MEND OUR MOUNTAINS RETURNS WITH £1 MILLION TARGET FOR BRITAIN’S BEST-LOVED LANDSCAPES

The award-winning, headline-grabbing campaign which raised more than £100,000 to repair Britain’s hills and mountains has returned – and is raising its sights ten times higher.

In last year’s campaign a section of path that was in need of restoration work formed part of the Two Moors Way where access along a 50-metre stretch of the path was difficult, with deep mud that stayed permanently saturated even in summer.

The campaign was incredibly successful and raised a total of £104,000. Within this, £7,500 came to Mend Exmoor which was added to through CareMoor for Exmoor (Exmoor National Park Authority’s donation scheme).

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million aims to raise £1 million in total for a range of vital path repair projects within Britain’s entire family of 15 National Parks, including two on Exmoor – one The Chains and another on the River Barle at Great Bradley.

Team effort
The projects supported by Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million will range from the high reaches of the Cairngorms to the gentle coast of the Solent; from England’s highest mountain to the fabled seat of a Welsh giant; from the rolling hills of Exmoor to one of Scotland’s most well-trodden Munros.

Sue Applegate, public rights of way and access officer at Exmoor National Park, said: “We were delighted to be invited back to submit Exmoor projects for the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign. The funding we received from the previous one has helped improve one of Exmoor’s more remote paths and we are hoping that people will get on board and support this exciting new initiative.

“This year two Exmoor projects have been put forward, the first is to repair the surface of a popular walking and riding route across the top of The Chains.  Over the years, the route has become wet and boggy through use and simply due to the wild, wet environment it passes through.  As people try to avoid the difficult sections, the route has spread out and in places has caused a widening erosion scar. This project aims to carry out path surface improvements on a 3.8-kilometre stretch between Exe Head and Woodbarrow so that a long-term sustainable route is put in place – we will be using a natural soil inversion technique which provides a good surface without bringing in lots of external materials to this sensitive environment.

“Our second project is on the River Barle at Great Bradley.  Currently, the Two Moors Way, a popular recreational route linking Dartmoor & Exmoor, follows a very eroded permitted path on the eastern bank of the river.  We would like to move the route onto a bridleway which runs along the western bank but, where it crosses the River Barle at Great Bradley, there is currently only a ford.  For much of the year the water is too deep for walkers to get through.  We plan to build a new bridge at this point so that the bridleway can be used at all times and we can move the Two Moors Way route onto it to a position where it is secure and sustainable.”

Here are the direct links to the two projects on Exmoor:

The Chains
The River Barle at Great Bradley

Overall coordination is provided by the BMC, funding comes from the BMC’s charity (the BMC Access and Conservation Trust), and headline sponsorship is generously provided by Cotswold Outdoor and Snow+Rock, two of Britain’s leading outdoor retailers and the BMC’s recommended retail partners.

Individual projects are backed by a range of National Park authorities, outdoor enthusiast groups and charitable trusts, and in Scotland the campaign is represented by the BMC’s sister organisation, Mountaineering Scotland.

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million will run over a whole year. It will employ a wide range of fundraising techniques in addition to crowdfunding, from harnessing the generosity of ‘ordinary’ outdoor enthusiasts, to drawing in money and support from large businesses, corporate donors and charitable foundations.

The appeal is divided into three phases.

The first phase will run between now and the spring of next year, during which time the fundraising focus will be on drawing in large donations from individuals, businesses and grant-giving bodies.

The second phase will run over the spring and summer of 2018 and will see the main drive to encourage the public at large to donate. The third phase will run in the autumn of 2018 and will see a crowdfunding ‘crescendo’ aimed at raising the remaining sum of money.

The National Park is encouraging everyone who wants to to donate today if they are able, but also to keep an eye on BMC and National Park media over the course of the year for more information about how they can get involved as the campaign progresses and develops.

Photo: Badly eroded permitted path on the eastern side of the river Barle at Great Bradley

PAINTING PARTY AT CALVERT TRUST EXMOOR

Calvert Trust Exmoor is calling on local businesses large and small to provide volunteer teams for their January 2018 painting ‘party’.

Rob Lott, Head of Communications at Calvert Trust Exmoor, explains; “Every year our fantastic volunteers pull out all the stops and help us freshen up our centre before guests start arriving. Early January is the only opportunity we get to do this as we have disabled guests staying with us from the end of the month and onwards for the rest of the year!”

This year the charity is asking local businesses to encourage their employees to put some volunteering time into the project, or perhaps pick a date and come together as a team.  Slots are available every weekday from 2 January to 17 January 2018.

Martyn Barrow, who is coordinating the volunteers for this project, continues the story: “In previous years we’ve had volunteer teams from organisations like Tesco, Accord, Eaton and Petroc, as well as lots of individual volunteers. For 2018, we are again looking for companies to support us by encouraging their staff to come along and get involved. No previous experience is necessary; we will provide all the paint and equipment, and if you volunteer a whole day we will provide you with lunch too!”

Any companies or individuals wishing to get involved should get in contact with Martyn to book their slot, on martyn@calvert-trust.org.uk or 01598 763221.

EXMOOR ALES’ SPIRITED COLLABORATION

Beer meets gin. Gin meets beer. Wicked Wolf is the second beer in Exmoor Ales’ Exile series of occasional beers that are a bit different from the brewery’s main brands. A straw-coloured, juniper berry-infusing beer, it is the result of a collaboration between the Wiveliscombe-based brewery and Wicked Wolf, producers of small-batch, handcrafted gin in the famous Exmoor village of Brendon.

Exmoor Ales’ Managing Director Jonathan Price explains: “Wicked Wolf is the second in our new sub-brand series, Exile, and follows on from Urban Fox, which was released earlier in the year. We selected Wicked Wolf because of their reputation for fine, award-winning gin… and, of course, because they are based on Exmoor. As for the idea for the beer this happened after their distiller and co-founder, Pat, visited the brewery and met our head brewer, Adrian. Pat provided some juniper berries for sampling and trial brews, as well as sharing his advice and experience. The result was this delicious beer. We’re all really pleased with it and I’m especially thrilled that Pat has an idea to make an Exmoor Gold inspired gin next year.

“The Exile brand was devised as a sub-brand for Exmoor Ales to represent our new, more modern breed of beers. The pump clip shape and graffiti imagery are quite different to our established traditional brands and we shall will be developing the brand with further new beers throughout next year.

“As for the story behind the name “Exile”, this originated from EXmoor. The first two letters are important and strong and the inspiration is loosely drawn from RD Blackmore’s Lorna Doone. Incidentally, the outlawed Doone family were exiled in the Doone Valley, not far from where Wicked Wolf make their gins.” 

 

 

 

 

CAN YOU HELP DEVELOP A BRAND FOR MINEHEAD

Workshops and surveys are being carried out with local residents and visitors this month  in order to develop a new tourism brand for Minehead.

Leading this work is the Minehead Coastal Community Team. Town and district Councillor Roger Thomas, who chairs the team, said: “We are seeking to get a cross-section of views from residents, visitors and businesses on what makes Minehead special and how this can be distilled into a clear message that will help in attracting more visitors to the town.”

A variety of methods is being used to capture these views, including workshops, street and phone interviews in Minehead and Taunton, online surveys and a review of what other seaside towns have achieved.

Roger continued: “We would welcome involvement from anyone who is interested. In particular we would like to hear from people who would be interested in attending one of the two one-hour workshops taking place in Minehead at 1pm and 5.30pm on Thursday 23 November. For those people who can’t make it we would appreciate your time in completing an online survey.”

The development of a new brand for Minehead is being carried out as part of the Enterprising Minehead project, which aims to significantly raise the quality of what’s on offer for visitors. Match funding has been secured by the Regeneration Team at West Somerset Council that will see £1m of investment in improving the seafront, and developing new events, skills and marketing.

A recent procurement exercise to deliver the branding work led to the employment of RH Partners and Flotilla Media. Work will be delivered in two phases, starting with the development of a brand identity for Minehead in November, and then the development of branding designs in December. Local residents will then have a second opportunity to express their views on the potential design options in open events being planned for January 2018.

If you are interested in taking part in one of the workshops at the Beach Hotel on 23 November 2017 or doing one of the online surveys, please contact Robert Downes by email at tourism@westsomerset.gov.uk.

  • Minehead Coastal Communities Team (MCCT) is a partnership group of organisations that are working collectively on projects to improve the town. The team is made up of representatives from business, the community, Minehead Town Council and West Somerset Council.
  • The Enterprising Minehead project takes its lead from the priorities and strategic direction set out in the Minehead Economic Plan which was developed by the Minehead Coastal Communities Team in 2016. The plan can be viewed at westsomersetonline.gov.uk/Business/Economic-Strategies.
  • Further information on Enterprising Minehead project can be found at westsomersetonline.gov.uk/Business/Regeneration-and-Development-Projects.

TRANSATLANTIC CELEBRATIONS FOR DUNSTER BEACH HUT

Salad Days is one of around 250 beach huts at Dunster Beach, but this one is special.

To begin with, it has a Visit England 5-star rating, making it the only beach hut in the UK to receive such an accolade, and now it has won two awards at the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards: Silver for ‘Self Catering Business of the Year’ and Gold for ‘Dog Friendly Business of the Year’.

Designed and rebuilt from the ground up, the 80-year-old beach hut is the pride of Susan Juggins and Brett Bates. They took on a run-down beach hut that had been used by holiday makers since the end of the war and had housed coastal defence workers before that. They wanted to give it a new lease of life as a luxury beach hut with all the comforts of modern-day living. Salad Days offers boutique-style accommodation in a beach hut environment and it is dog friendly to boot.

News of the awards was not just celebrated by co-owner Susan who collected the award at Somerset County Cricket Club in Taunton, but also 3,500 miles away in Toronto Canada.

 

Brett had previously arranged a trip to visit his son Brett jar, who lives there with his fiancée Aisha, before the finalist’s announcement was made in October. He spent the day eagerly awaiting news via Twitter from Susan and the organisers at Visit Somerset. “You can hardly believe the excitement when the news came through,” said Brett. “Toronto certainly knew Somerset had arrived in the city.”

Susan, who attended the awards event with her sister Anne, said, “We felt so honoured just to be there, amongst the best that Somerset has to offer and to come away with two awards is just amazing. We love this area and our little beach hut to bits. It just goes to show even though we may be small we can still play with the big boys and win’”

The story of their success may not stop there; Salad Days will soon find out if they are to represent Somerset at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February next year.

The awards are run annually by Visit England with the judging carried out locally by industry experts, followed by area and national finals. To be a finalist in any category, each entrant has to be at the top of their game, offering world-class service within the highly competitive tourism industry. The South West has won more awards than any other area of the UK. Somerset had the highest ever number of awards entrants this year.

For further details see: dunsterbeachhut.com/  twitter.com/DunsterBeachHut

Or read the extract from an article which appeared in our autumn issue here:

ROSEMOOR ALIGHT WITH WINTER MAGIC

RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon is always a treat and is beautiful throughout the year. This year, following all the wonderful feedback from their first illuminations in 2016, visitors can once again enjoy the garden lit up on a greatly extended trail. Innovative, hi-tech, dynamic colour-changing illuminations provide a magical festive trail around the trees, shrubs and winter sculptures.

This year, the trail is roughly four to five times the length of last year’s, with additional dates, too, running from 17 November 2017 through to 6 January 2018. It takes in the Formal Gardens and extends into the Stream Field where visitors can buy warming hot drinks and snacks at the Shepherd’s Rest – a brand-new, al-fresco catering facility. The trail then follows back down the Long Borders and incorporates displays in the Hot Garden and all around the Winter Garden, too.

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday the gardens will be open until 8.30pm to maximise the effects of the lighting into the evening hours, and on those days garden entry will be discounted after 3pm. The award-winning Garden Kitchen Restaurant will be once again be serving ‘Simple Family Suppers’ from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, and booking is highly recommended to avoid disappointment. The Rosemoor Shop & Plant Centre will also remain open for late-night shopping on these nights and will be a magical place to go for all those Christmas decorations, gift and plant ideas, including for the first time, potted and freshly cut Christmas Trees.

A wonderful festive atmosphere will be created on some of the evenings with Christmas Food, Craft and Antique Fairs; and, on two weekends in December, the very popular Entertainingly Different will be performing ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ in their own inimitable style with songs, stories, poems and dancing. Tickets to these are free but limited and online booking is strongly recommended.

The final day of the illuminations, Saturday 6 January, Rosemoor’s Garden Room events building will be the location for a special Quantum Theatre production of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Information and details on limited ticket prices, together with a booking link are available on line at rhs.org.uk/rosemoor.

During the same period, Rosemoor will hold its extremely popular annual Winter Sculpture Exhibition, where each year over 33,000 visitors enjoy the eclectic mix of exhibits set against the backdrop of the garden. Some of these will be lit up by the illuminations, too, to make them extra special. Most of the sculptures in the exhibition are for sale.

To make the most of a winter visit to Rosemoor there is a wonderful winter walk and trail taking in much of the surprising amounts of colour, scent, texture and structure including dogwoods, ornamental grasses and some of our national collection of hollies, as well as the sculptures set amongst the shrubs.

For more information on events at RHS Garden Rosemoor visit www.rhs.org.uk/rosemoor Normal garden admission applies (free for RHS members). Garden open every day (except Christmas Day) 10am – 5pm.

November’s Winter Events at Rosemoor:
4 – 12 November
‘A year in the life of Rosemoor’ Art Exhibition
Theresa Shaw and Jill Griffin have their art on display in Rosemoor’s Lecture / Exhibition HallDaily 10am – 5pm, normal garden admission – free for RHS members

17 November 2017 to 6 January 2018
See how our garden glows Winter Illuminations
Every Thursday, Friday & Saturday, 4pm – 8.30pm Normal garden admission discounted entry after 3pm.

18 November 2016 to 18 February 2017
Winter Sculpture Exhibition
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the garden in winter with its amazing textures and surprising colour and scent, Rosemoor’s Winter Sculpture Exhibition is now an established part of the events programme. The exhibition continues through into 2018 with an exciting and eclectic mix of exhibits from a diverse collection of sculptors, and using a wide variety of media including from steel and glass to cement and pottery. Visitors can pick up a trail and see how many sculptures they can discover through the garden. Most of the pieces exhibited are for sale. Free, guided sculpture walks leave the Visitor Centre at 11.30am most Wednesday mornings.
Daily 10am – 5pm, normal garden admission – free for RHS members

24 – 26 November
Christmas Craft Fair
The Garden Room will be full of the South West’s best craftspeople, making it the ideal place to snap up an early Christmas present or two.
Friday & Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm in the Garden Room. Normal garden admission – free for RHS members

 25 & 26 November
Garden Wildlife in The Spotlight
Devon Wildlife Trust will be in the Plant Centre offering advice 1pm – 4.30pm

ODYSSEAN TOPOGRAPHIES AT HESTERCOMBE

Four artists reconsider landscape through sound, sculpture, food, film and digital animation

This winter, Hestercombe Gallery in Somerset hosts a group exhibition in which four artists reconsider the physical world through sound, sculpture, food, film and digital animation, exploring how technology has changed our relationship to landscape.

The exhibition emerged as the result of a longstanding collaboration between artists Natasha Rosling, Alexander Stevenson, Alistair Grant and Simon Lee Dicker – who instigated and took part in a series of artist residencies across the Orkney Isles.

Travelling, researching and responding across the archipelago, the artists spent time in a remote bothy, a lighthouse, a beachside golf course and a burial chamber. Working individually, they each developed distinctive connections with the islands’ human stories and extraordinary geography.

 

Odyssean: Topographies is not a conclusion to the project, but an opening, in which the artists reflect on their experiences, experiment with ideas and processes, generate new lines of enquiry and share questions common to their practices.

Large-scale sculpture, installation, animation, film, sound, workshops and events will be presented across the house and gardens of Hestercombe. The exhibition will also respond to its surroundings: a landscape at once historic and contemporary, highly managed and equally wild.

The exhibition programme includes a seminar in late January, on artistic research and new approaches to landscape. The event will include performance, food and collective discussions around mapping invisible and imagined spaces, and the idea of remoteness, both physical and emotional.

Odyssean: Topographies is open daily 11am – 4pm, from 18 November 2017 until 25 February 2018. The preview for the exhibition will take place on Friday 17 November.

The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England and Gane Trust.

Exhibition and event listings
Exhibition Preview
17 November 2017, 6–8pm
Free, all welcome

Exhibition
Odyssean: Topographies
18 November – 25 February, open daily, 11am-4pm
Free to members or £10.45 for an adult ticket (concessions available). Ticket includes entry to the House and Gardens.

PHOTO: Rackwick Bothy.

 

 

EXMOOR SOCIETY LAUNCHES EXMOOR STUDIES SERIES

The Exmoor Society is pleased to announce the launch of its new series Exmoor Studies. The idea for the publications sprang from the Society’s annual Exmoor Review, as the editors sometimes have to cut longer articles. Rather than turn away such information, it was decided instead to publish them as more in-depth studies of around 15-20,000 words.

The first two booklets are out now. No. 1, Exmoor Chroniclers, explores the writings, paintings and photographs of eight people who shared their knowledge of Exmoor in these different ways. They include the historian Hilary Binding, journalist Peter Hesp and writer and editor Victor Bonham-Carter. The essays were written by Caroline Tonson-Rye, Steven Pugsley, Mike Sampson, Hugh Thomas and Martin Hesp. Exmoor Chroniclers draws on archive material in the Exmoor Society’s resource centre to give a fresh perspective on these key Exmoor figures.

No. 2, The Exmoor Pony: Contested Histories, examines the debates around just how ancient the ponies are. Some say they are Ice Age survivors and a repository of ancient, wild-type DNA, whilst others argue that they are a modern breed, albeit a very special one. Drawing on her academic research into the history of animal breeding, and on her personal knowledge of horses and ponies, the Society’s archivist Dr Helen Blackman aimed to put some of the highly specific debates about the Exmoor ponies into a wider context of animal breeding and the history of Exmoor.

There are four more Studies in the pipeline. The next publication is based on a manuscript in the Society’s archives and is used by permission of Clara Greed, widow of the manuscript’s author John Greed. The Minehead Road: Between Exmoor and the Quantocks concerns the history of turnpike roads into Minehead, historically one of the entry points to Exmoor.

Hope Bourne: Reflections in Words will follow in the summer of 2018, in time for the 100th anniversary of Hope’s birth. The volume will explore Bourne’s published and unpublished writing. Known for her work on Exmoor, the author and illustrator nonetheless covered much wider themes, tackling subjects as divergent as poll tax, religion and the history of the horse. The series will continue with Exmoor’s Postal Routes and Historic and Veteran Trees of Exmoor.

The first two volumes are available now at the Society’s headquarters on Dulverton High Street, or online at www.exmoorsociety.com/shop, priced at £6 each. The Exmoor Society is celebrating the launch of the series on Wednesday 15 November, 12 noon until 3pm at 34 High Street, Dulverton.

 

NO LIMIT TO EXMOOR’S DARK SKIES

Following a successful inaugural Dark Skies Festival, Exmoor National Park Authority is launching a suite of new initiatives to further celebrate Exmoor’s status as Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve.   

Over 2,000 people enjoyed 35+ events during the first ever Exmoor Dark Skies Festival, sponsored by Airband, held over half term. Despite cloud cover during many events, the festival was a resounding success with the vast majority of events being fully booked in advance and visitors drawn from across the UK and beyond.

Exmoor became the very first International Dark Sky Reserve to be designated in Europe in 2011. The festival sought to celebrate the opportunities this provides as well as to give a boost to tourism outside of the peak season. Highlights included dusk safaris, stargazing adventures, wild glow-stick swimming, an Astro Party and a giant mobile planetarium. Over 200 schoolchildren took part in a night-time adventure at Wimbleball as part of the festival and a new short film was premiered. The film incorporates stunning imagery of Exmoor’s dark skies and introductions to some of the wonders that can be explored. The film will be available in the Lynmouth and Dunster National Park Centres as well as via the Exmoor National Park YouTube channel.

Now the Exmoor National Park Authority is looking to build on this success.

150,000 Euros has been secured from the European Regional Development Fund (via the Interreg Atlantic area programme) to boost Astro Tourism in the area further. The AtlanticNetSky project will see Exmoor working with partners across the Atlantic area in places such as the Canary Islands, Spain, Ireland and Portugal to develop a network of astro-tourism destinations. There will be opportunities to share learning from across Europe and to develop a shared marketing programme. Locally there will be support for Exmoor businesses to develop new astronomy related tourism products, provision of a Dark Sky Discovery hub and  training opportunities.

The National Park Authority is also hosting a family stargazing weekend at their Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning from 16 to 18 March 2018. The weekend, in the heart of the Dark Sky Reserve, will provide families and groups with an interest in astronomy the opportunity to discover together through the expertise of astronomer and author Seb Jay.

“Our status as Europe’s first International Dark Sky reserve is of immense value to Exmoor. It recognises the fact that we have some of the darkest skies in the country and that we’re proactively working to conserve them,” said Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park. “More than that, it provides a great opportunity to encourage more people to visit and stay longer outside of the peak season. We are really pleased with how the festival has gone – not only did we attract new visitors to the area, we also engaged with many local communities and several businesses put on their own events within the festival programme. We are grateful to all those that were involved in supporting the festival from our sponsor, Airband, to those that volunteered to help events run smoothly.

“Looking ahead we’re excited to have the opportunity to work with some of Europe’s leading astro-tourism destinations to share learning and experiences and support our businesses to further utilise this unique asset.”

For further details visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/stargazing 

MORE THAN 200 TO PERFORM EPIC SEA SYMPHONY AT EXETER CATHEDRAL FOR RNLI

Exeter Cathedral is set to host a large-scale performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ epic ‘Sea Symphony’ that will raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and help save lives at sea.

Members of choral societies in Exeter, Exmouth and Wellington will be joined by the musicians of the Exeter Symphony Orchestra for the celebratory performance, which will take place on Saturday 25 November at 7.30pm. They will be led by the music director of all three choirs Laurence Blyth.

Sue Ryan from Wellington Choral Society said: “Ralph Vaughan Williams is ranked among the finest symphonists of the twentieth century and so this is a big event for all three choirs and we want to raise as much as we can for the wonderful work the RNLI does. We certainly have a much greater appreciation of this and the costs involved since our recent visit to Exmouth Lifeboat Station – fascinating.”

Last year, RNLI lifeboat crews across the UK and Ireland rescued 8,643 people and saved 431 lives. It costs over £485,000 per day to run the RNLI, and the charity relies on donations from the public to continue its lifesaving service.

Chair of Exmouth RNLI’s fundraising team Don Hodgkinson says: “With a combined choir of 200 voices drawn from Exeter Choral Society, Exmouth Choral Society, Wellington Choral Society and the Exeter Symphony Orchestra, this is set to be a wonderful occasion. The RNLI relies on kind donations from the public to continue its work saving lives at sea and we are very grateful that these choral societies have chosen to support the RNLI.”

The concert is sponsored by The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust, and there will be a retiring collection in aid of the RNLI.

Tickets are on sale at £15, £12 & £10 with accompanied under-16s free, from Exeter Visitor Information (tel. 01392 665885), online or on the door.

PHOTO: Musical Director and Conductor Laurence Blyth with Exmouth RNLI volunteers, courtesy Farwood Photography.