Category Archives: Exmoor National Park news

EXMOOR DARK SKIES FESTIVAL

Exmoor National Park Authority is pleased to confirm that it will running Exmoor Dark Skies Festival from Thursday 19 October to Sunday 29 October 2017 – a ten-day festival of activities for families and enthusiasts to celebrate Exmoor’s dark skies and enable people to experience the exceptional quality of our starry nights.

There will be bookable sessions in the pop-up planetarium and informative and engaging talks, guided star-lit walks and children’s workshops with the education team and rangers. Exmoor National Park would also welcome other organisations and tourism businesses who would like to take part. Groups may wish to host their own event or support others and businesses may wish to use the festival in their own marketing to attract more visitors in this quieter season.

If you are interested in running an event or using the festival to attract more visitors and would like to discuss ideas, please contact Katrina Munro (Economy Project Officer) who is coordinating the event: kjmunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk; 01398 322236

www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival 

PHOTO: Great Orion Nebula M42 taken by Paul Jeanes from his observatory in Washford “under the darkest skies”.

EXMOOR WILD WATCH SIGHTINGS SO FAR

Following the recent request for wildlife sightings, there have been more than 60 recorded on the Exmoor National Park’s Wild Watch pages.

Ali Hawkins from Exmoor National Park says: “Many thanks to everyone who has joined in with Exmoor Wild Watch and recorded their findings so far. The earliest cuckoo recorded this year was on 11 April, one day earlier than last year, so please let us know if and when you hear one as they should be calling for a few more weeks yet.

“Places to hear cuckoos on Exmoor usually include Croydon Hill, Alcombe Common, Ley Hill and Webber’s Post, but wherever you hear or see one, please record your sightings.

“Also spotted for the first time on Exmoor was a tree bumblebee, so please keep an eye out and let us know if you see one of these and where you saw it. As it gets warmer, another species to look out for is the beautiful gold-ringed dragonfly, the largest insect in the country.”

The place to record any sightings of these species and more is by visiting www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/exmoor-wildwatch where you can also get involved by joining a Wild Watch training event.”

Spotter guides and a family wildlife leaflet can be picked up at National Park Centres at Dulverton, Lynmouth and Dunster.

PHOTO: Golden-ringed dragonfly by Nigel Stone.

BIG ADVENTURE DAY AT HADDON HILL THIS WEDNESDAY

Everyone is welcome to come and join in The Haddon Hill Big Adventure on Wednesday 12 April from 10am to 4pm. Hosted by Exmoor National Park with help from volunteers, it will be the first Big Adventure of 2017.

There will be a chance to explore the natural world with family friendly games and activities lasting all day, including bush-craft skills nature art activities including soil printing and picture making. There will also be scavenger hunts and species identification with the Exmoor Natural History Society.

Haddon Hill is a wide open space with plenty of room for everyone and there are toilets and parking available on site. The event is free, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor, the National Park Authority’s donation scheme will be welcome,  the scheme supports vital conservation and access work that might otherwise not happen.

National Park Ranger Adam Vasey says: “This year at Haddon, in addition to the usual range of fun activities, we’re setting up a treasure hunt trail those families who complete the trail there will be a prize draw at 2pm where you can win some of our new Big Adventure T-shirts.”

Adam continued: “We’ve got a lot on offer this year with our Big Adventure events and, due to popular demand, we’re running four Family Campouts throughout the year. That will give both locals and visitors alike a chance to camp on Exmoor in some amazing locations.

“Don’t worry if you haven’t camped before, the experience is very suitable for novice/new campers, there’s more information on our website or come along to Haddon Hill and ask us some questions.”

For details of hundreds of events across Exmoor this year visit:  www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/events

PHOTO by Steve Guscott

HAVE YOU HEARD A CUCKOO YET?

Have you heard a cuckoo yet? If so Exmoor National Park Authority would love to hear from you. Through Exmoor Wild Watch 2017 the National Park is monitoring cuckoo sightings this spring and summer.

Last year on Exmoor, the first cuckoo was heard on 12 April, so it’s time to start listening for their distinctive call – or perhaps be lucky enough to spot one of these charismatic birds whose appearance can be mistaken for a sparrow hawk when in flight. Traditionally, good places to hear cuckoos on Exmoor include Croydon Hill, Alcombe Common, Ley Hill and Webber’s Post.

Cuckoos are migratory birds which visit the UK during the breeding season between March and July after spending the winter in South Africa. Survey data suggest that across the UK cuckoo numbers dropped nearly 50% between 1995 and 2012, and they are a species that remain on the “red list” meaning they are of conservation concern.

On Exmoor, cuckoo populations are doing quite the opposite to what we see nationally. Despite their decline across the UK, populations on Exmoor are thriving. The latest Breeding Bird Survey (2014) highlighted a promising an 82% increase in cuckoo abundance across the National Park, since the previous survey in 2008.

Ali Hawkins, conservation officer (wildlife) at Exmoor National Park says:“Exmoor Wild Watch is an opportunity for everyone to join us in finding out more about some of the species that are characteristic of Exmoor. This year we would love to hear from you if you see any of the following species: cuckoo, dormouse, golden ringed dragonfly, kestrel, Atlantic grey seal, red kite, grey wagtail, red admiral, adder and tree bumblebee.

“You can record your sightings by visiting www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/exmoor-wildwatch where you can also get involved by joining a Wild Watch training event.”

Spotter guides and a family wildlife leaflet can be picked up at National Park Centres at Dulverton, Lynmouth and Dunster. The cuckoo features on the front of the Moorland Birds of Exmoor National Park pocket guide which is available free of charge from National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth. 

Photo by Chris Triggs

BIG ADVENTURE DAY COMING UP!

Everyone is welcome to come and join in The Haddon Hill Big Adventure on Wednesday 12 April from 10am to 4pm. Hosted by Exmoor National Park with help from volunteers, it will be the first Big Adventure of 2017.

There will be a chance to explore the natural world with family friendly games and activities lasting all day, including bush-craft skills nature art activities including soil printing and picture making. There will also be scavenger hunts and species identification with the Exmoor Natural History Society.

Haddon Hill is a wide open space with plenty of room for everyone and there are toilets and parking available on site. The event is free, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor, the National Park Authority’s donation scheme will be welcome – the scheme supports vital conservation and access work that might otherwise not happen.

National Park Ranger Adam Vasey says: “This year at Haddon, in addition to the usual range of fun activities, we’re setting up a treasure hunt trail those families who complete the trail there will be a prize draw at 2pm where you can win some of our new Big Adventure T-shirts.”

Adam continued: “We’ve got a lot on offer this year with our Big Adventure events and, due to popular demand, we’re running four Family Campouts throughout the year. That will give both locals and visitors alike a chance to camp on Exmoor in some amazing locations.

“Don’t worry if you haven’t camped before, the experience is very suitable for novice/new campers, there’s more information on our website or come along to Haddon Hill and ask us some questions.”

For details of hundreds of events across Exmoor this year visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/events

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.”

 

THREE DAYS LEFT TO RESPOND TO CHANGES IN THE EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK LOCAL PLAN

Last month Exmoor National Park Authority agreed to consult on changes to the Exmoor National Park Local Plan between 13 January and 24 February – so there are just a few days left to respond if you haven’t already and would like to.

These changes include ‘Main Modifications’, which the Planning Inspector Roger Clews considers are needed to make the plan sound following on from the hearing sessions held in July 2016. The changes relate to a number of areas of the plan including the natural and historic environment, minerals, renewable energy, housing and employment.

As a result of new evidence relating to projected housing need, further changes to Section 6 of the Local Plan “Achieving a Thriving Community” are also being consulted on. As these particular changes have not been the subject of previous consultation or discussion at the hearing session, a separate consultation is required.

Comments can only relate to the specific changes identified and cannot repeat previous representations that may have been made or suggest further changes to the Plan.

National Park Authority Deputy Chairman for Planning, Nick Holliday, said ,“I am pleased that the Exmoor National Park Local Plan has progressed through the examination to this stage. I would ask anyone who is interested to comment on the changes.”

The Inspector will consider all representations received and whether any further steps are required before issuing his report on the soundness and legal compliance of the Local Plan. If the Inspector finds the Local Plan sound it will be formally adopted by the Authority and be used to determine planning applications for development within the National Park.

Details of the consultations relating to the changes to the Local Plan can be viewed on the Authority’s website at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk, together with the sustainability appraisal, and other supporting documentation. Reference copies are also available to view during normal office hours at the Exmoor National Park Authority Offices at Exmoor House, Dulverton, West Somerset Council offices in Williton and the North Devon Council office at Lynton House, Barnstaple.

Further information about the consultations and examination process and timetable will be made available via the Authority’s website as it becomes available.

PHOTO: by the late Brian Pearce

DORMOUSE APPEAL SUCCESS

Exmoor National Park’s CareMoor for Exmoor Winter Appeal to raise funds for dormouse boxes and monitoring has been a great success with more than £4,000 being raised.

National Park funding officer Philip Kiberd said: “The figure raised exceeded our expectations and we’d really like to thank everyone who donated to the Winter Appeal which has raised so much for dormouse conservation on Exmoor. It’s been a very successful campaign and we are extremely grateful for the many generous donations.

“Funds received are great boost for the dormouse on Exmoor and will hopefully go a long way to ensuring the species thrives within the National Park. We will be starting working at the beginning of January surveying old boxes and purchasing new ones to install over the spring so they are ready for the summer.”

Anyone who would like to become a volunteer dormouse surveyor should visit the Get Involved page on the National Park website: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved The first volunteer days are on 4, 5, and 6 January 2017 so there’s still time to get involved.

Thousands of pounds have been raised through CareMoor over the last year by local businesses and those that have enjoyed Exmoor. As a result CareMoor has been able to support a range of nature, heritage and access projects across the National Park, that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.

Donations to CareMoor for Exmoor are welcome online – search for Caremoor on the National Park website or you can donate by cheque to (payable to Exmoor National Park (CareMoor)), Exmoor House, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9HL or at any National Park Centre.

NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE FOR EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY

Exmoor National Park Authority has appointed Sarah Bryan as their new Chief Executive, after a rigorous selection process with a national advertising campaign resulting in 70 applicants.

Sarah has been Head of Conservation and Access at the Authority for four years and brings a wealth of experience of National Parks and has a strong background in landscape management and conservation.

Andrea Davis, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “The Authority has always worked very closely with local communities and Sarah will continue the strong relationships that have been forged with farmers, landowners all those who live and work on Exmoor.

“I am confident that Sarah will lead the Authority successfully through the potentially challenging times ahead and raise the profile of Exmoor National Park as one of Britain’s most beautiful protected landscapes.”

Sarah will be taking up her new role on 3 January 2017.

WHAT MAKES EXMOOR SPECIAL? – SURVEY

What do you think makes Exmoor National Park special? Do you think these special qualities are changing – for the better, or worse?  Are there particular challenges facing the National Park over the next few years?

Exmoor National Park Authority is seeking people’s views on these important questions to help shape the next Partnership Plan for Exmoor. This is a key document which will set out the ambitions for how the National Park will be looked after over the next five years and will guide the work of Exmoor National Park Authority and our partners.

If you would like to have your say, please submit your views by filling in the survey – it should take no more than ten minutes to complete.

If you would like to be in with the chance of winning a lovely hamper of Exmoor produce, then please provide some contact details at the end of the survey.