Category Archives: Active Exmoor

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.

SOUTH WEST LAKES TRUST: 101 THINGS TO DO THIS SUMMER

Regional charity South West Lakes Trust has launched the ultimate family ‘to do’ list. Put down the iPads, immerse yourself in nature and fill your summer with new adventures and experiences with South West Lakes Trust’s ‘101 thing to do this summer’ booklet.

From dramatic tors, open moorland and historical ancient monuments, to wildlife-rich woodlands, lakes and ponds – the lakes really are the ultimate children’s playground! Little adventurers will love exploring and discovering all of the fun things to do!

South West Lakes Trust takes great pride in the care it provides to over 40 inland waters, from the tip of Cornwall to West Somerset, ranging in size from 1 to 900 acres! Some sites provide unrivalled public access to watersports, angling, walking and cycling. Other more sensitive sites, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest or Local Nature Reserves, are managed by the charity’s dedicated Countryside Team.

Explore the South West lakes and discover all the fun things to do as a family. Climb trees, build dens, go on a mini-beast hunt, track animal footprints or take to the water and experience something different – stand up on a paddleboard, race in kayaks or shout ‘arrr’ from a boat.

Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of South West Lakes Trust, said, “We are passionate about people from all walks of life being able to benefit from the wonderful countryside around our lakes. Our work is based around five themes that underpin the work of our charity and our people, one being ‘Play and Explore’. Fewer children are getting a chance to climb trees or play hide and seek in a woodland, so through our ‘Play and Explore’ campaign we aim to provide places for young people and their families to play together. Our 101 things to do this summer booklet is the perfect ‘to do’ list – getting more families outdoors and exploring.”

Download your copy for free from www.southwestlakes.co.uk or purchase a booklet for only £2 from the activity centres or cafés at Stithians Lake near Redruth, Siblyback Lake near Liskeard, Tamar Lakes near Bude, Roadford Lake near Launceston or Wimbleball Lake near Dulverton. You can also download activity sheets, too – get your kids identifying trees, discovering bugs and learning through playful quizzes.

Tick off all the things you and your children have tried and share your adventures with us #101swlakes. How many can you do?

For more information visit the South West Lakes website or call 01566 771930.

BE A QUANTOCK EXPLORER

The Quantocks Events Programme starts this weekend with a woodland spring flowers walk from Aisholt so we thought this would be a good time to share a post from the team at the Quantock Hills AONB…

Grab your rucksack and flask of sugary tea and come and join the Quantock Rangers as the Quantock Hills AONB Service launches its Events Programme for 2017.

Explore the Quantock Hills with our Rangers and Specialists in a series of guided walks throughout the year. Walks include hunting for fossils on our Jurassic Coast Walk, a Wellbeing Walk to help celebrate ‘Naturally Healthy Month’ in May, a Family Bushcraft Day, an evening Bats and Owls Walk and even a Quantock Quiz Walk for the walker who enjoys solving puzzles!

The programme also includes a set of special walks run by the Quantock Volunteer Rangers called Quantock Explorer Walks. These are specially designed to introduce you to different parts of the Quantock Hills and to find out more about the wildlife, plantlife and history of that part of the hills. From Fyne Court to Cothelstone, the Bicknoller loop and a Hill Fort Walk too.

We are also helping to promote others running guided walks on the Quantocks, including a series of walks at Durbourgh Farm including a Dawn Chorus Walk, a Spring Flowers Walk and in the autumn a Fungi Walk. Also, June brings the Quantock Walking Festival run by the Sedgemoor Ramblers.

Quantock AONB Manager Chris Edwards says: “These events are about experiencing the very best of the Quantock Hills, from the 200-million-year-old fossils on the Quantock coastline, to finding out more about how prehistoric people used and changed this landscape. It’s about enjoying the outstanding nature of this important and nationally recognised landscape.”

To book onto an event and to see the programme go to the Quantock Hills AONB website at www.quantockhills.com/events/view you can also find us on Facebook at /Quantock.hills or on Twitter @quantockhills

BECKY PARKER ON THE SOUTHERN ENDURO CHAMPIONSHIP

Here is our second blog from Becky Parker…

For most people Easter weekend is a time for relaxing, eating excessive amounts of chocolate, leisurely family strolls, perhaps a cheeky afternoon beverage in a country pub beer garden. For me and around 300 other mountain bikers, our Easter weekend looked a whole lot different…

Enduro mountain biking in its race form consists of six different timed downhill stages spaced out around an area which you must ride or push between. Your times over the six stages are added together at the end of the day and the fastest  rider overall wins.

Southern Enduro is an events company which organises Enduro events across all of Southern England. They run a series of four events from June to September, with the champs and a night enduro in May as extra stand-alone races.

The Southern Enduro championship took place just outside Minehead as a two-day race with practice on the Saturday and racing on the Sunday. Many riders camped overnight in the race village where sponsors had set up shops, local bike shops were on hand to fix bikes and food vans stayed open into the evening when there was music and a beer tent.

With near perfect weather conditions, there was immense excitement amongst riders about to be let loose on trails normally closed to the public. I took part in the race myself and I can safely say I did not see one rider not grinning from ear to end by the end of practice.

Event organiser Scott and his team did a fantastic job utilising existing trails and building a few extra to put together a great mix that would test rider’s technical skills, bravery and fitness, whilst still delivering a fun factor of 100%. All of the transitions were rideable (depending on your fitness level as there were some long old hills), sticking to fire roads that took you through beautiful forests. Occasionally you would come to a sudden opening with stunning views across the valley that would lift the spirits and distract you from aching legs. From the top of three to four they had included a great little traverse and descent on singletrack. Then the transition back over from four to five took you along the ridgeline with views over moorland right out to the sea where you could just about spot Wales in the distance.

Race day dawned to more blue skies and stoke level was high as we set out for the first climb. The schedule for the day was set up so that riders were set off in groups of 12 with a five-minute gap between. When you registered at the start of the day you could write your name on the board and choose your own group, the idea being that slower riders started first and elites had to go at the end of the day.

In the past I have suffered with nerves whilst racing, putting so much pressure on myself to do well that it has ruined the fun of the experience. So my main aim for this weekend was to stay calm, smile and enjoy the sociable side of Enduro that allows you to ride round all day with your friends. I tried to concentrate on enjoying just riding my bike somewhere new and embracing the excitement and energy that gives me. Other than a few nerves before stage two which was the steepest and most difficult of the day that literally EVERYONE was having issues with, I managed to stick to my plan.

There is a great camaraderie to mountain biking that transcends all ages, sex or ability barriers. You can almost forget your racing as you pedal around bumping into friends heading the other way, chattering to total randomers at the bottom of each stage when you’re all buzzing off the adrenaline telling stories of your various successes and mishaps so far that day.

Southern Enduro events include a ‘Fun’ category for men and women that is designed to encourage newcomers to the sport where they will be less intimidated by being ranked against more experienced and serious racers. This is such a fantastic idea and within the women I believe all of the fun category was made up of ladies new to enduro. It was fab to see 24 women racing altogether, an usually high number at a race this far south.

My own race went really well, with very few mistakes to leave me fourth out of ten in my senior category; a result I was very pleased with in such a competitive field. However, the greatest success of the weekend was the ultimate fun I had shredding new trails, learning lots and having a great laugh with friends old and new. Bikes are the best!

Useful links

Event organisers homepage – southernenduro.co.uk

Results and pictures from the event – www.rootsandrain.com/race5394/2017-apr-16-southern-enduro-southern-enduro-champs-minehead/results/

Link to enter Round 1 of the Southern Enduro series (entries opened on Saturday 22 April) – www.moredirt.com/event/1996

PHOTOS  Courtesy Big Mac Photography