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Explore Holnicote Estate

Two walkers standing next to a rock formation at Dunkery Beacon on the Holnicote Estate
Walkers on Dunkery Beacon, Exmoor's highest point | © National Trust Images/John Millar

With everything from wild rugged moorland and shingle beaches to ancient woodland and charming villages, Holnicote Estate’s contrasting landscape has something for everyone. Its 150 miles of footpaths and bridleways make it fantastic for walking, horse riding and cycling, while spots like Webber’s Post give fantastic views across the estate as well as of the resident red deer during rutting season.

Dunkery Beacon

Dunkery Beacon is the highest point on Exmoor. On a clear day it has stunning views across to the Bristol Channel and Wales as well as Exmoor and even Dartmoor. It’s a great place not only for spotting wildlife – keep an eye out for deer, skylarks and Exmoor ponies – but also stargazing. It’s part of the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe, which means its fantastic starry skies are protected for science and education but, more importantly, for everyone to enjoy.

Look out for the cairn – a manmade stack of stones – on top of the Bronze Age burial mound. Made of stone and mortar, this structure commemorates the moment when part of Dunkery Hill was gifted to the National Trust in 1935.

A mountain biker on a track surrounded by trees on the Holnicote estate
Mountain biking on the Holnicote estate, Somerset | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Webber’s Post

Webber’s Post looks out across to Horner Woods and has a network of paths exploring the estate’s more remote parts, including an easy-access trail. There are all sorts of wildlife on the moors throughout the year, such as red deer, buzzards and, if you’re lucky, the rare heath fritillary butterfly.

Selworthy village

The village of Selworthy is worth a visit for its pretty thatched cottages and views across the vale, which can be enjoyed over a cream tea. Nearby Selworthy Woods is a starting point for many walks and orienteering trail.

Bossington Beach

Bossington is a charming seaside hamlet that's home to traditional Exmoor cob and thatched cottages with distinctive tall chimneys. Old lime kilns and Second World War defences line the shore of its pebble beach, which is a great place to spot curlews, shelducks and little egrets as they make the most of the tidal pools. It’s worth walking to Hurlstone Point for the views and possible porpoise sightings.

Horner Wood

A National Nature Reserve, Horner Wood’s ancient oak trees are home to some of the country’s richest lichens, moss and bats. The woods can be explored by following waymarked routes or branching out on your own. Keep an eye out for pink arrows, which show one of the new waymarked walks around the estate – the other two start at Selworthy and Bossington.

A herd of red deer at Lyme Park
A herd of red deer at Holnicote estate, Somerset | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Red deer on the Holnicote Estate

Holnicote Estate is home to more than 300 red deer, who generally live on the moorland and grassland of the hills and uplands. The best places to see and hear them are from Webber's Post and Cloutsham Fields.

They’re the largest species of deer so their size makes them easy to spot, as does their rusty red-brown hair and, in the summer, the stags grow an impressive set of antlers. The older the stag, the larger the antlers and the more branches they have.

Villages around the Holnicote Estate

As well as Selworthy and Bossington, Holnicote Estate holds many villages and hamlets worth visiting. Allerford is recognisable from the unusual round chimneys on its cottages and is home to the 15th-century packhorse bridge and one of the few working forges left in the country.

Luccombe boasts pretty thatched cottages and, for the oldest building on the estate, head to Blackford and its circular Norman-style dovecote. Tivington is another tranquil hamlet of scattered farms and cottages, while Cloutsham Farm is one of 14 farms of the estate and has a 19th-century Swiss-chalet-style farmhouse. Then at Stoke Pero, its tiny church is the highest church on Exmoor, at 300 metres above sea level.

The west front of Montacute house as the sun begins to set behind it

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The view from Dunkery Hill in Somerset, showing rolling hills and fields all the way to the coast on the horizon

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