Water On Exmoor

Exmoor can be very wet! Situated close to the coast of North Devon and Somerset, the high moor causes the warm, damp air from the Atlantic to rise, cool and drop its moisture. Annual precipitation i.e. rain, snow, sleet, on the Chains (487m, 1600 ft) is over 2000 mm compared with 800 mm to the east of the moor. Generally the months between May and September are much drier than the rest of the year.

Some of this rain soaks into the ground, a small proportion is trapped in reservoirs, about a quarter evaporates into the atmosphere and the rest, known as run-off, flows into the rivers and streams and so back to the sea. There are about (483 km) 300 miles of named rivers on Exmoor.

Over centuries people and animals have adapted to the wet climate of the moor. Cattle and sheep have been bred to withstand the cold and wet of an Exmoor winter. The hardy Exmoor pony, which has lived on the high moorland longer than humans, has developed a special coat. An undercoat of short wool type hair is topped by a longer greasy coat. This repels the rain which simply runs off. Whorls of hair strategically placed help to direct water away from sensitive parts of the body. The two layered coat retains body heat while the snow lies on the pony's back for days.


Natural England