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Things to do in Lorna Doone Valley

Visitors enjoy the scenery from the garden at the Buttery Café, Lorna Doone Valley
Visitors enjoy the scenery at the Buttery Café, Lorna Doone Valley | © Mark Johnson

Explore the Doone Valley in Exmoor, made famous by RD Blackmore in his novel Lorna Doone, which was set here. Readers of the novel will be familiar with some of the locations in the book and it’s also home to a wide variety of wildlife.

Visit Badgworthy Water

The well known 'Doone village' is strangely beautiful, set in a valley scattered with patches of scree. There are traces of stone walls thought to be from the 12th century. These were once the homes of a remote farming community living on the edge of Exmoor. Today these medieval houses and field terraces are some of the best preserved of this type in south-west England.

See Malmsmead Bridge

This picturesque bridge over the river dates from the 17th century and the ford is even older.

Red doe deer
Red doe deer at Lorna Doone Valley | © National Trust Images/John Malley

Spot wildlife in the Lorna Doone Valley

Red deer

These elusive creatures live in the valley all year round, but you're most likely to spot one early in the morning or late in the evening.

If you want to improve your chances even more, come and visit during October and early November, when the deer are rutting. At this time you'll hear the bucks (males) calling up and down the valley to attract the females to their rutting stands.

Their browsing habits affect tree survival and growth and so alter the woodland ecosystem, which in turn affects thousands of other species.


Exmoor is a stronghold for some of Britain's rarest fritillary butterflies, including the high brown fritillary. From April look out for peacocks, red admirals and small tortoiseshells when you're walking through the valley.

Exmoor ponies roaming on the moorland of Holnicote Estate, Somerset
Exmoor ponies roaming the moorland | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Exmoor ponies

These ponies are a common site on Exmoor. Foals are born in the spring and early summer and spend the summer running with their mothers, known as dams, and building up a store of fat to see them through the hard winter ahead.


With such a mix of habitats, the valley is home to many birds including the skylark, stonechat and willow warbler. Their song fills the Exmoor woods on a summer's day.

A view of the village of Malmsmead from a bridge across water in Lorna Doone Valley, Devon

Discover more at the Lorne Doone Valley

Find out how to get to Lorna Doone Valley, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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