Annette Strauch kindly shared her memories and photos of Exmoor with us:
Nine years ago I visited Exmoor for the very first time with Mark. He had been there many times as it had been a family tradition for him since he was a little English boy with his red hair ready to explore with his boots on and sticks in the hand what he could find next.
It was in the autumn of 2004 – and even back then we stayed in Holy Tree Cottage – in Exford when we came together and stayed for a week. We did many walks then as we did on any visit (the rain never put us off), went to see Dunster, including the castle, of course. On the cobbled stones we even met a giant!
Every time I have visited Exmoor, it was in the autumn. A mysterious time when it gets dark quite early and the local people celebrate Halloween. We’d see some deer in Horner Woods as well and notice the hunting. This last time Mark brought his binoculars.
Then we came again two more times until 2009. Afterwards we were busy working and committed to other things. On all those occasions when we were in Exmoor we had always found new places to explore. One time we did a long walk to Dulverton along the river which Mike, Mark’s Dad had recommended (as well as another walk to Withypool, the place with the beautiful bridge) where this October we visited Gallery Number Seven and bought a book, had a Cream Tea with the tasty clotted cream. In one of the shops there we spoke to two locals who had not walked to Tarr Steps for years and were inspired. They were two elderly ladies but happy to see us so active. One time we went to Bampton Fair which is close to Exmoor and really worth experiencing. Culbone Church is always great to walk to. We have done it twice or even three times now, this autumn from Porlock Weir. Oh, Porlock! I do love the cottages there. Mentioning houses, one needs to write about Selworthy with the lovely buildings there. Wherever you go it is lovely to come back to Exford, seeing Dunkery Beacon (we walked there once, too!!) or maybe a deer or a few – then going out to the White Horse Hotel, having a pint of traditional cider and maybe a venison baguette which seems to be very popular.
So romantic (in a nice way) indeed!
One time we walked in the Lorna Doone Valley with the rucksacks on our backs, fully prepared for a picnic. Along the river we walked – and the characters of the Lorna Doone story became alive. The moorland is breathtaking! In our rucksacks we also had fudge from the fudge shop in Dunster. My favourite is the maple and walnut one.
Watchet plays a role in the Lorna Doone story – and we were looking for fossils there once. If you look long enough you might find an ammonite.
Next time we’d like to bring our bikes and come in spring or in the summer. I’d like to see the heather when it is purple!
And the Exmoor Beast? Well, that is still a mystery!