Before ever stepping foot in England, there were many coastlines I had heard of…the rugged, beautiful beaches of Cornwall, the imposing cliffs on Dover’s coast, the fun and quirky pier in Brighton. But I had never heard any mention of the spectacular Exmoor shores in southwest England. Hopefully I can help spread the word, for this stunning area boasts of something that most coastlines cannot: wild ponies.
It was really by chance that my family and I happened upon this beautiful shoreline. We were spending a few days in Exmoor just before moving into our new home. On one particular afternoon, we had enjoyed a lovely time at a charming cafe. Instead of driving back the way we came, we decided to take the long way home along the coast. And we are so glad we did.
Starting in Lynmouth, Devon our destination was Minehead, Somerset. Without stopping, this drive along the coast would normally take 30 to 40 minutes. But as we were so enjoying our day we decided to just take it easy and savour the beauty of the Exmoor coastline that enfolded us. To fully appreciate this magnificent scenery, we did what we should do more often…we stopped a few times along the way! This made our drive a little over an hours journey. But it was so worth the time we took for ourselves. Anywhere we saw a lay-by or a turn-off to a viewpoint we availed of the opportunity and went for a wee amble to further explore the arresting views before us. Everywhere you turned, the beautiful, rolling hills kept one mesmerised.
And at each stop, we were awarded with sweet ponies looking at us placidly, chewing their grass with not a care in the world. Let me tell you, there is something surreal and movie-like having such a view before you: the ocean, grassy hills and ponies just mere feet away.
I found the Exmoor ponies, as they are called, have a primitive look and truly did seem wild, but they are approachable and are well used to cameras and people. And although they roam wild on the moors, they are rounded up once a year and given a wee check up. If you don’t just want to view them, but want to ride an Exmoor pony for yourself, you can visit the Exmoor Pony Centre and for £45 you can have 3 hours of grooming, tacking and riding one.* These treks go on till end of October and early booking is advised.
If you want to read a fun, fictional series about them, do check out Katy’s Exmoor Ponies by Victoria Eveleigh (found on Amazon US or UK…the first one in the series is Katy’s Wild Foal). And better yet, bring the books with you on a trip to Exmoor. These sweet natured ponies can be found roaming other parts of Exmoor as well. And the wild beauty of Exmoor itself, well, that is for another day’s journey.
And you? Do you have a love for horses or beautiful beaches or both? Would you fancy a wee trip to see these ponies? Would love to hear from you!
*prices applicable for 2015