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For centuries Challacombe has been an isolated village in common with many of the other settlements on Exmoor. Up until the 1840's the village was serviced only by packhorse routes dragging sledges across the muddied tracks. The advent of the wealthy Knight family - industrialists from the Midlands - to Exmoor brought about considerable changes. The Knights were engaged in reclaiming vast swathes of moorland in and around Simonsbath. This required hauling in huge deposits of lime from Combe Martin.

A track connecting the main Combe Martin road towards Challacombe and from there onto Simonsbath and beyond was cut, making this a somewhat less Herculean task than it was previously. Challacombe was suddenly on the map.

Essentially the village has changed very little. The reek of peat burning in the village hearths may have changed to oil and gas, and the telegram has given way to electronic mail. Remnants of the old guard remain however.

Perhaps this is best illustrated by the occupant of the little cottage next to Challacombe's old packhorse bridge who recently stated: 'I've only to live another three years and there will have been Ridds in this cottage for three hundred years'. Warming news from the embers of Challacombe's history.

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