Category Archives: Coast

COMBE MARTIN BIOBLITZ – 4 SCHOOLS AND 300 SCHOOLCHILDREN

A survey of coastal wildlife at Combe Martin attracted over 300 children from four Devon schools to celebrate British Science Week. The children moved round three different activities on their Bioblitz day to survey and find out more about coastal wildlife. They started with wildlife surveys in the rock pools and on the beach. Then they studied creatures and seaweeds under the digital microscopes in Combe Martin Museum. Finally they visited four stands with different science activities on the school field. The event was hosted by Combe Martin Primary School, one of the major partners in the Coastal Creatures project led by North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The children lived and breathed science for a day,” said AONB officer Cat Oliver. “Their knowledge and enthusiasm was infectious, whether delving into rockpools, magnifying shells and seaweed or drawing the coastline with a long piece of rope. We would like to thank our major funder the Heritage Lottery Fund and our sponsors of the day, North Devon Council through their councillor grants. Without their support, this fantastic event would not have been possible.”

“Seeing the children from different schools working collaboratively and fully engaged with discovering our coastal wildlife was truly inspirational,” said Combe Martin Primary’s Sea School teacher Graham Hockley. “Such a large number of children working as mini inter-tidal ecologists, each one helping to find and identify coastal species will hopefully inspire them to go on and study STEM subjects, becoming the next generation to understand and protect our stunning coastline.”

The day was attended by Combe Martin Primary School and Tiddlers Nursery, Bampton CE Primary School, Woolacombe School and Caen Community Primary School from Braunton. The activities provided on the school field included matching animals with their habitats on the AONB stand, making wildlife badges with the National Trust, identifying what bats eat with the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat project and drawing the coastline with Exmoor National Park’s rangers.

All the wildlife survey forms completed by the children, Coastwise members and Museum volunteers from the day were checked by the Marine Biological Association. These will contribute to science nationally by being uploaded as records on the National Biodiversity Network.

PHOTO: Dave Edgecombe from the AONB, surrounded by fascinated children explains the life of limpets.

 

 

ATTRACTING INTERNATIONAL VISITORS TO WALK THE EXMOOR COAST

The National Park is working with the South West Coast Path Association and Visit Exmoor to market the region as a top tourism destination to overseas visitors.

Discover England’s South West Coast Path is one of a number of projects across the country to benefit from the initial round of the Discover England Fund to encourage year-round visits, outside the peak holiday season and specifically targeting Dutch and German visitors.

Itineraries for three-, five- and seven-day walking holidays within Exmoor, and five other areas, have been developed in English, Dutch and German and are available in print as fold-out leaflets, and as mix-and-match day walks online, and a new app has been produced.

To complement the itineraries, video footage has been produced and a public relations campaign is underway in the German and Dutch markets. This includes visiting some of the leading travel and tourism trade shows and hosting a number of journalist visits to the area.

You can access the Exmoor itineraries on the Visit Exmoor website and further details on the project can be found here.

PHOTO by David J. Rowlatt

THE AGE-OLD SONGS THAT STILL CONNECT THE WEST COUNTRY AND NEWFOUNDLAND

If ever you are to visit Newfoundland, the chances are that you’ll meet quite a few locals whose roots are planted firmly in the South West of England. There’s also a great chance that those roots would be somewhere among the fishing communities of the North Devon coast.

While there, you might also get to hear some of the traditional songs that are part of Newfoundland culture, songs which had arrived on boats from this area generations earlier – and stayed there.

It’s estimated that over 60% of people living in Canada’s most easterly province can trace their ancestry to South West England, and Devon in particular. It’s a link that spans 3,500 miles and hundreds of years, and today, the Devon-Newfoundland connection lives on not just through a sense of shared history, but through song. When they left these shores for good, the settlers – largely fishing folk – took the songs they’d learned at home with them.

Centuries later, it’s in the relatively remote towns and villages of Newfoundland where these songs have survived in their fullest form. In Devon, they’ve been shortened over time – but the tunes and the similarities reveal unmistakably that the songs share the same origins.

People in Devon will get the chance to hear for themselves in April, thanks to a collaboration of folk musicians from both sides of the Atlantic as part of The Devon Newfoundland Story, a series of events organised by The Devonshire Association.

Marilyn Tucker and Paul Wilson from Okehampton-based charity Wren Music first met Newfoundland folk singer Jim Payne over 30 years ago and they’ve worked together a number of times since. They’ll be travelling around the county with ‘Shore to Shore Revisited’, a concert, recital and lecture tour. The tour includes a 7pm concert at Palladium Bideford and a 1pm lecture recital at the town’s Burton Art Gallery & Museum, both on 11 April.

If you take a look at a map of the world you’ll notice there’s a horizontal line between Devon and Newfoundland. It was a line followed by Devon fishing folk as early as the 1500s, when communities would spend the summer season working in the rich fishing waters off Newfoundland.

When Devonian explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed from Plymouth to St John’s and annexed Newfoundland for Queen Elizabeth I in 1583, it became England’s first colony. The first permanent settlement was in 1610 and many more settlements grew up during the centuries that followed. The links are particularly strong in Devon’s ports and fishing towns such as Bideford, Barnstaple and Appledore on the north coast and Teignmouth, Dartmouth and Plymouth on the south.

It was during an event in 1983 to mark the 400th anniversary of Gilbert’s annexation that Jim first met Marilyn and Paul. Jim recalled: “It was only when I heard Paul sing a couple of Devon folk songs that were also part of my own Newfoundland repertoire, songs that I had learned from people within my own family, that I realised those folk music connections still had a contemporary relevance in that many of the songs brought to Newfoundland by early settlers from the West Country had survived intact in Newfoundland over several generations.

“In Newfoundland, there was so much material that came here with early settlers, but then there was locally composed material that emerged from out of what the early settlers had brought. Song lyrics changed to reflect the circumstances of life in the new world, even while melodies remained the same.”

One example is a song about logging, ‘The Double Sledder Lad’, which is a Newfoundland version of the Devonian song that Paul sings called ‘Jim, the Carter Lad’.

Although some of the words may have changed in Newfoundland, Paul says: “If you want to know what Devon songs sounded like and Devon tunes and fiddle-playing sounded like in the past, go to Newfoundland. I can think of 30 songs off the top of my head that went across to Newfoundland from Devon that are still alive now but I’d say there are easily over 100, possibly 200, that are common to both. The songs migrated over there and took root.”

For Marilyn and Paul, seeing how the songs were such an integral part of Newfoundland culture was hugely influential in Wren Music’s work in bringing Devonian songs to the fore again: “I was actually quite envious of the traditions in Newfoundland music and we learnt a lot from that. We’ve gone about things in a different way by establishing groups around the county, but the aim has been the same, to bring these songs forward so that they and their stories are heard in the communities where they came from.

“And thanks to this project by the Devonshire Association we’ll hopefully be reaching new audiences.”

Learning that versions of old South West songs are very much alive in Newfoundland has literally been a voyage of discovery for Paul: “I’ll play a song and Jim will say ‘I’ve got a version of that and it goes like this’ and vice versa.” At some of their past concerts together they’ve done a ‘mash-up’ of both Devon and Newfoundland versions. Paul explained: “Jim sings a song called ‘A Tale of Jests’, a song of exaggeration which we know and sing as ‘The Lying Tale’. We do a verse from Devon and then a verse from Newfoundland and we tell the story together. We go across the Atlantic and back again about five times in the song, it’s absolutely lovely and it works really well. But with most of the songs, we’ll sing one version and refer to the other.”

The concerts will feature songs that represent the larger collection: “There are love songs, nonsense songs, funny songs, and there are lots of ballads – big story songs of murder and other dark tales,” said Paul. “And there are some very significant sea songs; the sea is what links us and the sea will feature in these concerts and the talks.”

One of the songs from Newfoundland is ‘Come and I Will Sing You’. In Devon it is sung as the ‘Dilly Song’ and was passed down by a servant girl in Horrabridge: “The first line of the ‘Dilly Song’ is Come and I Will Sing You, so it’s the same song but it’s very different,” said Paul. “There’s also a classic ballad which in Newfoundland is called ‘She’s Like The Swallow’, but here it’s ‘On Yonder’s Hill’ and is associated with Bampton in Mid Devon.”

Among the songs Paul will be singing is ‘Captain Ward’, which is a pirate song from the era of Peter Easton, a pirate who operated off Newfoundland. “These are wonderful songs and we’re really looking forward to playing them,” said Paul. “They’re full of guitars, accordions and fiddles and the choruses have huge harmonies.”

Paul has a personal connection, too, as his grandfather moved to Newfoundland and was the first vicar of Great Falls – a town built up around the logging industry: “It’s one of the reasons why this project means so much to me. Newfoundland is very close to my heart. Their traditions are amazing.”

And, as Jim says, the roots of those traditions haven’t been lost through the passage of time: “Many Newfoundlanders still fly the Union Jack, the accents of Devon and Dorset can be clearly heard in many Newfoundland conversations, a large number of dialect words here come directly from the West Country. So the connections are still highly relevant today.”
www.wrenmusic.co.uk

PERFORMANCES IN BIDEFORD:

CONCERT:
Tuesday 11 April, 7pm
PALLADIUM BIDEFORD
1 Lower Gunstone, Town Centre, Bideford, EX39 2DE
Tickets £8
Booking through Wren Music:
Email info@wrenmusic.co.uk; 01837 53754; www.wrenmusic.co.uk

LECTURE RECITAL:
Tuesday 11 April at 1pm
BURTON ART GALLERY & MUSEUM,
Bideford, EX39 2QQ
Free entry / donation

ILLUSTRATION at TOP: Bideford Newfoundlanders in a Fair Gale – copyright Mark Myers, 1977.

 

 

 

NORTH DEVON COAST AONB FUNDS AWARDED FOR LEARNING, EXPLORING & CELEBRATING

Eleven different groups and organisations have received a small grant from the North Devon Coast AONB from this year’s Sustainable Development Fund. Some of the projects focussed on young people, such as Seize the Moment’s ‘Heaven and Hell’ which received £3,880 to support young people to explore the social and cultural history of local churches. Combe Martin Museum’s grant of £3,650 was to purchase an easy-to-use microscope, screen and binoculars for family beach safaris focussed on geology and wildlife.

Getting different communities engaged with the AONB was superbly achieved by North Devon Moving Image with £3,240 grant for their ‘Wild Shorts’ film competition about wildlife and the environment in the AONB, and Hartland Abbey’s grant of £3,500 for new displays about farming and use of the estate for TV and film productions to inform and thrill their visitors. Two grants were for projects linked to one of our rarest species, the Greater Horseshoe Bats in and around Braunton, with £500 for Braunton Parish Council to create a bat viewing platform and £950 for Braunton Countryside Centre to create an ‘audio bat trail’.

Looking after and understanding our local environment was the focus of a £2,000 grant to Tarka Country Trust to help local communities manage their verges for wildlife and flowers, a grant of £281 to buy beach cleaning equipment for Croyde Community beach clean group and an £890 grant to Coastwise North Devon for a digital camera and microscope to increase understanding and awareness of the micro-life around our coasts.

The grant scheme is open now to applications for projects to start from April 2017 onwards and is available to individuals, groups, organisations or businesses.

“Projects should help to look after the North Devon Coast AONB’s special landscape, special features, wild plants or animals,” said SDF Panel chair Caroline Leaver. “This may be through direct activities or through learning, increasing understanding and awareness. A particular focus of the scheme for 2017 is the historic environment of the AONB and projects related to health and wellbeing using the AONB landscape.”

Full guidance and applications forms are available on the AONB website www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk/our-work/grants or contact the scheme administrator Gigha Klinkenborg on 01271 388647 or gigha.kilnkenborg@devon.gov.uk

 

SOUTH WEST COAST PATH RHODODENDRON CLEARANCE

More than a one and a half kilometres of dense rhododendron has been cleared from Glenthorne to Wingate Combe on the South West Coast Path, thanks to a partnership between Exmoor National Park and the South West Coast Path Association.

The work was undertaken by Mike Bowden from Lyn Valley Contractors and it took a five-man team seven days to clear the rhododendron, which in three places had formed large tunnels along an important stretch of the Coast Path.

National Park Ranger Adam Vasey said: “We’re working hard, in partnership with the South West Coast Path Association and local landowners, to improve long stretches of the Coast Path.  This section of path was heavily overgrown with rhododendron, making it difficult for our maintenance teams to keep it open.  By clearing back one and half kilometres of dense growth we’ve opened up sea views and widened the path, making it more accessible.

“We are grateful to the South West Coast Path Association for sharing the cost of this work and look forward to further joint working in the future.”

 

ILFRACOMBE TRAINING TO RESPOND TO OIL POLLUTION EMERGENCIES

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.

 

ENTRY DATE ANNOUNCED FOR AIR AMBULANCE CYCLE CHALLENGE

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: www.dsairambulance.org.uk 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: www.dsairambulance.org.uk or for more information call: 01823 669604. Alternatively you can email: c2c@dsairambulance.org.uk

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

NORTH DEVON COAST AONB EXTREME BEACH CLEANS

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 www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk or contact catherine.oliver@devon.gov.uk

PHOTO: Marine litter on Cockington Mouth beach.

BEACH SCHOOLS SOUTH WEST & SOUTH WEST WATER TEAM UP FOR FREE WINTER SAFETY AND EDUCATION SESSIONS

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 info@beachschoolssouthwest.co.uk or through the website www.beachschoolssouthwest.co.uk.

 

VERITY VIEWING PLATFORM

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 harbourmaster@northdevon.gov.uk.