National Trust acquires gateway to Lorna Doone’s Exmoor

A ford in the Lorna Doone Valley

We're now looking after the Lorna Doone Farm and nearby Cloud Farm Campsite situated in the heart of the wild Exmoor coastal landscape, which inspired the much-loved book by RD Blackmore.

Lorna Doone and Cloud Farm Campsite

We're now looking after these two siites as the gateway to Lorna Doone’s inspiring Exmoor landscape and the ambition is that this will encourage more people to invest in their wellbeing, benefit from spending time in the outdoors, noticing nature and spotting some of the wildlife that we care for in the area such as beavers, water voles and some of the UK’s rarest butterflies.

The two sites include a tea-room, holiday accommodation, campsite, a shop, car park and public toilets.The car park is now open and National Trust members can park for free, whilst other elements have been undergoing refurbishment ready to open in June, and the campsite will be open from 4 July. By protecting and caring for this place, people and nature can thrive, ensuring everyone benefits. 
 
The setting is hugely popular for walking, riding and cycling and is well connected by public rights of way to other National Trust places including Watersmeet, a 5-mile walk along the East Lyn river (which features in the novel). It also links to the Coleridge Way which takes you through the Exmoor landscape a far as the National Trust’s Coleridge Cottage. 

Lorna Doone locations

For those familar with the novel by RD Blackmore his descriptions of the Exmoor landscape really bring the area to life;

" a deep green valley, carved from out the mountains in a perfect oval…wooded hills swept up to the sky-line…a little river glided out from underground with a soft dark babble, unawares of daylight; then growing brighter, lapsed away, and fell into the valley. "
- RD Blackmore

There’s lots of historical interest, Badgworthy, the fictional home of the Doones is within an easy walk from the car park at Lorna Doone. It is a now a ruined settlement (thought to date from the twelfth-century) but in the book it was where the Doone stone huts were ‘built on the banks of this river.’ There’s also the seventeeth-century stone bridge over the river outside the tea-room in Malmsmead which is mentioned in the book. 

There’s plenty to be seen on a walk through the valley that matches the settings in the book and we are hoping that by making this beautiful spot more accessible to more people, we can encourage more people to connect with nature. 

Countryside

The countryside in and around the Lorna Doone valley is a great place for seeing some of the wildlife. There’s red deer at Watersmeet, peregrines, ancient oaks and further afield on the Holnicote Estate, beavers and water voles which have recently been reintroduced. Britain’s wildlife is in trouble with over 50% of species in decline and we want to help reverse the decline in wildlife on land in our care.

" It’s really exciting to be able to look after this special place just after the 150th anniversary of the book, ensuring its future for everyone to enjoy. It will be great that visitors can stay in this landscape and get active in the outdoors by walking along the river, up on the moor or down to the sea along the South West Coast Path. By diversifying our income on this part of Exmoor we can increase the funds we spend improving access, creating amazing outdoor experiences and space for nature to thrive. "
- Rob Joules

Every penny donated or spent onsite will be reinvested on our land on the Exmoor Coast helping people and nature thrive