Exmoor Memories: Summer on the Exmoor Coast

IMG_6677A.G. Bradley, “Exmoor Memories”

(first published in 1926)

 But Lynton, whether at the first boyish encounter, with its high, uplifting scenery, or at eighteen, when I had come to feel its attractions more deeply, was always my favourite place for these exhilarating trips. (…) Sometimes we took the rough moorland road, as it then was, turning off left-handed on the way to Simonsbath and heading across the open moor for Oare and Brendon, by Brendon Two-Gates, nowadays so familiar to tourists, and so down the glorious valley of the East Lynn. At other times we would take the Combe Martin road, and turning right-handed at Blackmore gate, in those days what its name portended, a turnpike, follow the coach road through Paracombe and on down the valley of the West Lynn. This was the route from Barnstaple for the comparatively small number of visitors that then found their way to Lynton. A long and hilly road of nearly twenty miles, over which agonised honeymooners from flat counties clung together on the coach roof as, with groaning brakes, it rocked down the steep hills, over loose stones and a stream-riven surface. Even Ilfracombe  had only as yet talked of a railroad.  Lynton had not even dreamed of such a thing. It would have seemed to us nothing short of sacrilege. (…)

What can one say of Lynton, or Lynmouth, that has not been told by pens innumerable since those old days of the ‘sixties? It is not so much the bold coast scenery, because that extends with equal, if intermittent grandeur all the way past Ilfracombe to Barnstaple Bay, and eastwards into Somerset, but rather those two lovely winding valleys, wrapped to their summits with foliage, and cloven by white streams foaming to the sea, which make it unique among English coast resorts.

Arthur Granville BRADLEY 1850-1943




Letter from Exmoor: Experiencing Exmoor Zoo Through a Lens


Not much more than a year into its life, the West of Exmoor Camera Club finally got around to its first field trip to Exmoor Zoo. I feel it won’t be the last.

After dreary, light-free shoots at Lynton and Arlington Court earlier in the year, the sun finally came out of hiding briefly above the wildlife haven that is the Exmoor Zoological Park. Its a bijou zoo, small but perfectly formed, with large pond (or small lake depending on how well travelled you are) in the middle, with a wonderful selection of wildfowl, ranging from Mandarin Ducks through penguins to Pelicans and all shades between, swimming on it, and crashing into it. The photographic opportunities were endless, with good viewing areas and obligingly nonchalant avians.

We also found Big cats, many monkeys, wonderful wolves and something that made an incredible racket, but was never quite identified. There were seemingly dozens of enclosures, and mums and dads with progeny present, were having a great time. The animals were well cared for and unstressed and I liked that. Some were only too happy to pose, whilst a surly minority were a bit sniffy and disdained the hapless photographer, brazenly displaying the wrong end to us. Can’t say I blame them.

We came away with some great images having enjoyed the day, the coffee and cake and the refreshingly positive attitude of any zoo staff that we encountered. Even the Zoo loos were up to scratch.

Pictures from the day can be seen online on our club website at www.westexmoorcameraclub.weebly.com and anyone reading this that is desperate to see more of our handiwork on paper as it were, can do so throughout the stairwells, top to bottom, of the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple from:- (Thursday 22nd March – 30th June 2013 ). Go on, you know you want to….

And what the hell was it that was making all that racket?!

West of Exmoor Camera Club. Author. RB


Exmoor on TV: Great British Railway Journeys on BBC2

Michael Portillo takes to the tracks with his copy of Bradshaw’s Victorian railway guidebook. In a series of railway journeys, Portillo travels the length and breadth of the British Isles to see what of Bradshaw’s World remains. Michael follows in the footsteps of the master engineer of the Great Western Railway, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, beginning at the line’s London gateway, Paddington Station and ending in Newton Abbot, Devon, the scene of one of Brunel’s heroic failures. Michael gets up close to a piece of natural history, visits a garden used as a viewing platform for public hangings and experiences a timepiece like no other.


Wednesday, 30 January 2012, 6.30 pm  on BBC2:  Taunton to Minehead

102 WSR Michael Portillo BBC Minehead


Michael Portillo travels on the West Somerset Railway from Taunton to Minehead.

If you’d like to do the same, then pop over to the West Somerset Railway website:

Our Railway, a true country branch line of the old Great Western Railway is full of fascination whether you are looking for a nostalgic ride back in time through lovely countryside or to study the railway and industrial heritage which our line preserves. The historic steam locomotives, coaches and wagons, and the buildings of our ten unique stations linked by a twenty mile scenic journey will repay hours of exploration. The surrounding countryside is as varied as it is beautiful. The gently rolling Quantock hills and distant Exmoor, unspoilt villages and farms nestling in leafy lanes, the cliffs and coast of the Bristol Channel with views of distant South-Wales, confident Church Towers, Dunster’s imposing Castle and Minehead’s seaside charm are all waiting to be discovered.

There are toilets on each train. Disabled persons accessible toilets are available at Bishops Lydeard, Crowcombe Heathfield, Stogumber Watchet and Minehead stations.

We can carry passengers in wheelchairs in our trains. Please let us know as space is limited and we can book you seats in advance on 01643 700384. Disabled toilets are available in our Lorna Doone carriage which can be booked in advance.

Dogs are welcome on our service trains and are charged £2.00 per dog.

There is a buffet car on most of our trains selling a variety of light refreshments a large number of which are locally produced. Please see the catering page for more information about our catering services.


Thursday, 31 January 2012, 6.30 pm on BBC2:  Lynton and Lynmouth to Exeter


103 Michael Portillo Lynton Railway

You can find out more about the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway on their website:

Steam trains through rolling countryside, with views out to wild moorland and the rugged coastline.

Originally opened in 1898, and closed in 1935; what you can see today at Woody Bay is just the beginning of an exciting project to rebuild one of the world’s most famous and picturesque narrow gauge railways; the legendary Lynton & Barnstaple Railway.

This initial section allows our visitors to experience a taste of what will one day become one of the ultimate narrow gauge treasures of the world as they once again travel by train along the original route above the delightful Heddon Valley near Parracombe in Exmoor’s National Park on the longest closed section of railway line to have ever been reopened solely through volunteer effort.