Minehead anticipates tourism boost with new all-in-one West Somerset Railway ticket

Visitors to Minehead, in the heart of Exmoor, will now be able to travel on the West Somerset Railway, the largest heritage railway in the UK, with an all-in-one ticket as GWR trains complete a new ticket initiative.

The initiative sees the launch of a ‘one ticket’ solution enabling passengers to explore Britain’s longest heritage railway, the West Somerset Railway, with GWR rail and a local bus service fare included. The one ticket solution will include train travel from mainline stations and a connecting bus service (at present) from Taunton to Bishops Lydeard.

Visitors travelling from outside of Somerset could see significant savings with the removal of a peak time ticket restriction on a service from London.

Paul Conibeare, West Somerset Railway General Manager, has said; “We are delighted with this news. There has been months of planning and engagement between West Somerset Railway, the Visit Somerset team and the GWR team.  This will be a huge boost for the WSR and the local economy”.

John Turner, Visit Somerset’s Chief Executive and member of the executive board for Exmoor Tourism said; “We have studied a previous example of this kind of development in East Grinstead on the Blue Bell Railway.  Although it was a cross platform link we still believe that we can derive connections between the two schemes due to West Somerset Railway as an attraction being far larger. The Blue Bell team saw 60,000 more visitors and an increase of over a million pounds. With some extensive marketing for West Somerset Railway we will hope that we can see this type of increase over a five-year period”.

For more information on visiting Minehead visit the official Visit Exmoor website http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk

Photo credit: Ian Brodie / Visit Somerset

Letter from Exmoor: Snowdrop Valley – Tearoom, lunches and dinner at Exmoor House

205 Rosi Davis Snowdrop Valley 

 Exmoor House at Wheddon Cross is for locals as well as visitors to the area! Once again we’re opening the Exmoor House dining room as a daytime tearoom for Snowdrop Valley (our 2014 dates: 1st February to 2nd March inclusive). Come and enjoy our fabulous mega ploughman’s lunches or some delicious soup. Popular sandwich fillings include home-smoked breast of chicken and real corned beef (not like the stuff that comes in a tin). There are home-made cakes and teacakes, and of course our sweet and savoury cream teas. ‘The best scones I’ve ever tasted’, says Julie atThe Wedding Genie. Find her review of Exmoor House here.
If you are taking part in an excursion, for example the West Somerset Railway’s Snowdrops and Steam days  you might like to combine it with lunch at our place. Booking is advisable.
Remember  that you can enjoy our great food in the evenings too: we’re open for dinner most days during the year. Frank the chef combines lovely local ingredients with expert cooking and everything is home made, including bread, ice creams, and our famous proper pies (‘exceptional evening meals’ – Hilary Bradt, Slow Devon & Exmoor). Advance booking is essential as we plan each day’s menu around our dinner guests’ dietary requirements and preferences, to make sure everybody has a good choice. To go with your meal, we’ve a nice selection of wines (including some from Exmoor), local beers, Somerset ciders…
Planning a celebration? You can reserve sole use of our lovely dining room for private lunches at any time of year, subject to availability of course. The minimum number is 4 people; maximum about 12. We’ll devise a menu to suit your group. Call Rosi and Frank on 01643 841432, we’re happy to help.
Try Exmoor House and find out why our food and hospitality get rave reviews.
Never been to Snowdrop Valley? Here’s why you should go there.


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.


Guest blog: Exmoor House at Wheddon Cross – Snowdrop Valley

Snowdrop Valley 2013, Wheddon Cross, Exmoor, Somerset

 203 Rosi Davis Snowdrop Valley
Would you like to do something really special in February? How about a visit to Snowdrop Valley? It’s about a mile and a half from where we are and – as the name might suggest – is a place to see a host of snowdrops in a natural setting.
The snowdrops carpet the woodland floor and cover the banks of the river Avill, which flows through the valley. It’s a lovely, magical place at any time of year, whether or not it is the snowdrop season. You can walk from our place via a number of different routes, the quickest being straight down the winding path to snowdropthe valley and back up again (aerobic exercise guaranteed; sensible footwear essential).At snowdrops time, there is a park & ride bus service from Wheddon Cross, organised by our Parish Council. Parking is in the village car park (next to the pub), where there’s also a special information point with people to give directions and advice. The narrow road to Snowdrop Valley is closed during this time (otherwise there might be traffic problems as it’s single track and there are no passing places). So, you need to either walk or get the bus in order to see the snowdrops (people with disabilities can make special arrangements). In 2013 the park & ride operates from 2nd to 24th February and the road remains closed for an extra week after this.For more details, including a bus timetable, an information leaflet to download and regular updates, visit the Wheddon Cross snowdrops page

Book dinner, bed and breakfast at Exmoor House and make a few days of it. You could stay over Valentine’s Day for a really romantic break (we’ll even order champagne and local chocolates for you if you like!).

Steam and SnowdropAs usual, we’ll be opening our lovely guest dining room (which has a great view of Dunkery Beacon, and by the way was once the village tailor’s shop) as a tea room for the whole of Snowdrop Valley season. Frank’s scones have become legendary and there’s a good choice of more substantial food too (e.g. mega ploughman’s lunches, hot soup, sandwiches. Everything is of course home-made, including all our bread. Home-smoked chicken and real corned beef are two popular sandwich fillings…

The West Somerset Railway’s Snowdrops and Steam excursion was such a success last year that they’re running it on more dates this time. Find more information at their website.

If you are doing the train trip and would like to have lunch here at Exmoor House, it may be advisable to book, especially if there are four or more of you.

To see more of Rosi’s Snowdrop Valley photos, pop over to Facebook.

For more information on Exmoor Hourse, go to www.exmoorhotel.co.uk