Simonsbath is well located for exploring the heart of Exmoor, so even if you are unfortunate enough to be visiting on a day when the sawmill is closed, there is plenty to see and do.
St Luke's Church was built as part of the Knight's Estate. Work began on building St Luke's in 1855, and the church was consecrated the following year.
The first incumbent Rev William Thornton is described as "a vigorous personality - both physically and intellectually". He enjoyed country pursuits, was an excellent horseman and fisherman, and both walked and rode prodigious distances. Although William loved the area, the isolation of Simonsbath was not easy for his wife and young family. When one of his children fell ill he rode his horse to South Molton in under one hour with a broken stirrup. After the especially severe winter of 1860/61 when Simonsbath was cut off and food nearly ran out, the Thornton family moved to a village just outside Exeter "so as to be nearer to a town and a doctor".
St Luke's Church has recently been renovated to create a welcoming and attractive performing space which is ideal for concerts and other events. With its excellent acoustics, St Luke's has already become a popular venue for professional and amateur concerts. Today St Luke's is still a working church with regular services, to which everyone is welcome.
There are other buildings in Simonsbath which were built as part of the Estate.
For walkers and strollers there is a generous selection of walks, all of which can be started from the Ashcombe public car park. Some which have a connection to the sawmill are -
- heading East, there is a walk alongside the River Barle leading down to the remains of the Wheal Eliza mine, whose timbers were provided by the sawmill;
- heading West from Simonsbath Bridge, the public foot path takes you below the sawmill and then follows the leat all the way out to the weir and sluice gate which control the flow of water to the current sawmill turbine;
- heading North from the car park, you can walk up through the Ashcombe Gardens and if you explore carefully you can find the remains of the leat which provided water for the earlier water wheel.