Under 18s GO FREE

Exmoor Family Walking Adventure

Exmoor Ponies
Duration: 8 nights
Type: Family Walking Holidays
Walking Grade: 1, 2 & 3

Children Aged 5 and Under Go FREE With outstanding Exmoor scenery right on the doorstep, Holnicote House's extensive lawns are ideal for games, while the outdoor swimming pool is always well used on our family holidays. This area is a must for wildlife lovers with the chance to spot wild deer and ponies.  In the heart of a 12,500 acre estate in the Exmoor National Park, Holnicote House has extensive grounds and an outdoor heated pool, making an ideal location for our guided family walking holidays. 

Holiday Highlights

  • Choice of up to 4 walks per day
  • Take the cliff railway up from Lynmouth to Lynton and explore The Valley of Rocks
  • Spot red deer and ponies as you walk up Selworthy Beacon
  • Enjoy a beach game, visit a falconry centre and take a steam train ride
  • Views stretching all the way to Wales

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDFs for each holiday.

Download Trip Notes

On our Guided Walking holidays, we believe that choice is key. Our walks descriptions will help you choose according to your interests and fitness. The walks are grouped together with care by local experts to give the best experience. While every effort will be made to adhere to the described itinerary, we may occasionally vary the sequence shown here or substitute an alternative route to suit local conditions or for other operational reasons, potentially at short notice.

Arrive at Holnicote House

Option 1 - Hurlstone Point & Owl Centre

Distance:  4.5 miles (7km) 

Total ascent: 960 feet (300m)

In SummaryWe begin our holiday with a walk out to Hurlstone Point before a visit to the Hawk and Owl Centre at Lynch. The walk returns via Allerford with an optional extension to the village of Selworthy for ice cream if little legs are long enough.

HighlightTrying to spot Hedwig at the Exmoor Hawk and Owl Centre at Lynch.


Option 2 - Hurlstone Point & Selworthy

Distance:  6 miles (9½km)

Total ascent: 1,550 feet (460m)

In SummaryWalk out to the old coastguard station at Hurlstone Point on this circular walk from Holnicote House, with breathtaking views from the cliff top. We see an ancient packhorse bridge at Allerford then follow woodland paths to the National Trust’s Selworthy village, with time to explore.

Highlight: Wander through the once extensive Holnicote Estate to the 'model village' of Selworthy, with its collection of 'chocolate box' thatched cottages.


Option 3 - Selworthy Beacon

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 1,100 feet (330m)

In SummaryTake an old packhorse track to the village of Selworthy with its thatched cottage and the white church. From here we climb to the top of Selworthy Beacon before returning through the woods to Holnicote House.

HighlightSelworthy Beacon is the real 'high point' of the day with great views over the Bristol Channel.


Option 4 - Atop the Beacon

Distance: 10 miles (16km)

Total ascent:1,300 feet (390m)

In SummaryA hilltop walk with fine views. We climb up through the woods onto Bossington Hill, before taking a meandering path onto North Hill and Selworthy Beacon itself. Dropping steeply to the village of Selworthy, we can visit the church or enjoy an ice cream and tea.  

Highlight: An opportunity to stride out and explore the splendid scenery of Selworthy Beacon.


Option 1 - Valley of Rocks

Distance:  3 miles (5km)

Total ascent:  400 feet (120m)

In Summary: Ride the amazing water powered funicular railway to Lynton, then walk the Crinoline Path to the Valley of Rocks, with its fascinating huge rock formations which draw visitors from all over. We walk back to Lynton, and down into Lynmouth.  

Highlight The cliff railway is an exciting way to start the walk. Later, keep your eyes peeled for the wild goats that live on the steep hillsides near the Valley of Rocks.


Option 2 - Oare Church

Distance: 6 miles (9½km)

Total ascent: 500 feet (150m)

In Summary: Starting high on Exmoor we'll visit Oare Church, famous for its wedding scene in the book Lorna Doone. We follow the Oare Water to Malmsmead, before joining the East Lyn River on its tumbling journey to the National Trust centre at Watersmeet.

HighlightWalk in the footsteps of Lorna Doone, the heroine of RD Blackmore's novel. We'll stop at Oare church, the scene of the wedding between Lorna and John Ridd.


Option 3 - Doone Valley

Distance: 9 miles (14½km)

Total ascent: 900 feet (270m)

In Summary: Starting high up at County Gate, we'll head to the pretty hamlet of Malmsmead, then follow Badgworthy Water up “the Doone Valley” to the site of an abandoned medieval village. Crossing the wild moorland we end with the descent to the East Lyn River and Watersmeet.

HighlightOur walks end at the National Trust's tearoom at Watersmeet. This is the confluence of the East Lyn and Farley Water; a delightful spot set in beautiful wooded valley.


Option 4 - Wilds of Exmoor

Distance: 11 miles (17½km)

Total ascent: 900 feet (270m)

In SummaryWalk in Lorna Doone country and along Badgworthy Water. We'll cross the high moor before joining the Two Moors Way, approaching Watersmeet with good views of the Hoaroak Water as it tumbles down through rocky crevices.

HighlightAn opportunity to step off the beaten track and discover the wild corners of Exmoor. Enjoy great views as you cross the high moors.


Option 1 - Train ride and coast path

Distance: 4 miles (6½km)

Total ascent: 300 feet (90m)

In Summary: Today's adventure starts with a train ride to Blue Anchor Bay where we can enjoy good views across to Wales. We walk from the coast to Dunster via field paths to meet the other groups.

Highlight: A stroll along the promenade and a play on the beach at Blue Anchor Bay.


Option 2 - Selworthy to Dunster

Distance: 5 miles (8km)

Total ascent: 800 feet (240m)

In SummaryA circular walk from and back to Dunster. We walk through the deer park to Withycombe Hill Gate. We return by fields and woodland to Dunster

HighlightDeer spotting - will you be lucky and spot one?


Option 3 - Luccombe to Dunster

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 1,300 feet (400m)

In Summary: We walk to Selworthy village, before a gradual ascent onto Wootton Common. Down through the woods and we are in Dunster with its castle and stunning village.

Highlight: From Grabbist Hill we get good views across to Minehead, the Bristol Channel all the way to South Wales.


Option 4 - Luccombe, Wootton Courtenay and Dunster

Distance: 9 miles (15½km)

Total ascent: 1,300 feet (390m)

In Summary: Walking from Holnicote House, we go via the pretty village of Luccombe up to Webber's Post. A stiff climb brings us onto Wootton Common and eventually into Dunster.

Highlight: A good path with great views follows, gently descending to Wootton Courtenay.


Option 1 - Watersmeet

Distance: 3 miles (5km)  

Total ascent: 100 feet (30m)

In SummaryStarting high on the cliffs at Barna Barrow, we descend through woodland to Watersmeet with its National Trust tea room and shop. We follow the East Lyn River into Lynmouth.

HighlightThere's plenty of time to enjoy this beautiful wooded valley. Stop to play hide and seek, or paddle in the stream, before continuing to the beach at Lynmouth.


Option 2 - Countisbury Hill

Distance: 6 miles (9½km)

Total ascent: 700 feet (210m)

In SummaryWalk via fields over Countisbury Common to join the South West Coast Path. Pass the lighthouse at Foreland Point with its disused lighthouse then continue over the highest cliffs in England on to Lynmouth.

HighlightLynmouth is a great spot to end our walk. Enjoy ice creams or one of the many tea rooms, or explore the rockpools on the beach.


Option 3 - Around Lynton

Distance: 8 miles (13½km)

Total ascent: 1,100 feet (330m)

In SummaryTake the zig-zag path down from Countisbury Hill to Watersmeet. We'll continue along the hillside to the Victorian town of Lynton, before continuing to the Valley of Rocks and a return along the coast path.

Highlight: The Valley of Rocks is a local beauty spot with its own herd of wild goats who roam the precipitous hillsides.


Option 4 - Lynmouth Coastline

Distance: 10 miles (16km)

Total ascent: 1,600 feet (480m)

In SummaryFollow the glorious coastal path down Countisbury Hill to Lynmouth, then on to the Valley of Rocks and Lee Bay. We return along an elevated path to Lynmouth

HighlightSoak up the classic view of Lynton and Lynmouth as you walk down Countisbury Hill. This walk has steep ascents and descents, but passes through spectacular scenery.


Option 1 - Luccombe & Horner

Distance: 4 miles (6½km)

Total ascent: 400 feet (120m)

In SummaryWalk via local estate roads and lanes to the pretty village of Luccombe then on to Horner with its tea gardens.  We return to Holnicote House after visiting Piles Mill, an old 17th century corn mill, with plenty of time for a last swim

Highlight: A relaxing end to the holiday with gentle gradients and picturesque villages.


Option 2 - Horner Hill

Distance: 6 miles (9½km)  

Total ascent: 600 feet (180m)

In Summary: After visiting Horner, we climb Horner Hill to Webber’s Post (a great view point). A short stretch on a level path follows, before dropping to the National Trust village of Luccombe, and back to Holnicote House.

HighlightLook out for Exmoor ponies around Webber's Post. If you're very lucky you may even spot Red Deer on the slopes of Dunkery Beacon.


Option 3 - Dunkery Beacon

The walk in a nutshell: Starting from Wheddon Cross, we walk to Dunkery Beacon - the highest point on Exmoor. Then it’s downhill nearly all the way with a stop for ice creams at the tea gardens in Horner.

Don’t miss: The great sense of achievement as you climb the final steps to the summit and become the highest person on Exmoor!

Distance: 9 miles (14½km) Total ascent: 800 feet (240m)

Option 4 - Over the Beacon

Distance: 12 miles (19km)

Total ascent: 1,100 feet (330m)

In SummaryThe longest walk of the week from Exford to the top of Dunkery Beacon, but well worth the challenge! The descent takes us via the smallest and remotest church on the moor at Stoke Pero and the tea gardens at Horner.

HighlightOn a clear day the extensive view stretches south to Dartmoor, and north across the Bristol Channel to the Gower and Brecon Beacons.


Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before making your way home. 

Holnicote House

Lying near the attractive village of Selworthy, in the heart of the Exmoor National Park, historic Holnicote House stands within a series of peaceful gardens with spreading lawns. Once the centrepiece of an extensive 12,500 acre estate, the charming and characterful house was gifted to the National Trust in 1944. Since then it has been reimagined as a walkers’ retreat, with wonderful access to the countryside. As well as 32 delightful bedrooms, there are two comfortable lounges and a sociable bar. The landscaped gardens are still part of the wider Holnicote Estate and provide a wonderful area to wander. Outside the house, explore wild Exmoor, walk in the Quantocks, climb Dunkery Beacon and stroll on the Somerset Coast Path with the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, drop in Dunster Castle, ride a Victorian cliff railway and watch for wildlife including the majestic red stags.

Need to know

Important Covid-19 steps we have taken for guest safety: Please Read

As we slowly reopen in the wake of the Coronavirus lockdown, our country house stays are set to be organised a little differently; extra steps have been taken to keep our guests, house teams and leaders safe while we return to action. We ask all our guests to respect the measures put in place.

Initially the overall capacity of the houses has been reduced. Guests must wear face coverings in public spaces. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, we have taken the necessary steps to space out furniture and seating in public areas. In addition, a one-way system will be in place around the house. Adequate signage will be displayed to support the direction of travel to be followed by guests and house teams.

As a temporary measure, we will not be servicing rooms during a stay. Extra tea, coffee, milk, and toiletries will be made available on request for all guests. It is recommended that guests bring their own toiletries for the duration of their stay. We have removed all non-essential and reusable items from our rooms for the meantime including cushions, hairdryers, bathrobes, bed throws, and printed materials to reduce the number of items that need to be disinfected. Hairdryers will be available on request. Clean towels will be available on request. We will though be increasing the frequency of cleaning in our public areas providing particular attention to frequently touched items including door handles and handrails.

For now, there is no cream tea on arrival day. We have also adapted our food offering to remove all buffets and open food items. Different sittings may be required for breakfast and dinner due to the occupancy and size of the house. Picnic lunches will now be pre-ordered the night before from an order form in the room. The bar in each country house will be open, and we will be offering a table service for drinks. At this time there is no, or only a very limited, evening social programme available. Outdoor swimming pools at those houses that have them will re-open throughout August, except at Freshwater Bay House, where the pool will remain closed for 2020. Indoor swimming pools will remain closed.

For more information and to see all the steps taken, visit our page on how house stays will be adapted.


Tea & coffee-making facilities, TV, Hairdryer, Toiletries, Wi-Fi

Stay in one of the main building’s bright, beautifully presented rooms or in the thatched cottages in the grounds, called Butlers and Guns respectively. With 32 bedrooms, Holnicote House has plenty of space and there’s a range of Good, Better and Best Rooms to choose from: best rooms are on the first floor and decorated in keeping with the National Trust estate, with plenty of space and great views over the back garden, reaching out across Crawter Hill and Dunkery Hill, Somerset and Exmoor’s highest point. Ask for numbers 1, 4 or 9 to feel suitably special.

All ‘Good’ rooms are ensuite and furnished to a high standard. There are also several ‘Better’ and ‘Best’ Rooms that are either larger or have a desirable view, a more luxurious mattress and larger television – upgrade your stay for just an extra £15-25 per person per night. You can choose a specific room for an extra £30 per room, subject to availability. Upgrade supplements still apply.


Free Wi-Fi, boot room and drying room, attractive garden, outdoor swimming pool, multi-purpose activity room, lounge, library and board games to borrow

After a day walking on Exmoor or exploring the heath and moorland, come back to the house and its specially tailored walkers’ facilities. Relax by sitting in the pretty gardens or challenge a fellow guest to a game of croquet. Take a dip in the large heated outdoor pool. For something less strenuous, snag a comfy chair in one of the cosy lounges, borrow a book, join a game of cards or scour the countryside through the large telescope. Head to the bar before dinner for a drink and a chance to catch up with your companions, best enjoyed by the windows overlooking the estate.

Food & Drink

As at all our country houses, holidays are full board, from afternoon tea served as a welcome treat through that evening’s meal to a hearty breakfast on the day of departure. Lunch is a chance to stock up on our famous picnic snacks. Food at Holnicote House is hearty and has a strong emphasis on ingredients from the area and seasonal produce. Once a week the wood panelled dining room with its giant fireplace hosts a Local Food Night, when, over a sociable evening, you might try classic Porlock oysters or Priddy Oggies, a local pasty of chicken, bacon and cheese. Mains might include Exmoor venison or Bellbrook valley trout, while you could cap it all with a Somerset apple cake, dressed with cream.


For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865

10684_0056 Holnicote House - Exterior

Getting to Holnicote House

Find out more about this location including travel details and room types.

More Information

What to Bring

Suggested Kit List

  • a rucksack,
  • a waterproof jacket
  • waterproof over trousers,
  • a spare jumper or fleece,
  • sun protection cream,
  • a water bottle (at least 1 litre),
  • some spare high-energy food such as a chocolate bar
  • a small torch
  • first aid kit – your leader’s first aid kit doesn’t contain any medication or blister kits (such as Compeed).

    (in spring, autumn and winter)

  • a hat and gloves (Britainis famous for its changeable weather after all!)
  • You might find walking poles useful, particularly for descents (the kids usually find their own big stick en route!).
  • thermos flask for a hot drink
  • sun hat
  • towel for paddling on hot days

Guest Reviews

8 nights
Family Walking Holidays
Walking Grade:
1 & 2

8 nights from 0pp

Under 18s GO FREE

...or call 020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ people click here

Add to wishlist Added to wishlist