Going Slow in the Exmoor National Park
Hilary co-founded Bradt Travel Guides in 1974, and now lives in semi-retirement in Seaton, East Devon.
After 40 years of writing guidebooks to Madagascar and South America, she has embraced her chosen home to the extent of insisting that such a large, varied and beautiful county deserved three Slow guides, not just one.
A keen walker, she has hiked many miles of the South West Coast Path and inland footpaths, as well as enjoying Exmoor on someone else’s legs – those of a horse. Most Saturdays see her taking part in one of Devon’s park-runs (5k, but she’s appropriately slow); during the summer, a swim in the sea – just a few minutes away – is always a pleasure.
Hilary is a productive member of the South West Sculptors’ Association and lectures regularly on travel-related topics at libraries and literary festivals, both in Devon and further afield.
“Bradt guides are indispensable” – Michael Palin
The Author’s Story …
Exmoor was one of the first place names I knew – it was where Moorland Mousie*, a hero of one of my favourite pony books, came from, and I desperately wanted an Exmoor pony.
A few years later I lived the dream and rode over the huge expanse of those moors, splashing across rivers and cantering along grassy tracks through the bracken. I was hooked. Even the mist and drizzle seemed romantic and my first cream tea extraordinary.
It was over 40 years before I returned with a walking group, climbing Dunkery Beacon in a sea of purple heather and picnicking beside Tarr Steps. But only when researching this book did I really start to look at this extraordinary part of the West Country.
In a small area, it seemed to contain everything I liked best about rural England: dramatic coastal scenery, lovely little villages advertising cream teas, a tiny church half-hidden in the woods – and Exmoor ponies.
This is an extract from Slow Travel: Exmoor National Park by Hilary Bradt, published by Bradt Guides. Text © Hilary Bradt. All rights reserved.