Walking in Exmoor: Day one

Holnicote Estate, Somerset

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
The cottages are stone-rendered, distinctively limewashed in yellow ochre © Nigel Hester

The cottages are stone-rendered, distinctively limewashed in yellow ochre

Bossington shingle ridge © Nigel Hester

Bossington shingle ridge

Look for oak, sycamore, sweet chestnut and silver birch in Selworthy Woods © James Elliot

Look for oak, sycamore, sweet chestnut and silver birch in Selworthy Woods

Route overview

Part one of a two-day walk on the Holnicote Estate, tried and tested by environment and travel journalist, Mark Rowe, takes you north of Allerford, through the village of Selworthy and into Selworthy woods. You'll then head up to Selworthy Beacon before dropping steeply down to Bossington's pepple beach.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map of day one of Mark Rowe's two-day walk in Exmoor
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Allerford, grid ref: SS905468

  1. Start at Allerford and follow contour paths up to Selworthy church and signposts to Selworthy Beacon.

    Show/HideSelworthy village

    Selworthy village comprises seven houses, stone-rendered and distinctively limewashed in yellow ochre - this helps the sun drain moisture off the walls. They boast many charming features, such as wooden lintels, unusually high chimneys and bulbous walls that house a traditional oven for baking bread.

    The cottages are stone-rendered, distinctively limewashed in yellow ochre © Nigel Hester
  2. Head for Bossington Hill and drop down via the coast path and Hurlstone Point, to Bossington beach.

    Show/HideBossington beach

    This pepple beach is the centre of a amphitheatre of cliffs. A storm in 1996 breached the shingle ridge here and conventional wisdom suggested reinforcing the beach; instead, the Trust argued that, in the context of sea level rises and climate change, it made more sense to let the area go, allowing it to become saltmarsh. The result is a valuable habitat that attracts little egrets, lapwing and oystercatchers.

    Bossington shingle ridge © Nigel Hester
  3. Walk along the beach to cross the River Aller and return to Allerford via Bossington.

    Show/HideSelworthy Woods

    Selworthy Woods, above the church with its 14th century wagon roofs, features oak, sycamore, sweet chestnut and silver birch, where you should hear green woodpeckers drilling away. The woods are something of a curiosity. While they may look ancient, they were actually planted after 1815 by Thomas Dyke Acland, the estate owner, with a block being seeded to commemorate the birth of each of his eight children.

    Look for oak, sycamore, sweet chestnut and silver birch in Selworthy Woods © James Elliot

End: Allerford, grid ref: SS905468

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 8 miles (13km)
  • Time: 3 hours
  • OS Map: Exmoor Outdoor Leisure 9
  • Terrain:

    Relatively easy walking, some steady ascents and one steep descent. Some stiles and clear, waymarked or well-trodden paths through woodland and heathland. Were assuming youre comfortable with map reading and grid references, can use a compass and probably prefer in any case to put together your own walk, ad lib a bit, following a path or feature that looks worth nosing around, rather than stick rigidly to a route. Dogs welcome under close control. PLEASE NOTE: the map provided is intended as a rough guide, please take a map with you and wear sensible walking gear.

  • How to get here:

    By bus: Service 28, Taunton railway station, platform 2, to Minehead, half-hourly; service 39, Minehead to Selworthy, Allerford and Porlock, daily except Sundays

    By train: Taunton, 28 miles, then take bus service 28

    By car: off A39 Minehead to Porlock, 3 miles west of Minehead

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