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Driving Across Exmoor

We may live in a world of traffic bulletins, delays, jams, roadworks. But not on Exmoor!  Here, a stately drive along moorland roads is still a pleasure as this photo of the morning rush hour outside Oldways End reveals. Just drive at a nice leisurely place - but if you're planning on pulling over to soak up every stunning rural view and vista as you go, be prepared for plenty of stops! 

In all honesty, your biggest travel problem will come not from road vehicles but from animals and river crossings.



A typical Exmoor Ford at Challacombe in North Devon

There are plenty of these on Exmoor including this one at Challacombe. You'll encounter this if you are driving the back road from Bratton Fleming to Challacombe, presumably to visit the excellent Black Venus pub. The rules for safe ford crossings are:

1. Check the depth - there's usually a depth indicator but if the river is in spate and you're not driving a 4WD vehicle it might be best to reset the Sat Nav and go the long war around. (it'll be a nice drive).

2. Cross very slowly. Apart from the fact that your bow waves will annoy the ducks, you don't have to be going very fast before the build-up of water on your radiator grid eventually penetrates your engine. 5.mph should suffice. 

3. After every successful crossing - check your breaks. They should be OK but don't wait until you need them before finding out that you have a problem.


Moorland Animals: Exmoor Ponies


Exmoor Ponies. Photo: Crown Cottage, Exford

It's a common excuse in these parts when late for anything to blame deer, sheep, ponies, pheasants blocking the road. Pheasants are irritatingly stupid and will try to sell you a dummy, going one way and then the other as you approach. If you do run one down, you can't even stop and pick it up for the oven - that's illegal. However, the next vehicle on the scene is allowed to collect and take it home. It's just one of those country rules.

Sheep and ponies rarely get hit by vehicles as they usually have time to stop. Just don't assume they will get out of your way. They think they own the road and you only drive it with their permission. So, just slow down and stop - use it as a chance for a quick photoshoot  - until they slowly amble off the road.  The animal that tends to cause the most damage is a deer. They are big and heavy as well as being surprisingly resilient and in the event of a collision, the car usually comes off worse - running away leaving you with an expensive dent to mend.

So, while driving on Exmoor is a pleasure - there is really no need to rush. Take your time and savour the drive.


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