WILD IDEAS FOR LOW-COST FAMILY FUN ON EXMOOR THIS EASTER
THE EASTER HOLIDAYS are looming, but the good news is that fun with the kids doesn't have to cost the earth. As always some of the best things in life are free, so here's a few ideas from Exmoor National Park to help you keep the kids entertained this Easter, without breaking the bank.
Help spot wildlife. From otters and March hares, to returning migratory birds like the chiffchaff and swift, spring on Exmoor gives way to some extraordinary wildlife. Visitors can help research these seasonal changes by recording what they see online at:www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/exmoor-wildwatch. You can see wildlife almost anywhere on Exmoor, but for starters try Watersmeet, Brendon Common, Porlock Marsh, Tarr Steps or Wimbleball Lake. For more tips and places to go, pick up a Wildlife Pocket Guide, available free from National Park Centres.
Play pooh-sticks. On Exmoor you're never far from running water. So you don't have to stray far to find a quaint footbridge in a scenic spot - the ideal setting for this time-old game. Try the medieval stone Gallox bridge that crosses the river Avill in Dunster, follow the river Barle through Dulverton, or for more ideas pick up a Rivers and Streams Pocket Guide, available free from National Park Centres.
Try stargazing. Exmoor's night skies are some of the darkest in the world, thanks to its official status as a protected Dark Skies Reserve. And the cool crisp night skies often seen in spring create the perfect conditions. So why not wrap up warm and take the kids on a starry adventure? Good spots are Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake. For more tips see pick up a Dark Skies Pocket Guide, available free from National Park Centres.
Hug England’s tallest tree. Exmoor's 9,375 hectares of woodland provide ample opportunity to connect with nature. Head to Nuttcombe bottom, near Dunster, to track down a record-breaking Douglas Fir that has gone down in history as England’s Tallest Tree and look up in wonder at these impressive giants. Or for more ideas pick up a Woodland Pocket Guide, available free from National Park Centres.
Summit Exmoor's highest point. With amazing views overlooking Devon and Somerset and across to Wales, and accessible routes, Dunkery Beacon is a great location for young and old to experience the exhilaration of reaching a peak. Park at Dunkery Gate car park to follow the footpath 0.6 miles to the top, marked by a large cairn and plaque. A lovely picnic spot if weather allows.
Explore ancient sites. Head out onto the open moorland for a chance to spot one of Exmoor's many prehistoric standing stones. These often go unnoticed, but are actually indications of ancient rituals or practices dating back thousands of years. Check online atwww.exmoorher.co.uk/neolithic to help you find them. Alternatively there is a National Park guided walk taking place on North Hill at 10:30am on Wednesday 28th March, taking in the landscape and heritage of the area. Free but booking essential on 01598 752509.
Go rockpooling. Our coast, with its rocky beaches and spectacular tides, has some brilliant spots for rockpooling. Pick up a Seashore Pocket Guide, available free from National Park Centres, for an identification chart showing all the creatures you might see. The beaches at Lynmouth and Bossington are ideal spots, or you can join an expert from Combe Martin Museum for a Seashore Safari from 2-4pm on Tuesday 3rd and 13th April - £2 per child, no need to book. www.combemartinmuseum.co.uk
Join a Big Adventure Day. Join Exmoor National Park leaders at Haddon Hill on Wednesday 4th April from 10am until 4pm and experience the stunning views and open skies of Exmoor’s moorland, with family games and activities throughout the day. Free and no need to book, but donations to Caremoor welcome. www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/big-adventures-and-family-events
Go crabbing. This favourite pastime has probably delighted children for centuries and Exmoor has no shortage of beautiful coastline on which to give it a try. Porlock Weir, with its 15th century harbour and stone jetty, along with pub and cafe gallery, has all you need to enjoy this simple pleasure. Or join a National Park leader on Friday 6th April at 10:30am - 12:30pm, for a gentle guided walk to discover the sights and heritage of Porlock Bay. Booking essential through Porlock Visitor Centre. www.porlock.co.uk
See a wild pony. Exmoor's ponies are free-roaming and can usually be found on any areas of high moorland, although Winsford Hill, Porlock Hill and Molland Moor are particularly good places to look. For a more hands on experience, the Exmoor Pony Centre has an activity day from 11am-3pm on Sunday 8th April, with pony rides (minimum age 4 and a 12 stone weight limit), pony grooming, crafts, games and refreshments. No need to book, small charges for individual activities. www.moorlandmousietrust.org.uk
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A photo from one of Exmoor National Park’s Big Adventure Days at Haddon Hill: https://www.flickr.com/photos/exmoornp/15606903845/in/album-72157648517253750/
About Exmoor National Park Authority
First designated in 1954, Exmoor National Park contains an amazing variety of landscapes within its 267 square miles – stunning coast, moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland and more than 800 miles of rights of way to enjoy. Exmoor National Park Authority works in partnership with the community, local councils, businesses and other organisations to look after the National Park and promote its conservation and enjoyment. Visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk for more information.
Exmoor National Park is one of 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom and in 2011 was designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve.
Published: 22 March 2018
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