Country Escapes and Walking Holidays

Woodcombe Lodges and Cottages is a perfect place for a country escape whatever the time of year. The four star properties are all fully fitted with everything you would require and have electric convector heating throughout. The Lodges have lovely verandas which are covered for sitting out and enjoying the view whether you are seeking shade or shelter. The site is set on a gentle slope a short way down a small lane on the very edge of Minehead with the Exmoor national Park on its boundary. This provides access to both the coast and country in a most tranquil environment. Woodcombe has operated for over 30 years and it’s current owners have lived there for 14 so it has built up a strong group of loyal followers who return year after year. We have set out below a range of pursuits that should give everyone something that interests them in the area although there are more opportunities mentioned on our other pages.

Walking on ExmoorBarle Valley3

With Exmoor on our doorstep and the Quantocks within our view the opportunities for getting out into the countryside are endless. The South West Coastal Path, The Coleridge Way, The Macmillan Way, the Exmoor Perambulation, The Samaritans Way all pass within striking distance. Those wishing to walk their dogs on the beach will find Minehead beach beyond the golf course, Dunster beach and Blue Anchor beach open to them throughout the year. Minehead beach is open in full in the winter months. There are a number of guides and books available to help you explore the fantastic scenery throughout this area. http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/visiting/things-to-do/walking We have over a dozen small guides for walking out from Woodcombe, depending on how far you want to walk, which consist of small instruction lists for you to take with you ranging from a short 20 minute walk to a 4 hour return trip to Dunster out over Grabbist Hill and back along the beach after a leisurely lunch maybe. You can pick these up from our information centre where you will find literature on things to do both near and far. You will find many of those under our other listings on the web page but here we have concentrated on more country pursuits for those looking to enjoy the area whether on foot, cycle or car. There are also suggested routes to follow either circular using your own car or mixing with the local buses or the steam trains. Moor Rover There is an excellent pick up or drop off service across Exmoor and on the Coleridge Way available for anyone booking in advance.  http://www.atwest.org.uk/moor_rover.html No 300 Bus Service This service stops at the bottom of our lane about 500m away and runs between Minehead and Lynmouth during the summer and will drop off or pick up anywhere along the route so is a useful resource for walkers who want to follow some of the South West Coastal path and other walks in the area. The bus is an open top in the summer months so gives some wonderfull open views over Exmoor on its way. National Park The Exmoor National Park has an interactive walking map which gives you a good choice of routes depending on your wants and ability. Try http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/visiting/visitor-map

Local Villages & Beauty Spots

Dunster (3 miles) The medieval village of Dunster is well worth a visit and in December look out for the weekend of Dunster by Candlelight when the village is dressed in candles for evenings of Victorian Christmas festivities. The village has a fine Yarn Market at one end of its main street and the Dunster Castle sits on a hill at the end. The castle and gardens are owned by the National Trust and well worth a visit. There are plenty of small shops to browse around and a wealth of café’s, pubs and restaurants to visit. http://www.everythingexmoor.org.uk/encyclopedia_detail.php?ENCid=332&_escaped_fragment_=

Allerford, Selworthy & Bossington 20141001_110732

These are three charming villages 3 miles from Woodcombe Lodges with a wealth of old cottages and thatched roofs. In Selworthy you will find All Saints, a beautiful white church overlooking Dunkery Beacon and the Periwinkle tea rooms for a light lunch or scrumptious cream tea. Allerford is an attractive little hamlet with a forge, a small post office and tea room. The Exmoor Owl and Hawk Sanctuary, with a number of lively displays daily sits between Allerford and Bossington and is also open for light lunches and tea. In Bossington you will a National Trust car park and walks out to Porlock Bay with views across the bay from the old coastguard look out. There are walks all along the hillside east from here to Selworthy or up onto the beacon. Kitnors tea rooms offer a delightful light lunch or tea from just opposite the car park. These villages are great for a little potter round in the car before visiting Porlock a couple of miles further on with its equally charming main street and the famous Porlock Hill rising up onto the moor. Porlock Weir Can be found a couple of miles along the coast road with a lovely small harbour a pub, hotel and café and some small shops with superb views out to sea and across Porlock bay to Selworthy beacon. IMG_0048a BsmallerThere is a lovely walk through the woods back to Porlock. Greencombe Gardens can be found between Porlock and Porlock Weir a superb 3.5 acre woodland garden started in 1946 by Horace Stroud it is a haven of peace and rare plants open from early April. Selworthy Beacon and North Hill. There is a lovely drive up through old Minehead onto North Hill and along a five mile minor road overlooking the Bristol Channel and finishing at a car park overlooking Porlock Bay. Keep your eyes open for the Exmoor ponies on the moorland. The South West Coastal path runs along this stretch. You can walk up to the point from Woodcombe and back down following a circular route if you wish. Malmsmead, Brendon and the Doone Valley Beyond Porlock some 4 miles to the south you can drop off the main road to Lynton and visit the Doone valley the inspiration behind Lorna Doone and visit the church she was supposed to have been married and was shot. There is a lovely walk along  Badgeworthy Water just opposite the café . Brendon has The Staghunters Inn and if you cross the river bridge is the start or end point for a superb walk along the East Lynn river which can lead right through to Watersmeet although we normally stop for a drink at the Rockford Inn and return the same way (1 ½ hrs round trip). Dunkery Beacon the highest point in Exmoor (1705ft) stands some 3 to 4 miles south east of Woodcombe. You can walk up to it cross country or drive through Luscombe and Webbers post to with a couple of hundred meters and walk the rest. The views across Exmoor and the sea to Wales are fabulous. There are various walks across the moor here and you can work your way down to Horner for a cream tea and on to Porlock or further into the moor and Exford. The main issue is transport as a circular walk would  mean a full day out. Exford is a charming village in further into Exmoor with a stream running through it and a couple of pubs and café’s with some walks with one along the valley to Winsford where again there are some hostelry’s to tempt you. Wimbleball Reservoir Masses of outdoor activities go on here but there are some superb views, walks and cycling as well see www.swlakestrust.org.uk Tarr Steps is an ancient stone clapper bridge and can be found beyond Winsford. It is a popular beauty spot with a picnic area and a pub/café serving lunches and cream teas and turning into a more upmarket restaurant in the evenings. Tarr Steps, Exmoor, Somerset A walk from the steps over hills to The Royal Oak at Withypool for lunch and return along the river is a great day out. The pub stops food about 2pm so make sure you arrive early and perhaps book in high season 01643 831506. Allow a couple of hours each way. Dulverton is a small town set on the River Barle between Dunster and Tiverton which is worth a visit with a few interesting little shops, some nice pubs and café’s and The Barle Gallery selling limited edition prints. Trout fishing on the Barle can be organised from here at the tackle shop run by Lance Nicholson Blue Anchor is a small village with a fairly stoney beach set further east along the coast, it has a station on the Minehead Steam Railway and is OK to walk the dogs. One suggested walk is to take the train here and set off back down the track and cross inland after a few hundred yards and walk through to Carhampton and over Gallox Hill and Bats Castle to Dunster for lunch and make your way back to Woodcombe Watchet another 3 miles on from Blue Anchor has a small marina and a few shops and pubs for lunch. Inland is Tropiquaria a children’s zoo and playground with a radio museum as it used to be the local BBC radio station. While not oversophisticated young children can have an enjoyable few hours here. Lynton & Lynmouth are about17 miles west of Woodcombe site of the fatal floods of 1952 they offer a picturesque site with a small beach and the Cliff railway which takes you up from Lynmouth to Lynton. There is a small cinema here and a number of pubs and restaurants. The Valley of the Rocks is a short drive or walk west of Lynton and is well worth exploring with its amazing views of the North Devon coastline and find the wild goats to which this valley is home. Watersmeet and the East Lynn river south of Lynton is a delightful walk from Lynmouth or you can drive to a car park just above where the rivers join. IMG_0402There is a National Trust fishing lodge in the gardens offering teas and lunches. Explore the wooded valley with extensive walks all around.

Gardens and Houses to Visit

Apart from Dunster Castle and its gardens and Greencombe Gardens mentioned above there are other places to visit within a reasonable travel time. Knightshayes about 8 miles beyond Dulverton as you are approaching Tiverton (30miles 1hr from Woodcombe) Coleridge Cottage is in Nether Stowey about 15 miles east along the A39. It was Coleridges home for  three years from 1797 where he wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, Frost at Midnight and The Nightingale Cothay Manor & Gardens Greenham. Built in 1485 the Manor is well worth a visit as are its gardens which have the highest accolade of a 2 star rating in The Good Garden Guide www.cothaymanor.co.uk  Open from the first Sunday in April to the end of September 1am to 5pm Arlington Court and National Carriage Museum, nr Barnstaple(39 miles 1hr from Woodcombe) Arlington Court is an unexpected jewel on the edge of Exmoor, a complete family estate held by the Chichester family for over five hundred years. The collection consists of treasures for all tastes, from model ships to shells, collected over several generations. The house itself, built in 1823 and extended in 1860, has an austere facade. However, inside the cosy rooms purvey a homely, family atmosphere. The Carriage Museum in the stables has a vehicle for every occasion from cradle to grave. Currently on loan from the Houses of Parliament is the Speaker’s State Coach, a glorious, gilded carriage with over 300 years of history. Fyne Court, Broomfield between Bridgwater and Taunton about 15 miles and 40 minutes from Woodcombe.  A hidden gem in the heart of the Quantocks with its wild garden overlooking a boathouse and folly. Home of the Crosse family, the house was destroyed by fire. Killerton Priory, Cullompton  Home of Lord Acland who gave the Priory and large swathes of Exmoor to the National Trust (41 miles 1 ¼ hours) including the Holnicote Estate Many of the local cottages painted yellow belong to the estate. It houses National Trust Offices now but sometimes offers Sunday lunches. Based just off the straight on the way to Allerford Orchard Wyndham near Williton lies the home of the Wyndam family for some 700 years. Not a pampered stately home but an old lived in and sometimes frail building may be of interest. Open from mid April call 01984 632309 for opening and tour times. www.orchardwyndham.com Hestercombe Gardens our version of the lost gardens of Heligon is the restored gardens of Hestercombe on the outskirts of Taunton 01823 413923 www.hestercombe.com The Walled Gardens of Cannington   just off the A39 about 17 miles east is an RHS partner garden lying within the grounds of a medieval Priory 01278 655042 www.canningtonwalledgardens.co.uk  Rosemoor RHS Gardens, Great Torrington Devon 50 miles 1 ¾ hours Over 30 acres of gardens under the Royal Horticultural Societies control. Cheddar Gorge  (40m 1 hour 20 minutes from Woodcombe)

Other Activities

Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve Exmoor was one of the first dark sky reserves and you must take advantage of your visit to find a place away from direct light to experience the fantastic clear night skies around here. Our nearest recommended location is at Webbers Post not 2 miles from here to the South West on the road up to Dunkery through Luccombe. A moonless night is best. www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/dark-skies

Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve

Credit: Adrian Cubitt

Cycling on Exmoor

There are over 350 miles of cycle routes throughout Exmoor as well as the Tarka Trail off road route which is perfect for families. http://www.devon.gov.uk/tarkatrail

A map of the various trails can be found on the South West Cycle Adventure web page on the following link http://map.1sw.org.uk/ There are both road trails and mountain bike trails within easy reach of Woodcombe.

We have secure storage, a hose for washing down the bikes and plenty of drying space on the verandas or there is the laundry with its dryer. Ordinance survey maps are on display in our information centre. Bicycle hire is available within 1.5 miles together with repair facilities etc.

Fishing on Exmoor

Fly fishing

  • Reservoirs Wimbleball 01398 371460 or Clatworthy 01984 624658 7 to 8 miles inland
  • Fishing lakes at Burton Springs near Bridgwater 01278 732135
  • River fishing brown trout, grayling and salmon  on the River Barle near Dulverton, River Exe
  • Exebridge near Dulverton 01398 323008 or River Lynn between Brendon and Lynmouth 08708 506506 (Watersmeet & Glenthorne fisheries)

Coarse Fishing

  • Lakes- Trinity water near Bridgwater 01278 450880
  • The Sedges Near Bridgwater 01278 445221
  • Summerhayes fishery Nr Bridgwater 01278 451043
  • Langford Lakes coarse fishery Langford Budville Nr Taunton 01823 400476
  • King Stanley Pond, Norton Fitzwarren Nr Taunton 01823 271194

Sea Fishing

Minehead has a variety of fishing opportunities both for high and low water beach angling and angling boats for charter. The fishing is seasonal with different offerings dependant on the season with some of the best cod fishing in the country in the autumn and winter season. There are several angling boats available for charter which can be found on http://www.mineheadharbour.co.uk/charter-boats/ for trips from 4 hours to all day 8 or 10 hour trips. The local fishing shop West Coast Tackle situated right on the quay can prove a good base for information and contacts. Crabbing in the harbour is also great fun and tackle can be picked up very cheaply at the tackle shop.

Horse Riding on Exmoor

  • Horner (3 miles West of Woodcombe) 01643 862463
  • Allerford (2 miles west of Woodcombe) Exmoor Riding  01643 862816
  • Knowle riding stables (2miles south of Dunster) 01643 841342
  • Brendon Manor Farm (Doone Valley 4 miles west of Porlock) 01598 741246

Food & Drink There is a marvellous choice of locally produced beef, lamb,cheeses,clotted cream, ciders and even wine. There are farmers markets in most towns and Minehead on Friday mornings in particular. Ask at the visitor centres or look at the website www.visit-exmoor.co.uk

Restaurants,Pubs and Café’s

You will note from the above that there are plenty to choose from. We are nervous of recommending any too strongly as circumstances do change but speak to us about where you are going and we will do our best to guide you. Those on short breaks may need to book in advance for the more exclusive/popular restaurants so we would mention.

  • The Cross Lane House about 3 miles up the road to Porlock on the corner as you reach Allerford 01643 863276
  • Reeves in Dunster 01643 821414
  • The Luttrell Arms in Dunster 01643 821555
  • Hathaways in Dunster 01643 821725
  • The Colbourne about 4 miles outside Porlock on the Lynton road 01643 862259 10% discount on weekdays if you take a card from our information room.
  • The Stag Head Inn in Dunster good reasonably priced pub food but need to book 01643 821229

Take Away Placed where we are of course takeaway food is a great option as it is only a five minute drive. We have an excellent local Fish, Chinese and Indian restaurants with takeaway service as well and the menus will be found in your accommodation together with a variety of other offers.