The Holnicote estate provides stunning views of varied landscapes, including beautiful moorland, a shingle beach, ancient woodland and five picturesque villages.
The estate is made up predominantly of open moorland and heathland with some woodland around Horner, which now makes up the Dunkery and Horner Woods National Nature Reserve. The land drops down to four miles of coastline around Porlock Bay.
There are over 100 miles of footpaths that meander through the various habitats, providing plenty of routes for walkers and cyclists.
The village of Selworthy itself has some charming and wonderfully preserved thatched cottages. The historic All Saints Church is perched on the side of the hill with superb views over the Vale of Porlock and a footpath from the village leads up to Selworthy Beacon which, at 1,010 ft, is one of the highest points on Exmoor with excellent views in all directions. Near the summit are Bury Castle and a series of cairns, thought to be the remains of round barrows.
The medieval village of Dunster lies on the edge of the National Park and has a wealth of listed buildings, a castle, yarn market and tithe barn.
The Exmoor Coastline stretches some 30 miles between Minehead and Combe Martin. Most of the coastline is formed of cliffs but at Porlock the land flattens out and a unique mile long shingle ridge and an inland salt marsh have formed. Both are only a short distance from the centre of Porlock, and are easily accessible for walkers on well marked footpaths.
The Poet Laureate Robert Southey was particularly inspired during a stay at the Ship Inn in Porlock, which still exists today. Here he composed the sonnet To Porlock which includes vivid descriptions of the coast between Dunster and Minehead.
A haven for birdwatchers, a great variety of waders and wildfowl can be seen here in the winter as well as many interesting passing travelers − little egrets, spoonbill, hen and marsh harrier, osprey and snow buntings to name but a few.
The attractive seaside town of Minehead with its popular beach is close by. Day visits to the Butlin's resort are popular for families.
In contrast the quaint Victorian town of Lynton sits high on a hill, overlooking the coast and Lynmouth harbour. Lynmouth was described by Thomas Gainsborough. Thomas, who honeymooned there with his bride Margaret Burr, as "the most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast".
Much of Lynmouth was badly damaged in 1952 when a storm of tropical intensity broke over south-west England, depositing 229 millimetres (9.0 in) of rain within 24 hours. At the time the River Lyn ran through the town in a culvert; this culvert soon choked with flood debris, and the river flowed into the town.
Overnight, more than 100 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged along with 28 of the 31 bridges and 38 cars were washed out to sea. In total, 34 people died, with a further 420 made homeless. The seawall and lighthouse survived the main flood, but were seriously undermined. The lighthouse collapsed into the river the next day.
The small group of houses on the bank of the East Lyn River called Middleham between Lynmouth and Watersmeet was destroyed and never rebuilt. Today, there stands a memorial garden.
Lynmouth is connected to neighboring Lynton by the historic Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway and is now widely acclaimed as the ‘'Walking Capital of Exmoor’ with the South West Coast Path and Tara Trail passing through the village. The Two Moors Way runs from Ivy Bridge in South Devon to Lynmouth; the Samaritans Way South West runs from Bristol to Lynton and the Coleridge Way from Nether Stowed, to Lynmouth.
Just 45 minutes’ drive from Holnicote Nether Stowey is the home of “Coleridge Cottage” the home of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his wife Sara from 1796 to 1799.
History lovers can visit Arlington Court. About an hour's drive away near Barnstaple, Arlington is a fine Regency house set in an extensive estate. The grounds include a formal Victorian garden whilst the stables house the National Trust’s carriage collection of over fifty horse-drawn vehicles.
Hestercombe Gardens, near Taunton, were constructed over three periods - a landscape garden from the 1750s, a Victorian terrace and shrubbery from the 1870s, and Edwardian gardens of 1904-1908 designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll.
No trip to this area of the country would be complete without a trip on the West Somerset railway. Britain’s longest steam railway runs from Minehead to Bishops Lydyard. Lovingly restored by volunteers, the line recreates a classic Great Western Railway branch line. Minehead station is 10 minutes' drive from Selworthy, or can be reached on the number 300 bus.
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