Category Archives: Coast


Volunteers have just completed their training about how to respond to oil pollution emergencies at Ilfracombe Harbour.

The team of officers from North Devon Council completed the training this week with a practical exercise on Monday (6 February 2017). The exercise was designed so that they can familiarise them with the equipment they would use in the event of an emergency.

The event follows a day in the classroom learning about the theory of oil pollution clear-up and how best to protect the environment after an incident.

The Ilfracombe Harbour Board Chairman, Councillor Ian Meadlarkin, says: “We have a statutory responsibility to ensure that North Devon Council maintain a tested Oil Pollution Response Plan and has a fully trained up team who stand ready to act quickly and efficiently if a pollution incident were to occur.  By carrying out these exercises we can ensure that multi agency responses are more effectively co-ordinated when it happens for real.”

Ilfracombe Harbour Master, Rob Lawson says: “It is very important that we maintain a readiness to respond to any pollution incident on the North Devon coast and in particular at the harbour.  I am very grateful to the team of volunteers for their enthusiasm and hard work during the training. However, I hope that I never have to call on them for real because it will mean that we have an  environmentally damaging oil spill on our coastline.”

This training is refreshed every three years and includes working alongside partner organisations such as the RNLI and other specialist equipment providers.

PHOTO: Left to right, back row: Tom Dempster, Adam Sheppard, Nick Dabney, Colin Lewis, Brett Sharp. Front row: Piotr Dregar.



Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is once again encouraging supporters to sign up early for their Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge 2017 after another overwhelming response last year.

The event, which is not designed as a race, involves cycling through some of Dorset and Somerset’s most beautiful countryside and takes place on Sunday 14 May 2017.

Last year’s event sold out within three days of online registration being open and demand is expected to be even higher this year. The event saw cyclists of all ages and abilities take part raising over £70,000 for the life-saving charity.

Online registration will open at 9.30am on Tuesday 13 December, via the charity’s website: and, with only 600 places available, those wishing to take part will need to be quick to avoid disappointment. So why not set yourself a reminder now. We will also put one on our social media pages the day before. Participants can enter as an individual or as a team.

The Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge offers two different routes and distances. For those who like a challenge, the brilliant 54-mile cycle which starts in the Somerset port of Watchet and finishes at West Bay near Bridport will not disappoint.

With a mixture of quiet back roads, interspersed with some very demanding climbs and equally hairy descents, the event has something to offer for everyone! 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.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are thrilled to be able to announce the date for our Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge 2017. This will be our seventh year in the saddle and every year the event seems to get better and better. I believe one of the main reasons for this is the feedback we get from those who take part and the stories of courage and determination along the way.

“We always strive to build on the success of the previous year and with this in mind we are once again restricting our numbers to 600 cyclists. We are also continuing with a staggered start time in order to keep the event as safe as possible and to encourage all standards of cyclists to take part without fear of being overcrowded.

“With such a demand, there will undoubtedly be those who are disappointed not to gain a place which is why I cannot stress enough, how important it is to register early! We are really looking forward to this years’ event and hope that everyone that enters will once again encourage their family and friends to sponsor them in a bid to make 2017 the best Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge yet.”

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has flown more than 11,500 missions since its launch in March 2000, saving many lives and aiding recovery with outstanding immediate care and rapid delivery to the hospital best suited to meet the patient’s needs. With no direct Government or National Lottery funding, we rely on the generosity of the public and events like Coast to Coast for support.

To register online, visit the charity’s website: or for more information call: 01823 669604. Alternatively you can email:

Entrance fees are: Adults (£20) & Under 16′s (£10).


Reaching the parts that are hard to reach, the North Devon Coast AONB team, Skern Lodge and local volunteers are planning several events to remove marine litter washed up on the more remote parts of our coast.

“We are delighted to have funding from Tesco Bags of Help to involve the local community in protecting our wildlife and beaches by removing litter washed in from the sea,” said AONB Education Officer Cat Oliver. “Reaching the more remote beaches presents a number of challenges so we hope that combining the offer of a bracing walk or a chance to scramble down a cliff will inspire more people to help us clean up the beaches.”

The first ‘walk and beach clean’ is on Saturday 3 December at Cockington Mouth from 10am to 3.30pm. This stretch of beach is a 45 minute walk south of Greencliff and north of Peppercombe, where the South West Coast Path dips down onto the beach (west of Abbotsham). Due to the remote location there is a phenomenal amount of marine litter stranded there that rarely gets taken away as there is no vehicle access. This is where Skern Lodge Outdoor Activity Centre comes in to provide the staff and a boat to remove the litter by sea. The National Trust, Keep Britain Tidy and Surfers Against Sewage are also supporting this event.

“We’re delighted to be able to work with the AONB team to share our skills, knowledge and equipment in looking after our outstanding coastline,” said John Watson, Skern Lodge General Manager. “We rely on the exceptional quality of the coast to bring people to North Devon.”

Plans for next year include a general beach clean, plus rock scrambling with Skern Lodge staff, at Hartland Quay on Saturday 25 February 2017. Further information is on the AONB website calendar or contact

PHOTO: Marine litter on Cockington Mouth beach.


Award-winning outdoor learning company Beach Schools South West have teamed up with South West Water to help promote clean water, conservation and seaside safety to youngsters in the region this winter.

The Exeter-based water company is adding its weight to a new pilot education project which will see children being taught both on the beach and in schools about taking care not only of themselves but also the life cycle of water and how to keep it clean.

It will be part of free winter-time school sessions from Beach Schools South West who are offering to go into schools to give children talks on how to stay safe on the beach.

Tess Stuber, Director of Beach Schools South West, said, “We are delighted to have such a prestigious and influential company as South West Water back our passion to teach on the beach – and teach about the beach.

“Beaches are a year-round outdoor classroom and we want children to not only access and understand the world around them but also to stay safe there. That’s why we are offering free sessions to schools this winter. Last summer saw some truly awful tragedies around the UK’s shoreline and we are trying to help to stop that happening again.”

As part of the safety talks, children will also hear how to look after the water and how doing that can start at home, not just on the beach. South West Water’s Love your Loo campaign teaches them about only flushing the three ‘Ps’ (pee, paper and poo)..

Alan Hyde, Head of Communications at South West Water, said, “We’re so lucky here in the South West to have some of the finest beaches in the world and South West Water is committed to helping them stay that way. Everyone can play a part in that by being careful about what they flush or wash down the sink, and so linking up with Beach Schools South West is a great way to get that message across to children while they are also learning about safety and – of course, having fun outdoors.”

Beach Schools South West is an award-winning Community Interest Company dedicated to teaching children curriculum-linked learning on the beach.

Any schools wishing to apply for the free sessions anywhere in our area along the coast can contact the team on or through the website



A new seating and information area next to the Verity sculpture in Ilfracombe is being installed.

Work began recently to re-landscape the area around the sculpture to provide a larger viewing platform, seating, lighting and an information lectern.

Damien Hirst’s 20 metre sculpture, Verity, was loaned to North Devon Council by For Giving CIC in 2012. Since then it has become a popular draw for tourists and this work will further enhance the Pier area and improve the visitor experience.

Chairman of Ilfracombe Harbour Board, Councillor Ian Meadlarkin, said: “This is very positive news for the harbour and will really improve the area around the statue. The harbour is a busy, working environment as well as a popular visitor destination, so the work will be closely managed to prevent disruption.”

The work is expected to take about 16 weeks to complete. A site compound is already in place alongside the statue and efforts will be made to keep disruption to a minimum. Please report any problems to the council’s Harbour Master, Rob Lawson, on 01271 862108 or email


On Sunday 20 November (10am-4pm), Clovelly will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Clovelly Herring Festival, which is held to promote these tasty, nutritious Silver Darlings and support sustainable fishing.

The village once depended on the harvest of herring, which are caught in superb condition for a short season off its coast.  Records go back over 400 years and, in 1749, there were a hundred herring boats in the port.  When fishing was good, 9,000 herring could be landed at one time. Those days of massive catches are long gone and there remain just two herring fishermen who still employ sustainable fishing methods using drift nets and long lines.

There’ll be delicious herring specialities, cookery demonstrations, beer tastings, local food and craft stalls, live shanty singers, stiltwalker entertainment, face painting and henna tattos, a
herring fishing photo exhibition, Herring Hunt and the National Trust event-themed children’s craft activities.

Maritime historian, Mike Smylie, will be returning with his “Kipperland” exhibition, which is devoted to the history of the herring.  He will also be turning herring into delicate-tasting kippers and bloaters in his smokehouse.

There’ll also be net making, flax processing and a Curragh on show provided by ‘Flaxland’ and a Herring Art Competition organised by The Small School, Hartland with the participation of other local schools.  All the art will be on display on the day to be judged.

Tel:  01237 431781.

Regular readers may remember the article which writer Tony James and photographer Andrew Hobbs produced for our autumn 2012 issue. If not, here it is in case you would like to read it.





Social Enterprise regeneration company, Onion Collective CIC, are inviting local people to come and discuss new concept design ideas for a cultural workspace development on the marina side at Watchet’s East Quay. An informal workshop will take place on Thursday 10 November at 7pm in the Watchet Visitor Centre, Harbour Road Watchet.

To book a place follow this link: or go to the homepage of Onion Collective at

The East Quay Foundry Project is a proposal to build workspaces for makers of all types, from light industrial, to fine art to craft and web-based. It is a place where visitors can come to see makers at work and will include a larger gallery to house exhibitions. It will include a café/restaurant with views out onto the marina and coast, and small, bespoke self-catering accommodation pods for the adventurous traveller. The scheme also includes a ‘look-out tower’ for visitors to climb and see unrivalled views of the West Somerset Coast, the Quantocks and Exmoor. The project aims to bring life and energy back onto the Watchet quayside, with music, entertainment and activities throughout the year. Crucially it also aims to bring jobs into Watchet through staffing needed to run the facility as well as encouraging entrepreneurship by providing inexpensive workspaces for start-up enterprises.

The next phase of work is thanks to funding from the Coastal Revival Fund which awarded Onion Collective £50k this year to move concept designs to the planning stages. The funding is in order to move concept designs to technical drawings, as well as pay for a number of surveys and engineering investigation work needed for planning permission. Onion Collective have been awarded ‘Preferred Bidder Status’ from landowner West Somerset Council, and once planning permission has been granted Onion Collective will then be able to apply for capital grant funding to build the project.

Onion Collective Director, Georgie Grant, says: “We are at a really exciting phase for the East Quay Foundry project. This funding from Coastal Revival means that we can take another look at the architectural concept designs, created by architects Invisible Studio, and incorporate the comments that people have been telling us. Recent feedback has led to changes in the designs, and we want to discuss those changes with local people before they become more firmly developed. By talking to local people at this stage we can be sure that we fully understand all the observations and questions that they have. This project is very close to our hearts and it is important to us that we get it right. We want this project to be an key catalyst to bring jobs into Watchet, for it to become a landmark destination to bring visitors from far and wide and fantastic resource for everyone living in and around West Somerset.”

The workshops will be a presentation of the revised concept designs before they become too developed and an informal discussion for people to say what they think and share observations. Light refreshments will be provided to act as brain food! Thoughts, comments and observations at these workshops will then be fed back to the architects, and the final designs will then be presented at a larger public meeting later in the year.

Come and talk through the new designs on Thursday 10 November, 7pm at the Watchet Boat Museum. To book a place follow this link: or email or call the office on 01984 633496.

For more information about the East Quay project go to:


A new watersports centre for Ilfracombe is another step closer.

Following North Devon Council’s round one application for the project, officers have been invited to apply for the next stage in the Coastal Communities Fund applications process. This involves a formal application for the project, which needs to be made by the end of November.

The final decision on funding for the project will be made following the formal application and the announcement is expected in March 2017.

Executive Member for Regeneration, Councillor Pat Barker, said: “This is great news for the project and all those involved. It really does prove what the community can do when they work together. There’s still a lot of work to do and being invited to apply doesn’t guarantee we will be awarded funding – but it is a positive step. The Department for Communities and Local Government were extremely impressed with the Coastal and Communities Team in Ilfracombe when they visited in May and impressed with the momentum of the project in the team’s Economic Plan.”

Ilfracombe Town Councillor, yacht club representative and member of the working group, Councillor Geoff Fowler, said: “I’m really pleased that we have got through this initial stage. It has given us confidence in our plans to put together a formal application in due course.”

North Devon MP, Peter Heaton-Jones, said: “I am delighted that the Ilfracombe Watersports Centre project has won through to the next round of bidding for the Coastal Communities Fund. I will continue to support this application and use every opportunity to push for Ilfracombe to be awarded these funds, which will make such a difference to the local community.”

If the formal application is successful and funding is provided, the new centre would provide improved facilities, including storage areas, showers, changing rooms, teaching space and a café. Meanwhile outside, it will provide a new boatyard and slipway to safely access the water.



This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the breach of the Porlock Shingle ridge following a mixture of high tides and stormy weather in 1996.

Twenty years is not considered long in terms of landscape and ecological changes, but the extent of the changes that have taken place in Porlock Bay and the surrounding area have been remarkable. Through the Porlock Marsh Vision Project, work continues to try to understand this fascinating area and to make the Marsh more accessible for people to enjoy.

Porlock Marsh BioBlitz
A great weekend of wildlife-hunting at Porlock Marsh in July resulted in over 400 different species being identified (with more records still to come). An amazing range of species were found, including birds, butterflies, moths, bats, plants, insects, mammals and lichens, demonstrating just how biodiverse the marsh and surrounding areas are.

The event was organised as part of the Porlock Marsh Vision project, in partnership with the National Trust and their tenant farmer who hosted the event at Bossington, Exmoor National Park Authority, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset Environmental Records Centre, Natural England and the Exmoor Natural History Society. Led by a fantastic range of experts, wildlife hunters were able to explore the wildlife of the marsh, streams, hedgerows and farmland, with a sea-watch crew looking out for marine species and sea birds. Some great spots included porpoises and grey seal off Hurlstone point, two peregrines chasing an oystercatcher, and close-up views of skylarks which are usually just heard singing above the fields.

There was something for everyone to get involved with, including stream dipping, bug hunting, searching for plants and insects, and watching experts catch and ring birds.

The bird ringers found lots of evidence of breeding with juveniles and brooding birds. A good range of birds were recorded over the 24 hours, including sea birds, farmland and woodland birds – Manx shearwater, gannets and guillemots, whitethroats, willow warblers, goldfinches, rock pipits, and linnets to name a few.  

Over 200 plant records were also collected, including common plants found in farmland and scrub as well as classic saltmarsh plants such as sea purslane, samphire, and sea beet, and a new record for Porlock Marsh of sea kale. 30 species of lichen were also found, on the trees surrounding the marsh and the pebble ridge. The stream dippers found lots of stoneflies and mayflies, cased and case-less caddis flies, as well as freshwater shrimps, bullhead and even eel. The warm weather brought out the butterflies, including silver washed fritillary, large white, red admiral, meadow brown and small skipper.

The BioBlitz continued late into the night with a chance to meet a barn owl and tawny owl at the Exmoor Hawk and Owl Centre, before setting out with bat detectors to find a number of different species. Moth traps were also set overnight, with 72 species found, including buff tipped, poplar hawk moth, swallowtail, and the elephant hawk moth.

Clare Reid, Porlock Marsh Vision project manager, said: “A huge thanks to all the organisations and people who helped to make the BioBlitz a great success, including the National Trust and Mike Dyer for hosting the event, all the walk leaders who helped to identify the great range of species, and Kitnors catering for feeding everyone so well!

“Hopefully this will be an event that will be repeated in future years to help build our knowledge and understanding of the wildlife of Porlock Marsh.”

The BioBlitz was organised as part of the Porlock Marsh Vision project, a partnership project promoting the conservation and enjoyment of Porlock Marsh. For further information about the project, go to

PHOTO: by John Kemp


Sunday 2 October is set to see the Watchet Street Fair coming to its climax on the Esplanade. The Apple Street Fair will be the last fair of the season for this new venture which has seen fairs in Watchet on every first Sunday of the month since May.

Stalls from across the county will be selling all sorts of interesting goods, from boutique knitwear and artisan food, to pottery and craft. There will be a unique performance from the ‘Somerset Players’ for the first time – players drawn from a number of brass/silver bands from across the county will be performing during the afternoon. This has been organised by Watchet’s Ruth Austin who is usually seen on the cornet with the Burtle Silver Band. Players are expected from as far as Wincanton, Wells, Burtle and, of course, Watchet.

West Somerset District Cllr Rosemary Woods says: “We are all set to have a wonderful last Street Fair for the season. The Majorettes will be performing, plus our local buskers are expected and music from Joel Tait and his friends will fill in the morning and any gaps in entertainment. The kids/parent crafts will be there in the morning: we are building on the favourites which have included flowers – sun visors, Indian headdresses and royal themed crowns. Apples are our theme, surprise is our game!”

Watchet Coastal Communities Team, which has organised these events, is made up of local people, businesses and organisations in Watchet. Special thanks go to all those on the Street Fair Working Group who work so hard to make these events happen.

The Street Fairs aim to attract more visitors to Watchet and to celebrate local festivities, as well as help support start-up businesses in the area. The Fairs have been funded by the central government national initiative, Coastal Communities, which aims to boost Britain’s coastal towns. Watchet is one of 118 Coastal Communities Teams set up last year by government to help drive forward coastal areas growth.

To book a pitch for the 2017 season contact Molly Quint tel: 01984 632592 or email

If you take photos on Sunday at the last Street Fair and would like to share them with Exmoor Magazine, you can use #exmoormagazine, send to @exmoormagazine or post on our Facebook page: