Site of Interest / Local Attractions

Simonsbath House sits within Exmoor National Park overlooking the Barle Valley and with access to acres of beautiful moorland displaying evidence of Iron Age (600BC - AD43) settlements and Roman (AD43 - AD 410) occupation. The Centre is within 7 miles of Watersmeet on the East Lyn River and Lynmouth with the cliff side railway connecting the town to Lynton. A short coach ride takes you to the wide sandy beaches of Croyde Bay and Woolacombe Bay and Braunton Burrows or the busy market town of Barnstaple.

A video is available on loan from the Centre entitled 'Exmoor an English Wild Kingdom'. This video, shot throughout the year, shows the rich and varied wildlife habitat and historical landscape of high moor, wooded combes, running waters and massive sea cliffs that characterise Exmoor, across the changing seasons.

Villages and Towns

Lynton and Lynmouth (including Valley of the Rocks and Watersmeet)

The twin villages of Lynton on the cliff top and Lynmouth at the mouth of the river Lyn are connected by the famous water powered cliff railway financed by Sir George Newnes, the publisher of the Sherlock Holmes stories. On Friday 15th August 1952, after two weeks of torrential rainfall, Lynmouth situated at the confluence of the East and West Lyn rivers experienced a flood disaster of enormous magnitude. 16 people lost their lives, 93 buildings were either swept away or damaged, 132 vehicles were missing, presumed swept out to sea, and 114,00 tons of debris had to be removed from the river channels and estuary. Every boat was washed away from the harbour whilst the harbour arm and Rhenish Tower were carried away. The rivers became raging torrents, trees were uprooted and carried away, bridges blocked and boulders weighing up to 40 tons were torn from the riverbeds and banks. The rebuilding of the harbour, roads and bridges took four years at a cost of £725,000, and to make Lynmouth safe in the future the river channels were widened. To commemorate the disaster a permanent exhibition is maintained in the Memorial Hall. July sees the traditional raft race and scarecrow hunt

Barnstaple Pannier Market and Butchers Row

Barnstaple is a market town where traders once came to sell their produce at the produce market that stretched the length of the main street, but in 1852 an act of Parliament was passed requiring a site to be provided for all market traders. The vegetable market, as it was originally called, was designed by R D Gould and the market building running from the Guildhall to Boutport Street was opened on 2nd November 1855. The market soon became known as the Pannier Market due to the farmer's wives and daughters bringing their produce of vegetables and dairy products in large baskets known as panniers. Butchers Row, built at the same time as the market, consists of 33 shops with pallasters of Bath stone and wrought iron supports to an overhanging roof that all face north which kept everything cool. All the shops continue to sell some form of agricultural goods, such as bakers, delicatessens, fishmongers, butchers and florists.

Dunster

The village of Dunster with its medieval yarn market has a rich and interesting history, dominated by the castle which is mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The present castle was erected in 1617 and refurbished in 1680 by the Luttrell family who installed many fine plasterwork ceilings and a magnificent carved staircase. The castle owes its current appearance to Antony Slavin who added two great towers with battlements in the Victorian period.

Doone Valley

Brendon, Malmsmead, Oare, and Rockford lie in the valley of the East Lyn River, which flows east to west and joins Hoaroak Water at Watersmeet, a couple of miles west of Rockford. This is "Doone Country" - the setting for the famous story 'Lorna Doone' by R. D. Blackmore. The little church at Oare is where Lorna was shot on her wedding day.

Selworthy

In the heart of the Holnicote Estate, Selworthy was rebuilt in 1828 by Sir Thomas Acland of Killerton. Sir Thomas was a philanthropist and designed the 'model' village himself to provide housing for the aged and infirm of the Holnicote estate; he used traditional designs and materials to create a deliberately old-fashioned village. Located on the wooded slopes of Selworthy Combe, the village is laid out loosely around a long green and climbs the hill to the 15th century church of All Saints.

Minehead

On the north coast of Somerset, once a fishing village, Minehead now offers superior views of the Bristol Channel on a clear day and boasts one of the longest private steam and diesel railways. The town also has a sheltered harbour, beach and promenade and is home to Butlins holiday camp where you can purchase a day ticket for the rides and use of the pools.

Porlock

The famous Porlock Hill, a 25 % (1 in 4) incline with some very tight bends, on the main road leads west along the coast from the village and was first ascended by motor car in 1900 for a bet. Horse drawn coaches operating the Minehead-Lynton route used this road until they were replaced by motor coaches in 1920. There is now a very scenic toll road avoiding the hill which is well signposted. Culbone Church is England's smallest complete parish church. The main structure dates back to the 12th century, with a 13th century chancel arch. It has two Norman windows, ancient oak pews and a 15th century rood screen.

Places to visit

Tarr Steps

Tarr Steps is an ancient clapper bridge comprising of 17 spans of stone across 60 yards; the top slabs weigh 1-2 tons and are about 39 inches above normal water level while the largest slab is over eight feet wide. This bridge is the largest and finest of its type.

Braunton Burrows

Braunton Burrows, situated in the estuary of the Taw and Torridge Rivers, is the largest sand dune system in the UK and hosts an extraordinary diverse community of over 400 recorded species of plants and associated invertebrates. Its uniqueness and biodiversity is recognised as both a National Nature Reserve (NNR) and as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The buffer zone now contains Braunton Marsh and Great Field, which is one of only two surviving Medieval Open Strip Field systems in the UK.

Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan (11/2 hrs by coach)

The Eden project is your gateway to the world of plants. Housed in two giant bubble conservatories are thousands of plants from the tropical rainforest areas and the warm climates of the Mediterranean. Outside are plants that enjoy the temperate Cornish climate including wheat, tea and sunflowers.

Wimbleball Lake

Wimbleball Lake is 372 acres of water surrounded by farmland and forest, found 776 feet above sea level it offers nature trails, fishing and water sports.

Dunkery Beacon

Dunkery Beacon is the highest point on Exmoor and offers spectacular views of the Bristol Channel down to Weston-Super mare and across to the Welsh Coast.

Horner Wood

This large National Trust property boasts woodland trails for walking and mountain biking.

North Devon Coast

From Braunton to Combe Martin, the coast ranges from steep cliffs across long beaches offering tremendous surf to rolling sand dunes perfect for hiking.

Lundy Island

An unspoilt island found 10 miles off Baggy Point, Lundy Island is a natural fortress with a tempestuous history as a pirate lair although these days it is better known as a bird sanctuary.

Attractions

Big Sheep - Theme Park based on all aspects of sheep farming, offering an educational and fun day out.

Dunster Water Mill - Fully restored 17th Century working water mill.

Coldharbour Mill - Working Wool Museum

Falconry Centre - Displays and opportunity to see Exmoor birds of prey (also available at SHOC).

Ilfracombe Aquarium - Experience the fascinating journey from an Exmoor stream to the Atlantic Ocean.

Exmoor Brass Rubbing Centre - Over 200 brasses and rubbing plates depicting both historical and modern scenes.

Exmoor Zoo - With 170 wildlife species to see, the zoo is an excellent platform for observing conservation in action. Listen to the keepers' talks or experience an animal encounter before joining in with the hands on activities.

Quince Honey Farm - An opportunity to see the complete process of honey and beeswax production.

Barnstaple Go Karting Centre - A chance to race your friends; who's the fastest? Who's the best at cornering? Who just can't quite get used to the steering wheel?

Watermouth Castle - Theme park

West Somerset Railway - With ten restored stations along the route, the WSR recreates the atmosphere of a GWR branch line.

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