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Spring on Exmoor

Spring on Exmoor

As the weather begins to warm Exmoor bursts into life.

Look out for ‘mad March hares’ this is actually courting behaviour involving boxing with the unreceptive females fending off passionate males. Hares are much longer-limbed and swifter than rabbits and have characteristic black ear tips. They use their powerful hind legs to escape predators by outrunning their enemies and have been known to reach speeds of 72kph (45mph). Introduced by the Romans, hares have declined due to changes in farming practices but look out for them on farmland and moorland areas on Exmoor.

This is an exciting time of the year when our summer visitors return from the south to breed. They spend summer here and then they, and their new young, return south in autumn. The chiffchaff is one of the earliest migrants to arrive on Exmoor in March so listen for its characteristic call. Swallows, martins and swifts can all be seen soaring in the sky and other migrants to look out for include warblers, flycatchers, whinchats, wheatears, tree pipits, nightjars and the charismatic cuckoo.

Bluebells are a timeless example of the antiquity of our ancient woods. The best time to see them is in late April and May.  They prefer moist, shady and stable conditions so woodlands are ideal but in westerly parts of Britain such as Exmoor they can be found in all sorts of habitats such as hedgerows or bracken slopes. Some estimates suggest the UK has up to half of the world's total bluebell population.

May sees the peak of birdsong as our resident blackbirds, robins, song thrushes, and wrens who sing all year round are joined by an influx of warblers and migrants to give rise to the dawn chorus. It is only ever the male birds which sing (females may call, and make alarm calls, but never sing) and they do it for two main reasons: firstly to establish and defend a territory and secondly to attract a mate.


Spring Highlights on Exmoor

Moonrise from Heddon's Mouth Jon Spurr

Stargazing

While the nights are still long but the evenings are getting warmer Spring is a great time for stargazing. Visit the Exmoor Stargazers website to get some great ideas about where to go and what to look out for!

Exmoor Beech leaves

Exmoor Beech trees in leaf

Exmoor's Beech trees turn a lovely colour in Spring. Find out more about where to enjoy Exmoor's woodland here:

Cuckoo

Adults arrive in late March or April and depart in July or August, with young birds leaving a month or so later. Record your Wildlife sightings here:


Spring Walks on Exmoor

Spring is a great time for walking on Exmoor, here are some of our favourites:

Burridge Woods

Burridge Woods is a 22 hectare broadleaf woodland situated on a steep hillside above the River Barle near Dulverton. Full details here:

Hawkcombe Woods

Hawkcombe Wood is made up of mostly sessile oak trees with smaller amounts of ash, beech, birch and hazel. Look out for lichens, woodland birds, ancient pollarded trees, butterflies, industrial archaeology. Full details here:

Watersmeet and the Cleeves

This 5 mile (8km) walk provides spectacular views over a deep, wooded valley to Lynmouth, the Bristol Channel to Wales. Down in the valley the route follows tumbling, rock-strewn rivers with mossy rocks, ferns and rare plants. Full details here:

See our walking map for more suggested walking routes


Explore Exmoor Spring Images


Here are some upcoming Spring events on Exmoor. Or you can browse all events here

Greencombe Garden opening
Until end of July

Wildflower trail
Until Sunday 3rd June

Molland Moor Cuckoos
Saturday 19th May 10:00am-12:00pm

Ralegh's Cross Long Walk
Sunday 20th May 9:45am-3:45pm

Historic Buildings of Bossington and Lynch
Tuesday 22nd May 11:00am-1:00pm

Medieval life on Ley Hill, a walk with archaeologists to a deserted medieval hamlet
Wednesday 23rd May 10:30am-12:30pm

Lynmouth Boat Trip
Friday 25th May 3:30pm-5:00pm

Nettlecombe Church Fete
Saturday 26th May 2:30pm

Bulworthy Project Barbecue Cafe
Saturday 26th May 6:00pm-9:00pm

Discover Exmoor's Bog Plants
Tuesday 29th May 10:00am-3:00pm

Combe Martin Seashore Safari
Tuesday 29th May 11:30am-1:30pm

The Nutcombe Bottom Big Adventure
Wednesday 30th May 10:00am-4:00pm


Spring on Exmoor,  recording made by Martin Prothero for the Lynmouth Pavilion Project and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (best enjoyed through headphones). Click here to listen to all