Letter from Exmoor: Free Family Fun

The following Letter from Exmoor was put together by Three Acres Countryhouse in Brushford, near Dulverton:

Free Fun Family Days Out On Exmoor

Posted on 24 March, 2013 by threeacres

Whether you are looking for ideas on where to go and what to do with your family over Easter, half term and summer school holidays, we hope our personal family favourites will inspire you to get outside to explore and enjoy Exmoor and the surrounding countryside. These are just a few of the things we have fun doing on Exmoor and the best thing of all is they are either free or don’t cost an arm and a leg!

Pirate Island Picnic

Situated to the west of the Exmoor village of Hawkridge near White Post, sits the quaint stone Lower Willingford Bridge spanning Dane’s Brook, a small tributary of the River Barle.   Water pools under the bridge to form a swimming lagoon which then flows downstream splitting to create an island the children affectionately call ‘Pirate Island’.  We have lots of fun bathing, constructing dams, playing buccaneers and building up an appetite for a picnic.

Bossington Beach & BBQ

Bossington Hill with views of PorlockThe Holnicote Estate on the Exmoor North Devon coast incorporates five pretty villages including the picture postcard Allerford, Selworthy and Bossington.

Strange as it might seem but the venue for this day out starts and ends in the overflow car park at Bossington, the site of an old apple orchard.  This is the perfect location for spreading out a blanket under the dappled shade of leafy branches.  We meet here with friends for a picnic each year.   We all bring a dish and families from across the four corners of the National Park and beyond rekindle their friendships or make new acquaintances.

We take a walk across the river and through the woods rising up to Hurlestone Point with its dramatic cliffs that plunge down to Selworthy Sand.  This is the spot where we had a rather traumatic incident with Roger our golden retriever one time, but that’s another story for another day!  There’s a steep descent down some rustic uneven steps onto Bossington Beach with its shingle bank that protects the flood plains of Porlock Bay.   Competitions to find natural pumice stone, drift wood and strange pebbles keep the momentum going to join the path that leads back to the village. The National Trust has thoughtfully provided BBQ facilities in the orchard which we use to boil kettles for a welcoming cup of tea.

Other beaches worth spending the day on include Woolacombe, Putsborough, Saunton Sands, Woody & Lee Bays and closer to home Dunster Beach and Kilve which is great for rock pooling and collecting ammonites.

Exmoor Story Walks

Sun dial clock on ExmoorOur friend Christopher Jelley is the brainchild behind the ingenious award-winning Storywalks.  Using GPS technology Chris’s intriguing magical stories are brought to life via a smartphone or tablet pc.

We were thoroughly captivated by ‘The Watching Way’ an imaginative story inspired by the clock mechanism in the tower of All Saints Church.  The interactive story takes you on an odyssey through Dulverton, across the River Barle and up into Burridge Woods.  Christopher’s stunning imagery and creative use of natural materials as props captivate an audience of any age.

If like us, you don’t have the appropriate gadgets Christopher leads live Storywalks.  We are looking forward to our next voyage of discovery with ‘The Winding Charm’ set in Dunster.

Wild Exmoor Swimming

Just ½ mile upstream from the popular Landacre Bridge, which lies between Simonsbath (pronounced Simmonsbath) and Withypool, you will find Sherdon Hutch.  It is easy to miss as it is not sign posted.  The track is off road, very bumpy, dusty or muddy, so not ideal for a low slung vehicle or one you are precious about.  Park where you can and be warned as it is off the beaten track there are no facilities.

There is a trek down the hill to negotiate whilst carrying everything you need for the day (you won’t want to hike back up to the car in a hurry)!   Once you have squelched through the bog, the efforts you have made to get there are thoroughly rewarded.  This isolated Exmoor beauty spot is where Sherdon Water meets the River Barle and forms a deep pool ideal for wild swimming.  Take a picnic, plenty to drink, swimsuits, towels and don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent (horse fly bites can be nasty).

Bogtastic!
Girl holding clay bog monster at Bogtastic Exmoor

Bogtastic! is just one of the amazing events Exmoor National Park host during half terms and summer school holidays.  It is an opportunity for all the family to explore Exmoor’s natural habitat.   Fun activities include stream dipping, bog trotting, dam making, welly wanging, craft projects and guided story walks with          Wild Wellies.   Don’t forget to take plenty of spare clothes as someone always ends muddy and soaked!

Exmoor National Park’s Big Adventure Days

Like Bogtastic! the Park host 4 other free fun days called Big Adventure Days.  They include Valley of Rocks west of Lynton, Nutcombe Bottom near Dunster, Haddon Hill above Wimbleball Lake, North Hill Minehead and Webber’s Post.  Check the Exmoor National Park website for details.

Exmoor Walks

The mention of going for a walk in many households is greeted with moans and groans.  But call it ‘an adventure’ and that’s a different matter all together.   We play games to liven up a walk including classics such as hide and seek, Pooh Sticks, being nature detectives and having leaf catching competitions. We have made up our own entertainment including the hilarious tree slalom (downhill run weaving between tree trunks), collecting china treasures from the River Barle and re-enacting Narnia with Roger our retriever staring as Aslan the majestic lion.   Our girls also love using binoculars (field glasses if you are one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five), taking photos and searching for Geo Caches.

Walks with a point of interest are the best:  Dulverton’s Burridge Woods middle path takes you up to the camp which children over the years have built, extended, demolished and rebuilt.  Tarr Steps with its ancient stepping stones (take some change for the money trees), Dunster – Conygar Tower and The Tall Trees Trail are both good circuits and Wimbleball Lake with its dam and play park.  Bossington Beach and Dunkery Beacon are bracing and on a clear day rewarding with far reaching views.  Woody Bay is worth the walk down to the quiet cove with its rugged beach and waterfall.  Also see our Exmoor Walk – The Incline.

Dulverton Folk Festival Bridge InnConcerts & Festivals

Exmoor hosts some fantastic musical concerts including the prestigious Two Moors Festival with events in beautiful venues across both Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks.  All Saints Church in Dulverton runs a series of summer tea time proms with performances by local artists.  During the Whitsun bank holiday the Dulverton Folk Festival fills the town’s pubs, restaurants, schools, churches, town hall and streets with music, dance and family entertainment.

 

Messy Church

Once a month All Saints Church in Dulverton is transformed into the most amazing craft club there is.  The themed activities include cooking, creative projects, badge making, singing and worship with a fabulous tea to end the afternoon.  Messy Church is free and open to all families wishing to have fun and enjoy the community spirit.

Museums

The Heritage Centre in Dulverton is a quaint museum documenting native wildlife and rural living on Exmoor and on selected days the Model Railway is open out back with its scaled down version of Dulverton’s Station.   Lyn & Exmoor Museum is a small museum with collections including pictures of the Lynmouth floods from the 1950s.  Two excellent museums worth taking a day trip are The Museum of Somerset in Taunton andRAMM The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.  Both venues are inspirational and child friendly!

Exmoor Pony Centre DulvertonExmoor Pony Centre

The Exmoor Pony Centre near Winsford Hill cares for and helps hundreds of ponies and pony owners.  They provide a permanent specialist base to manage this rare British breed.  The centre is free to visit with treks and taster sessions available for a fee.

We hope we have shown you don’t have to spend a lot to have a great day out. 

 

To visit the Three Acres website, please click here

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