Exmoor (The Chains)

This once-enjoyable route across the roof of Exmoor has become so badly damaged it is virtually impassable, leaving a nearby nature site vulnerable – but we know what needs to be done to fix it.

Remote and wild

The Chains is the name given to the north western plateau of Exmoor, an area that lies above 1,500 feet.  A remote upland bridleway route runs the length of the Chains from Exe Head in the east to Wood Barrow in the west, boasting stunning panoramic views – it is about as remote and wild as you can get on Exmoor.  But walkers and riders spend more time looking at where to put their feet and hooves – trying to avoid sinking into a boggy quagmire!

At times, Exmoor National Park Authority have actually had to stop horse riders from using the path, because there was a serious danger of becoming stuck in the thick mud. This has a knock-on effect too – walkers and riders have diverted away from the path into a nearby SSSI which has become eroded too as a result.


WATCH: ‘Mend Exmoor’ on BMCTV

A successful experiment

There’s a positive side – it’s clear exactly what needs to be done to help people make the most of this route.  Last year, some experimental soil inversion work was carried out by the National Park Authority, to see if the bridleway could be repaired using the natural materials on site. This technique would significantly improve the health of the pathway, without the need for imported materials. The experimental section worked so well that it was barely visible just a few months later, so we know there’s a method that works really well for this environment.

Watch out – treacherous ground on The Chains. Photo: Exmoor NPA

Your help

We need your help to allow us to continue this important repair work along a two kilometre section of the Chains – we have a specialist, local contractor but we need him there for weeks to make a real difference.  Can you help us fund this very effective natural repair work?

Thanks to the generosity of thousands, the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million appeal has succeeded in raising enough money to completely fund work on nearly all 13 of the projects we set out to support – a fantastic result.

Repairs have already started on several of these paths (see the blog for the latest updates), and the rest will be completed over the summer of 2019 and into 2020.

This project, The Chains, has already been fully funded. However, you are still very welcome to make a donation to Mend Our Mountains overall. Your money will go towards either supporting additional work on the projects listed on this website or helping to fund future Mend Our Mountains initiatives.

You can make a donation of any size – choose ‘Donate what you want’ – or select one of the other amounts.

All online donations are currently via PayPal – if you would prefer not to use this method or would like to make a large donation (£500~), please contact the team directly on mendourmountains@thebmc.co.uk. All money raised goes via the BMC’s charity, the Access and Conservation Trust.

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About Us
Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million is a call to action to everyone who values the hills, mountains and landscapes of Britain. It aims to galvanise mass support for things we all use: the paths, bridleways and bridges which underpin our experiences in the great outdoors. Through a year-long appeal we aim to raise £1 million in total for a range of vital projects within the UK’s entire family of 15 National Parks. Navigate our website to find out more.
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