Lorna Doone, the 19th century drama romance written by RD Blackmore, is set in stunning countryside of Exmoor. The nine acres of woods, rivers, and moors of the twisty tale are to be bought by The National Trust in a bid to attract more tourists to the area.
The plan is for visitors to hike through the beautiful landscape, take tea at the farmhouses, search out spots featured in the novel, and camp near a river that, according to the novel, flows “with a soft dark babble”.
Sadly though, the National Trust had bought the area on the border of Devon and Somerset just before the COVID19 pandemic lockdown for £1.5m- and after a loss of 200m income this year this is likely the last purchase of its kind for quite some time.
The author included real events, historical figures, and local legends into his novel and an exciting part of visiting Exmoor is trying to figure out the locations featured in the book.
The National Trust acquired the Lorna Doone farmhouse in the pretty village of Malmsmead, near Lynton, with plans to refurbish it and create a tearoom called The Buttery. The farmhouse itself doesn’t feature in the book and was most probably named in honour of the novel. The idea from the National Trust is to use the farmhouse-turned-tearoom to create a ‘gateway’ to areas that Blackmore did show in his novel.
Cloud Farm campsite, south of the farmhouse, where there are plans to open a second cafe, has been used for years by people enjoying the banks of Badgworthy Water. The campsite is close to the site of a medieval village inspired by the Doone clan’s hideaway.
National Trust North Devon coastal manager, Rob Joules said one of the best things about the site is the feel of timelessness:
“It is like one of those places that time has forgot. It’s very remote and very beautiful. You see herons in the river, deer on the hillside. We’re hoping to get the campsite open in July. It’s pitch black at night, just the sound of the river and birdsong. It’s the perfect spot to get away from it all.”
Local county councillor and Lorna Doone fan, Andrea Davis, explained local feelings on the development:
“We’re very proud of the book here. We get a stream of visitors who come to pick out the places mentioned in it. It’s a romantic story but there are some nasty little bits in it. I sometimes think we don’t make enough of Lorna Doone here so anything that brings more people in is to be welcomed.”