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"These are a few of my favourite things"

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

We have three favourite things about living here in Exmoor. The red deer, the night sky and the running water around us. Having been here almost a year now, the list hasn’t changed.

We arrived at the end of last September, just as the red deer breeding season was starting. At that point we didn’t even know there were red deer here, let alone the timing of the rut. So we were taken completely by surprise in our first week, walking through our woods, to come across a huge stag bolving (yelling) down the valley. It seemed incredible to me that such large animals were wild and so numerous, a different proposition altogether to the delicate roe deer I was accustomed to. Now, however, we’ve got used to them and it seems completely normal now to see herds of more than 30 deer in the fields around Nutsford House. Throughout October and into November the stags are on the move, gathering up hinds and seeing off rivals. The bolving stags and the hooting tawny owls provide a very particular soundscape during the Autumn months.

Just as the red deer were unexpected, so was the night sky. Light pollution is minimal on Exmoor and on a cloudless night the sky is simply jaw dropping. When my niece was small, my sister-in-law was taking her into the bathroom during the night when she suddenly cried out, alarmed and amazed to see stars in the sky through the window. She had no idea what she was looking at. As we grow up, the novelty value, of course, wears away but the density of stars visible in the night sky here does bring back some of those feelings of amazement and wonder. Every October the National Park organises a festival to celebrate, with over 60 events running throughout the month.

Indeed, the Dark Skies Festival is one of three festivals running near us this autumn. The Two Moors Festival is also in October, bringing top-class classical music performances to Dulverton and nearby Bampton. We are looking forward to the Dulverton Literary Festival in November too. James’ company, Fabula Arts, will be running workshops for children and we’re delighted to be involved. Books are important here at Nutsford House. Which, given our third favourite thing about Exmoor, is just as well. The sound of clear, babbling streams all around us wouldn’t be so present without the rain. So if the weather does turn, then you know it’s time to light the fire in the library, settle into the sofa and start a new book.

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