Walk in the footsteps of Lorna Doone
The ‘Romance of Exmoor’ a story of Lorna Doone by R.D Blackmoor is a wonderful tale of “derring do” set on the moors and river valleys of Exmoor.
One of our most popular walks, you can visit the church where the tragic bride, Lorna Doone, was shot at the altar on her wedding day, see the waterslide where Jon Ridd managed to sneak into the notorious Doone clan stronghold, and visit the remains of the medieval village which is thought to have sheltered the outlaws.
Richard Dodderidge Blackmoor was born in 1825 in Longworth, Berkshire(now Oxfordshire), the 2nd son of a curate, John Blackmore. Sadly his mother died of typhus when Richard was just a few months old and he was raised by his Aunt, Mary Frances Knight and her husband, the reverend Richard Gordon, at Elsfield, near Oxford until he was seven years old.
When his father remarried he went to live with his father and new stepmother in the little village of King’s Nympton in Devon and spent a rural childhood in the hills and woods of Devon with his brother and three half-siblings. His Grandfather, also called John Blackmore,was the rector of Oare church (map ref OL 9 SS 47.3 80.2) from 1809 until his death in 1842.
Richard is rather endearingly quoted to have said “In everything, except the accident of my birth I am a Devonian; my ancestry were all Devonians; my sympathies and feelings are all Devonian”. It was obviously this sentiment and love for the county which inspired him to write his gripping story, drawing on the history and scenery that surrounded him.
It is therefore possible to visit the waterslide up which the brave (or foolhardy) John Ridd clambered to find and fall in love with the beautiful Lorna, ‘Queen’ of the lawless” Doone” Clan, and to soak in the atmosphere of the delightful 16th century church where the honest and steadfast John finally stood next to his bride-to-be.
To say any more would spoil the story so, if you haven’t read the book you can click the button below to order the paperback version.
Join us on our Lorna Doone walk
You can choose,
4 miles, easy walking to include a picnic at the waterslide and visit to Oare church with optional cream tea at Lorna Doone Farm.
8 miles, medium ability, circular walk, uphill in parts, as above but our picnic is at the medieval village that may have been the original hangout of the evil Doone Clan. The route goes over the moorland that John Ridd and Carver Doone knew so well and conjures up the steamy atmosphere of the book, especially on a louring, rainy day.
NB We will take a view along with you as to whether to picnic or enjoy the hospitality of a local pub or tearooms depending on the weather!
The Lorna Doone Tour
A full day exploring the various haunts and references in the book, including Dulverton, Oare and the Doone Valley.
RD Blackmore and his wife, Lucy, came to Exmoor in 1865 to research the details for Lorna Doone, which was published 4 years later.
You can visit the Royal Oak at Withypool, where there is a framed letter from the Blackmores to the landlord reading “it will give me great pleasure to be with you (if possible) at the time you mention. But I am so terribly pressed this week that I cannot be certain of the pleasure”. (The pace of life was no different back then!)
Or the Rising Sun at Lynton and the (Upper)Ship at Porlock and imagine the author staying at those historic hostelleries whilst thinking of and writing his much loved book.
Tom Faggus, the highwayman, in real life was captured in the Anchor at Exebridge and taken to be hanged at Taunton. His faithful strawberry roan mare “Winnie” was shot, so I’m glad that RDB gave them a happier ending!
Aggie Norman, of Lynton was reported to be a witch and used to live seasonally nearby in the Valley of the Rocks. She died in 1860 at the age of 83 and is considered to be the inspiration for Mother Meldrum, after whom the tea room is named.
This tour is geared to your personal requirements and can include walking as far or as little as you wish.