Young people are an endangered species on Exmoor

Exmoor is one of the smallest National Parks in the UK, famed for its open moorland, unspoilt coastline, adorable ponies and starry night skies. It’s easily one of the most beautiful places to live. So why are so many young people leaving the area?

At Campaign for National Parks, we’re exploring ways we can engage young people more and more in our work with a focus on creating opportunities so that they can influence decision-making at a local and national level for all National Parks and as we do so, we’re listening to those already supporting our work to find out how we can do more and do better.

We caught up with Megan Hunt of Exmoor Young Voices to find out what is driving the exodus and the action young people, like Megan and her partner Josh, have taken to help themselves and others to continue living in the place they love and call home.

Megan’s story: 

Exmoor has some of the highest property prices in the country (an overall average price of £309,609 over the last year). With comparatively low wages, most young people here can’t afford to stay. The outlook for Exmoor is bleak. Without the next generation of young farmers to work the moor, we’ll lose vital rural skills and knowledge. If young people leave the area, there will be no doctors, teachers, dentists, opticians or hospitality workers to provide services to the people of Exmoor and the 2 million+ tourists that visit each year.

Exmoor Young Voices – Giving young people a voice on Exmoor 

Exmoor Young Voices is an organisation advocating for young residents and workers on the moor and tackling issues including housing, digital inclusion, employment, communications, travel and local wages. We exist to:

  • Engage with young people across Exmoor (covering parts of West Somerset and North Devon)
  • Listen to their issues
  • Offer dedicated support from expert advisors
  • Report their experiences and steer strategies with key policy and decision-makers.

Ultimately, we strive for positive action that prioritises young people’s needs – our golden goal being to prevent them from needing to leave the area.

Our achievements so far… 

While it’s no easy feat, we are making a difference. This year Exmoor Young Voices held its second Summit, bringing together Exmoor National Park Authority, local housing associations, and all of the major authorities that administer Exmoor. Several of Exmoor’s young adults came to discuss how Exmoor can become a viable and sustainable place for young people to live and work. Our next step is to secure formal pledges to ensure that every authority and housing association serving Exmoor is ‘youth-proofing’ its decisions.

We have also achieved the following:

  • Set up a Self Build Scheme to support young people wanting to build affordable homes on the moor
  • Secured funding from every public authority, charity and foundation serving Exmoor
  • Addressed every major authority, forum, consultative group, conference, farming and business network concerned with Exmoor about the issues that young resident workers face in sustaining their part in Exmoor life
  • Delivered self build tours, seminars, parliamentary, and media presentations
  • Established connections with a Foundation which is able to provide home related loans and grants to young people
  • Had three small houses bequeathed to us to help young residents in the future.

As far as we know, Exmoor Young Voices is the only organisation of our kind. So, we plan to develop relationships with other National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and support them in setting up Young Voices representatives groups. Together, with a collective, stronger voice, we will drive the critical changes young people in rural areas so desperately need.

For more information about Exmoor Young Voices, please visit or get in touch by emailing

For more information about our Youth Voice work, please get in touch with Anna at