Friday, 10 August 2012 9:39 AM
Whatever the season, come rain or shine, Exmoor offers dramatic beauty and varied landscapes for you and your dog to enjoy, as Sally Dowling discovers
Although one of the smallest National Parks in the UK, it is still possible to walk for miles without seeing a soul and to enjoy a peace and tranquility that is so rare these days.
Porlock, just a few miles outside Minehead, Somerset, is a good base for you and your dog. This traditional village is situated at the foot of Porlock Hill – a steep incline, which proves to be quite a challenge for walkers and cyclists.
The winding High Street has a selection of shops selling local produce as well as some very good pubs and restaurants. The Ship Inn welcomes well-behaved dogs and serves a fabulous steak and ale pie.
From Porlock you can easily access Horner Woods just 4km away. The area is managed by the National Trust and provides miles of shady footpaths following streams or taking you uphill to some stunning views. There is a tea room at the car park in the village of Horner where you can indulge in a traditional Devon cream tea.
Lynmouth and Lynton
Lynmouth and neighboring Lynton are well worth a visit. The story of the great floods of 1952 can be traced via photos and journals in the Lynmouth museum. Take the quaint Victorian water powered lift to the top of the cliff and the village of Lynton and admire some stunning views along the way.
But such a popular place attracts many visitors and when the crowds get too much - pick up a freshly baked pasty and head long the River Lyn for a dramatic stroll along one of Britain’s deepest river gorges. If the river is not too strong dogs will love to play on the rocks and splash in the water, but beware, as after heavy rain the current can be too much for even the strongest four-legged swimmer. En route you will come across the National Trust tea room housed in an Edwardian fishing lodge and the perfect place for a calorie fix. Do check opening times, as it is a seasonal facility.
Tarr Steps is a photo opportunity that is not to be missed. Everyone wants to walk over the medieval clapper bridge that spans the River Barle in the heart of Exmoor National Park and many walk further on footpaths alongside the river. After your walk – the inevitable cream tea beckons.
By the sea in Minehead
If the sun decides to shine and you fancy some fun by the sea then Minehead has all the attractions you could want from a seaside resort as well as a long stretch of sandy beach. Dogs are allowed to enjoy in the fun out of season between October 1st and April 31st. For all year round access for dogs and owners try Heddon’s Mouth Beach. You can park at nearby Hunter’s Inn and walk along the Heddon River, with towering cliffs each side of you, to the sheltered but rocky cove.
Best place to stay:
For a classy Inn with rooms that welcomes dogs try The Culbone. Situated just outside Porlock, it is know as the ‘Highest Inn on Exmoor’ and offers a fabulous menu as well as comfortable stylish rooms. Dogs are welcome and the owners can supply dog beds, feed bowls and even food if required.
For self-catering options look at www.myfavouriteholidaycottages.co.uk for a selection of comfortable accommodations, many of which welcome well behaved dogs.
By Sally Dowling
The North Devon & Exmoor Walking Festival is a popular way of getting out and about with like-minded people and runs from April 26th – May 5th 2013. Dogs are welcome. Visit www.exmoorwalkingfestival.co.uk for details.
For details on Exmoor www.visit-exmoor.co.uk.
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