Category Archives: Active Exmoor

WIMBLEBALL LAKE REACHES FINALS OF BRISTOL, BATH & SOMERSET TOURISM AWARDS

Wimbleball Lake has been selected as one of the finalists in the 2017/18 Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards in the ‘Tourism Experience of the Year’ category.

Wimbleball is managed by South West Lakes Trust whose challenge it is to balance conservation with recreational enjoyment of the lakes as a visitor attraction. Wimbleball boasts the perfect blend of excitement and tranquillity, offering visitors a peaceful retreat into the countryside or a more adventurous day out on Exmoor.

The family-friendly site offers something for everyone including the delightful Duck Café serving fabulous, fresh, local food, a children’s play area, a network of footpaths and cycle tracks as well as archery, high ropes, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, sailing and windsurfing. In addition, there is also a popular campsite offering visitors the opportunity to extend their stay on Exmoor and camp or glamp on site.

Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of South West Lakes Trust, said, “To be a finalist in a very tough category really underlines the fantastic achievements of our awesome Wimbleball team – they are absolutely dedicated to providing unrivalled experiences to our customers, helping them to create treasured memories. We are very proud of this nomination and look forward to welcoming many more new people to the lake to enjoy all that it has to offer.”

The annual competition saw an increase to 24 categories this year, with 111 entries received from across the county. The South West Lakes Trust team will be in suspense until the prestigious Awards Ceremony on 9 November, when they will learn whether they have won a Gold, Silver or Bronze award.

Successful businesses in the Awards will automatically be considered for matching categories in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2018 with the chance to go on to represent Somerset, Bristol and Bath at the National VisitEngland Awards.

Follow Wimbleball Lake on Facebook to find out how they got on.

EXMOOR OPEN WATER SWIM RACE REPORT

500 people took to the water at the inaugural Exmoor Open Water Swim on Saturday at Wimbleball Lake. In this first event ever of its kind at Wimbleball, the weather played ball as more women than men swam the single loop lap of this magnificent reservoir.

Mike Morris, Event Director, says: “Open-water swimming is a massive growth activity and it is so great to see kids aged 12 swimming with 70 year olds – we are so grateful to South West Lakes Trust for allowing us to put on the event.”

Top GB athletes competed in an Elite Wave followed by the rest of the entrants who were a mixed array of seasoned open-water swimmers and first-timers. Entrants could choose between the 2km and 4km course and about 50 kayakers from Bideford and Exmoor Canoe Clubs plus 5 safety boats ensured that all entrants were well looked after.

First place in the men’s 4km went to Channel swimmer Nils Young from London, with a stunning time of 51 minutes and 31 seconds, who beat  Mark Richards from Bristol by 30 seconds. They swam side by side for the whole race, both having tacitly decided not to draft each other, with Young edging ahead in the last 800m. “An enjoyable swim in a stunning location,” was how Young described it. “It was a big yet really friendly event and I’ll definitely be back to defend my title next year!”

Vikki Thompson from Exeter took gold in the women’s 4km, with a time of 53 minutes 40 seconds, giving her third position overall.

The surprise of the day was the winner of the 2km: Oliver Heard who is only 12 years old and is fresh from breaking the record on completing the Solent Swim on 17 September 2017. Race Director Pete Wright said: “An absolutely stunning swimmer who cut through the field with a really smooth swim stroke – he led from the outset and beat Ben Haslett from Bristol by at least 25m.”

The women’s 2km was taken by Kathryn Saddler from Exeter. Second place was another 12-year-old pupil from Taunton School: Macey Barrett. Mike Morris says: “I am not sure what sort of porridge Taunton School give their pupils but I want some!”

There were also about 40 non-wetsuit-wearers who braved the elements, including GB former international swimmer, Londoner Nuala Muir-Cochrane, who took gold in her category.

Vicky Raybould Taunton who came in seventh in the super vet category commented: “Great work on the planning and carrying off a safe fun event – definitely back next year.”

The event organisers also had the pleasure of welcoming Giles Long MBE, one of the most successful paralympic swimmer of our time to hand out medals and prizes.

In excess of £20,000 has been raised for charity from The Exmoor Open Water Swim and its sister event, The Croyde Ocean Triathlon (see our summer issue, which featured the event). Money went to Children’s Hospice South West, the Red Cross, the RNLI, the Syrian Refugees and Surfers Against Sewage.

All results and photos can be found at www.exmoorswim.co.uk and there are also video clips of everyone who crossed the finish line!

The organisers would like to give a big thanks to all the volunteers including the Rotary Club, Childrens Hospice South West, Exmoor Canoe Club, Bideford Canoe Club and all the other and a massive thanks to the sponsors: Dryrobe, Alpine Elements, Exmoor Gin, Discover Chocolate and Zoggs UK,

The event was a sell-out and is set to double in size next year. Next year’s Exmoor Open Water swim in association with The Pickwell Trust will take place on 29 September. On line entries will soon be available at www.exmoorswim.co.uk.

PHOTO: Helen Hounslow (on the right) from Taunton School aged 12 – 4th in her category in 2km. Courtesy Howaboutdave Photography

 

LEISURE CENTRE PROJECT FOR NORTH DEVON MOVES FORWARD

The dream of a new leisure centre for North Devon took three monumental steps closer to reality last week, with exciting news from Sport England as the icing on the cake!

The project, led by North Devon Council’s Parks, Leisure and Culture team, will see a new eight-lane swimming pool and other leisure facilities built onto the Tarka Tennis Centre at Seven Brethren, Barnstaple.

Last week a planning application was submitted and validated, with hopes that this will be determined by December. The search for an operator to design, build, operate and maintain the new leisure facilities is now live, with details of the contract online at www.supplyingthesouthwest.org.uk – the closing date to register an interest and submit a response is 27 October 2017 at midday.

On Thursday 14 September, Sport England confirmed that its Investment Committee is in support of the project and has formally invited the council to submit an application for funding. This means Sport England has ring-fenced £1.5m towards the project, and will work alongside the council to support its application for funding. If successful, construction of the new facilities could begin in autumn 2018 and be complete by summer 2020.

Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “We may have been fairly quiet about our leisure centre project for a while, but behind the scenes a huge amount of work has been going on to drive the project forward and this is the news we’ve been waiting for from Sport England. I am so delighted by their decision to support our application and look forward to continuing to work with them to progress our funding bid.

“We also reached two key milestones last week, with the planning application lodged and the contract out to tender. I would like to congratulate the officers for what they have achieved so far and thank them for their professionalism and continuing  hard work. North Devon Leisure Centre is coming to the end of its useful life and we’ve got to work hard to secure this funding to provide a new pool and leisure facilities to replace it.”

To keep up to date with the progress of this project, follow the council’s blog www.newleisurecentre.wordpress.com.

 

THE GREAT EXMOOR RIDE

The Great Exmoor Ride, on 3 September, is a new city-to-coast challenge ride from the team behind the hugely popular Great Weston Ride (GWR). It starts in Taunton and ends on the seafront at Blue Anchor near Minehead, covering 63 miles of tranquil Somerset country lanes and venturing onto and across the eastern part of the National Park (the route packs in almost 1,600 metres of climbing).

The aim is to replicate the challenge and enjoyment of the GWR in another wonderful part of Somerset and, while this new event is most definitely a decent cycling challenge, it has been designed to be accessible and to appeal to as many people as possible who are keen to enjoy it as a social and community occasion at their own pace, with no time pressures.

The event is registered with British Cycling and riders will be provided with a whole host of event support services, including clear route signage, marshalling, medical cover, and ample mechanical support throughout the route. And the event organisers are once again asking riders to consider if they can fundraise while taking on the challenge, with Prostate Cancer UK being the event’s official charity partner.

Find out more: www.greatexmoorride.com.

MICHAEL CAINES MBE BECOMES CALVERT TRUST EXMOOR AMBASSADOR

Celebrity chef Michael Caines MBE, who visited Calvert Trust Exmoor earlier this month, has agreed to become an Ambassador for the charity, calling the centre “one of North Devon’s ‘hidden gems”.

“Calvert Trust Exmoor is a fantastic facility,” Michael explained following a motivational speech he gave to an invited audience of visitors and local dignitaries at the centre on Tuesday. “It provides amazing opportunities for people who are challenged in life through a variety of disabilities, and it also supports the families who care for them.”

Born and raised in Exeter, Michael lost his right arm in a road accident in 1994, but has risen to the top of his profession, being named AA’s Chef of the Year in 2007 and holding two Michelin stars for 18 consecutive years. Michael describes the accident as a defining part of his life, alongside the day he was adopted in terms of importance.

“My upbringing defined my outlook in the sense of who I am; but the love and support of friends and family that got me through that difficult day,” Michael said. “That day changed me, for sure. It made me a better person because I became more compassionate. If it hadn’t been for the compassion of others, then I’d have never got through that day.”

Calvert Trust Exmoor CEO, Heidi Watson, said the charity was delighted that Michael has agreed to become an Ambassador. “He’s a shining example of someone who has not only overcome disability but has proved to the world what a disabled person can achieve in their lives.”

Michael, who recently added The Coach House at Kentisbury Grange to his portfolio and the newly opened Lympstone Manor near Exeter, explained that the local community can play its part in helping the guests that stay at Calvert Trust Exmoor: “The community has a big role to play, making sure that the individuals who come here, for whatever reason, whatever background or circumstances, whatever their individual story is, get the opportunity to live a thorough and fulfilling life – one that challenges them and gives them the qualities of life that we all want: ‘happiness.’ That’s the one key quality that I think is vital.

“We’re all challenged; we all have demons,” he continued. “Some of us might suffer from depression, some of you might have got up this morning feeling like it’s a tough day; but their days are always tough and always challenging. This wonderful facility at Calvert Trust Exmoor gives people what I call ‘positive challenges’ that add value to their lives, and in doing so breaks down that word ‘disability’ into opportunity and ability.”

One of the UK’s most celebrated chefs, Michael concluded by saying that every day he gets now is “a gift”.

“I could have died at 25, but I didn’t. Life is short enough anyway, and given those challenges that we have, they make us a stronger and a better person. If you’ve been given opportunity to continue your life and drive forward with the help and support of others, then your potential can be realised too.

“It’s really inspiring to see so much passion in the people that run Calvert Trust Exmoor and the community that supports it. And I’m very proud to be associated with the centre.”

To find out more about how you can get involved in the work of Calvert Trust Exmoor, visit the website www.calvert-trust.org.uk/support or call 01598 763221.

WATCHET BOWLING CLUB STARTS TO REALISE ITS DREAM

Watchet’s ambitions to have a state-of-the-art Bowling Club are closer to being realised thanks to a £50,500 grant from a Leisure Fund secured from the Hinkley Point C project which is administered by West Somerset Council.

Watchet Bowling Club is keen to transform its facilities and provide a high-quality community venue for the area and the money will go towards the first phase of the project to replace old garages with a new indoor bowling rink.

The high-achieving club has a real track record: the women players reached the semi-finals of two trophies last season, while the men won the league and also swept the board in county competitions.

A new indoor rink will give the club the space for county-level competitions and make it possible for games to be played simultaneously, rather than have to wait for the one rink to become available.

The club has now gained planning consent for this project and is hoping the community will also support the initiative through the newly launched Somerset West Lottery. The club is one of the local good causes that will benefit from the weekly draws.

Tickets for the lottery are now available to buy and the first weekly draw takes place on 29 Jul, with a top prize of £25,000 on offer and a two-night stay in The Royal Seven Stars Hotel in Totnes as an additional bonus prize for this first draw. The lottery is a joint West Somerset Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council project to help community initiatives.

The Bowling Club started out on its journey to transform its premises four years ago and, after consulting the community, drew up plans to improve its own facilities while also providing a real community hub for educational, recreational, sporting and social activities for all age groups.

The initiative has three main strands:

  • replacement of garages with a new  indoor double rink bowling green with associated facilities
  • internal and external alterations to the existing clubhouse to provide a quality community venue able to accommodate 150 people
  • erection of an extension to provide a gym

The club is working in partnership with Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership and local providers and clubs.

The successful bid for funding from West Somerset Council will be followed by bids to other funding pots including Sport England, Power to Change and the Big Lottery.

Club treasurer, Marilyn Binding, said: “Watchet has no community venue able to accommodate large numbers. Our improved venue will fill this gap and it will provide somewhere for all sectors of the local community to take part in a wide range of activities.

“Our proposed project will act as an accessible and inviting focal point for our current population and newcomers moving here to work at Hinkley Point and join in with what is happening locally.

“The centre will make the most of the opportunity to target both workers themselves and their friends and families – encouraging them to participate together in community activities, including healthy living, educational, social and leisure activities.”

Cllr David Westcott, Lead Member for communities with West Somerset Council, said: “This is an ambitious project with a real community focus that will provide Watchet with facilities that many larger towns would envy.

“The Club has also shown the initiative to make a successful bid for funding from our Leisure Fund and to become one of the good causes supported by our local lottery.”

FAMILY FUN AT WIMBLEBALL LAKE OPEN DAY

On Sunday 2 July West Country charity South West Lakes Trust held their annual Open Day at a very sunny Wimbleball Lake. Over 1,900 people of all ages attended the event and were able to take part in a variety of activities, both on and off the water, including: bushcraft, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, archery, high ropes, roller zorbing and fishing tasters.

For the little ones there was also face painting by Anna Fraser, a bouncy castle, provided by ‘Wellington Bouncy Castles’, and giant games. Visitors of all ages were also given the chance to try out a range of instruments from around the world with an all-day session provided by ‘Music Mash’.

Local stallholders were kept busy with a steady stream of visitors and there was also the chance to get up close to some of North Devon Hawk Walks’ magnificent birds of prey.

The hog roast proved extremely popular as did the wood-fired pizzas provided by Rebel Town Pizza. The Duck Café were also kept busy throughout the day serving some of their renowned delicious treats, including copious amounts of ice cream!

Luke Hoather, Centre Manager at Wimbleball Lake, said, “What an amazing day! So many people enjoying what Wimbleball has to offer, even the sun joined us. I would like to say a big thank you to the Wimbleball team, South West Fishing For Life, Wimbleball Lake Sailing Club and the Duck Café for helping to make the day such a success. We look forward to next year’s event!”

The next event taking place at Wimbleball will be South West Fishing For Life’s annual family fun day on 6 August, 12p-3.30pm. The afternoon will include a variety of craft stalls and lot of fun and games for the children. For more information about upcoming events at Wimbleball, and other South West Lakes Trust sites, please call 01566 771930 or visit www.southwestlakes.co.uk

THE GREAT EXMOOR RIDE IS COMING!

The Great Exmoor Ride is a brand-new city-to-coast challenge bike ride from the team behind the hugely popular Great Weston Ride (GWR), and the inaugural outing is taking place in the West Country this summer.

Billed as the GWR’s ‘baby brother’, the Great Exmoor Ride starts in Taunton and ends on the seafront at Blue Anchor near Minehead, but only after it has covered 63 miles (100km) of a stunning route through tranquil Somerset country lanes and on to and across the eastern part of Exmoor National Park.

The Ride is taking place on Sunday 3 September 2017 and participants are promised another great day to remember, courtesy of a spectacular route and the prospect of a late summer day out by the sea with friends and family at the end of it all.

And, while the Great Exmoor Ride may be the GWR’s baby brother in terms of its age, it is worth noting that it is every bit as challenging as an event – probably even more so, with the 63-mile route packing almost 1,600 metres of climbing.

A spokesman for the Great Exmoor Ride commented: “The aim with the Great Exmoor Ride is to replicate the challenge and enjoyment of the GWR in another wonderful part of Somerset and, while this new event is most definitely a decent cycling challenge, it’s been designed to still be accessible and to appeal to as many people as possible.

“We want to see lots of people out on their bikes and rising to their own personal challenge on the Great Exmoor Ride. It’s a truly spectacular route and there’s certainly enough of a challenge on offer. Like the GWR, it’s something that most people with a degree of fitness and the right mindset should be able to tackle – we want to see all sorts of people taking part, it’s very much intended as a social and community occasion so people are actively encouraged just to do it at their own pace with no time pressures, and we’re certain that riders who take the challenge will feel a huge sense of achievement when they reach the coast and cross the finish line.

“And, of course, with the long-established Great Weston Ride in July and the new Great Exmoor Ride in September, it’s a fantastic opportunity for people to bookend their summer with two fabulous West Country bike rides!”

The event is registered with British Cycling, the sport’s governing body, and riders will be provided with a whole host of event support services, including clear route signage, marshalling, medical cover, and ample mechanical support throughout the route.

The event organisers are once again asking riders to consider if they can fundraise while taking on the challenge, with Prostate Cancer UK being the event’s official charity partner. Over £150,000 has already been raised for the charity via the GWR and it is hoped that the Great Exmoor Ride can emulate that success over time.

Further information and full details on the event, including how to enter, can be found at www.greatexmoorride.com.

AIR AMBULANCE COAST TO COAST CYCLISTS RARING TO GO!

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is holding its seventh annual Coast to Coast (C2C) Cycle Challenge on Sunday 14 May 2017 and is hoping that the public will come out in support of the 600 cyclists taking part.

The event, which is not a race, involves a challenging 54-mile cycle ride which starts at Watchet Harbour in the north and ends at West Bay in the south, following a wonderfully scenic route through the beautiful Somerset and Dorset countryside. A staggered start will see the stronger cyclists set off first at 11am, with the less experienced riders departing at 11.15am. A shorter 11-mile route starts at the Royal Oak public house in Drimpton at 2pm and also finishes at West Bay.

Last year’s event saw people of all ages and abilities take part, raising over £81,000 (including gift aid) for the life-saving charity. With only 600 places available, it was no surprise that the event sold out within 11 hours of online registration being open.

This ever-popular event is renowned for being an emotional and inspiring day out for everyone involved. That’s no surprise given the fact that the cyclists include patients who have experienced the work of the air ambulance first-hand and those who take part in memory of a loved one. Others get involved as part of a team or simply want to challenge themselves and support the charity in return.

This year, for the first time, the cyclists who were fortunate in gaining a place, will be joined by members of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance crew who are set to cycle the 54 mile route on triplet bicycles.

The team, who call themselves the ‘COASTBUSTERS’ have been training for the event at their Henstridge airbase and are hoping the public will get behind them and show their support.

In a bid to raise £2,500 and fund one life-saving mission, the team have set up a JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/dsaa-coastbusters where donations of any size can be made. Mobile phone users can easily donate by texting: CREW54 £5 to 70070. Every penny raised really will make a big difference.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge is a fantastic occasion and the atmosphere is incredible. The fact that members of our crew are taking part this year makes the event even more special. They are incredible ambassadors of the Charity and I’m sure it will be an extremely emotional day all round; the aches and pains will definitely be worthwhile.

“Every year the event seems to get better and that is mainly due to the wonderful team of volunteers, members of the public and local businesses who help us with marshalling and keeping the cyclists safe.

“Our thanks go to the event sponsors and the various pit stop locations along the route, without their help and support, we simply could not put on such a large scale event.

“Finally, a very big thank you to all the cyclists taking part who are encouraging their friends and family to sponsor them. Let’s hope the weather stays fine and we raise as much as possible and make this the best Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge yet!”

Supporters will be able to encourage the cyclists at the starting point, along the route, or at the finishing line celebrations at East Beach Car Park in West Bay.

More information about the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance can be found by visiting: www.dsairambulance.org.uk or by calling: 01823 669604.

EAT DIRT ON EXMOOR 2017: THANK YOU DULVERTON!

Mountain bike enthusiasts from across the South West converged on Dulverton at the weekend for the second annual ‘Eat Dirt on Exmoor’ event, organised by Calvert Trust Exmoor and supported by Exmoor National Park and the fantastic people of Dulverton.

282 cyclists took part in the circular ride, raising over £5,650 between them, with more sponsorship still coming in. The event started in Dulverton and followed the route of the River Barle up to Tarr Steps, then up onto the moor, south-east to the River Exe and then back into Dulverton for the finish line.

The riders really enjoyed the event. As Paul Mugenyi from Bristol said, “Thank you all so much for an amazing day and course. I really loved it and dare I say it was better than last year! A massive thanks to the organisers, marshals and land owners!”

Rob Lott, Head of Communications at Calvert Trust Exmoor, said, “We were absolutely delighted that so many riders came out to support us and enjoy the beauty of Exmoor. Without the support of so many wonderful people from Dulverton and the surrounding area who allowed us to use their land, volunteered to be marshals and run refreshment stations, and helped set up the route, this event just wouldn’t have been possible. Thanks to your support we will be able to help more people with disabilities to access cycling and other adventurous activities.”

As well as the fabulous volunteer marshals and helpers, Calvert Trust Exmoor would also like to thank the brilliant local businesses and organisations whose support enabled the event to happen: Mole Valley Farmers, The Bike Shop (Tiverton), Ivan’s Coffee, GT Bicycles and AMASS Medical  as well as Exmoor National Park.

Photos from ‘Eat Dirt on Exmoor 2017 can be seen online at www.calvert-trust.org.uk/eatdirt. Calvert Trust Exmoor hopes to announce the date for ‘Eat Dirt on Exmoor 2018’ in the next few weeks.