The National Trust’s role in protecting the Heddon Valley began in 1963.
Back then, a public appeal by the Trust and the Exmoor Society helped to buy 850 acres of the valley, including Heddon’s Mouth and part of Trentishoe Down to the west.
In the years that followed that first step, many personal bequests and gifts – from people who love this extraordinary landscape and want to know that it will be protected forever - have helped to secure more of Heddon Valley. Ownership has allowed the Trust to work on improving land management and nature conservation in the valley, for the benefit of both wildlife and people. Wildlife thrives here, from the array of much loved familiar plants and animals, to the rare and precious, such as High Brown Fritillary. The valley is one of only a few places in the country where they are still found. Read more about our work to help this special butterfly.
The missing piece of the jigsaw for the Trust was Hunter’s Inn, which for so long has been at the very heart of the valley, emblematic of the rugged romance of West Exmoor and loved as a refuge and a sanctuary by locals and visitors, by walkers and runners, bird-watchers and nature-lovers, cyclists and fishermen.
The National Trust bought Hunter’s Inn in May 2018, and it is managed for us by Bespoke Hotels.
A quote from the 1973 edition of The National Trust Guide conveys the atmosphere of this remote landscape:
‘The steep, wooded valley of the river Heddon, in a great cleft between rounded hills of patchwork fields, becomes more dramatic as it approaches the sea, finally emerging in a rocky cove surrounded by high cliffs on which once stood a Roman signal station. A path leads down this valley from the Wagnerian-looking Hunter’s Inn to the sharp rocks on the shore by the remains of an 18th-century lime kiln, where there is good sea-fishing.
‘For those who prefer walking, so long as they haven’t a bad head for heights, there is the precipitous path along the hog-backed cliffs to Trentishoe Down. Almost nowhere in England are there more exhilarating views than these, down the coast to Widmouth Head and across the Bristol Channel to Wales. On a bright spring day with cloud shadows moving swiftly across the downs, with the blue sea breaking white and noiselessly on the rocks 500 feet below, and seagulls wheeling over shoals of mackerel far out in Elwill Bay, it is a lonely, unforgettable place.’
The National Trust is a registered charity, no. 205846, founded in 1895 to protect forever the places that people love.