifted to the village by famous publisher George Newnes it was originally built to transport Victorian holidaymakers up the steeply sloping cliff face to Lynton.
All burnished wood and polished brass, it’s still very popular today for its Instagramable views and retro chic. For the environmentally conscious it’s also the most sustainable way to travel, as it uses absolutely no electricity to operate. Zero-carbon indeed!
Lynmouth itself, once famous for its herring fishing, is a pretty harbourside town with walks towards the National Trust’s Watersmeet (where you’ll also find plenty of wildlife, waterfalls and a lovely tea room).
In Lynmouth there are plenty of places to grab a classy bite to eat. Our favourite is the uniquely quirky Ancient Mariner pub that features an eclectic mix of maritime memorabilia – where else can you see a full-size torpedo, an octopus sculpture and a barely clad figurehead?
Where to stay: Just outside Lynton is the Lynton Camping and Caravanning Club Site. If you choose this spot to stay at, then it’s well worth exploring the mythical Valley of Rocks.
According to legend this was once the site of the Devil’s castle and there are plenty of tales connected to this ancient geological site.
As well as its interesting rock formations and dramatic views over to Wales it’s also worth meeting the population of wild but friendly goats, who have lived here for thousands of years!
Get active along the wild and rugged Exmoor coastline
Getting out on the water for a spot of sea kayaking or coasteering is a great way to explore the 37-miles of Exmoor coast from a slightly different point of view.
From secluded beaches and hidden caves, by taking to the water you’ll be able to discover many locations which can only be reached by boat. But while your adrenaline will be pumping, make sure to take time for the local wildlife and diverse plant life, too.
Spot sea birds nesting in the sea cliffs, dolphins and wide-eyed seals who are known to pop their heads out the water and shock visitors.
If you love wildlife then be sure to hop over to the historic Landmark Trust island of Lundy. This alluring granite outcrop in the Bristol Channel is home to a huge variety of sea life including grey seals, puffins and the Manx shearwater.
Unspoilt and undisturbed by cars, it’s a truly unique environment that we’re privileged to be able to visit.
While a boat trip around the island is great, it’s far more fun to venture into the water on a snorkelling or diving experience to see some of this sea life up close.
Where to stay: You’ll be in for a quiet and peaceful retreat if you park up at the Little Meadow Campsite near Ilfracombe. This small, uncommercial site is a really special spot offering panoramic views and tranquil surroundings.
Protecting your vehicle with motorhome insurance
Exmoor is a stunningly wild and romantic location, so don’t let an accident or mishap ruin your travel plans.
Never leave home without ensuring you’ve got the right motorhome insurance policy.
Our bespoke cover can include benefits such as:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year including foreign use
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000
- Enhanced cover for camping personal effects up to £3,000
- Unlimited mileage cover
- Discounts if you’re a member of a motorhome club
Call Motorhome Protect and get a quote for motorhome insurance today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.