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Historic and natural wonders of Wessex

The moors, cliffs and romantic woods of Wessex have inspired literary greats such as Thomas Hardy and Samuel Taylor Coleridge for centuries, and helped repopularise the Anglo-Saxon name of this ancient region.

Moors, hills & heathland

EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK ❶

Exmoor is known for its broad, russet views. In the middle sits the higher moor, an expansive, otherworldly landscape harbouring the picturesque village of Exford. In the north, sheer, rock-strewn river valleys cut into the plateau and black cliffs lurch toward the sea. Life on Exmoor is attuned to the rhythm of the seasons (exmoornationalpark.gov.uk; free).

Wild horses are a common sight in the New Forest, Hampshire

NEW FOREST NATIONAL PARK ❷

With typical English irony, New Forest is anything but new - it was first proclaimed a royal hunting preserve in 1079. It’s also not much of a forest, being mostly heathland. Designated a national park in 2005, the forest is a joy to explore. Wild ponies graze, deer tiptoe and birds flit about. Photo-worthy villages dot the landscape, connected by walking and cycling trails (thenewforest.co.uk; free).

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - November 2016
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