Category Archives: Coast


News from the North Devon Biosphere

The North Devon Marine Pioneer held its second stakeholder workshop recently, at Alverdiscott Community Hall in North Devon. A wide range of people from across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset braved the snow to participate in this event.

With over 40 attendees, it was a lively day with input from a range of different marine sectors, including the fishing industry, local government, tourism and recreation, maritime industry and conservation.

The beginning of the day was led by the Marine Pioneer partners; they presented some demonstration projects commencing as part of the North Devon Marine Pioneer. Later, participants were asked for their advice and expertise, focusing on four subjects: marine governance and management; the local fishing industry; the Taw Torridge estuary; and how we can sustainably fund the management of North Devon’s Marine Protected Areas.

“This workshop showed just how engaged North Devon people and our neighbours are with their sea, estuaries and rivers. This was a successful day and the information from the day will be used to guide our next steps in the Pioneer,” says Chrissie Ingle, the Marine Pioneer Coordinator.

What is the Marine Pioneer?
The Government has committed to ensure that our natural environment that provides our prosperity and health is protected and improved for us and future generations. The 25 Year Environment Plan was launched on 11 January by Theresa May and sets out how this would be achieved.

To help accomplish this there are four ‘Pioneer’ areas – where new approaches from the plan will be trialled. The four pioneers are: the landscape of North Devon, the marine environment in North Devon and Suffolk, a river catchment in Cumbria and the urban area of Greater Manchester.

What has happened so far?
There have already been two North Devon Marine Pioneer workshops: one in March 2017 produced long-term aims and ambitions for North Devon’s Marine area, with agreed goals such as ‘improved local fisheries management’, ‘robust protection of biodiversity’ and ‘increased local decision-making’. The second, in November 2017, was a focussed workshop with licencers and planners to consider how our natural marine environment can be better incorporated into local decision making – both reports from these workshops can be found online at

From this second workshop local information and experiences can define how we proceed with the Pioneer. There will be a report from the day, which will be made available on the North Devon Biosphere’s Marine Pioneer webpage

PHOTO by Andrew Wheatley.


A tailored workshop designed to help local businesses from transport providers to tearooms make the most of the Somerset section of the England Coast Path is being held in Dunster in February. The section, which was opened in 2016, runs for 58-miles, from Minehead to Brean, following some of the country’s most spectacular coastline and opens up a new and exciting experience for walkers.

The workshop, at the Luttrell Arms Hotel on 22 February, offers the chance to find out how:

  • the new Coast Path can benefit business
  • to attract more walking tourists/visitors
  • the latest trends in social media and walking tourism will impact business on the Coast Path
  • local distinctiveness and authenticity can increase business
  • to create unique experiences
  • to build a great social media campaign around the new coast path product
  • to provide the best customer service to visitors coming to the coast path to ensure they return and spread the word to attract new visitors.

Cllr Andrew Hadley, West Somerset Council’s Lead Member for economic regeneration and growth, said: “The new Coast Path is a great natural asset for West Somerset and I hope that local businesses involved in tourism will join the workshop to discover how they can make the most of it.

“Tourism is a vitally important industry locally with as many as a third of the local workforce employed in this sector. The path is another attraction to add to the many we are proud of and it will attract more visitors, providing new opportunities for tourism businesses.”

Exmoor speakers include: Max Lawrence – plus others from Somerset – Sarah Littler – Project Manager Rights of Way, Kate Doodson –, and Nell Barrington –

A finger buffet and refreshments will be included along with time for networking with like-minded businesses. Those attending will receive a pack of information on how to get the most from the Coast Path with loads of helpful links, ideas and contacts.

Places are limited so please book now here:

PHOTO: The opening of the Somerset section of the England Coast Path back in 2016. You can read the story which we published at the time here.


The RNLI is in search of new recruits to spend the summer working on some of the South West’s most popular beaches, as applications open for 2018’s beach lifeguards and face-to-face fundraisers.

Both roles are essential in supporting the RNLI to reduce the number of people who drown on our coasts, and to help keep people safe by providing key local safety advice to the millions of holidaymakers who visit the beaches every summer.

RNLI lifeguards patrol over 240 beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. At the forefront of the RNLI’s lifesaving work, they saved 127 lives and helped 20,538 people in 2016. Successful applicants receive world-class training in search and rescue, lifesaving and casualty care techniques, and they have the chance to develop transferable skills.

Abbie Cranage, Area Lifesaving Manager for West Cornwall, said: “Working as a lifeguard has got to be one of the best jobs to have – you get to call the beach your office for a start! But far more importantly, you are there to make sure the public enjoy it in the safest possible way. With strong career prospects and leadership skills, for many it’s more than a summer job, with some of the busier beaches patrolled from March until the end of October.

“This is a demanding job requiring commitment, skill and a clear head. The South West has some of the busiest beaches in the country. We’re looking for people with courage, determination and the ability to draw on their training and make the right decision if someone’s life is in danger. It is an incredibly rewarding role that involves strong communication skills, talking to members of the public about key coastal activity safety messages and raising awareness of coastal risks.”

The RNLI is also recruiting face-to-face fundraisers, who’ll work alongside lifeguards to provide beach visitors with important safety advice, playing a vital role in saving lives by educating the public on risks at the coast. Applicants will need to be dynamic and act as a positive ambassador – encouraging support for this lifesaving charity is just one of the things these fundraisers will do this summer season.

Hannah Cobb, Face to Face Fundraising Manager for South Devon, West Dorset and Somerset, said: “A good fundraiser generally has to be friendly and relaxed, but also energetic, able to talk to anyone and be passionate about what they do.

“We provide quality training which ensures new fundraisers feel confident and capable in the role. Developing new skills, working in a team at the beach for a national charity is really has to be one of Britain’s best summer jobs.”

Find out more about how you can make a difference and apply to be part of these amazing lifesaving teams at or search for #BestSummerJob on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo by Nathan Williams


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:

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


Minehead has netted more funding to help revitalise the town. The LEADER funding – EU money allocated to help rural areas – of almost £80,000 has just been announced and means Minehead’s dream of creating a Maritime Mile can be realised.

It will complement the Enterprising Minehead project that has already won substantial funding to make the resort the go-to seaside destination by making the most of its traditional appeal as a seaside resort – but with a twenty-first-century twist.

The aim is to give Minehead the buzz that is needed to bring new visitors in, while retaining the Edwardian charm that keeps holiday-makers returning year after year.

The Maritime Mile initiative will create a new heritage interpretation trail, running the length of the seafront to showcase Minehead’s maritime history, myths and legends. An open-air gallery will be built at the trail’s central point to display images and artefacts from Minehead’s past.

The Maritime Mile walk will link to existing features like the South West Coast Path/England Coast Path and signpost to other points of interest along the seafront that will be included in the new interactive/interpretation signage.

The signs will feature augmented reality technology to make the walk exciting and interactive – and it will link to a new website that will be launched. West Somerset Council will be working with Minehead Museum and Butlins on the materials. Augmented reality uses computer-aided graphics to add an additional layer of information to aid understanding and/or interaction with the physical world around you.

The central area of the seafront trail will incorporate the open-air gallery as a showcase for the trail and will be an attraction in its own right. This is the central gateway to the seafront from The Avenue and West Somerset Railway, and will have real impact.

The gallery will be formed from stone-filled gabion baskets with gallery images of Minehead mounted onto marine plywood. Content for the gallery will depict historic images of the town provided by the local community and the museum. The gallery will also include augmented reality to make it more fun – and informative.

A new state-of-the-art responsive website will also be developed to capitalise on marketing the town as a key destination and will also link to the seafront trail/walk and its innovative technology.

Cllr Andrew Hadley, Lead Member for economic regeneration, said: “This is excellent news for Minehead, and will give an added boost to the exciting projects already being developed to regenerate The Esplanade and give our visitors even more reason to come and enjoy what Minehead has to offer.”

“We will be working hand-in-hand with the community, and our Coastal Community Team to deliver this imaginative and exciting project,” said Cllr Roger Thomas, who chairs the Coastal Communities Team in Minehead.

“Our team of officers has worked incredibly hard to secure funding from a variety of sources so that we can invest in Minehead to benefit the local economy and provide visitors with a fun and informative way of finding out about Minehead’s past.

“We are lucky to have a fascinating history that can be brought to life through harnessing the incredible technology that is available now. “


RNLI lifeguards will be maintaining patrols on some of the busiest beaches in Cornwall and Devon over the school half term period (21-29 October).

With a growing number of people looking to spend time at the beach out of the summer season, as in previous years, additional lifeguard cover is being provided at some of the more popular beaches in the region to help keep people visiting the coast this autumn safe.

Community Safety Partner at the RNLI Steve Instance says: “It has been a busy 2017 season for our lifeguards, who have worked hard to keep large numbers of beachgoers safe. They are well trained to deal with a whole range of scenarios from rescues in the water, to first aid incidents and lost children. We would encourage people who are planning to head to the coast this half term to visit a lifeguarded beach.”

Beaches operating a lifeguard service this half term in Cornwall are Porthtowan, Perranporth, Praa Sands, Gwithian, Porthmeor, Sennen, Fistral, Watergate Bay, Towan and Mawgan Porth, Polzeath, Widemouth and Summerleaze.

In Devon, there will be lifeguard patrols at Croyde, Woolacombe and Bantham beaches.

For those who aren’t able to head to a lifeguarded beach, it’s important they take steps to keep themselves and their families safe. Ways in which they can do this is to:

–        Read safety signage at the entrance to a beach

–        Go with a friend or tell someone on the shore where you are going

–        Be aware of the conditions and your own capabilities in the water

–        Check the tide times

–        Carry a means of communication

As part of the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign the charity advises that you do not enter the water if you see someone in trouble, but call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. If you have something that floats, throw it to them.

Anyone in difficulty in the water should try not to panic or fight against any currents. They should hold onto anything buoyant they have, call for help and raise their hand to attract attention and try to keep their head above water.

You can find out more about how to stay safe in and around the water by visiting


This is a little write-up about the call out of the RN Bomb Disposal Section to Hinkley which you may have read about recently. It was sent in by one of our photographers, Ian Brown, who is Burnham-on-Sea RNLI’s Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer…

Well it’s been a very busy day for us here at the station. Our first job of the day was to assist a team from the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Section. Ordinance had been located in the Bristol Channel and they were tasked to make it safe. Their boat had been left with us for a couple of days as they had been called away to another operation but this morning they returned ready to go with all their equipment.

After discussing their plans and preparing kit they made their way to the beach. Due to the state of the tide and the risk of their vehicle sinking in the soft mud we launched the boat using our Soft Track which is much better suited to the conditions. Our crews are well aware of the risks so it seemed a sensible option for us to carry out the launch. The Bomb Disposal Team then made their way to the site of the ordinance and made it safe by the use of small charges. They then returned to the beach where we assisted with recovery. It was then back to station where our launch vehicle was washed down ready for service.

You may think that was enough for one day but many of our staff and crews then went on to undertake shore-based assessments which form part of their training. This continued all day including more assessments afloat when we launched for training that evening.

PHOTO by Mike Lang


A fellow of the British Institute of Professional Photography who shoots all over the world for National Geographic, Nigel Hicks, has been announced as the official judge for this year’s South West Coast Path photo competition.

Based in South Devon, his latest project is much closer to home, having recently published a stunning collection of work from the region in ‘Wild Southwest’.

Nigel says of the Coast Path: “The huge amount of work I’ve done overseas has taught me just how valuable our South West Coast Path is. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been prevented from accessing coastlines overseas by closed private property, my reaction to which usually varies somewhere between bewilderment and righteous indignation. By contrast, the Coast Path embodies a deeply held democratic principle that everyone, no matter how rich or poor, how famous or obscure, can wander at will along almost every piece of our coast. Not only is the coast itself priceless but so is this principle.

“As far as I’m concerned, the Coast Path is one of the world’s great hiking trails, not just one of the UK’s. Though some sections offer gentle walks, much of the terrain is surprisingly rugged and challenging even for a seasoned hiker, and along practically every yard of its 630-mile trail, dramatic and incredibly beautiful vistas continually unfold. This is one of Britain’s wildest natural frontiers, quite a surprise to many people on such a crowded island.

“Whilst it’s true that the great majority of both visitors to the South West and the region’s residents don’t walk vast stretches of the Coast Path, I’m sure it’s also true that the great majority do walk at least small fragments of it, making the Path quite central to the region’s tourist – and hence its principal – economy, enabling large numbers of people to get close to and enjoy the region’s principal attraction – its coastline.”

The South West Coast Path’s annual photo competition closes on 1 December 2017 and is open to budding photographers of all ages and abilities; prizes include a £250 voucher to spend at Cotswold Outdoor for the overall winner and a place on any of Nigel Hicks’ one-day photography workshops in the South West, plus a signed copy of his book. All calendar winning entries will receive membership of the South West Coast Path Association, a Cicerone guidebook, as well as the chance to grace the official 2018 Coast Path calendar.

For more information about the South West Coast Path Association visit

Photographing the Exmoor Coast

Here are some of Nigel Hicks’ top tips for taking great photographs on the Exmoor coast:

Exmoor offers some of England’s most dramatic and stunning coastline, so it’s no wonder that everyone wants to get the best possible photos of the landscapes and seascapes. Of course, great photography on Exmoor’s coast follows essentially the same golden photography rules as anywhere else, but there are a few issues specific to this coastline. Paramount among these is the fact that the great majority of Exmoor’s coast faces north, and so for much of the year the cliffs have no sunshine directly on them.

So, with that little conundrum in mind, here are my top tips for Exmoor coastal photography:

  1. Generally speaking, shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon/evening, times when the sun is low, giving good shadows and bathing the landscape in a golden light. That said, in mid-winter there’s no need to stick rigidly with this rule as you’ll get this kind of light all day long (if there’s any sunlight at all!).
  2. When photographing coastal cliffs try to choose those sections that face east or west (rather than north-facing cliffs) and which, as a result, receive sunlight at least for a few hours of the day. If you’re shooting a west-facing cliff, photograph it in the afternoon/evening. Photograph in the morning if you’re looking at an east-facing cliff.
  3. Keep your compositions simple and containing a single strong subject that dominates (but doesn’t necessarily fill) the image frame. Most people try to cram too many elements into their photos, with the result that they look cluttered and lack any impact. Shoot those scenes that contain a strong subject, make that the main subject of your image frame and then try to compose it in such a way that the rest of the frame is free of clutter and distractions. Easier said than done, but this is the crux of great photography.
  4. When photographing a view in which you have to have some foreground visible, make sure it’s an interesting foreground; not just dull, rough grassland or tangled brown brambles or bracken, which will distract from the final photo. Select your viewpoint carefully so that your foreground contains something interesting, such as an angular rock that points towards your subject further into the frame, or a meandering stream or track, again ‘leading the way’ towards your subject.
  5. If photographing at dawn, dusk or on a very dull day when light levels are low, put the camera on a tripod, and let the camera use a long exposure. It is very hard to hold a camera still enough to get a sharp, high-quality image in these conditions, so don’t even bother trying!

Sticking to these golden rules will help you generate some great photos of Exmoor’s coast, so this coming autumn and winter get out there with the camera and get shooting!

To see some of Nigel’s work, pick up a copy of Wild Southwest, his latest book about the landscapes and wildlife of South West England. It is available through all good bookshops and online at both Amazon and at


This October the Challenge returns to the South West Coast Path. Your Challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to help beat the record for the number of miles of Coast Path covered collectively in a month – and raise vital funds for the upkeep and improvement of this beautiful trail.

Join one of the Association’s organised events throughout October like the Minehead to Porlock 10-mile walk on 7 October, or set yourself a personal challenge. Walk, jog, skip, hop or run as much or as little of the Path as you like – it is totally up to you! Grab your friends, family and colleagues, head down to your favourite part of the Path and achieve something amazing together.

The Challenge raises money for two registered charities – the South West Coast Path Association, and the National Trust, who work together to care for and improve the Path, ensuring the unique and precious coastal landscape of the South West can be enjoyed on foot, for free, now and in future generations.

Registration is just £10 and includes an official 2017 Challenge t-shirt. You can either add a donation or fundraise. Your support makes a real difference to the millions of people who come from near and far to explore, keep fit or find peace on the Coast Path each year – good luck!

Register at


RNLI Senior Lifeguard Freddie Hedger has been selected to receive the charity’s Alison Saunders Lifeguarding Award for his heroic actions last summer, when he risked his own life to save body boarder, Mary Harkin, who was in trouble at Croyde Beach, North Devon.

The Alison Saunders Lifeguarding Award is made annually by the Trustees of the RNLI, for the most meritorious rescue by RNLI lifeguards during the previous season. It was created in 2009 and is sponsored by Alison Saunders, a former Deputy Chair of the Institution. Alison Saunders was the first woman to be appointed to the Trustee Committee, and served on the RNLI Council from 1985 to 2009. She was deputy chair from 2004 to 2009.

RNLI Senior Lifeguard Freddie Hedger, courtesy RNLI Jade Dyer.

The 2016 award has been made to Senior Lifeguard Freddie Hedger for his bravery, presence of mind, skill and determination during the rescue which took place on 8 August 2016.

It was sunny with a brisk north-westerly wind and a 5-6ft challenging ‘messy’ surf, with rip currents on both sides of the lifeguard patrolled zone. Croyde is a wide, sandy beach popular with both swimmers and surfers, as it’s considered one of the best surfing beaches in the UK.

At 4pm lifeguard Sean Deasy was actively patrolling the rip currents on the Rescue Water Craft (RWC). At 4.30pm Freddie Hedger joined Sean on a water patrol using a rescue board, making his way to the southern end of the rip current to enter the water. On his way out he teamed up with Sean to help move a group of novice surfers who were drifting out of the black and white flags into the rip current.

It was at this point that Freddie became aware of a surfer and body boarder further out to sea, both of whom appeared to be in difficulty, so he immediately informed Sean who made his way out on the RWC followed by Freddie on the paddle board. On arrival it was clear that the surfer was physically struggling with the difficult conditions and was frightened, having stopped helping the body boarder who was in serious trouble. Sean was unable to rescue Mary, the body boarder, as he couldn’t get close enough with the RWC due to the large surf, which was breaking heavily on the sand bank at this point.

Freddie made the decision to leave his rescue board and swim towards Mary. When he got to her, she was face down in the water and unconscious. He lifted her face out of the water so she could breathe and worked hard to protect her from the waves breaking over them. Sean witnessed them both get dragged under by a wave, disappearing from sight in the turbulent water. He made further attempts to assist Freddie with the rescue, but was hampered by the waves and undertows. With a break in the waves, he was finally able to make a move to rescue them both.

Despite being exhausted, Freddie managed to grab the handle of the rescue sled on the RWC with one hand. Using his other to keep the Mary’s head above water, he signalled to Sean to drag them towards the shore as he tried to keep them afloat. They were towed about 10m before Freddie could hold on no more due to being almost completely exhausted. Fortunately they were now closer to the beach so he was able to stand in the water.

Lifeguard Jack Middleton had seen the events from the shore so met Sean and Freddie at the shoreline with the casualty care kit. Once ashore the casualty, who was barely conscious, began vomiting and was clearly in a bad way. Both an ambulance and coastguard helicopter were called to the beach and Freddie’s presence of mind and leadership were crucial in helping the other emergency services with the rescue.

Freddie stayed with Mary as she was taken to the top of the beach, where she was given casualty care by the RNLI lifeguards before being handed over to the ambulance crew and spent a night recovering in hospital. The surfer managed to get himself back to the safety of the beach and went straight to the lifeguard unit to find out how Mary was.

Mary has since completed a sponsored cycle ride with two friends from her home in London back to Croyde beach as a way of thanking the lifeguards who saved her life that day. So far the trio have raised over £4,000 for the RNLI.

Mary said: “I can’t put into words how much the RNLI mean to me. The team at Croyde are selfless, incredibly brave and highly skilled. Last summer, they put their lives on the line for me and if wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here today. The lifeguards should get the recognition and support they deserve for the work they do.”

The surfer involved in the rescue, Fraser Gibb, said: “As for Freddie’s efforts, it’s hard to describe just how grateful I am that he managed to get out there. I’ve described to many others many times now how I was in awe of his swimming ability as the conditions had changed quickly and it was extremely difficult to control myself, let alone keep someone else afloat… if Freddie hadn’t swam out there like he did and didn’t give up until he had her, it would have been a very different story.”

Freddie will be presented with the award on 24 August by Alison Saunders and joined by the rest of the lifeguard team who helped with the rescue.

PHOTO: The conditions at Croyde beach at the time of the incident, courtesy HM Coastguard.