Exmoor moorland

Exmoor National Park was designated in recognition of the outstanding beauty, wildness and tranquillity of the moorlands which dominate its landscape. The moors and heaths are at the heart of the National Park; wide open areas, overlooking the whole of West Somerset, North Devon and the Bristol Channel coast.   While they appear to be wild untamed landscapes, they are in fact the result of thousands of years of management by people and their grazing animals.

What are Moorlands ?

Moorland is the name given to areas usually dominated by shrubs such as Bell Heather, Ling and Gorse or various rough grasses and sedges. On Exmoor Moorlands include upland heath type habitats as well as the often wetter and more peaty mires. They usually occur on the poorer, peaty soils on the higher parts of Exmoor.  Moorlands are usually unenclosed and offer great opportunities for recreation. Most of Exmoor's moorland is designated as "Access Land".
Moorland or heath landscape accounts for a quarter of the area of Exmoor National Park, 18,300 hectares of land lying between 305 m (1000 ft) and 519 m (1700 ft) above sea level. The central moorland lies largely within the parish of Exmoor, the former Royal Hunting Forest area, protected from Norman times until the 19th century. This is surrounded by a fringe of commons and coastal heaths each linked historically to the villages surrounding the moor.

Moorlands  -  an historic perspective

From a historic perspective the relatively low levels of ploughing over the moorlands has resulted in the survival of archaeological monuments from the earliest prehistoric periods. These form a rare and nationally significant resource. They include; Neolithic/early Bronze Age standing stones and stone settings, Bronze Age settlements (hut circles and enclosures), field systems, barrow groups and Iron Age hillforts and enclosures. More recently medieval farming has shaped the moorlands and there are many sites which illuminate the farming practices and economies at that time. More recently still the Parliamentary Inclosures and the Reclamation of The Royal Forest of Exmoor from the mid 19th century led to landscape scale changes. The last 200 years have seen a major reduction of the moorland area, as the heaths and bogs were converted to more agriculturally productive grassland and forestry.

Here are some upcoming events that have a moorland theme or take place on moorland. Or you can browse all events here


Spring Artists Workshop

Yarn Market Hotel, Dunster
26th Feb 2017 - 3rd Mar 2017
An artists workshop based in Dunster, with tuition by Lynda Appleby. You will be...
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Lynton & Barnstaple Railway - Local Residents Sunday

Woody Bay Station
19th Mar 2017 10:00am-4:00pm

Lynton & Barnstaple Railway - Mothers Day

Woody Bay Station
26th Mar 2017 10:00am

Family Nature Trail Break

Yarn Market Hotel Dunster
31st Mar 2017 - 1st Apr 2017

Two Exmoor Rivers and Two Exmoor Villages - a Guided Walk

Withypool car park GR 844 353
5th Apr 2017 10:30am-3:00pm

Exmoor CTS - Coastal Trial Series

Hunters Inn, Heddon Valley
8th Apr 2017 8:00am