Exmoor National Park is one of the great secrets of England. It has so much to offer the discerning visitor and those who find it often return year after year to this special place.
Year round there is always something to see or do. Between ancient villages and modern towns there are footpaths, bridleways and cycle paths across wonderful scenery, through woodlands, up and down hillsides and across open moorland. As Europe's first Dark Skies Reserve, Exmoor is up there with the best for looking at the stars and seeing the Milky Way spread across the sky is an awesome sight.
Spring arrives early in the South West and the colours of camellias, magnolias, mimosa and daffodils abound. A visit to Snowdrop Valley, where the bulbs brought over by monks in the 14th century have colonised along a stream, is a delight. In February, visitors can eat their way across Exmoor during the Exmoor Food Festival: first class food at reasonable prices.
Throughout the Summer months communities strive to offer visitors many events. Local museums may not rival national ones in size but they hold many gems and are well worth a visit, as are village shows, pony club events, agricultural and flower shows, fetes, car rallies, and flower festivals. Events involving professional and amateur dramatics groups are usually well worth seeing and Minehead, just 4 miles from Porlock, has a community theatre that puts on excellent shows, films, jazz nights, pantomimes, plays and musicals.
Porlock, Porlock Weir and Bossington run regular guided walks to look at the architectural, industrial and ecological development of the area where aurochs once roamed. There is a memorial to the USAF Liberator plane that crashed on 29 October 1942 on Porlock Marsh having clipped the top of nearby Bossington Hill. North Hill has been used as a military site since Tudor times and during World War 2 Canadians. British and American forces were stationed here for training and - along with outstanding views - some ruins can be seen. Nearby Dunster and Dulverton also run 'secret village' walks full of fascinating facts about times long gone.
Further afield there are National Trust properties such as Dunster Castle (13 km) and Arlington Court (38 km) and, for those with a literary interest, it's worth visiting the cottage Samuel Coleridge rented in Nether Stowey in 1797, and the places linked to R D Blackmore's Lorna Doone in nearby Oare.
There are dozens of ancient churches to explore and Culbone Church, claimed as the smallest parish church in England, may be found after a sturdy walk along a footpath that passes the romantic ruins of Lord Byron's daughter's (Ada) Gothic mansion and through tunnels carved out of the hillside by Swiss mountaineers. For those who like butterflies, there are expeditions under the competent guidance of an Exmoor Ranger.
Autumn is the time of the Red Deer rut when the stags compete for the attention of the hinds. The deer photos on this website have been taken with an ordinary digital camera from the car but there are organised deer safaris and photo-stalking parties that may be taken. National Park Rangers run Funghi Walks in this season.
Winters are usually mild but there's a fair share of crisp, cold days, sometimes with a sprinkle of snow that brings magic to the hills and coombes and after a brisk walk local pubs offer good food by a log fire to hungry visitors. Dunster by Candlelight is a stunning event and the Porlock December Santa Trail is great fun.
Throughout the year the West Somerset Railway runs Steam Days and Diesel Days and various points along the railway line provide outstanding photo opportunities for those who don't want to take a nostalgic trip on heritage coaches. Day fishing charter boats run out of Minehead and the picture-perfect Porlock Weir, with rods and bait provided and usually worthwhile catches, while from Ilfracombe it is possible to book a day trip to the beautiful, isolated and quite magical island of Lundy. Lynmouth (8km), apart from being a pretty village, offers boat trips to look at the highest sea cliffs in the country, and there are informal sessions to make jewellery from sea glass collected from the beach and water colour tuition for all levels.
Porlock is a picturesque Exmoor village with two welcoming churches, the delightful Dovery Museum, a traditional butcher selling locally-sourced meat and game; a post office that specialises in outdoor clothing and walking boots; 3 pubs; 2 grocery stores; a chemist; bookshop; cheese specialist; cash machine; repair garage; several art galleries; lifestyle shops; antique shops; a veteran and vintage car shed plus independent restaurants and tea rooms.
The village hall has regular entertainment and lectures of a high standard and the Information Centre, always worth a visit, hosts the annual Apple Day. There’s a large recreation ground that features seasonal sports such as cricket, football and bowls plus the village fete and other events. Many footpaths, cycle ways and bridle paths run out of Porlock up onto the moors or along the coast with grades to suit all levels. Children (and those who are still children at heart) will love crabbing off the side of the bridge at Porlock Weir and enjoy the lively sights and sounds of Porlock Carnival, one of the last remaining walking parades on Exmoor.
We love Exmoor in general and Porlock in particular - as you may be able to tell - and will happily share our enthusiasm and knowledge gained over many years but are equally happy to let visitors discover the joys and surprises of this unique corner of Somerset for themselves.