Exmoor Safari Trips

We have had some fantastic Exmoor Safaris over the past few weeks with guest from Holland and as far afield as Colombia and enjoying our safaris.

The weather has been very clear with the Exmoor Red deer calves playing on the moor many within 20 minutes of leaving our base the The Exmoor White Horse Inn at Exford.

The Exmoor ponies and foals are looking fantastic and many highland cows and calves chewing their cud under the trees by the roadside with little care.

There are the early signs of heather beginning to sprout and in a few weeks the moor with be alive with a rich carpet of color.

Some delightful sights – Eddie

    Today’s Safari – Wednesday 21st of May

    A lovely afternoon for a safari trip. 

    Exmoor is looking at its best. The hedges and trees look fantastic with bursting bright leaves, Summer is here.

    Swallows and Dippers at Pool Bridge, Grey Wagtails at Clousham Splash.

    The Highland cows and calves were lying in the middle of the road without a care for us and no impending rush to move.

    We came across Exmoor Ponies and their foals lying on the top of the hill in the afternoon sun.

    We were lucky enough to see not one but three cuckoos- it was a great sight to see.

    A very enjoyable trip once again. – Eddie

      Todays Safari -Wednesday the 7th of April

      As I drove to Exford for the Safari yesterday morning, low cloud and rain were a part of the weather pattern visible ahead of me, and I must admit that I prayed for clear views! I did not know how good the afternoon would be. The guests were a lovely Dutch family with three children; their joy at being out together in the Exmoor scenery was infectious, and reminded me of earlier times in the life of my own family. ‘What would you like to see?’ I asked. After some excited chatter in Dutch (which I could not follow) the answer came ‘Wildlife’. Of course I explained that Exmoor wildlife really is wild, so is not always cooperative with Safari drivers, but that it helps a lot to know where to look!

      We looked first over Hurdle Down, a favorite spot for red deer, but the somehow alien sight of a conservation work party was visible there so I decided to look elsewhere.  However, the eldest child of the family spotted something on Almsworthy Common  above the work party, so out came the binoculars and the first sighting of eight red deer was confirmed. A good start. Later we found a herd of about twenty red deer much closer and easier to see, as well as the semi-wild Exmoor ponies and highland cattle with calves, always a cute subject for a photo.

      In the next couple of hours we used unfenced single-track roads, sometimes so steep that the family had seen nothing like it, and visited viewpoints, Bronze and Iron Age features, an eighteenth century mill, a centuries-old packhorse bridge, amazing scenery, ancient  oak woods  and a remote 12th. C Church, the highest Church building on Exmoor. We crossed a barren moorland driving off-road, a rather bumpy, splashing experience which delighted the children. Local  history, geology and land use, farm traditions and mining all came up naturally in conversation as we travelled together; there were one or two showers, but they did not matter. No-one wanted to leave when we got back to the Exmoor White Horse, so I took out my maps and answered questions about the best walks for a family, over a drink in the bar. An excellent afternoon, all round.

      Richard

        Today’s Safari – Tuesday the 15th of April

        The Exmoor Safari has been having some fantastic trip recently, seeing large herds of the Exmoor red deer, new born Exmoor Pony foals and newborn highland calves on the moor.

        Today we counted over two hundred red deer on the moor.

        The weather has been very good, a perfect time to join us and explore wonderful Exmoor. – Eddie

          Today’s Safari – Wednesday 9th of April

          A very pleasant afternoon trip with very clear visibility, at first we did not see much a reminder that if the wildlife on Exmoor chooses to hide from us it can do so very well.

          As our journey progressed things got better seeing two herds of about 50 deer in each.

          Newborn lambs playing in the late afternoon sun and new spring grass.

          New arrival to the moor with Swallows, Stonechat and Wheatear birds, a very enjoyable trip once again. – Eddie

            Todays Safari April 4th

            A very nice trip with good weather and light.

            We viewed a herd of 50+ Red deer as we were driving over the moor. With stunning views over the landscape and breath taking Exmoor scenery We viewed a fine bunch of four stags and some hinds and lots of newborn lambs on the moor.

            A very relaxed and enjoyable trip – Eddie

              Friday 28th of March- Todays Safari

              The weather was very mixed with sun, rain, hail and fog that led to today’s safari being delayed to the afternoon, with a little re schedule  we set off on the safari in the late afternoon, there were pockets of sunshine from Porlock to Dunster.

              We had to moor to ourselves and in the whole 25 mile trip we only met one tractor.

              The wild life were very scattered but sighting of highland cattle and the Exmoor Ponies grazing on the open moor and wild Red deer rewarded us, the moor coming to life after a very wet winter.

              It was very nice to be out again, the beginning of a busy spring and summer to come.

              Eddie

               

                Exmoor Safari – Rutting Season is Here….

                With a what seemed like a slow start to the rutting season there were a number of fine days to view the spectacular displays of supremacy with the boisterous roar of stags on Exmoor, heavy fog disappointed some Exmoor Safari goers but in true Exmoor style once the fog lifted there was many fine beast to be seen and some of the largest stags were proudly defending their herds of hinds.

                It could easily be said that autumn is the best time of year to see traditional fayre custom and celebration, autumn is by far the busiest time for festivals and jollifications on Exmoor.

                Lovers of the great outdoors can join one of our guided walks with our knowledgeable guide Richard or grab a map and directions and explore Exmoor at its best, why not take a packed lunch and wander the eastern margins of the region during the Quantock fringes walking festival.

                Foodies are spoiled for choice between october’s Exmoor food festival and Porlock food fayre, while apples – the West Country’s fruit of choice – are celebrated in all their glory, from chutney to cider, at Apple Days held at such delightful locations as Carhampton and Cleeve Abbey near Watchet.

                Add the colourful displays of Dulverton Carnival, spooky Halloween business at Dunster Castle, the stirring music always on offer at the two moors festival – it’s easy to see why autumn is many people’s favourite season on Exmoor.

                  Wednesday’s Safari 26th June

                  Before I was due to start, two familiar faces greeted me: sitting at a riverside table outside the Hotel, an elderly couple from South Devon had returned for another Safari. Aged 90 and 91, they said that they has enjoyed their Safari in November so much that they were back for another, this time in better weather. Indeed the weather was fine and sunny, with every prospect of remaining so.

                  I made sure that this elderly lady sat beside me in the front because of her limited mobility; her husband sat behind together with another English couple, and a couple from Holland at the back. I started southwards for a change, hoping to get close to an Exmoor pony herd I had passed earlier; we saw the herd, plus bronze age burial mounds and amazing views to the south and Dartmoor before striking north to Symonsbath, pausing to admire the view above Cornham Brake, a special favourite. Some off-road driving at Malmsmead Hill followed, with plenty of cattle and ponies about but no deer yet, so through the ford at Malmsmead we went, over Robber’s Bridge, up to the A39 and immediately south on a deer search. Within the next hour we saw three herds of red deer plus birds of prey, highland cattle, an Iron Age settlement and some wonderful scenery, some of it on roads steep and narrow prompting the frequently heard comment ‘I’m glad you’re driving’.

                   

                  I was dry from answering questions on our arrival back at the Exmoor White Horse Inn, a pint of Exmoor Ale soon sorted that out as our guests expressed their great satisfaction with the afternoon.

                   

                  Richard

                    Today’s Safari – Monday 17th June

                     

                    A brilliant late afternoon trip with very clear visibility, at first we did not see much a reminder that if the wildlife on Exmoor chooses to hide from us it can do so very well.

                    As our journey progressed things got better seeing new born deer calves playing in the very early evening sun light and some highland calves walking down the middle of the road like two teddy bears.

                    We stopped off for guest to pick some of the rather abundant cotton grass with the common young skylarks and meadow pipits taking early flight rather cautiously.

                      Todays Safari-Monday the 10th June

                      Monday’s afternoon Safari was for both Dutch and English visitors. ‘What do you hope to see this afternoon?’ I asked. ‘Whatever you can show us, deer would be great’ was the answer, as it often is. So, we set off with that agenda, and pray that the famous red deer are not hiding today.

                      A favourite place to see them is Almsworthy Common by Hurdle Down: on the way, I stop to show some points of archaeological interest, then lift a few stones from the stream at Chetsford Water to show my guests various larvae, including dragonfly larvae underneath.

                      Exmoor’s wildlife is not all highly visible, with hooves and antlers, and my guests were delighted with this unexpected little extra.

                      The weather held clear and sunny giving wonderful vistas over Exmoor, we did find the red deer (and helped a farmer locate his Highland cattle) and all enjoyed a drive full of beauty and variety. It was a great afternoon. The Dutchman said that he and his wife had been touring southern England, had loved the peace of Exmoor and the fact that someone else was driving and that it had been the best thing they had done on their holiday so far. That’s good enough for me.

                       

                      Richard

                        Todays Safari May 13th

                        We have had some fantastic safaris in the last week with very clear viability and lots of Exmoor wild red deer on show.

                        We spent time today just parked up watching a herd of a dozen Exmoor pony mares with their foals playing in the heather.

                        We were also more than lucky with our next sighting of a very rare bird on Exmoor.

                        Exmoor does indeed boast a wide range of birds. Meadow Pipit and Skylark are common. Red Grouse are feared to be near extinct but there have been a few sightings in the vicinity of Dunkery. During the summer the moorland erupts with Stonechat, Tree Pipit, Whinchat, Wheatear, Cuckoo and Lapwing being among the species that breed. The Ring Ouzel has become increasingly rare but the Dartford Warbler is no longer an unusual sight.

                        There are a good number of raptors with Hobby and Merlin breeding on the moor as well as the Buzzards, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks.

                        The broad leaved woodland supports a greater diversity of birdlife with all three woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Tawny Owl, Buzzard, tits and finches all resident.

                        The conifers are not without their share. Flocks of tits and Goldcrests are common. Redpoll and Siskin are also present.

                        The short grass in grazed fields is attractive to waders. Groups of Curlew, Lapwing and Golden Plover are common.

                        There are three reservoirs and many significant rivers with numerous tributaries due to the high rainfall on Exmoor.

                        Along the rivers there are respectable populations of Dipper, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. Common Sandpipers, Green Sandpipers and Sand Martins appear along the river edges.

                        The largest reservoir is Wimbleball which also supports the greatest number of bird species. In winter, duck are present depending on the weather and regularly include Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goosander and Goldeneye.

                        Waders are rare but Green, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Greenshank, Spotted Ringed Plover have been seen on passage. Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Redshank are regular visitors. Around the lake are breeding habitats for Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Raven and Willow Tit.

                        The other reservoirs are smaller and do not boast such a wide range of species. Nutscale has Scaup, Pochard and Goosander. The surrounding area is home to Buzzard, Raven, Redstart, Grey Wagtail, Dipper and Cuckoo as well as commoner birds.

                        Eddie armed with his trusty book for those more unusual birds was surprise to see a Siberian Stone chat, we believe that it was blown off course by the very strong east winds. A first for our safari trip to see one of those.

                          Todays Exmoor Safari Trip 3rd May

                          With a cloudy start to the trip we set off from The Exmoor White Horse Inn with the moor looking like it was well covered in cloud.

                          We drove a short distance from our starting point and the cloud lifted enough for us to see over 100 wild Exmoor Red deer, plus only a short distance highland cattle grazing enjoying a sedate start to the day and Exmoor pony mares in smaller groups, probably with foals nearby resting.

                           

                          My passengers were from New South Wales and had been over for three weeks and said that the safari had been the highlight of their holiday.

                            Todays Safari 27th April

                            Today was brilliant weather, we could see for miles with spectacular panoramic views of the moor, but the wildlife on the moor was to start with difficult to find.   As we drove on we were rewarded with a view of new born highland calves on the side of the road.

                            Skylarks were singing enjoying the summer like weather.  It was a very pleasant day to be on the moor. Driving on to Nutscale water a large herd of wild Exmoor red deer were found grazing on the side of the hill,  and as we meandered on we were rewarded with more deer and Exmoor ponies grazing and enjoying the weather near to to road.

                            Once again a very pleasing safari trip.

                              Todays Safari Sunday 21st April

                              The weather was cloudy and cold but we soon found three separate herds of the wild Exmoor red deer about fifteen in each herd within about three miles from The Exmoor White Horse Inn.

                              As we meandered over the moor we came across a heron feeding from a pool on the moor and also several wild Exmoor ponies.

                              Driving on we found several more herds of wild red deer in total about one hundred, a very rewarding safari trip with lots of seasonal signs of wildlife on the moor.

                                Exmoor Safari- Todays Safari 2nd April 2013

                                Finally the weather is bright and sunny a very nice afternoon for a drive around Exmoor.

                                We saw several herds of the wild Exmoor red deer, one herd of 25 hinds and one stag crossed the road in front of the safari landrover, we also saw a few very heavily pregnant Exmoor pony mares nearby.

                                A very nice trip on a welcomed sunny afternoon.

                                  Today’s Safari Trip – 28th March 2013

                                  A bright sunny afternoon safari, but the weather was still cold with snow lying on the North side of the moor.

                                  The wild Exmoor ponies did not seem to mind the cold, with their well insulated thick coats protecting them from the harsh Wintery weather as their thick coats blew in the wind.

                                  We saw several herds of the Wild Exmoor Red Deer on our journey and also a dead deer succumbed to the weather. Its been a harsh winter on Exmoor.

                                  Further on we rescued a sheep stuck between two trees and more enjoyable at the end of our trip we saw a ewe with two new born lambs playing with plastic coats on to keep them warm and protect them from the harsh elements.

                                   

                                    Today’s Safari Trip – 24th March 2013

                                    An early morning safari met us with a very cold crisp day, minus 2 Celsius!

                                    The trees high on the moor were covered in a thick frost which was very pretty, a great photo opportunity.

                                    We drove through a tunnel of ice covered beech trees, the sun glinting on the tiny stalag tite icicles. Heading over the moor with picturesque views spreading as far as the eye can see, a great spot normally for spotting herds of Exmoor Wild Red Deer.

                                    As we headed down over a slight hill, the next surprise was a one not normally seen on Exmoor, a gritting lorry on its side! An unusual photo opportunity.

                                    After a detour through Porlock, taking us back onto the top of the moor, where we saw several herds of the Exmoor Wild Red Deer grazing in the heather.

                                    A very enjoyable Safari!

                                      Exmoor Dark Skies Safari Experience

                                      We would not be searching for breaks in the cloud tonight, I could see: a completely clear sky greeted us as we stepped out of the Landrover. We were in an unlit car parking area on the top of an Exmoor hill on a cold, early March night, air temperature at zero and a sneaky breeze. I was glad I was wearing the thermals.

                                      Our guests, James and Mary (not their real names) were here for the Stargazing experience; Mary has arranged it as a surprise for James, who has an active interest in Astronomy. Our eyes needed to adjust to the night sky, so I switched even the interior lights out and we used red torchlight to see where we were stepping. The first and most obvious sighting was the constellation of Orion, then Jupiter a little to the west of Orion. Ursa Major, or The Plough was very obvious, the ‘pointers’ showing where Polaris and True North were. As our eyes became more accustomed to conditions the question arose of how stars differ in appearance to planets: the answer, said Stuart, is that stars always appear as points of light, whereas planets may be seen as a disk. Looking through binoculars this difference was very clear.

                                      The first cups of hot chocolate were warming and welcome by now, and with Stuart’s guidance we continued to scan the skies: we identified Casseopeia, Sirius, and Leo together with open clusters of stars in Canus Major and a double cluster in Perseus. At times, the sky was so clear and so many stars visible that it became difficult to pick out the major constellations, but experience and technology won. Despite the hot drinks, we all admitted to feeling the cold before our Safari time was up and when both Mary and James had seen enough we adjourned to the bar of the Exmoor White Horse where Stuart opened useful programmes on his laptop and James picked away at his knowledge of astronomical objects and useful ‘apps’ while I gave Mary some helpful suggestions for their Exmoor walk the next day, all over a drink . It was the right way to complete the evening.

                                      Join us on our next Exmoor Dark Skies Safari

                                        Today’s Safari – 21st February

                                        A very cold February morning, a brisk breeze as we set off from The Exmoor White Horse Inn.

                                        The wild Exmoor red deer were a little difficult to find early in the trip, the moor looked bold and bare in its winter coat.

                                        As we persevered we were rewarded as we found a herd of Exmoor ponies sheltering from the biting cold wind. Further on we found several small heard of red deer, we then had some hinds and three stags cross the road in front of the Land rover – A great sight.