Category Archives: Quantocks


Chase away those winter blues by remembering your favourite outdoor adventures on the Quantocks last year.

The Quantock Hills AONB Service and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, in partnership with Splashmaps, are running a photo competition to commemorate 2016 being their 60th anniversary year, and are looking for your best outdoor Quantock memories of last year.

Entries can be a photograph or short film and be submitted for two categories; 1. Best Landscape Image and 2. Best Expedition Image. Winners will receive a special edition 60th Anniversary Splashmap, which is a wearable, washable all weather map, designed for the real outdoors. Winners will also have their entries exhibited in a local venue.

Runners-up will be exhibited online at the Quantock Hills website and be promoted as some of our finest local photographic and/or film-making talent.

The Best Landscape Image must be an image of the Quantock Hills taken in 2016, but can be taken anywhere on the Quantock Hills, in any season with people in it or without. The Best Expedition image must be an image taken of a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, ideally on the Quantock Hills.

A maximum of three entries per person per category is allowed. Entries must be submitted either as a photograph by jpeg, or if a film by mp4 no longer than 30 seconds. The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Friday 31 March.

Jeff Brown, Somerset County Council’s Duke of Edinburgh Award Manager, says: “For over 60 years a DofE expedition has been the first experience of the Quantock Hills for many young people in in the South West. This competition will allow them to share their energy and enthusiasm for this beautiful landscape but we are also looking for pictures that reflect their full expedition experience so don’t ignore the photos of sore feet, walking through horizontal rain or the feeling of pride when you complete your first ever expedition.”

Chris Edwards, Manager, Quantock Hills AONB Service, says: “We know that there is an extraordinary amount of photographic talent in and around the Quantock Hills, and we would like to take this opportunity to showcase our finest local photographers, and commemorate 60 years of the Quantock Hills being nationally protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

By submitting an entry to the competition you are giving permission for the Quantock Hills AONB Service and the Duke of Edinburgh Award to use your image in their marketing material, but your image will be credited to you, and be celebrated as a winning entry.

Competition deadline: Friday 31st March, 5pm.

To enter, email  


Landowners and people living on the Quantock Hills are being offered the chance to widen their skills in how to manage the special and protected landscape.

A series of workshops (the first of which takes place on Monday 7 November) is being arranged this autumn and winter focused on how to manage the land – the hills and surrounding vales – while retaining its distinct character.

The funding has come from West Somerset Council while the project is delivered by the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Service.

The workshops will look at crops in arable farming, orchard planning, planting and management and managing woodland. The sessions are open to landowners, farmers, students and local communities within the Quantock Hills and surrounding vales of Sedgemoor and West Somerset.

Iain Porter, from the Quantock Hills AONB Service, said, “This is a great opportunity for local land managers and communities to learn additional skills that will help them protect this distinctive landscape into the future. Along with other funding and grants available we can see the real positive benefits for landscape and up skilling of our local communities.”

Cllr Karen Mills, Economic Regeneration Lead at West Somerset Council, said: “The workshops cover a range of quite technical subjects in farming and land management. Whilst those already working within the landscape will find them useful for brushing up on their know-how, local communities and those thinking of starting a career in a land-based industry will also find them of interest.

“As well as being part of the local farming industry, our landscapes are an economic driver for tourism. It is essential therefore that local people are able to gain access to the appropriate training to manage their businesses whilst protecting the environment that we all cherish.”

The next workshop takes place on Monday 7 November:

Quantock Resilience Project – Cover Crop Event

Rhode Farm, Bridgwater TA5 2AD
Monday 7 November 2016, 10am (4hrs – FREE)

Guest Speaker Jo Oborn, Resource Protection Specialist

A practical workshop looking at the benefits of cover crop and their role in resource protection, through the reduction of soil erosion and the improvement of soil structure and organic matter.  There will be a presentation followed by a farm walk to look at the us eof cover crop on Rhode Farm.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL CALL 01823 660684 or email

There will also be further workshops on:

  • Farm Resilience – animal health – date to be confirmed
  • Woodlands & Forestry – resilience and management 7 February 2017
  • Orchards – planning, planting & maintenance 25 February 2017

For more information or to book places visit:





Friends of Coleridge Society is delighted to announce the winners of their international poetry competition mounted as part of their celebrations for the first publication of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, Kubla Khan, in 1816.

The top prize of £500 went to Kate Innes for her poem Flock of Words. The two runners-up with £250 each went to Jane Kite for Lecture and John Barron for On the day of her retirement the lift at the Angel Tube Station speaks.

Kate’s poem imagines a world without words in an outwardly light-hearted vision. There are depths to this poem, however, as it ponders human language and seeks a newly laundered world after a season of renewal. It is a poised, confident and beautifully weighted poem with a delightful freshness of expression.

Jane’s poem imagines a future through the words of a lecturer describing the world as it once was. In spare and evocative short lines it builds to a chilling conclusion. John’s poem imagines the worlds of the millions of people using the lift at the Angel Tube Station through the lift’s own perceptions. It is an ambitious and powerful poem commenting on the ups and downs of lives!

There were also two main winners in the Under 17 section and one runner-up. Allison Chen and Julia Pope (16 year-olds) live in America. India Thakrar (13) lives in the UK. In Whispers not of Grey Allison describes the implications of closed minds in a closed society. Julia Pope takes a walk round her neighbourhood and creates a series of vivid images. India conjures a surreal dream of Dali and Coleridge.

The Poetry Society of UK and Birmingham City University kindly donated prizes for the junior section.

The theme of the competition was ‘Imagined Worlds’. It forms part of the project to inspire creative expression using the inspiration of Coleridge’s work. A touring exhibition of new art, a short film, a schools’ workshop programme with poets and artists, Somerset walks in the steps of Coleridge and his friends, and a new booklet about Kubla Khan and its influence are all part of this project. The poetry prizes were announced on Friday 21 October, Coleridge’s birthday, at CICCIC, Taunton where the Art Exhibition will be on display until 15 November before moving on to Bath followed by other Somerset venues.


Saturday 17 September marks the beginning of ‘Outstanding Week’, a national week celebrating our 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) across Britain, with a week of Outstanding events being run by AONBs nationwide.

To celebrate the AONB Family has worked together to organise a programme of events covering one week (and a bit) to help people enjoy and be inspired by Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The events can be found on

The Quantock Hills AONB is celebrating with a Bat Walk on Friday 23 September, at 7pm from Ramscombe, Great Wood. To book on to this event go to

There is also a Quantock Jurassic Coast walk as part of the Outstanding week, but this event is already sold out so it is a good idea to keep an eye on the Quantocks events page if you are interested in taking part in walks, etc.

Quantock Hills AONB Manager Chris Edwards says: “It can sometimes be underestimated how important getting out and experiencing natural beauty is to our personal sense of wellbeing. I would say that having the ability to immerse yourself in a landscape that is cared for because of its rich wildlife, its rare and important habitats and its fascinating geology is one of the greatest pleasures in life. We are celebrating our natural landscapes across the country this week because these landscapes are crucial for biodiversity and for ecological health but also because they are crucial for our human happiness. So come and celebrate with us in the outstanding Quantock Hills during this special week.”

Twitter @quantockhills @naaonb & @aonbfamily #outstandingweek for new events to enjoy each day.

PHOTO: by Rich Hill.


In September 1945 a Handley Page Halifax of RAF 517 Squadron on a meteorological mission crashed into Crowcombe Park, killing all nine airmen on board (of an average age of 24).

On 6 September 2016, a memorial located close to the actual crash site will be unveiled by Air Vice-Marshal Richard Knighton, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, and Professor Dame Julia Slingo of the Meteorological Office.

The memorial, which has been erected in the Park by kind permission of Anthony Trollope-Bellew, is being donated by the LG Groves Prize Award.  Louis Grimble Groves was one of the airmen who lost their lives that fateful day, and his parents established the LG Groves Prize in his memory.  Every year for the last 70 years, it has been awarded for the best RAF innovations affecting air safety, and for the best Met Office innovations in weather forecasting affecting air safety.

“Although the crash was a great tragedy, it has saved many more lives than were lost as a result of the innovations enabled by the awards programme over the last 70 years,” says Anthony Groves, President of the LG Groves Prize Awards.

At precisely 12 noon on 6 September there will be a low-level fly-past over Crowcombe Park on the approximate route that the original Halifax took and the RAF will provide an Honour Guard salute.

The fly-past will be led by an RAF Hercules C-130 aircraft followed by an RAF Dakota, the plane that played such a vital role in the Second World War.   All 250 previous winners of the LG Groves Awards have been invited to the event, as well as  relatives of all nine of the aircrew.  Any members of the local community who wish to attend are also very welcome, although they are asked to email in

A number of local schools are being involved so that they can share in marking an important part of local history.

This will be an impressive event for the Quantocks and the family hopes that everybody will be involved in some way.


by Georgie Grant, Quantock Hills AONB Service

Quantock Hills AONB Rangers Rebekah and Dave have been out in the Quantocks this month with a power sprayer and a scrubbing brush cleaning up our heritage finger post signs.

These finger post signs are actually rather special.  They are all original cast iron road signs, relics from the early days of motoring and distinctive to Somerset; many of these signs date back to the early part of the last century.  In 2001 our Quantock Hills AONB Ranger Tim Russell recorded the condition of all road signs throughout the area and applied for Heritage Lottery funding to restore and repair 30 finger post signs within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in order to return them to their former glory, but also to help identify the area as a protected landscape.

In most cases the core of these old posts was rusted away and so the whole signpost had to be stripped down and a new core put in place before reconstruction could take place.  New arms and collars were also needed.  Moulds were taken of original arms, posts, spacers and finials and new pieces were forged at Cerdic Foundries in Chard in a traditional way.  Staff from Somerset County Council’s Highways department helped with this major work and an army of volunteers assisted with the painting of restored signs and name collars.

A total of 30 signs were completely restored and had their unique historic junction names added on the triangular collars.  These signs are spread throughout the AONB and every Parish has at least one restored signpost.  These run from West Quantoxhead in the north west of the AONB to West Monkton in the south east.

This was no small project.  Funding was awarded by The Countryside Agency, Heritage Lottery Fund, Local Heritage Initiative, Nationwide, Friends of Quantock, Somerset County Council and the Quantock Hills AONB Service. They make up an important part of our manmade landscape that is also worthy of protection.

Find out more about the project by downloading our traditional road signs information leaflet


With the support of Arts Council England, local folk artist Ange Hardy is all set to begin her 14-night tour of acoustic music based on the life and work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge along the route of The Coleridge Way.

The tour starts in Nether Stowey in West Somerset tomorrow, 3 October, where in conjunction with the tour the National Trust are keeping Coleridge Cottage (Coleridge’s home in the West Country) open until 7.30pm to allow the influx of visitors the opportunity to see the cottage.

The tour then continues to Halsway Manor (SOLD OUT), Holford, Bicknoller, East Quantoxhead, Sampford Brett, Stogumber, Wheddon Cross, Roadwater, Luxborough, Luccombe, Porlock, and Brendon before ending at Lynmouth Pavilion on 18 October.

For the final night Lynmouth Pavilion are offering a special 2 course menu for £15 per head, but these do need to be booked in advance with the Pavilion.

Ange Hardy has just officially released her album which features 10 other nationally acclaimed musicians including Steve Knightley. The album (‘Esteesee’, pronounced ‘S T C’ to form the initials of the poet) that these new songs appear on has already received a wide array of 5-star reviews, has been called a “masterpiece” by half a dozen reviewers and radio presenters, and has already received radio play on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Ulster and widely in the US, Netherlands and Australia.

The evening concerts in Somerset will features songs inspired by Coleridge’s relationships with friends, family and acquaintances, verses of his poetry set to music, new songs inspired by his characters and his stories, and even songs based on fragments of his dinner table conversations. Featuring music on the 27-string harp, acoustic guitar, low whistle, double bass, hammered dulcimer, shruti box, bodhrán drum all layered with spectacular vocal harmony

Despite regularly playing to sold-out theatres and large festival crowds Ange has always thrived on intimate venues, with candlelight and an enraptured crowd. She brings a level of honesty and openness to the stage that is a refreshing as it is disarming. Her focus on vocal harmony and her pitch-perfect vocal talent has led her toward adopting a live-looping pedal; a digital tape-recorder at her feet that allows her to record and play back layers of vocal harmony live from the stage. In doing so she brings her talent as a recording artist to a live performance, adding an extra dimension to an already captivating stage presence.

This is an evening of highly anticipated entertainment from nationally acclaimed award winning musicians that can be equally appreciated and enjoyed by all! Tickets are selling fast so please do try to book early.

Tickets are £10 in advance (£12 on the door) and available from  or 07555 226 137 – tickets are also available from at least one outlet in each village that the tour is passing through (variously from shops, pubs and visitor centers) so look for details on the poster on your local notice board.


Quantocks classroom for country skills

Young people keen on learning new skills and gaining extra confidence will be given the chance to spread their wings in the glorious Quantocks countryside.

West Somerset Council is teaming up with Somerset Rural Youth Project (SRYP) and others partners, including the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to provide a programme for those aged 16-24 with the emphasis on land management.

The project is being funded through Hinkley Point C planning agreement funds (Section 106 money) to help young people learn essential countryside skills.

These will include simple forestry, heathland and conservation skills, traditional methods used to manage the landscape including hedge-laying, coppicing, pollarding, ditching, fencing, species identification and the use of tools and machinery.

Cllr Karen Mills, Lead Member for Economic Development and Regeneration at West Somerset Council, said: “This is a great opportunity for young people to get involved, acquire new skills and build confidence whilst working within the wonderful natural environment of the Quantock Hills.”

SRYP will be recruiting young people and young adults who might be interested in signing on to the accredited scheme over the next few months.

If you are between 16 and 24 and living in the Quantocks or the surrounding areas please contact the project leader Barney Simmons at or 07773 343335 to register your interest.

As Old as the Hills: Cothelstone Hill’s Past Gets Brought to Life


A weekend of activity is planned on 20 and 21 June, to learn more about Cothelstone Hill’s fascinating archaeological past, funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage Programme.

Students from Bridgwater College will be working with experts from the South West Heritage Trust on a dig to uncover the ancient secrets of this beautiful hilltop in the Quantocks. The dig will be open to visitors to talk to the experts, and find out more about what is being uncovered. There will also be events happening all weekend, including wildlife walks, wild skills events and heritage tours. For more information or to book onto an event follow this link:

The aim of the archaeological work is to better understand the nature of the features on the hilltop, and to find a place to plant a replacement clump of trees, that will eventually replace the iconic Seven Sisters trees when they finally fall. There is so much archaeology on Cothelstone Hill that it is important to plant the trees where ancient underground archaeology will not be compromised by the roots of the new trees as they grow. This exciting project at Cothelstone Hill, led by the Quantock Hills AONB Service, has been given £5,400 to expand knowledge of the historic heritage of the hill and run events to allow local communities to explore the area.

The Quantock Hills AONB Service works with partners to conserve and enhance the landscape of the Quantock Hills, which was designated England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Cothelstone Hill Heritage Project is a partnership project with South West Heritage Trust and Bridgwater College that will improve the condition of a scheduled monument by slowing removing a clump of trees, where the roots of which are damaging the features underground, over the next few years.

Bob Croft, South West Heritage Trust said: “Cothelstone Hill has a wealth of heritage features and it is really exciting to be involved in a project which can offer local people the opportunity to learn more about this special hill.”

Chris Webster, of Bridgwater College, said: “It’s great for our students to be involved in a project in such wonderful location. It presents opportunities for our students not only to undertake archaeological investigations but to also engage with the local community and users of the hill.”

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “Sharing Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage and we are delighted to be able to offer this grant so that Cothelstone Hill Heritage Project can embark on a real journey of discovery. Heritage means such different things to different people, and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their area.”

Update from the Friends of Quantock

In the last update from the Friends of Quantock – and in the spring issue of the magazine (see news pages) – there is a report on the damage by joy-riders at Withyman’s Pool on the Quantocks and plans to safeguard it for the future.  Here is the latest update on this issue, from the Friends of Quantock…

quantocks joyriders 2After delays in obtaining the right sort and size of rocks these were installed recently.  Friends of Quantock initiated this project which was carried out by the AONB Service and funded by English Heritage.

quantocks joyridersUnfortunately joy-riders have struck again albeit in different places. They have been off-roading in places accessible from the main road across the Quantocks and have caused extensive damage in several places to the fragile grassland on Over Stowey Custom Common and elsewhere.  The pleasant open area opposite the car park at Crowcombe Park Gate where families like to picnic, now looks more like a ploughed field.  Friends of Quantock, who own Custom Common, are now looking at the possibility of forming banking along the road edge to prevent vehicular access. Sadly it is the ignorant or inconsiderate actions of the few who spoil the enjoyment of many.

Another project that Friends of Quantock are involved in is the work on Cothelstone Hill, where English Heritage are concerned about damage to ancient monuments from the tree roots of the iconic clump known as Seven Sisters. They sought the removal of the clump which caused an outcry as it is a well-known and much loved feature of the Quantock outline. A geo-physical survey is now under way to establish the exact extent of archaeological features on the hill and this will allow the planning of a planting programme so that replacement trees can be grown on to gradually replace those causing the damage, while retaining the important feature. The survey will also provide a better understanding of what features are important on this most visited part of the hills.

Unfortunately it is just this sort of work that is threatened by the recently announced cuts by West Somerset Council to the budget of the AONB Service. The cut is not large but as it is matched to three times the amount by DEFRA it means a significant reduction in the core budget, which will be very difficult to accommodate. Friends of Quantock campaign for the proper funding of the AONB to allow this wonderful and important area to continue to be properly looked after for the enjoyment of all.

To keep in touch with the work undertaken by Friends of Quantock please visit: and