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Dulverton


Dulverton, Exmoor, UK by Martin Fowler, ShutterstockAll Saints' Church is popular among visitors to Dulverton © Martin Fowler, Shutterstock

The town’s attractions include a 17th-century bridge over the River Barle, a variety of independent shops, some good restaurants and the excellent Heritage Centre.

Dulverton seems to have everything going for it: lovely surroundings, plenty to see and do, yet manages to avoid any suggeston of being a tourist hotspot. No wonder the national park chose to have its headquarters here.

Like so many places in Exmoor, Dulverton has its Lorna Doone association and there’s a small statue of the young woman outside Exmoor House. It’s actually of Lady Lorna Dugal ‘who, in the seventeenth century, was kidnapped in childhood by the outlaw Doones of Badgworthy’, so was probably the inspiration for the novel. The hero of the story, John Rudd (known as Jan when he was a boy) first sets eyes on Lorna as a little girl ‘dark-haired and very wonderful, with a wealthy softness on her’ as she sits in a handsome coach near Dulverton. Later, near Dunkery Beacon, he unknowingly sees her again, carried across the saddle of one of the Doone brigands, back to their hideout.

The town’s attractions include a 17th-century bridge over the River Barle, a variety of independent shops, some good restaurants and the excellent Heritage Centre. Shops include the greengrocer H&M (1 Fore St) with a colourful display of all manner of fruit and vegetables, and a farm shop opposite the Bridge Inn that sells fresh produce and snacks. Art lovers old and young, or anyone searching for quality crafts, should take a look at Number Seven, which, as well as its cards, books and arty items, hosts the outstanding illustrator Jackie Morris and other artists. I particularly liked the ‘textile taxidermy’ by Helly Powell.

Also not to be missed is Tantivy, a super delicatessen and general store with a large selection of local beers and ciders, and a good range of maps and books as well as picnic supplies – so you’ll be all set to head for the moor. But not before you’ve visited The Guildhall Heritage and Arts Centre. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. There are fixed and shifting exhibits here with lots of variety and surprises, like Granny Baker’s Kitchen where, at the touch of a button, the good lady will chat to you about her life and times. The red deer exhibit tells you everything you need to know about Exmoor’s iconic animal. In a separate building is a model railway, beautifully made and correct to the last detail. It’s Dulverton as it was before the railway was closed, and the little trains purr their way through tunnels and the familiar landscape before drawing to a halt at the station.

Each year Dulverton celebrates a Sunday festival, Dulverton by Starlight, in early December; the town is decorated, the shops stay open, there’s an evening fireworks display from the church tower, and other events are held to help get people into the Christmas spirit.

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