Exmoor National Park is situated on the north coast of Devon and Somerset. The area was designated as a national park in 1954 and, today, its 267 square miles offer outdoor enthusiasts numerous opportunities for exploration.
A network of footpaths mesh the park, rambling over moorland and farmland, dropping through ancient woodland and navigating spectacular clifftops. It’s a wild landscape, home to a vast range of flora and fauna, including red deer, otters, butterflies and bats.
Here is our guide to some of the best hiking routes in Exmoor National Park.
Valley of Rocks, Exmoor National Park ©Getty
Visitors to the area can find refuge in one of the many pretty villages or small towns than span Exmoor – from the coastal settlements of Linton, Lynmouth, Pollock and Combe Martin, to the inland communities of Dulverton, Exford and Simonsbath.
We’ve gathered some our our favourite walking routes inside the national park. Click on the links to find out more about the routes, including a path description and map.
Tarr Steps, Somerset
Tarr Steps, Exmoor ©Getty
Tarr Steps is one of Exmoor’s true hidden treasures and a firm favourite with visitors – once you’ve discovered it you’ll find yourself drawn back time and time. This gentle seven-mile ramble meanders alongside the river before looping through Withypool and climbing for gorgeous views over Exmoor.
Valley of Rocks, Devon
Cloud drifts around the Valley of Rocks on the Exmoor coast ©Getty
On a quiet day, there’s a lost world feel to North Devon’s enigmatic Valley of Rocks, despite the serpentine ribbon of road that curls through the vale in the place where a river once ran. Exult in towering sea cliffs where feral goats clamber skilfully between Devonian crags on this short circular walk around the rocky coastal valley.
Porlock Bay, Somerset
Porlock Bay, Somerset ©Jake Graham
After a Storm, huge chunks of driftwood cover the bay ©Jake Graham PhotographyThe coastline between the tiny harbour at Porlock Weir and rugged Hurlstone Point comprises wildlife-rich salt and freshwater marshland, dramatic storm beaches and gnarled cliffs. Discover the bay with a nine-mile circular walk, ending with a relaxing drink the among books, sofas and firelight at Porlock Weir’s quirky Millers at the Anchor inn.
- 13.6km/8.5 miles
- 5 hours
Map and route
Dunster, Somerset ©Alamy
Christmas illuminations– every winter, the village of Dunster and its 11th-century castle remembers its medieval past, lighting up its streets and houses with lanterns and candlelight ©AlamyHigh on a hill in north-east Exmoor, medieval Dunster Castle glows above lantern-lit houses, music-filled streets and bustling gift shops. It’s a magical scene best enjoyed after a winter walk.
- 6.4km/4 miles
- 2.5 hours
Map and route
Horner Valley, Somerset
Wood warbler, Phylloscopus sibilatrix ©Getty
Spot wood warblers and a host of other wildlife in Horner Wood ©GettyThe Horner Valley and its surroundings, including the Vale of Porlock and Exmoor’s highest point Dunkery Beacon, lies within the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate, once owned by the Acland family. nestles by Horner Water, ideally situated for excursions on horseback or foot. This wonderful four-mile bridle trail explores Exmoor’s ancient oak woodlands – the perfect walk for wildlife-spotting.
Elwill Bay, Devon
Gorse blooms in summer on the Devon cliffs above Elwill Bay ©Getty
Begin in a verdant inland valley before striking out on to the South West Coast Path with beautiful views across Elwill Bay on this eight-mile coast walk.
Badgworthy Water and Doone Country, Somerset
Malsmead, Exmoor ©Geograph
Begin the walk at the arched Malmsmead Bridge ©GettyExplore Doone Country, one of Exmoor’s most beautiful river valleys and the backdrop to the R.D Blackmore’s tale of romance and murder, Lorna Doone. This seven-mile route takes you along the banks of Badgworthy Water, past Hoccombe and Lank Combe, both possible locations for the fictional home of Blackmore’s band of Scottish outlaws. Map and Route.
Lyn River, Devon
Confluence of East Lyn River and Hoar Oak water at Watersmeet ©Getty
Rising high above Exmoor, the East Lyn River flows through the East Lyn Valley in Devon to the picturesque village of Lynmouth. This beautiful six-mile walk begins at Lynmouth in the Exmoor National Park and follows the East Lyn River upstream to Rockford before heading back to the coast.