Category Archives: Exmoor National Park news

NEW PARTNERSHIP PLAN FOR EXMOOR – YOUR VIEWS SOUGHT

A new Partnership Plan is being prepared for Exmoor National Park. It’s a Plan for everyone who cares about Exmoor: the place, its communities and the benefits the National Park provides to the nation. The National Park Authority is responsible for bringing the Plan together and is now seeking views on the draft.

Robin Milton, Chairman of National Park Authority said, “Exmoor is a special place, protected for the nation as a National Park. We know that it is cherished and celebrated by the people who live here, and who visit. This five-year Partnership Plan sets out the Vision for Exmoor, and what is required to maintain the special qualities of the National Park. Given the significant challenges and opportunities facing Exmoor over the next five years, particularly in the light of the UK leaving the European Union, it is important that we do not seek to preserve Exmoor in aspic but balance the needs of different interests now and in the future.

“It’s called a Partnership Plan because we know it can only be achieved through working with partner organisations, communities, visitors and businesses. So this consultation on the draft Plan is really important, and I hope that as many people as possible will send us their comments.”

Consultation on the Exmoor National Park Partnership Plan runs from 18 September to 30 October 2017.

Find out more and comment at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Copies of the draft Partnership Plan can be viewed at the National Park Visitor Centres in Dunster, Dulverton and Lynmouth or at the Exmoor National Park Authority offices in Dulverton.

For further information please contact Clare Reid, Partnership Plan Manager, creed@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

PHOTO By the late Brian Pearce.

HELP BRIDGE THE GAP AT WOODSIDE

A fundraising campaign has been launched by Exmoor National Park’s CareMoor for Exmoor* to replace a much-loved feature of Exmoor – Woodside Bridge, which has provided a crossing of the East Lyn river near Lynmouth for over a hundred years.

Woodside Bridge had to be removed last December following an inspection which revealed that the softwood timber beams had come to the end of their life. The bridge was replaced in the 1950s after the Lynmouth Flood and again in 1993 by the Royal Engineers working with Exmoor National Park. At 17.3m/57feet, the structure is the longest single span countryside bridge in the National Park.

Thousands of people used the bridge each year to enjoy the short, easy circuit  taking in Middleham Memorial Gardens along with the beauty and wildlife of the river and woodland valley. The bridge is an important link for visitors and the local businesses which they support.

Dan Barnett, Access & Recreation Manager at Exmoor National Park, said: Many people are surprised to learn that the bridge is not recorded as a public right of way which means there is no duty for local authorities to replace it, so we need your help.

“We are keen to replace the bridge as soon as funds allow so we are asking visitors, residents and anyone who cares about Exmoor to make a donation. Any amount, large or small, will help and we hope to reach our target by Christmas which will allow us to get the bridge installed ready for Easter next year when the main visitor season begins.

“We now have a price of £65,000 to install a high-quality new structure. This is a steel beam supported bridge with hardwood timber work which will have a very long design life.”

The land where the bridge is sited is owned by The National Trust, which is a partner in this project.

For more information and to contribute to the Woodside fund please visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor/woodside www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor/woodside

* CareMoor for Exmoor is the Authority donation scheme for Exmoor National Park. It offers everyone who has been inspired by Exmoor an opportunity to contribute to the upkeep of the environment of the National Park and its future. Donations help fund Nature, Heritage and Access projects to keep Exmoor special. For more information  visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor
 

PHOTO AT TOP: Colour-tinted image shows two ladies walking on the footpath opposite Tors Road, early 1900s. Photograph kindly donated by Paul Sheppard.

EXMOOR WILD WATCH: WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED SO FAR

Exmoor is home to a fantastic array of wildlife and to prove it so far this year Exmoor Wild Watchers have submitted more than 200 sightings of everything from red kites to tree bumblebees.
Ben Totterdell from Exmoor National Park says: “We are always grateful to people that take the time to let us know what they have seen and this year we were delighted to receive 83 sightings or sounding of a cuckoo and it’s been a bit of a surprise that people have reported seeing more red kites (24) than kestrels (15).

“Now in its third year, Exmoor Wild Watch is an opportunity for you to join us in finding out more about some of the species that are particularly characteristic of Exmoor. We would still love to hear from you if you see any of the species listed below. Some are nationally rare and others we simply do not know enough about.”

In the next month or so keep a special eye open for golden-ringed dragonflies, red admiral butterflies, adders, grey wagtails and tree bumblebees.

To submit a record simply visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/exmoor-wildwatch and click on a species to find out more and to report a sighting. If you are inspired after taking part in this survey you may want to join in one of the family-friendly events or get involved in an Exmoor Wild Watch training event: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved/events-and-training . These include one off Discovery sessions to longer term surveys.

Handy spotter guides and family wildlife leaflets can be picked up from National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth.

PHOTO: Red kite in Valley of Rocks, photographed by Jack Clegg of Exmoor Photography, as seen in our winter 2016 magazine in a piece by the late Trevor Beer. Jack’s images have often accompanied pieces written for us by Trevor – here is another back from autumn 2011, all about this magnificent bird! Click on the image to enlarge.

EXMOOR DARK SKIES FESTIVAL ONLINE BOOKINGS NOW OPEN

The full programme has been produced and event booking has now opened for the first Exmoor Dark Skies Festival from 19 to 29 October celebrating the National Park’s status as Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. There are more than 25 events to appeal to families and children, as well as those more experienced in watching the stars.

The festival is sponsored by Airband. Managing Director, Redmond Peel, said, “We’re delighted to be sponsoring the very first Dark Skies Festival. Over the last two years Airband have worked closely with Exmoor National Park on the roll out of superfast broadband, so it’s a great opportunity to be involved with the festival focussing on just some of the incredible and unique phenomena Exmoor has to offer.”

At the start of the festival over 500 schoolchildren will be on Exmoor to learn about the night skies before the festival launch event with astronomer, journalist and presenter Will Gater. The launch will include the first public showing of a new film all about Exmoor’s Dark Skies followed by a talk about viewing the stars and Milky Way from Exmoor as well as rarer phenomena such as the Northern Lights which people might not think they could see or photograph from so far south.

Other indoor events include an astro-photography talk, a special film showing of 2001: Space Odyssey and art displays as well as several planetarium sessions all around Exmoor. The planetarium offers inspirational and immersive 360-degree experiences of the solar system. 3D digital projections are created using sophisticated computer simulations, presented by an experienced astronomer to take you deep into the wonders of space.

For families there will be an amazing Astro Party at Wimbleball Lake, with fun hands-on sessions and virtual-reality experiences as well as traditional stargazing and a night-time forest walk and campfire. For the more adventurous there is night-time mountain biking, a night swim or an exhilarating night-navigation walk with a National Park Ranger. Other outdoor activities include dusk safaris and a guided night walk up to Dunkery Beacon – the highest point on Exmoor.

Exmoor National Park’s Katrina Munro, who is co-ordinating the festival, said, “Interest has already been high including international enquiries and media coverage. The printed Festival Programme can now be collected from National Park Centres and our online booking facility has also opened enabling visitors to plan in advance. This is the first festival of its kind on Exmoor and we’re looking forward to introducing many people to the wonders above!”

Full details of the Dark Skies Festival events and online booking is available from the National Park’s website www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/stargazing/dark-skies-festival  . Advanced booking is highly recommended to guarantee entry to events and a special early bird discount of 10% is available for many events booked before the 15 September.

www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival 

 

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