Rest and be Thankful Inn at Wheddon Cross. Photograph © Steve Guscott

Rest and be Thankful Inn at Wheddon Cross. Photograph © Steve Guscott

Solar panels on Dunster Football Club pavilion. Photograph © Steve Guscott

Solar panels on Dunster Football Club pavilion. Photograph © Steve Guscott

Porlock Bay with Hurlestone Point beyond

Porlock Bay with Hurlestone Point beyond

Exmoor ponies on North Hill. Photograph © Steve Guscott

Exmoor ponies on North Hill. Photograph © Steve Guscott

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About Us

The Exmoor Trust – improving Exmoor’s future and protecting its past

Exmoor is one of the most important rural areas in the country. It was designated a National Park in 1954 because of  "the striking quality and remoteness of much of the scenery, the harmony between man and nature it displays, and the opportunities it offers for suitable forms of recreation [...] combined over extensive tracts of distinctive countryside which provide a sense of wildness"  [Report of the National Parks Review Panel, 1991]


Exmoor, setting of the great novel Lorna Doone, combines the rugged north coastal landscape with the high isolated moor, but set within both are the secret combes and valleys which give Exmoor a unique allure.  It is home to many special and endangered species, including the Exmoor Pony and rare Fritillary butterflies, and has the largest concentration of red deer in England.  Within the boundaries of the Park are also a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, protecting rare and endangered habitats.


So we ask for support from lovers of Exmoor, and those who wish to help conserve the dwindling wilderness areas of the world, wherever they may live.

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Why were we formed

Until the Exmoor Trust was formed, there was no dedicated, independent body committed to raising funds on a major scale for the benefit of the Greater Exmoor area.  Central Government funding is never adequate to cover all the projects needed to maintain and improve such a unique area.  Moreover other sources of funding, from the Countryside Agency, the Rural Development Agency and the EU, sometimes require matching funds to be provided.  The Exmoor Trust was registered as a charity in 1999, and as a company limited by guarantee.


We therefore seek to raise money to:

  • Help obtain other grant funds for specific proposals
  • Provide direct support for which no other source of funding is available.

Thanks to our charitable status, we can typically reclaim 25p in tax for every £1 donated by UK taxpayers


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Porlock Bay

Porlock Bay

Aims and Objectives

The Exmoor Trust’s aims are three-fold:

  • To conserve and enhance for the public benefit the area known as Greater Exmoor;
  • To encourage the public to appreciate and respect all aspects of its historical, physical and cultural environment;
  • To further such charitable purposes for the benefit of Exmoor as the Trustees shall determine from time to time.

The Greater Exmoor area, covered by the Exmoor Trust’s remit, extends from Watchet to Combe Martin in the north, to South Molton and Clayhanger in the south, and includes Minehead.

In pursuit of these aims, the Exmoor Trust’s tactical objectives are to support a broad range of issues relating to the inhabitants, ecology and environment of Greater Exmoor.  These objectives are achieved by raising, managing and dispersing funds in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and by using its influence and expertise to help, support and sustain the communities within Greater Exmoor.

Overall, the Exmoor Trust seeks to achieve, in a sustainable and enduring way, a happy balance of interests which will continue to provide vibrant community life, interest for the public, the preservation of the wilderness of the environment and, above all, hope for the future of this unique environment.


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Influence  (What does the Exmoor Trust do?)

The Exmoor Trust is different from other organisations operating within the Greater Exmoor area in that it seeks to work independently to provide direct and speedy support in the attainment of its objectives.  Its only cause is to raise optimum funds to the benefit of Greater Exmoor. This precludes the Trust from seeking to represent  for or against issues, which is the preserve of many other organisations.  Whilst charitable status brings funding advantages it also constrains the Trustees in the disbursement of funds.

Our income is derived from gifts, donations and membership fees, as well as invested income.  We disperse on average grants of £4,000 per annum. (Grants).  During the Trust’s first decade significant income was raised on investments. A successful appeal was launched in 2010 to generate funds to compensate for the loss of this income in the current financial climate.

Our contribution is not always financial. The Trust is represented on a number of initiatives addressing the key issues for Greater Exmoor and our close links with the Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) and other local authorities enable us to join and participate in many of the groups involved in the operation of the Park and in developing improvements for its future. The Exmoor Trust seeks to elicit support from people willing to provide their time and expertise to further the Trust’s aims or to contribute financially. 

The Trust has to date also organised three successful symposia on Exmoor, on broadband and renewable energy. Most recently the Exmoor Trust has taken on the lead role in the management of national funds to support renewable energy projects in the Greater Exmoor area.

The Exmoor Trust is not a large organisation.  Individual membership of the Trust can be as a life member or as an annual member. Life members are limited to 40 and annual members to 100. (Join the Exmoor Trust)

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Our brief covers a wide range of initiatives and potential areas of assistance from seed corn funding to disaster and emergency response. We look at all applications on their merits but have so far precluded direct involvement in restoration or conservation of old buildings and the development and management of woodlands.

We maintain close connections with local statutory bodies with particular reference to conservation, education, tourism and rejuvenation.

For example, between 1999 and 2010, the Exmoor Trust made grants for the following causes:

  • The compilation of a genetic database for the Exmoor Pony breed (by the Exmoor Pony Society);
  • A central store of adventure training tools (maps, etc.) for exploring Exmoor (for Exmoor schools );
  • Supporting families suffering from the impact of the Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak in 2001; Promoting tourism to aid economic renewal;
  • Supporting initiatives bringing future economic benefit to Exmoor, such as the Two Moors Music Festival, the Lynton Walking Festival and the new Skills for Life Programme for Young Farmers.
  • Organisations that suffered from the impact of the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak such as the Youth Hostels, Scouts, Search and Rescue, and sports facilities.


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Who do we work with

The Exmoor Trust works closely with a number of other organisations on the Moor in order to ensure the most efficient use of resources. These include:


  • Exmoor National Park Authority
  • Devon and Somerset County Council
  • North Devon, Mid Devon and West Somerset District Councils
  • All 64 Parish Councils in Greater Exmoor


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  • Susan May – Chairman
  • Maureen Best – Company Secretary and Secretary
  • Sarah Burns
  • Anne Hand
  • Archie McIntyre – Vice-Chairman
  • Steven Pugsley
  • Tony Sloley -Treasurer

All the Trustees live or have lived in the area, many well within the Moor, so there is a full commitment to Exmoor and a deep understanding of its complex issues.


The Trustees meet six times a year in Dulverton and the AGM is held in May each year.

Trustees' Special Interests

Our Trustees have individual leadership roles in addition to their collective role as charity Trustees and Directors.

The Strategic and Fundraising Group comprises Susan May (Chairman), Maureen Best, Archie McIntyre and Steven Pugsley.

The Education Group is led by Maureen Best.

The Community Group is led by Sarah Burns.

In addition we provide representatives on many local action panels:

  • ENPA Consultative Forum: to be announced
  • ENPA Moorland Panel:  Susan May

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