Sheep have grazed on the moors for more than 3,000 years,
shaping much of the Exmoor landscape by feeding on moorland grasses
and heather. North Devon cattle are also farmed in the
Exmoor ponies can be seen roaming freely on the moors. They are a
landrace rather than a breed of pony, and may be the closest breed to Wild
horses remaining in Europe. The ponies are rounded up once a year to be marked
and checked over, they are also one of the oldest breeds in the world.
In 1818 Sir Richard Acland, the last warden of Exmoor, took thirty ponies
and established the Acland Herd, now known as the Anchor Herd, whose direct
descendants still roam the moor.In the second World War the moor became
a training ground, and the breed was nearly killed off, with only 50 ponies
surviving the war.The ponies are classified as endangered by the Rare
Breeds Survival Trust, with only 390 breeding females left in the UK.
In 2006 a Rural Enterprise Grant, administered locally by the South West
Rural Development Service, was obtained to create a new Exmoor Pony Centre
at Ashwick, at a disused farm with 17 acres of land with a further
140 acres of moorland.
Red deer have a stronghold on the moor and can be seen on quiet hillsides
in remote areas, particularly in the early morning. The moorland habitat
is also home to hundreds of species of birds and insects. Birds seen on the
moor include Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Eurasian Curlew, European Stonechat,
Dipper, Dartford Warbler and Ring Ouzel.
Places of Interest
The attractions of Exmoor include 208 monuments,
16 conservation areas, and other open access land. Exmoor receives
approximately 1.4 million visitor days per year.Many come to walk
on the moors or along waymarked paths such as the Coleridge Way.
Attractions on the coast include the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway,
which connects Lynton to neighbouring Lynmouth, where the East
and West Lyn River meet. Woody Bay, a few miles west of Lynton,
is home to the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, a narrow gauge railway
which used to connect the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth to Barnstaple,
just over 19 miles away. Nowadays it runs for about mile and a half.
Further along the coast, Porlock is a quiet coastal town with an adjacent
salt marsh nature reserve and a harbour at nearby Porlock Weir.
Watchet is a historic harbour town with a marina and is home to a carnival,
which is held annually in July.
Inland, many of the attractions are centred around small towns
and villages or linked to the river valleys, such as the ancient
clapper bridge at Tarr Steps and the Snowdrop Valley near Wheddon Cross,
which is carpeted in snowdrops in February and, later, displays bluebells.
Withypool is also in the Barle Valley.
The Two Moors Way passes through the village. As well as Dunster Castle,
Dunster's other attractions include a priory, dovecote, yarn market,inn,
packhorse bridge, mill and a stop on the West Somerset Railway.
Exford, lies on the River Exe.
has been the setting for several novels including the 19th century
Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by R. D. Blackmore, and Margaret
Drabble's 1998 novel The Witch of Exmoor. The park was featured on the
television programme Seven Natural Wonders twice, as one of the wonders
of the West Country.