I first fell in love with Exmoor and Porlock in the Eighties.
My dad was in the Metropolitan police force, pay wasn’t great back then, he had a wife and two young children, so he couldn’t afford to go on expensive holidays. He heard from a W.P.C that she had a holiday in Porlock. Other PCs had been there and heard how lovely it was and it was a reasonable price so he booked a week there.
We loaded up the Morris mariner: there was my mum and dad, my nan, my brother and myself – and our seven and a half stone boxer dog on the backseat.
The roof rack was full of luggage and my dad’s sea fishing rods and lead weights. Now thinking back I am surprised the poor car ever made it down there.
We didn’t know anything about Porlock and Exmoor. It was an adventure, mum handed out the rolls while dad was driving and the odd foxes glacier mint. When we saw the signs for Porlock you could feel the anticipation when we started to drive down Dunster steep and the sea and the landscape unfolded before us – it was just breathtaking, just so beautiful. We turned left into Doverhay and found our holiday cottage. We were so excited. When had unpacked we had a wander along the high street – it had everything you wanted: two bakeries, Stenners and Burgess, three banks and grocery shops. We had such a lovely holiday there we kept going on holiday down there for fifteen years.
I’ve known Exmoor and Porlock for thirty years now. It got me loving nature and wildlife and it’s shaped the person who I am today.
I absolutely love it and still go down there every year on holiday. Take care all.
By Trevor Parsons
I first went to Exmoor as a teenager with my parents staying at Porlock Caravan Park: I remember hearing the sheep in the field next to the caravans. 25+ years later I was back camping with my husband and dogs at the same site. We holidayed in and around Porlock most years since and will be spending Christmas there this year. We love the scenery, the peacefulness and the wildlife – it’s a perfect place to unwind, enjoy the fresh air and appreciate how beautiful the area is. Favourite walks include Dunkery, Watersmeet, Valley of Rocks, Tarr Steps, Horner Water, Porlock Weir to Culbone, up and around Hawkcombe, and last year we found Bats Castle. This was a stunning walk up and over the grounds of the castle until you reach the old settlement. Up here you can see for miles. We came across Red Deer and Exmoor ponies. It was quite a steep descent in parts especially with an eager terrier and two Lurchers who all have keen noses! The dogs enjoyed being able to cool off in the river at Gallox bridge before we got back to the car. The area is perfect for dogs, it doesn’t bother us or our dogs that they need to be on lead in certain areas, they get plenty of exercise and stimulation from the new places and smells, we are all ready to relax after a day out exploring Exmoor.
Paul Waby shot this video during his recent trip to West Somerset.
Can you guess the locations?
Jazz, Brazilian and Greek music will be performed live at the 4th Dunster Music Festival from 29th-31st July 2016. This much anticipated annual event held at The Luttrell Arms Hotel offers a varied programme of music by local artists on Friday and Saturday and concludes with a chance to hear upcoming new talent at the Open Mic on Sunday 31st.
Friday’s programme begins with the return of the ever popular singer/songwriter Bob Gallie followed by the much loved rock n rollers, The Beverley Brothers.
And finally a chance to sing along with the fun guitar/mandolin duo Don and Mark who perform Irish and 60’s and 70’s songs with great enthusiasm.
Saturday’s programme starts at 1pm with a list of eight bands including Bristol’s famous rocking hillbilly band Slap Face and The Hoagies, Greek influenced music by Xenos and performances by popular local singer/songwriter Steve Pledger.
The festival takes place around the hotel, in the Monk’s Courtyard and Secret Garden. Admission is free.
Get the full three day programme and timings here
Special rates for the festival start at £320 for two people for two nights to include dinner in Psalter’s
Restaurant on Friday. Call 01643 821555 or book online www.luttrellarms.co.uk
Visitors to the medieval village of Dunster might well be wondering what on earth is going on in the garden at The Luttrell Arms Hotel. For whilst the award winning hotel carries on its daily business, hundreds of years of history are being uncovered on their back lawn. And if you are quick you might be able to see it!
South West Archaeology Ltd, specialists in recording sites of historic interest are working with the Luttrell’s owners Nigel and Anne Way, ahead of a £2million investment in the hotel. The significance of the finds beneath the aptly named ‘Secret Garden’ is such that essential development work for a new service tunnel, laundry and conversion to the existing buildings set to go ahead in the spring have been halted whilst a full archaeological survey is carried out some 15 feet beneath the garden.
This has presented a rare opportunity for archaeologists to see what is underneath one of the ancient buildings in the village. And they have not been disappointed. Bryn Morris, Project Manager for South West Archaeology said: “This is indeed a surprise, the remains are pretty impressive. The owners have been generous in enabling us to carry out the work even though they need to get on with the building project.” So far the remains of an 18th century pottery cottage, medieval plots, a kitchen, 16th or 17th century malting kiln, stables and a cobbled track connecting the High Street to the parkland at Dunster Castle, have been uncovered behind the hotel on the High Street and its getting more exciting by the day. For a short time at least we are able to see the archaeology work from the Secret Garden but it is set to finish soon so check with the hotel if you would like to see it.
Items of interest derived from the site of the cottage leading to the Pottery Kiln, built by Henry Fownes Luttrell in the 18th century to improve the landscape around Dunster Castle, are among finds being examined and recorded. The new buildings to improve facilities at the hotel are probably the largest construction project along the ancient street of Dunster for hundreds of years.
The village on Exmoor National Park is one of the best preserved medieval villages in England and throughout its history of poverty and prosperity from the dark ages to the 21st century, some buildings inevitably became derelict, plots were infilled and buildings reshaped as land owners adapted with the times. It is perhaps fascinating that Nigel and Anne Way, who have been restoring the 28 bedroom Luttrell Arms Hotel since rescuing it from administration in 2013, are doing the same.
The ‘house’ that is now the Luttrell Arms Hotel once had stabling for 30 horses and was thought to be a base for the visiting Abbot of nearby Cleeve Abbey. Today the 28 bedroom hotel is an award winning business in the village of Dunster, employing 40 full and part time staff. Nigel and Anne Way are south west hoteliers and own The Luttrell Arms Hotel, Dunster, The Royal Seven Stars, Totnes and The Royal Castle Hotel, Dartmouth.
The Pottery Kiln commissioned by Henry Fownes Luttrell of Dunster Castle in the mid eighteen century to landscape the valley of Avill, still survives and is a rare example of a domestic pottery kiln, which is visible from the hotel’s garden. The occupants of the Pottery Cottage were John and Ruth Mogg of Bristol. After John’s death in 1760 Ruth advertised the pottery but there were no takers so it was subsequently closed down.
Dig Photos: courtesy of South West Archaeology
Over 40 producers and street food traders will be at the Dunster Tithe Barn from 10.30am till 4pm on Saturday and Sunday, while a number of restaurants and local traders have also got into the spirit offering Exmoor Food Fest deals in the village.
Please note that there are no parking facilities at the Dunster Tithe Barn.
This is going to be the grand final of the Exmoor Food Fest 2016:
We will be taking over the whole of Dunster, with local producers, street food traders, crafters and artists in various locations such as the Tithe Barn, the Yarn Market, Memorial Hall and Dunster Castle.
There will also be cooking demonstrations and much, much more…
Are you a producer or an artist? Do own a local business? Would you like to take part? Then get in touch: