Up on the Down
Somerset Life|November 2020
Up on the Down
Try this easy-to-follow Exmoor walk with SIMONE STANBROOK-BYRNE
SIMONE STANBROOK-BYRNE

Right in the heart of Exmoor, Exford is surrounded by fields tamed from moorland and is a good point from which to access the higher parts of the moor. The young River Exe passes through the village; the start of the walk strolls alongside its crystal waters. Pick a clear day and prepare for huge views on an easy-to-follow route – the paths and tracks are clear throughout so there should be no need for a compass.

There are good options on refreshment stops, though these are dependent on where we are with Coronavirus restrictions when you do the walk.

1 It is an incongruity of our language that ‘downs’, in the sense of terrain, are often very elevated areas – a feature wellillustrated on this walk. We start, however, at a gentle pace beside the youthful River Exe, which rises just over six miles away as the Exmoor crow flies.

From the car park in Exford, walk away from the village through the car park, passing the long, low Exmoor National Park Field Services building. Go through a wooden kissing gate and follow the path through a grassy area. In 120m go through a yellow-blobbed gate and continue on the path beyond, a pleasing riverside amble.

In 150m, pass through another gate to reach a low, three-way fingerpost beyond.

2 From here turn left, passing through a wooden kissing gate adjacent to a farm gate – you are heading towards Higher Combe on a rough, gently rising track. To the left is a recently laid hedge, a traditional management method, the ‘workings’ of which can be clearly seen here. From the horizontally laid branches vertical growth will spring, creating a dense barrier.

3 Follow the track for 350m, to reach a three-way fingerpost near a barn and collection of gates. From the post turn left, following the finger signed for ‘Lovers Lane’ to a stile beside a gate. Cross this then traverse the field, leaving the track and bearing left from the stile, heading uphill across the grass towards a helpful, yellow-topped wooden post in the middle of the field. From the post keep going uphill in the same line to reach an obvious gate in the top boundary. Make sure you get the right gate (not the one down to the right) – there’s a yellow marker on the one you need. Enjoy the views behind.

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November 2020