Exmoor in January

January is the ‘meanest’ month  and I can recommend outwitting the dark days and bad weather by planning a trip to Exmoor, as did I last week.  Parking up the car for two days, log fires, a long lazy lie-in in a sumptuous room, good company, nourishing food with no cooking and washing up and very little mobile access……….what a treat to start 2016.  Actually I came down to Exford on the previous day.  A friend over from Crete had not visited the area for some years so we planned an early Carvery lunch at The White Horse Inn then up to Cloutsham.   I promised him red deer and Exmoor ponies and knew to find them here.  With our binoculars we found a large herd of deer, mostly hinds and last year’s juveniles grazing the lower reaches of Dunkery.  It was a very wet day and we had already come to Exmoor through several floods on the A39 en route so were happy to view from near the car.  We returned home following the B3224 from Exford in daylight as this is much the more scenic route.

Returning to the White Horse Inn the following day for my two day stay I had no need to go further than the village for my bird-watching.  I would have liked to have driven down Drapers Way, a right turn between Wheddon Cross and Luckwell Bridge which goes way down to Snowdrop Valley.  However, with all the rainfall and it being a very narrow steep road I feared getting stuck.  At the end of this month that road will be closed to the general public with designated buses taking them from Wheddon Cross to view the flowers.  Even in this least favourable of months there is the pleasure of shortly seeing the drifts of delicate Snowdrops and there are masses elsewhere on Exmoor and very close to the hotel.  Along the roadside at Luckwell Bridge, on the river-bank walk from the Exford village car park to Court Farm bridge and along the roadside from the Exford park towards Edgcott.   Booklets of circular walks to take from the village are available from the hotel.  On my second day it rained again so I took a short walk through Edgcott and beyond and saw Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Coal Tits, Long Tailed Tits and Pheasant all within a  half mile.  I am in anticipation of my next visit and hope to see the Mistle Thrush which is resident to Exford and has eluded me for some time now.

Sherryl Woods …………………….13 January 2016

Written by Peter