Exmoor Spring & Winter Walking Holiday
Great guided walks - specially adjusted for the season
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Hills & moorland
Choosing the level of your walks
Our easy grading system shows whether a region offer gentle strolls or more challenging routes to help you choose the right holiday for you. Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we grade our walks 1 to 5 (where 1 is easy and 5 hard). Our challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
Guided Walking continues throughout the year. Spring and Winter offer fantastic walking days in Exmoor - blow away the cobwebs and enjoy a great selection of guided walks with us.
Between November and Easter we carefully adjust our usual walks to suit the season. We'll often end the day in a cosy pub or tearoom - perfect for warming up after an invigorating walk.
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.
These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:
These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:
Only an extra £15 per person per night
These rooms truly are the best in the house for extra luxury during your stay. They include:
Only an extra £20 per person per night
Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplements to upgrade to 'Better' or 'Best' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.
At the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. 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.
- Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued
- Mobile phone reception is generally good from the main building
- Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
- Information can be provided in large print
- Staff have received disability awareness training
- Special diets can be catered for. Specialist food can be obtained with prior notice
- Fridge for medication can be supplied
Discover Exmoor on Foot
Discover the contrasting landscapes of Exmoor. We'll take you to rugged headlands of the coast, and also the beautiful wooded valleys and inland moors where the sweetly scented heather creates a carpet of colour. Join our friendly and knowledgeable guides who will bring this beautiful landscape to life.
- Our experienced guides offer a choice of walks each day, adjusted for the season
- We'll often end the day in a cosy pub or tearoom
- Choose the option which best suits your interests and fitness
- We provide flexible holidays. Join our guided walks, explore independently, or relax at Holnicote House
Porlock Hill to Holnicote House
Available on: 16 Mar 2019, 9 Nov 2019
Option 1: Exploring Porlock Valley
Distance: 6 miles (10km)
Total ascent: 850 feet (260m)
The walk in a nutshell: A short walk out to the pretty village of Bossington, on to Porlock and back to the house along field paths.
Don’t miss: The pretty 'chocolate box' thatched cottages of Bossington village.
Option 2: Hawkcombe & Porlock
Distance: 8 miles (13km)
Total ascent: 1,100 feet (340m) ascent and 2,300 feet (700m) descent
The walk in a nutshell: From high up on Pittcombe hill we descend to Porlock for lunch before returning to the house.
Don’t miss: The descent through Hawkcombe with the rushing of the stream always present as you wander through the trees and glades.
Option 3: Hills & Wooded Valleys
Distance: 10 miles (16km)
Total ascent: 1,200 feet (360m) ascent and 2,550 feet (740m) descent
The walk in a nutshell: From Pittcombe Head we descend through steep combes and the woodland paths of Horner Wood before returning to the house.
Don’t miss: The beautiful views out into Porlock Bay framed by the boughs of the mature trees of Worthy wood.
Along the rivers to Exford
Available on: 17 Mar 2019, 10 Nov 2019
Option 1: Exford and the Exe Valley
Distance: 6 miles (9½km)
Total ascent: 900 feet (280m)
The walk in a nutshell: A circular route from Exford village green, we climb Room Hill then descend into the River Exe valley and follow it back upstream to the village.
Don’t miss: You may well see buzzards and Exmoor ponies as you make your way across the hillside above the River Exe.
Option 2: High Moors to Exford
Distance: 8 miles (12½km)
Total ascent: 1,100 feet (340m)
The walk in a nutshell: From Wheddon Cross we head uphill through wooded combes to Dunkery Bridge, before descending to Exford skirting the top of Great Rowbarrow.
Don’t miss: Far reaching views from the high point of this walk just below the summit of Dunkery Beacon.
Option 3: Simonsbath to Exford
Distance: 9 miles (14½km)
Total ascent: 1,150 feet (360m)
The walk in a nutshell: From Simonsbath we head into the ancient Royal Forest of Exmoor and follow the River Barle valley to Withypool then cross Room Hill before descending into Exford.
Don’t miss: Look out for a 19th century iron and copper mine and an iron age hill fort on this walk full of historical interest.
Valley and Hills to Dunster Castle
Available on: 19 Mar 2019, 5 Nov 2019, 12 Nov 2019
Option 1: Bilbrook, Coast & Dunster
Distance: 6 miles (10km)
Total ascent: 500 feet (140m)
The walk in a nutshell: From Bilbrook we head out to the coast via Old Cleeve, and along to Blue Anchor Bay before heading back inland to Dunster.
Don’t miss: Look out for knots, curlews and oystercatchers chasing the tide along Blue Anchor bay, in search of worms and small crustaceans.
Option 2: Tivington Hill to Dunster
Distance: 6½ miles (11km)
Total ascent: 1,150 feet (360m)
The walk in a nutshell: From the house we pass through the beautiful village of Selworthy, before climbing Tivington Hill. From the top of this long wooded ridge we descend to Dunster and it's spectacular castle.
Don’t miss: The views from the top of the ridgeline looking down over Dunster and Blue Anchor bay beyond.
Option 3: Over the hills to Dunster
Distance: 9 miles (15km)
Total ascent: 1,350 feet (420m)
The walk in a nutshell: Walk from Holnicote House to historic Dunster. Our route takes us through the woods to the viewpoint at Webber's Post, then enjoy the fine views as we follow the ridge over Wootton Common.
Don’t miss: Dunster Castle was the home of the Luttrell family for over 600 years, and is now managed by the National Trust.
Watersmeet & Lynmouth
Available on: 20 Mar 2019, 6 Nov 2019, 13 Nov 2019
Option 1: County Gate & Watersmeet
Distance: 5 miles (7½km)
Total ascent: 700 feet (220m) of ascent and 1,250 feet (380m) of descent
The walk in a nutshell: We start our walk on Cosgate Hill, descending steadily into the combe and to the banks of the East Lyn River. After a stop in Rockford we continue our route along the Coleridge Way to Watersmeet.
Don’t miss: The stunning gorge carved out by the East Lyn river makes for a great riverside walk.
Option 2: Rockford & Lynmouth
Distance: 7½ miles (12km)
Total ascent: 1,250 feet (380m) of ascent and 2,250 feet (680m) of descent
The walk in a nutshell: Following a similar route to the option one walk, we descend into the combe and pick up the Coleridge Way to Rockford. After a stop we will continue through Watersmeet and on to Lynmouth.
Don’t miss: You may be lucky enough to spot an Otter or two gambolling in the fast flowing river.
Option 3: Malmsmead & Lynmouth
Distance: 9½ miles (15½km)
Total ascent: 1,750 feet (540m) of ascent and 3,000 feet (900m) of descent
The walk in a nutshell: From our drop off point we descend into the valley and to the hamlet of Malmsmead where Lorna Doone Farm is situated. From here we follow the other side of the river to the option one and two walks. We eventually cross the river and follow riverside paths through Rockford and eventually Watersmeet. We finish with a pleasant riverside amble to Lynmouth.
Don’t miss: Lorna Doone fans can immerse themselves in the locations referred to in the book along the length of this walk, including crossing the bridge and ford over Badgeworthy Water, and visiting Lorna Doone Farm.
Available on: 21 Mar 2019, 7 Nov 2019, 14 Nov 2019
Option 1: Quantock Foothills
Distance: 6½ miles (10½km)
Total ascent: 1,250 feet (380m)
The walk in a nutshell: From Kilve we head into the Quantocks skirting around the main ridgeline to Holford for a stop. In the afternoon we again head back up into the Quantocks before descending to Nether Stowey.
Don’t miss: Look out for the majestic red deer roaming across the heathland of this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Option 2: Along the Quantocks
Distance: 8 miles (13km)
Total ascent: 1,400 feet (440m)
The walk in a nutshell: Starting in Perry Combe at the northern end of the Quantocks ridgeline, we ascend fairly sharply to gain the ridge. We maintain this height before beginning a steady descent down to Nether Stowey.
Don’t miss: The spectacular views out to the coast over Watchet and into Bridgwater Bay from the top of this beautiful ridgeline.
Option 3: High Quantocks
Distance: 10½ miles (16km)
Total ascent: 1,650 feet (500m)
The walk in a nutshell: Also starting in Perry Combe, this walks ascends onto the ridgeline before dropping down to Holford. We then climb back out, after a stop for lunch, back towards the ridgeline before the descent to Nether Stowey.
Don’t miss: The illusive Dartford Warbler can be seen around the Quantocks and across Exmoor, usually singing from the top of a gorse stem.
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 Holnicote House
Our address is: Holnicote House, Selworthy, Minehead, Somerset TA24 8TJ
The nearest railway station is at Taunton. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50.
The 29 mile journey from Taunton railway station takes approximately 50 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £56 per taxi. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The 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.
Bristol Airport may also be convenient for some guests. Take the train to Taunton
From Taunton you can travel on to Selworthy by bus or taxi (see above).