Category Archives: Quantocks

AREAS OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY LAUNCH OUTSTANDING WEEK

Saturday 16 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 and project run by AONBs across the country, including the Quantock Hills.

September has always been an outstanding month in our countryside, with harvests being brought safely home, trees and meadows taking on their autumnal colours, skies offering a full palette of hues, musky bonfires lingering in the evening air and a welcoming calmness for visitors.

September this year, however, promises to be even more outstanding!

The AONB Family has worked together to organise a week (and a bit) long programme of events to help people enjoy and be inspired by Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Starting on Saturday 16 September and continuing through to Sunday 24 September, the events can be found on www.landscapesforlifeevents.org.uk

As NAAONB’s Jill Smith, explains, “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are some of the most beautiful, cherished and outstanding landscapes in the UK. They are vibrant and dynamic and offer a wealth of opportunities for people to enjoy our countryside.

Outstanding Week shows people how to get involved and get out into our AONBs’ outstanding landscapes to enjoy country shows, dark sky discovery nights, walking festivals, archaeology walks, wood fairs, foraging and local food festivals, wildlife walks, coastal and marine days, thatching courses, drystone walling competitions, charcoal making, bioblitz, inspiration through art and music and many, many other activities. Whether you are looking for an outstanding view, intending to reward yourself with a cream tea or trying to kick start a new health regime, you can’t fail to have a great time in one of the UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are Landscapes for Life in so many different ways”. 

See www.landscapesforlifeevents.org.uk and Twitter @naaonb & @aonbfamily #outstandingweek for new events to enjoy each day.

PHOTO by Rich Hill

SOMERSET TO HOST BRITISH PLOUGHING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Champion ploughmen and women from all over Great Britain will be making their way to Somerset this autumn when the county will host this year’s British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival.  This unique two-day event will take place on land at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October.

The highlight of the country’s ploughing calendar, the event is one of the few agricultural shows which is held in a different part of Britain each year and the event is returning to Somerset courtesy of landowner Ken Coles and family who have provided over 200 acres of their prime arable farmland just north of the town of Taunton.

Around 250 ploughmen and women will take part, including past World and European champions.  At stake are the British National Ploughing Championship titles and the selection to represent England in World and European ploughing competitions next year, with one ultimate winner taking the title of Supreme Champion.

It’s not just about ploughing, though over the two days visitors will see competitions for many different styles, from the more modern reversible and conventional ploughing through to many types of vintage tractors and the graceful and magnificent horse ploughing of years gone by.  Alongside the competitions there will be demonstrations of giant steam engines, vintage and rural craft exhibits with the provisional themes ‘Welcome to Somerset’ and ‘Horse to Horse Power’, trade stands, shopping stalls and country crafts.

The Society of Ploughmen, who are organising the event, are expecting an exceptional crowd over the two days as the Championships always attract a varied mix of spectators – from farmers with a love of the land and agricultural machinery, vintage tractor enthusiasts, people with a love of horses, steam enthusiasts and those with a general interest in the countryside.  It also gives a unique opportunity for families to see how our farming heritage has changed over the past 300 years.

Chief Executive of the Society of Ploughmen, Sue Frith, said, “The interest and attention we have at the moment is fantastic after holding the World Ploughing Contest in England last year.   The support we have in the south-west of the country is especially good and clearly the decision to bring the Championships back to Somerset is a good one.”   She added, “You don’t have to be interested in ploughing as there will be something for everyone at the event, but it is wonderful to see what these highly skilled competitors can do.  It’s important we ensure these skills are kept alive as even with all the changes in agriculture, they still play an important part in the food chain as good ploughing will prepare the land well for better crops to be grown”.

There will be a wide selection of trade stands – from agricultural trade stands ranging from tractors and machinery to insurance through to the smaller shopping stalls with anything from countrywear to confectionery. Sponsorship opportunities are available for both market leaders and small companies with main sponsors this year being Bridgestone/Firestone and Bridgwater Agricultural Society.

Further information can be found on www.ploughmen.co.uk or from the Society of Ploughmen on  01302 852469 and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO taken at Bishops Lydeard for Exmoor Magazine by Andrew Hobbs

QUANTOCK HILLS AONB AND DOFE PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION

The Quantock Hills AONB Service and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in partnership with Splashmaps ran a photo competition to commemorate 2016 being their 60th anniversary year; they were searching for the best outdoor Quantock memories of last year.

Entries were invited for two categories: 1. Best Landscape Image and 2. Best Expedition Image. Over 100 entries of photos and film were received. At the beginning of May, after much deliberating, the winners and runners-up were decided. The winners of each category and the special film winner will receive a special edition 60th Anniversary Splashmap, which is a wearable, washable all-weather map, designed for the real outdoors.

To celebrate the wealth of local talent that this competition has unearthed, a free exhibition of all the entries will run until 4 June at the National Trust’s Fyne Court Music Room, Broomfield, TA5 2EQ and is open daily from 10am to 4pm. Why not go along and see the fantastic collection of images and stay for a wander and a cup of tea too as the café is also open all week.

The hope is for the Quantock Hills AONB and Somerset Duke of Edinburgh to make this an annual competition, so if you are out on your Duke of Edinburgh expeditions over the next few months or just love spending time on the hills, don’t forget your camera! Look out on the website and social media for information in the future or email quantockhills@somerset.gov.uk to be added to the AONB mailing list.

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 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.”

PHOTO: Best Landscape Image Winner by Frank Clatworthy

BE A QUANTOCK EXPLORER

The Quantocks Events Programme starts this weekend with a woodland spring flowers walk from Aisholt so we thought this would be a good time to share a post from the team at the Quantock Hills AONB…

Grab your rucksack and flask of sugary tea and come and join the Quantock Rangers as the Quantock Hills AONB Service launches its Events Programme for 2017.

Explore the Quantock Hills with our Rangers and Specialists in a series of guided walks throughout the year. Walks include hunting for fossils on our Jurassic Coast Walk, a Wellbeing Walk to help celebrate ‘Naturally Healthy Month’ in May, a Family Bushcraft Day, an evening Bats and Owls Walk and even a Quantock Quiz Walk for the walker who enjoys solving puzzles!

The programme also includes a set of special walks run by the Quantock Volunteer Rangers called Quantock Explorer Walks. These are specially designed to introduce you to different parts of the Quantock Hills and to find out more about the wildlife, plantlife and history of that part of the hills. From Fyne Court to Cothelstone, the Bicknoller loop and a Hill Fort Walk too.

We are also helping to promote others running guided walks on the Quantocks, including a series of walks at Durbourgh Farm including a Dawn Chorus Walk, a Spring Flowers Walk and in the autumn a Fungi Walk. Also, June brings the Quantock Walking Festival run by the Sedgemoor Ramblers.

Quantock AONB Manager Chris Edwards says: “These events are about experiencing the very best of the Quantock Hills, from the 200-million-year-old fossils on the Quantock coastline, to finding out more about how prehistoric people used and changed this landscape. It’s about enjoying the outstanding nature of this important and nationally recognised landscape.”

To book onto an event and to see the programme go to the Quantock Hills AONB website at www.quantockhills.com/events/view you can also find us on Facebook at /Quantock.hills or on Twitter @quantockhills

QUANTOCK HILLS AONB RANGERS ASK PEOPLE TO KEEP THEIR DOGS UNDER CLOSE CONTROL THIS SPRING

Nothing is more evocative of spring than seeing new lambs by their mothers out in the countryside.

But please remember that it is at this time of year when sheep and lambs are at their most vulnerable. Quantock Rangers, local farmers and the Police would like to highlight the problems that some dogs can cause to livestock on the hills.

From 1 March to 31 July dog owners are required by law to keep their dogs on a lead when being walked across Open Access Land. In all other areas of the countryside dogs should be kept under close control. It’s not just the physical attacks that cause harm but simply allowing a dog to chase sheep may cause ewes to abort or become injured.

Owen Jones, Quantock Hills AONB Ranger, said, “We’d like to take this opportunity to remind all dog owners to please keep their dogs on leads when walking close to lambs or sheep. Even if lambs are not present in a flock, the ewes may well be in lamb and a dog chasing them could cause them to abort.”

Owen went on to say, “There have been many times when Quantock Rangers have had to deal with the aftermath of dog attacks on sheep and in all cases I believe they could have been easily avoided – it’s never easy visiting a farmer to tell them that their livestock has been injured or killed.”

Between 1 March and 31 July, keeping your dog on a lead on Open Access Land will also help protect ground-nesting birds, as dogs run about in the undergrowth, and can flush birds such as nightjars and skylarks off their nests and may cause them to abandon them.

If your dog does kill or cause harm to livestock, you can be liable for a significant fine and for the value of the livestock harmed – your pet may also be dispatched, the cost of which will also have to be borne by you.  Moreover, if your dog is actually seen in action harassing livestock it could be shot on sight.

If you actually witness an attack in progress, call 999 otherwise any incidents witnessed should be reported to the Police on 101 or directly to the Quantock Hills AONB Office on 01823 451884.

QUANTOCK HILLS SPRING CLEAN WEEKEND

A request from the Quantock Hills AONB… Can you Help?

Can you help keep the Quantock Hills looking beautiful this spring by coming out with a bin bag and a pair of gloves and picking up any litter you might see on your Quantock walk?  Any help would be enormously appreciated, we would ask that you either take the litter home with you to dispose of (which would be great) or please do leave in a main Quantock Hills car parks and the Rangers will collect the bags for disposal.  Ideally either Lydeard Hill car park or Cothelstone Hill car park.  Any other car parks please let us know by leaving us a message (tel. 01823 451 884) or email us at quantockhills@somerset.gov.uk

If you would like to help litter picking, please stay safe.   Remember:

  • Stay away from roads
  • Only pick up litter you consider safe, for example not sharp items or needles
  • Don’t touch industrial waste
  • Wear gloves

There are more organised events taking place over the weekend so do check parish noticeboards for events.

Find out more about the Great British Spring Clean here: www.greatbritishspringclean.org.uk/home/2684

PHOTO: by Naomi Marley

QUANTOCK HILLS AONB AND DUKE OF EDINBURGH’S AWARD LAUNCH PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION

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 quantockhills@somerset.gov.uk  

QUANTOCKS COUNTRYSIDE TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

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 info@fwagsw.org.uk

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: www.quantockhills.com/events/view

 

 

 

KUBLA KHAN IMAGINED WORLDS POETRY COMPETITION

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.

BAT WALK ON THE QUANTOCKS

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 www.landscapesforlifeevents.org.uk

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 www.quantockhills.com/events/view

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.