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Making your Journey part of your Holiday – The Heart of Exmoor route; avoiding M5 and A361

Are you visiting Exmoor & North Devon this summer? Avoid seasonal motorway congestion, start your holiday at Taunton Junction 25 through the center of Exmoor National Park ending at Challacombe/A399, Only 5 miles from Blackmoor Gate

Making your Journey part of your Holiday – The Heart of Exmoor route; avoiding M5 and A361

Making your journey part of your holiday can be a fantastic way to experience and take in some of the many stunningly scenic view points Exmoor National Park naturally boasts. Why not follow The Heart of Exmoor route avoiding part of the M5 motorway and the A361 otherwise known as the North Devon link road. Notoriously busy during the South West’s busy summer season, as thousands of tourists pass through on there way to Devon and Cornwall each year.

If you are travelling to Exmoor & North Devon what better way to start your holiday than taking a leisurely tour through the center of Exmoor  National Park passing through its traditional; picturesque villages of Raleighs Cross; Wheddon Cross; Exford; Simsonsbath and Challacombe. The Heart of Exmoor route will direct you to the A399 just 2 miles past the village of Challacombe. At the A399 junction you pass through the Exmoor National Park border. A right will take you in the direction of Lynton Lynmouth; Parracombe; Blackmoor Gate; Ilfracombe; Kentisbury; Woolacombe and Croyde. Left will take you towards South Molton; Barnstaple Appledore and Bideford passing through the village Brayford, joining the A361, (ND link Road) at South Molton, Aller Cross Roundabout.

Countisbury Hill; Lynton; Lynmouth; Exmoor;
Countisbury Hill; Lynton; Lynmouth; Exmoor;

Making your Journey part of your Holiday – The Heart of Exmoor route; avoiding M5 and A361

Avoiding M5 & North Devon Link Road you will travel through Exmoor National Park leaving the A358 at Bishops Lydeard turning of Left onto B3224 following The Heart of Exmoor Route you will pass through 

Raleighs Cross –

Raleigh Cross Inn on your left, with restaurant and bar

Wheddon Cross

A great stop of point refuel at Wheddon Cross Garage & Store, public toilets and Rest & Be Thankful Inn serving very good food


Another good stop of point with village green perfect to let children play, tea rooms, shop and The Crown Hotel & The White Horse Inn.


Several great woodland walks, Car Park, Public Toilets, The Exmoor Forest Inn & Boveys Tea Rooms.

Challacombe –  

The highly recommended Black Venus Inn; Challacombe P.O & Stores. And The Exmoor Holiday Company’s; Exmoor Blue Bird mobile home.

Taking approximately one hour fifteen minutes The Heart of Exmoor route is 46 miles long; compared to the alternative M5 route assuming there will be little congestion, on average the M5 route will take approximately one hour and is 53 miles long. Depending on your holiday destination you may find the Exmoor Coastal route a better alternative should you be travelling to one of the national parks coastal villages such as Porlock.

As you will see there is very little difference in the distance traveled between routes, one main advantage of travelling by motorway is often the continues speed and ease of staying on the same road with the added convenience of service station amenities. We also tend to agree the convenience of stopping, stretching your legs and taking a breath of fresh air is always most welcome after two or three hours confined to a vehicle. However the boisterous; chaos of an expensive motorway service station is of no comparison to the alternative.

A delightful array of towns and villages with welcoming offerings of local conveniences such as Exmoor’s rural farming market village, Wheddon Cross nothing short of any service station essential, the village boasts a green, play park and public toilets; Refuel at Wheddon Cross Garage & Store well stocked with everyday essentials at reasonable prices located in the center of the village next to the Rest & Be Tankful Inn, serving fresh South West produce a guaranteed warm and friendly welcome.

Without a doubt any stress of motorway delays will be a distant memory as you ponder the remaining leg of your journey at your own timely leisure. For those of us who’s companion’s are of the four legged variety Simonsbath’s Woodland walk is a safe and popular stop away from any busy roads with car park, public toilets and the odd bench perfect for a picnic on a sunny day. Look out for the sign post “public toilets” on your right as you decline further into the village just before, The Exmoor Forest Inn. 

As you approach the end of the heart of Exmoor route you cross the Somerset border dropping into Challacombe drawn in by the welcoming panoramic view over North Devon. A patchwork blanket of lush green rolling fields stitched neatly by traditional Devon hedges. A sight many a local may come to overlook, but never the less not one to be missed.

The village of Challacombe is situated close to the national park border home to The Black Venus Inn, highly recommended and much loved by both locals and visitors alike. Serving locally sourced dishes, including popular Besshill steak and a superb selection of refreshing South West Ales, a firm favorite among guests visiting Exmoor Blue Bird just a short walk away. Also at the heart of the village, Challacombe Post Office and Store stockists of many sought after regional treats such as Styles tasty ice cream made locally in the Somerset village of Rodhuish; Local preservatives; Fresh goods; Home baked sweets and pastries to Something perhaps a little stronger? Why not try Exmoor’s very own Wicked Wolf Gin! Made using ingredients including moorland heather, a truly unique taste of Exmoor.

The Black Venus
The Black Venus; Challacombe

Driving Directions From Taunton Junction 25 to Challacombe / A399

Making your Journey part of your Holiday – The Heart of Exmoor route; avoiding M5 and A361

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