EXMOOR COTTAGE HOLIDAYS
Walking holidays are very popular in Devon and it is no exaggeration to say that North Devon and Exmoor are a walkers paradise, with some of the finest walks in the South West. Moreover, North Devon and Exmoor are less commercialised than South Devon, and more accessible than Cornwall from the Midlands and the South East.
The five charming stone cottages at Exmoor Cottage Holidays are in the peaceful village of Challacombe, within the Exmoor National Park, and are ideal for your UK walking holiday: they are only 50 minutes drive from the M5; are very well-equipped; full of charm and character; your dogs are very welcome; and every cottage has a log fire in the living room and a private enclosed garden with a picnic table and bird-feeder (filled daily).
Exmoor Cottage Holidays is a beautiful place to stay with a special atmosphere. The self-catering cottages are surrounded by enchanting grounds. The grounds are a wild-life haven with many wild flowers, unusual shrubs, birds and butterflies; and a natural pond with frogs, newts, damselflies and dragonflies. There is a delightful walk around Humphrey's Hill with lovely views of Exmoor, and a wild-flower meadow ideal for exercising your dogs.
We want you to get the most from your walking holiday and visit most days to help with any enquiries. We can point out the best walks on an OS Map (which you may borrow) and show you how to light your fire and keep it going. We also offer (charged extra) towel hire, cottage cleaning, service wash and dry, and more logs and kindling (your first basket is free) so that you can enjoy your walking holiday to the full.
Only two minutes walk from the cottages is a traditional pub with award-winning food, fine wines and real ales; and a local shop and Exmoor Information Point which is handy for groceries, alcohol, snacks, maps and guides. Outside the shop is a large scale Ordnance Survey map of Challacombe showing the many walks and open access areas in the village and on the surrounding hills. When you are here we have a few OS maps of the area which you are welcome to borrow, please ask.
From the cottages you can take a short walk to the local church through a delightful beech forest; beside the Church are remains of the former village, supposedly abandoned in the 1830's after an outbreak of smallpox. For a longer walk, head up to Shoulsbury Castle, a large Iron-Age hillfort, where on a fine day you can see right over the Taw and Torridge estuary to Lundy Island, about 30 miles away. You can also visit Moles Chamber on the moors, near an abandoned pub 'The Ackland Arms', where according to local legend a Farmer called Mole went missing one night, and no trace of him or his horse was ever found.
A more demanding walk from the cottages takes in the pretty Bray Reservoir, source of the river Bray; Radworthy, a Domesday manor abandoned around 1860; the Longstone, the tallest prehistoric stone on Exmoor; and the atmospheric Pinkery Pond, source of the river Barle. The Bray and Barle, which start just over a mile apart, end up nearly 100 miles apart, with the Bray joining the Taw on the north coast and the Barle joining the Exe and running all the way to the south coast.
Our favourite local walk is to the atmospheric Chapmans Barrows, a spectacular row of burial mounds dating from the Bronze Age. This prehistoric complex includes the Longstone (the largest stone monument on Exmoor) and the quincunx (a mysterious stone setting in the shape of the five on a dice).
Challacombe is an ideal central base from which to explore all the best walks in the region, with most of the Exmoor National Park and the coastline of Somerset and North Devon within a 30 minute drive. This includes many well known walks, for example Heddons Mouth near Trentishoe; the Valley of Rocks, Watersmeet and Countisbury Hill near Lynmouth; Tarr Steps and Hawkridge near Withypool; Dunkery Beacon and Horners Wood near Porlock; the Doone Valley near Barbrook; the Tarka Trail from Braunton to Meeth; the UNESCO biosphere at Braunton Burrows, and many, many more.
In 2011 Exmoor was the second place in the world to be designated as an International Dark Skies Reserve, it being recognised that when considering light pollution and cloud cover together, Exmoor was the best place in the UK for looking at the night sky.
Exmoor is well-known for its unique wildlife, thanks in part to Johnny Kingdom, and in particular the Exmoor ponies and Red and Roe deer, which originate on Exmoor and are not found elsewhere in the wild. They are all fairly shy and secretive, but there are lots of places on the moor where they can usually be seen - we will be happy to advise you the best places to find them. Goats have also lived on Exmoor since prehistoric times, but they died out and the present herd, in the Valley of Rocks outside Lynton, was introduced in the 1970's.
Walking maps and guides are available from the National Park online shop, and from locally based Combe Walks. Every spring and autumn there are lots of organised walks as part of the North Devon Walking Festival, and their website gives full details. The South West Coast Path website has good maps and descriptions of walks along the SWCP route.
If you are looking for a walking holiday in Exmoor or North Devon, with or without your dogs, then we don't think that you will find anywhere better to stay than Exmoor Cottage Holidays, which has excellent facilities in a peaceful rural location, with a friendly local shop and traditional pub only a few minutes walk away; surrounded by excellent walks and in an ideal central location from which to explore all the best walks the region has to offer.