Tall Trees at Nutcombe Bottom

Did you know that England’s largest trees grow on Exmoor? Nutcombe Bottom, situated not far from Dunster on the road to Timberscombe and Wheddon Cross, is a popular walking and picnic site, featuring the “Tall Tree Trail”.

Here you can find a plantation of Douglas fir trees dating back to 1876 – the largest tree was 60.5 metres when it was last measured in 2009. Its trunk has an estimated weight of 50 tonnes with a diameter of 1.74. metres.

Gillian Wells was there and shared these photos with us.

Morning visit

“So I looked out of the kitchen window and saw a lovely sunrise plus some hinds on the hill. As I had finally got around to buying a tripod, which arrived yesterday, I thought great, I’ll photograph those. Something made me look right and yippee! The stags had decided to pay me a visit! They hung around for an hour despite me letting my dogs out and we then watched them nonchalantly jump into our bracken bank before sauntering off into our woods. It’s not often you get to photograph deer whilst still in pj’s ( it was a bit nippy!) from outside the kitchen!”

By Pauline Richards

The walk to Pinkery

Situated not far off the B3358 between Challacombe and Simonsbath, Pinkery Pond is a remote catchment of water at the headwater of the River Barle on The Chains. It was built for the Knight family around 1830 – John Knight had purchased at public tender the 10,262 1/4 acre former royal forest of Exmoor in August 1818 and began what became the largest single land reclamation project in England.

Nicola Kemp went for a wintery walk at the beginning of January 2021 and shared these photos with us:

Hoar Frost and Angel Hair

Did you know that angel hair frost is caused by a fungus? No – we didn’t either…. Researchers found out in 2015 that the peculiar ice crystals found on moist, rotting wood is created by the fungus Exidiopsis effus. When the conditions are right – the air is humid and temperatures are slightly below 0 °C – hair ice forms on moist, rotting wood from broadleaf trees.

Fi Keene took the photos below a few days ago:

“A really beautiful Exmoor morning today, with hoar frost on the trees catching the low rays of the rising sun, after a night with freezing fog. There was a lot of angel hair frost around, too, for which conditions have to be just right, with high humidity.”

Ellie and the Harp Maker

Perhaps I should have pointed out as well that this is not the middle of nowhere. Not at all. Exmoor is the most somewhere place that I know and my workshop is an extremely somewhere part of it.

Exmoor really is important in this story, almost like one of the characters, says Hazel Prior, the author of this charming book which was published last year. Hazel lives on Exmoor with her husband and a huge ginger cat. As well as writing, she works as a freelance harpist. Ellie and the Harp Maker is her first novel.


Here is the blurb for the book: 
MEET ELLIE. She’s perfectly happy with her home and her husband and her quiet life. Happy enough, anyway. Which is why she’s so surprised to find herself drawn to an extraordinary stranger who gives her a gift – and a fresh perspective.

MEET DAN. He thinks that all he needs is the time and space to carry on making harps in his isolated barn on the moor. But the last thing he expects is for Ellie to whirl into his life, bringing a string of surprises to his ordered existence.

Sometimes it takes a chance encounter to discover what your life can be . . .

This heart-warming, funny and quirky love story features . . .

86 plums

69 sandwiches

27 birch trees

a 17-step staircase


a pair of cherry-coloured socks

and a pheasant named Phineas.

The story of Ellie-the-Exmoor Housewife and Dan -the-Exmoor Harpmaker builds slowly and beautifully from a chance meeting when Ellie discovers a track and wanders down it. At the end is a barn, filled with beautiful harps and a rather beautiful man, Dan. A gentle man and a gentleman, hesitant, shy, creative. He gives Ellie a harp, which her husband makes her return, and from there the story develops into a blossoming romance. But she is married isn’t she, so how does she cope with her growing feelings? Will it be a happy ending? The journey to that ending is a joy to read.

We are soon giving away a signed copy of Ellie and the Harp Maker so watch this space and follow Hazel on Twitter @HazelPriorBooks

 “Prior’s lyricism feels like a warm song.”

~ The Washington Post

“How I loved this book! An uncommonly lovely story told with elegance, insight, and so much heart. Hazel Prior’s brilliant debut will delight.”

~Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author.

“Wow, what a love story. Ellie and The Harp Maker is uplifting and full of heart, and I couldn’t put it down!”

~Jo Thomas, author.

“Hazel Prior’s writing is a lyrical delight.” 

~Phaedra Patrick, international bestselling author.


PS Since Ellie and the Harp Maker, Hazel has published another book: Away with the Penguins, which is a “heartwarming and uplifting” Richard & Judy Book Club 2020″.