My last article gave you a broad overview of the Exmoor National Park, where to find it, and what kind of scenery you can expect there. In this article, I’m going to show you some of the best things to see and do in the park, and help you plan a visit to the Exmoor National Park. If you want to see more about national parks in the UK, check out this guide to the Brecon Beacons in Wales.
Whilst the national park shares many fantastic features with several other national parks in the UK: rolling hills, beautiful green countryside and thick and mysterious woods – there are definitely some unique features that you should be aware of.
If you’re a fan of English literature and poetry, then you’ll undoubtedly have heard of William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge. These much-loved Romantic poets wrote about some of the most iconic and emotive locations around them, and used these locations of evoke the simple and quiet beauty that the UK can stake a good claim for owning and ruling. One of these locations is known as the Valley of the Rocks, a long and thin valley in the Exmoor National Park, famed for its combination of aggressive rock formations and stunning sea views. Another poet, Robert Southey, visited the area too and said it was like seeing “The very bones and skeletons of the earth”. A visit to this valley is like stepping back in time, as you can see revealed rock slopes (perhaps created by cliffs collapsing and falling away) that take you 400 million years back. This area was also right at the edge of the glacial expansion in the last ice age, and so shows some remarkable ‘periglacial’ features if you are a geology enthusiast.
Dunkery Hill is the highest point in the Exmoor National Park, and indeed in the whole of Somerset. To give you an idea of how flat this area of the UK is, Dunkery Hill only rises 520 metres, and although it’s not much, the elevation will show you great views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear day you can see more than 100 kilometres away over the flat ground. This is a very important historical area, and you can still see the remains of Bronze and Iron Age settlements and burial grounds.
There is a car park in a place called Dunkery Gate, and if you are looking for an easy way to get up the hill, you can drive there, and then hike the 1.2 kilometre path to the top. If you visit the hill (and the park in general) in Summer, you’ll be in for a wonder of nature. During the warmer months (it’s still England remember, so Summer means 25 degrees or if you are lucky a little closer to 30), you’ll see seemingly never-ending blankets of purple heather spread out over the hill and the entire surrounding moorland.
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