Exmoor Discovery Tour
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Hills & moorland
Our Discovery Tours really get into the heart of the countryside. These are sightseeing tours by minibus, visiting places not normally reached by a full-sized coach. Small groups and friendly leaders make this a great way to enjoy Britain at its best.
Exmoor is one of the smallest national parks, but one of the most beautiful, with its amazing variety of landscapes, hills and valleys. During this holiday, with its varied itinerary, we will visit and explore many delightful villages and beauty spots.
- The historic Cistercian abbey of Cleeve, which has some of the finest cloisters in England
- Picturesque Somerset villages such as Selworthy and Bossington
- The coastal village of Lynmouth and the fascinating Valley of Rocks
- A steam train ride in the Quantock Hills
- A visit to Arlington Court
Great reasons to join us
- Great value: all prices include Full Board en-suite accommodation, plus five full-day mini-coach tours, with plenty of stops at places of interest and short walks of up to 1½ miles
- Knowledgeable leader: learn more about the history and landscapes of Exmoor from your knowlegeable leader
- Accommodation: stay at National Trust owned 4-star Holnicote House, with its superb grounds and outdoor swimming pool
- Sociability: we pride ourselves on the social atmosphere of our holidays - explore together, eat together and relax together
As a historic National Trust property, Holnicote House is full of charm and character. Located on the extensive Holnicote Estate, at the foot of Exmoor, it is well suited to a relaxing holiday.
Holnicote House has 32 newly refurbished bedrooms. Some are located in the main house, with others in the thatched cottages, called Butlers and Guns, in the grounds.
Choose your room
• Comfortable accommodation
• En-suite bathroom with bath or shower
• Tea and coffee making facilities
• Single room are available at no extra charge
• Enjoy extra space or exceptional views
• Toweling robe, complimentary slippers
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Available from an extra £10 per person per night
• 3 or 4 beds
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Full sized twin or double beds for adults and bunk or occasional beds for children
|• Excellent boot and drying rooms
• Two lounges
• Dining rooms
|• Free WiFi available in some public rooms
• Range of board games and books
• Heated outdoor swimming pool (open May to September
|• Croquet lawn|
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board with breakfast, picnic lunch and evening meal. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
During your Discovery Tour you will have the opportunity to visit many fascinating places of interest. The following is a suggested programme, but your HF Holidays' leader may adjust it at their discretion, taking into account factors such as weather or local opening times or the wishes of the group.
Friday/Saturday: Arrival day
You can check in to your room from 2.30pm onwards. Please join us for afternoon tea at 4pm. All guests are invited – we’ll introduce your leader and welcome you to your holiday.
Saturday/Sunday: Around Selworthy & Dunster Castle
Get to know the area by driving through gorgeous villages and walking along the coast overlooking Porlock Bay. Spend time in the medieval-style village of Dunster and enjoy a visit to Dunster Castle (National Trust), home of the Luttrell family for over 600 years. We shall also see the parish church with its pretty garden, the 16th century dovecote and the famous yarn market in the main street of the village.
Sunday/Monday: Heddon Valley and Arlington Court
Explore the nature reserve of Westlandpound reservoir then enjoy the beautiful Heddon Valley. We spend the afternoon at Arlington Court (NT), the former home of the Chichester family, which has a fascinating collection of Victorian carriages.
Monday/Wednesday: Free day
A day for you to explore the area independently or relax at the Country House. There’s plenty of National Trust properties to enjoy, or coastal towns such as Combe Martin, or moorland villages such as Dulverton. For something completely different, why not visit the Bakelite Museum in Williton?
Tuesday: Wells and Willows & Wetlands
Discovery England’s smallest city - Wells. See the cathedral which dominates the town, find out about the “wells”, visit the famous Bishop’s palace garden, and wander the market square and quaint streets. Then we’ll visit the fascinating Willow & Wetland Visitor Centre for more information about historic crafts on the Somerset Levels.
Wednesday/Thursday: Cleeve Abbey and the Steam Train
Where does the “Ancient Mariner” brood over the harbour with the albatross around his neck? Find out in the harbour town of Watchet. Cleeve Abbey is one of the best examples of monastic ruin - learn what life as a medieval monk would have been like. Then enjoy a leisurely steam train journey through the Somerset countryside, finishing with a cream tea in a garden overlooking the Blackdown Hills.
Thursday/Friday: Lynton & Lynmouth
Travel along the coast road to Lynmouth to visit the famous beauty spot of Watersmeet, where the rivers Hoaroke and Lynn join in spectacular waterfalls. We explore Lynmouth and Lynton, travelling between the two on the Victorian cliff railway. In the afternoon we follow in the footsteps of Lorna Doone, visiting the Valley of the Rocks, the Doone Valley and Oare church where, in the novel, Lorna is shot on her wedding day!
Friday/Saturday: Depart after a leisurely breakfast
For maximum flexibility, admissions are not included; please remember to bring your National Trust or English Heritage cards if you have them. Otherwise please allow up to £80 for entrances (there may be concessionary and group discounts which may reduce this price).
Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.
During your stay at Holnicote House you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest, either in your free time, or on your journey to and from Selworthy:
Less than a mile from Holnicote House is Selworthy village. At first glance the thatched cottages seem typical of many ancient settlements in this area. However, Selworthy is not as old as it looks, having been rebuilt in 1828 by Sir Thomas Acland. Sir Thomas was a philanthropist and designed the 'model' village himself to provide housing for the aged and infirm of the estate. He used traditional designs and materials to create a deliberately old-fashioned village.
West Somerset Railway
Travel on Britain’s longest steam railway from Minehead to Bishops Lydyard. Now lovingly restored by volunteers, the line recreates a classic Great Western Railway branch line with steam trains operating daily from April to October. Minehead station is 10 minutes' drive from Selworthy, or can be reached on the number 300 bus. www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk
An historic castle transformed into a comfortable stately home for the Luttrell family. Some highlights include the 'modern' 1950s kitchen and the snooker room. Dunster Castle sits in extensive gardens, complete with its working watermill. The adjacent town of Dunster is full of character and also well worth a visit. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle
Lynton & Lynmouth
The quaint Victorian town of Lynton sits high on a hill, overlooking the coast and Lynmouth harbour. The two settlements are connected by the historic cliff railway. The short walk from Lynton to the Valley of Rocks is highly recommended.
The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and his wife Sara lived in the village of Nether Stowey, about 45 minutes' drive from Selworthy, from 1796 to 1799. In 1909 it was acquired by the National Trust, and later restored and opened to the public. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleridge-cottage
Hestercombe Gardens, around an hour's drive away near Taunton, were constructed in 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. www.hestercombe.com
Arlington Court, about an hour's drive away near Barnstaple 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. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/arlington-court
Travel to Selworthy
Our address is: Holnicote House, Selworthy, Minehead, Somerset TA24 8TJ
The nearest railway station is at Taunton. For train times and general rail enquiries visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).
The 29 mile journey from Taunton railway station takes approximately 50 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £57 per taxi. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. taxi company will arrange shared taxis wherever possible. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Holnicote House Manager.
The number 28 bus operates between Taunton station and Minehead. At Minehead change for the number 10 bus that will take you to the Selworthy turn (which is at the end of Holnicote House drive). A 2 minute walk along the drive will bring you to the house. Alternatively pre-book a taxi from Minehead; the 4½ mile journey will cost you approx £10 from our recommended taxi provider. For bus times see www.traveline.info
From Bridgewater take the A39 though the southern outskirts of Minehead towards Porlock. Holnicote House is on the left about 4½ miles out of Minehead, and about ¾ mile after the signpost to Luccombe (do not follow the signs to Selworthy). After the Selworthy Village sign look out for our sign 500 yards further on, on the left. Free car parking is available in the grounds.
Travelling from Overseas
For most guests, travelling to London Heathrow airport is the most convenient option.
From Heathrow first take the train to London Paddington station. From here there are direct trains to Taunton. Its a relatively straightforward journey - allow 2½ hours. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
From Taunton you can travel on to Selworthy by bus or taxi (see above).
Chrissie Le Marchant
Chrissie grew up in Yorkshire and spent her early years exploring the North York Moors. Having obtained a degree in Geology and Geography, she spent the next few years working for an international mining company, prospecting in the West Country and gold mining in Africa, driving home overland from Johannesburg via India.
She spent the next few years raising children and working for two National Parks, Snowdonia and Dartmoor. After training as a teacher of design technology she returned to civil engineering building roads. Eventually she became a Blue Badge Tourist Guide and has worked in the West Country and southern England and all over Europe as a guide and tour manager.
As a ‘Deviationist’ on the Ffestiniog Railway she drove trains, tipped wagons and appeared on Blue Peter and has been leading railway holidays for several years.
Pat is a Blue Badge guide who has has lived in Cornwall for over 20 years, and is fascinated by discovering history through the landscape, especially the southern regions of the UK, with their wealth of special stories, flora and fauna to be uncovered. Before retiring Pat was a special needs teacher in Cornwall and other parts of the country.
Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person
- Premium single room: £15 per night
- Premium twin/double room: £10 per person per night
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person