Category Archives: Tourism

TV ACTRESS CAROLINE QUENTIN BACKS EXMOOR BRIDGE APPEAL

Men Behaving Badly star Caroline Quentin is the latest TV personality to get behind a community-led fundraising appeal to replace a popular footbridge in Exmoor National Park that forms part of a century-old walking route.

In her campaign video, she asks those who share her love for Exmoor to get behind the appeal by spreading the word to friends and family and on social media, and urging them to donate to Caremoor for Exmoor, via the Exmoor National Park website www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor or by sending a cheque to “CareMoor (Exmoor National Park)” to Exmoor House, Dulverton, TA22 9HL.

Caroline, who lives locally to Exmoor and is President of the Campaign for National Parks, joins Julia Bradbury, TV presenter and co-founder of The Outdoor Guide – a free web resource for walkers, in supporting the appeal led by Exmoor National Park Authority and the Lyn Community Development Trust (LCDT).

The bridge once formed part of a favourite circular walk on the outskirts of Lynmouth, enjoyed by Caroline along with thousands of others seeking to experience the spectacular East Lyn Valley. It connects to the Middleham Memorial Gardens, created in memory of victims of the 1952 flood which destroyed much of Lynmouth, and featured in Julia Bradbury’s hit TV series Britain’s Best Walks.

Caroline Quentin, said: “Together we can build a new heritage bridge fit for the twenty-first century that will allow people of varying abilities to experience this enchanting ancient woodland and its unique heritage. For me deepening people’s enjoyment and understanding of our wonderful countryside is a big part of what National Parks are all about, which is why I’m delighted to get behind the cause.”

Sarah Bryan, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “As the tourism season picks up, Exmoor is gearing up to welcome more than two million visitors. But in Lynmouth we feel there’s still one important thing missing, which is why we’re so grateful to Caroline for helping raise the profile of this important cause.

“This crossing has endured for more than a century. And with everyone’s help we hope to be able to replace it with a new heritage bridge built in solid Exmoor oak timber, putting this much-loved route back on the map for another generation.”

LITTLE BEACH HUT GETS BIG AWARD

Salad Days at Dunster Beach, Dunster in Somerset has been awarded Bronze at this year’s Visit England Tourism Excellence Awards for Dog Friendly Business of the Year.

The awards, held annually, are the culmination of all of England’s regional Tourism Awards. To reach this stage all finalists have to have won at county and regional level first and need to be the best in their chosen field, businesses have to offer world-class service and excel in all areas. Brett Bates and Susan Juggins of Salad Days won Gold for Dog Friendly Business of the Year and Silver for Self Catering Business of the Year at the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards in November last year, then repeated the accolade at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February. They were then taken aback to find out that Salad Days had been nominated for the prestigious Visit England Awards last month “and now to have gone on to be awarded Bronze is just incredible,” said Brett.

“Dunster Beach has always been a little hidden part of Somerset, now to have been recognised on the national stage, we hope to have an even greater impact on tourism in the area and make people realise they can pull off the motorway in Somerset to sample some amazing, award-winning attractions, eateries and places to stay. We have had some fantastic exposure and hope to be able to bring some of our success back with us to benefit the whole area; we know our fellow beach hut owners will be as pleased with this award as we are, it helps put Dunster Beach on the map and it is no longer a hidden gem.”

The couple were first attracted to the awards because of the offer of free advice from tourism industry experts. As beginners themselves –  Salad Days is only in its second year – Brett and Susan say they have learned so much and met some lovely people during the process; they would advise anybody to enter the awards and go on the courses offered. “Being in tourism can seem like a lot of hard work at times but to meet like-minded people via the awards process can be such a benefit to the business owner and their customers,” said Brett. “Our guests at Salad Days love the fact that we have won awards, but more importantly, they are the ones who feel the benefit of what we have learned. We have loved being able to introduce this part of Somerset and Exmoor to people who have never been here before, and the awards have helped us to be able to do just that.”

So what next? Brett and Susan are currently renovating their second beach hut, Holi Moli, to run alongside Salad Days. The aim is to learn from Salad Days’ success and improve upon what has been such a winning formula. Brett and Susan will both continue training and learning new skills, so watch this space, Holi Moli will be bringing colour to Dunster Beach and hopefully new guests to the area.

EXMOOR BUSINESSES COULD BENEFIT FROM INTERNATIONAL TOURISM BOOST

Tourism providers in and around Exmoor and Dartmoor are being invited to a free session this month as part of a £1.4 million project to develop new products and experiences that will attract more overseas visitors to explore England’s National Parks.

Dartmoor and Exmoor have worked with other English National Parks to secure the funding from Visit England’s ‘Discover England Fund’.  Whilst initially the project will be targeting German and Australian visitors, the new products created would be available to all markets.

The sessions are being held as follows:

·       Dartmoor – Tuesday 24th April. 10am-12noon at Islington Country House Hotel and 5.30pm- 7.30pm at Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre, Princetown

·       Exmoor – Thursday 26th April. 6-8.30pm at the White Horse Inn, Exford (there is an additional drop-in session from 4pm to 6pm for anyone unable to join the main session).

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park, said, “Through this project, we are seeking to offer unique, immersive visitor experiences, which stand out in the global marketplace and tell the stories of our landscape, history and heritage. We want to support our local business to develop experiences which can be packaged together, adding value to the many unique experiences already attracting millions of visitors to our National Parks every year.”

Significant research has been undertaken to identify the most compelling experiences available in each National Park, which reflect the local character and distinctiveness of these jewels in the crown of the English countryside. These include wildlife encounters, opportunities to meet with local farmers and producers and to discover England’s great history within our National Parks.

The next step is to recruit businesses who will benefit from a significant support programme (including workshops and one-to-one sessions) to help develop their products, engage with the travel trade and welcome overseas visitors. At the end of this process the National Parks hope to have a suite of over 50 top experiences within the English National Parks for tour operators to utilise in their programmes – the English National Park Experience Collection.

Richard Drysdale, Visitor Services Manager at Dartmoor National Park, said, “There will be opportunities for all types and sizes of business to get involved from small activity providers to large accommodation providers. A core part of the project will focus on packaging individual components to create compelling stories, so you may want to get involved in either leading or supporting one of the identified experiences. These open sessions are free to attend and we would encourage anyone wanting to find out more to come along and get involved.”

Each session will cover the background and context to the project, provide some examples of the experiences being developed and the step changes required to deliver these on a global platform, as well as details of how businesses can apply to be a part of the programme and the benefits they will receive.

The business support element of the project is being supported by Visit Exmoor and Visit Dartmoor (the Destination Management Organisations for the National Parks) with expert support and training from Max Lawrence (Inspire Hospitality) and Jo Butler Consulting.

To sign up for the Dartmoor sessions please email Jenny@VisitDartmoor.co.uk or for the Exmoor sessions contact experiencecollection@mail.com

TOURISM AWARDS FOR TWO DUNSTER BUSINESSES

The Yarn Market Hotel in Dunster has been listed as a finalist in the 2018 National Group Travel Awards. It is one of seven nominated in the “Best Individual Hotel for Groups in the UK” category.

Antony Brunt, the proprietor of the Yarn Market Hotel, commented: “We are delighted to be nominated as a finalist in these awards. It’s a great reflection on the work that all of the team at the hotel put in all year round to attract business and then to make sure that our guests, be they groups or individuals enjoy their stay and the delights of Dunster itself, West Somerset and the Exmoor National Park.”

Antony is a well-known figure on the Travel Trade Show circuit and has been found promoting the Yarn Market Hotel and the wider attractions of the area across England and Wales. The message has been taken to London, Manchester, venues across southern England and Liverpool amongst other locations and on Tuesday 20 March he headed to the NEC Birmingham to spend two days working at the British Travel Trade Show. The work and the mileage has clearly paid off as he will return to a full hotel, hosting a four-day break for RailTrail holidays, who are visiting heritage railways in the South West including the second day on the West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala on Friday 23 March.

Also celebrating…

Salad Days (see photo) is a finalist in the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Tourism Excellence 2018

VisitEngland, the national tourist board, has announced the finalists for the Awards for Excellence 2018, with Dunster’s Salad Days being named as a finalist in the Dog Friendly Business of the Year. The winners of this prestigious accolade will be announced at the Awards ceremony to be held on Monday 23 April at the Bath Assembly Rooms.

Salad Days Beach Hut, announced as a finalist earlier this week, represents one of the three finalists in the Dog Friendly Business of the Year category and is the only representative from Somerset. All finalists must now wait until the Awards ceremony to discover whether they have achieved Gold, Silver or Bronze placings.

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “The finalists have shown themselves to be of the highest calibre, using their talent and innovation to deliver excellence. The hundreds of applications this year reflect the quality products across our tourism landscape and I warmly congratulate all the finalists and wish them the very best of luck.”

Speaking on behalf of Salad Days, Brett Bates, said: “We were so excited to win Gold in the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Awards held in Taunton last year, then we were over the moon with a further Gold at South West Tourism Excellence Awards in Torquay last month and now we can’t quite believe that our little beach hut has made it to the national Visit England finals. Salad Days will be alongside some of the best tourism businesses in the country. All this in just our first two years of business, wow!”

“Salad Days started as a dream over 50 years ago when I used to visit Dunster as a child and now I want our guests to experience some of the charm and magic that this wonderful part of Somerset offers,” said Brett “Now, with this kind of recognition, it will help to put Dunster Beach on the map and more people will find it, which is good news for Dunster, Somerset and Exmoor. Right from the beginning we wanted Salad Days to be dog friendly as we knew that so many people visit this area with their dog, now they can stay at one of the best dog friendly businesses in England.”

PHOTO: The interior of Salad Days Beach Hut

A full list of winners can be found at www.visitenglandawards.org/finalists

COME AND SAY HELLO AT THE LEAFLET EXCHANGE

Don’t forget that this Wednesday is the annual Visit Exmoor Networking Day with Leaflet Exchange, at Wheddon Cross. Exmoor Magazine will have a stand at the afternoon Leaflet Exchange and we would love it if you came and said hello. You can find out more about the magazine and share your article ideas and feedback with us.

The Leaflet Exchange is a useful opportunity for tourism providers to come along for free and pick up leaflets and information for use in their venues through the coming season, including the brand-new Eat Exmoor food and drinks guide, as well as swap ideas and network with other tourism businesses. Complimentary tea and coffee will be provided by Miles.  This year the Leaflet Exchange takes place at the Moorland Hall, Wheddon Cross, between 2pm and 4pm, following on from the morning’s Visit Exmoor AGM, presentations and lunch over the road at the Rest & Be Thankful Inn.

The Visit Exmoor morning’s events provide an opportunity for tourism providers to hear all about the work of the organisation and to contribute their ideas. This is an ideal opportunity for local tourism businesses across Greater Exmoor to network, get involved and pick up useful tips and advice.

Things begin at The Rest & Be Thankful Inn, Wheddon Cross, at 11.30 with the Visit Exmoor AGM and a series of informative presentations from local experts, including award-winning glamping business owner Bella Given, Dan James from Exmoor National Park and social media specialist Matt Young.

A buffet lunch (£8.50 per head) will be served at the Inn along with the chance to network with like-minded tourism business owners. Members of the Visit Exmoor committee will also be on hand to answer any questions.

As with the Leaflet Exchange, all businesses are welcome, and the event is FREE to attend. If you would like to go along in the morning though, please do register so that Visit Exmoor can plan for numbers.

There is no need to register to attend the Leaflet Exchange – for that you can just turn up. We hope to meet you there!

PHOTO: by Julia Amies-Green

 

EXMOOR IN THE AWARDS SPOTLIGHT

Exmoor National Park’s contribution to tourism in the South West was recognised at the start of February at the South West Tourism Awards 2017/18 when a special ‘Outstanding contribution to Tourism Award’ was given to the region’s protected landscapes (including National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the South West Coast Path).

The special award was presented at the awards ceremony, which has become the single largest gathering of tourism businesses in the region, with over 400 delegates present at the Riviera Conference Centre in Torquay.

Announcing the award, BBC Spotlight presenter Victoria Graham spoke about the way in which volunteers and staff work together to manage protected landscapes which enable the tourism industry to “deliver such wonderful and varied visitor experiences for our guests”.

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park, commented, “We’re really proud that our contribution to the wider visitor economy has been recognised in this way. We work closely with local communities, businesses and land managers to help keep Exmoor special. Over 2 million  visitor days are spent on Exmoor every year contributing almost £115m to the rural economy with 99% of visitors rating their experience as good or very good. This is thanks to the efforts of all our staff, partner organisations and volunteers that enable so many people to enjoy Exmoor and this is an award for them all.”

A number of Exmoor businesses also picked up awards during the evening including:

Longlands near Combe Martin – Gold, Glamping Accommodation
Salad Days Beach Huts at Dunster – Gold, Dog Friendly Business and Silver, Self-Catering Holiday Property
The Swan at Bampton – Gold, Tourism Pub.
The Luttrell Arms in Dunster –  Bronze, Tourism Pub

Exmoor has also been shortlisted as ‘National Park of the Year’ in the BBC Countryfile Magazine awards. The work of the National Park Authority and partners on projects such as the reinvigoration of the Two Moors Way to open up access were cited by the judges for the shortlisting.

It is now down to a public vote to decide if Exmoor wins the top spot. You can vote online at www.countryfile.com/bbc-countryfile-magazine-awards-2018 until 5 March 2018.

COAST PATH WORKSHOP AT DUNSTER

A tailored workshop designed to help local businesses from transport providers to tearooms make the most of the Somerset section of the England Coast Path is being held in Dunster in February. The section, which was opened in 2016, runs for 58-miles, from Minehead to Brean, following some of the country’s most spectacular coastline and opens up a new and exciting experience for walkers.

The workshop, at the Luttrell Arms Hotel on 22 February, offers the chance to find out how:

  • the new Coast Path can benefit business
  • to attract more walking tourists/visitors
  • the latest trends in social media and walking tourism will impact business on the Coast Path
  • local distinctiveness and authenticity can increase business
  • to create unique experiences
  • to build a great social media campaign around the new coast path product
  • to provide the best customer service to visitors coming to the coast path to ensure they return and spread the word to attract new visitors.

Cllr Andrew Hadley, West Somerset Council’s Lead Member for economic regeneration and growth, said: “The new Coast Path is a great natural asset for West Somerset and I hope that local businesses involved in tourism will join the workshop to discover how they can make the most of it.

“Tourism is a vitally important industry locally with as many as a third of the local workforce employed in this sector. The path is another attraction to add to the many we are proud of and it will attract more visitors, providing new opportunities for tourism businesses.”

Exmoor speakers include: Max Lawrence – www.hospitalityassured.com plus others from Somerset – Sarah Littler – Project Manager Rights of Way, Kate Doodson – www.cosmic.org.uk, and Nell Barrington – www.barringtonassociates.co.uk.

A finger buffet and refreshments will be included along with time for networking with like-minded businesses. Those attending will receive a pack of information on how to get the most from the Coast Path with loads of helpful links, ideas and contacts.

Places are limited so please book now here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-the-somerset-coast-path-can-benefit-your-business-workshop-in-dunster-tickets-42272178223?aff=HTAPemail

PHOTO: The opening of the Somerset section of the England Coast Path back in 2016. You can read the story which we published at the time here.

EAT EXMOOR FOOD & DRINK TRADE SHOW

An exciting new, free event, the Eat Exmoor Food & Drink Trade Show, is for everyone involved in producing, preparing, selling and celebrating Exmoor food and drink.

The event is designed for hospitality and experience providers, chefs, retailers and food and drink buyers to meet local producers from the Greater Exmoor area, and is being held at the Beach Hotel in Minehead (TA24 5AP) on Wednesday 7 February.

There will be a range of cooking demonstrations and some short, inspiring and informative talks from chefs and producers as well as experts in the marketing of local food with themed toolkits for producers and food/accommodation businesses. With plenty of trade stands from local producers, this FREE day runs from 10am to 4pm and people are welcome to drop in any time or come for the whole day.

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager for Exmoor National Park, said, “This will be the ideal opportunity for the trade to meet up, make new contacts from Exmoor and beyond and really focus on the importance of local food and the Exmoor brand.”

Barrie Tucker, Head Chef at the Luttrell Arms, will be demonstrating how to cook a Porlock Bay oyster to perfection. In addition, award-winning chef Werner Hartholt will be showing how to develop the perfect menu and promote the use of local produce within it and social media consultant to Visit Exmoor will be on hand to share his wealth of experience managing social media channels and providing training courses. More details of talks and demonstrations can be found at: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/tourism

Also at the Show, Visit Exmoor will also be launching their new Eat Exmoor Food and Drink Guide on the day. The guide will distributed widely and is available free from our National Park Centres from February 2018.

The Trade Show has been organised by Exmoor National Park, supported by Visit Exmoor and West Somerset Council. More details can be obtained by emailing KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or by calling 01398 323665.

Eat Exmoor is a partnership initiative between the National Park Authority and Visit Exmoor with support from West Somerset Council to encourage more visitors to enjoy the area’s delicious local produce and the landscape it comes from.

PHOTO: Barrie Tucker, Head Chef at The Luttrell Arms

CAMERAS AT THE READY FOR CLASSIC CARS IN LYNMOUTH!

Practical Classics car magazine is bringing a number of classic cars to Lynmouth for a photo shoot on Monday 29 January. Some of the cars will be going up on the Lynton Lynmouth Cliff Railway (whilst the passenger carriages are removed for winter maintenance).

The last time that cars were transported up the cliff via the railway was in 1952 during the Lynmouth Flood Disaster as a way of getting stranded cars out of Lynmouth and back to Lynton (and briefly as a one-off marketing stunt in the 1960s with an E-Type jag that was owned by a local businessman).

Viewing will be from the public areas and the bridges only but if you are interested in attending for photos / film / interview / editorial then it may be possible for site access to be arranged. The site contact for attendance or enquiry is Ashley Clarke (Chief Engineer / Manager) and his number is 01598 753486.

The cars will also be photographed in some of the other iconic locations around the twin villages, including Valley of Rocks, Rhenish Tower and Countisbury Hill. Practical Classics are writing an article about the Cliff Railway, its past role in transporting goods and cars and they are also showcasing the local area with a drive from Lynmouth to Porlock.

PHOTO: George Newnes’ car, which is believed to have been a Renault and was probably the first car ever taken up on the railway.  If you look closely, he can be seen sitting in the back on the right.  This image (courtesy of the Cliff Railway) was included in our article by Tony James about the railing back in the autumn of 2016.

SNOWDROP VALLEY 2018

In 2018 the valley will be closed to traffic from Saturday 27 January to Sunday 25 February. During the road closure the lanes into the valley (Drapers Way and Steart Lane) are closed by a legal road closure order and any vehicle entering the valley without an authorised Vehicle Pass will be reported to the Police.

For walkers there is a marked walking route down into the valley from the long stay car park at the livestock market, the walk is about a mile and takes around 30 minutes. On Exmoor the weather can change quickly so all visitors should make sure that they wear appropriate clothing and footwear for winter walking. Walking boots, or at the very least a good pair of wellies, are essential as the walking routes use local footpaths and bridleways, and there are always some muddy areas. For the more intrepid there are additional, longer walking routes offered, taking between 45 minutes and 3 hours; full details and maps are on sale in the Wheddon Cross car park.

During the middle two weeks, Saturday 3 February to Sunday 18 February, access is via the Park and Ride buses, run by AtWest, which leave from the village car park at Wheddon Cross, next to the Rest and Be Thankful Inn. Buses run regularly from 10.30am to 3.40pm with the last bus back from the valley at 4.30pm. The return bus journey costs just £6 for adults, £5 for senior citizens, and £2 for children aged 5-15, with children under 5 travelling free. There are tail lifts for anyone with mobility issues or using a wheelchair – please ring or email in advance to let the organisers know you are coming. Long-stay parking for cars and coaches is provided at the livestock market 150 yards further down the road from the buses towards Dunkery Beacon. Coach parties must be pre-booked with the co-ordinator.

During the scheme many members of the local community get involved and there is a great team of volunteers who help to run the Snowdrop Café, in the Moorland Hall, providing delicious teas and cakes to support local charitable organisations. There are great meals and teas to be found at other businesses in the village such as the Rest and Be Thankful Inn and the Exmoor House Hotel, as well as a wide variety of accommodation options from self-catering cottages to B&Bs and more to extend your winter trip to Exmoor.

Full information, as well as regular updates throughout the scheme can be found at www.wheddoncross.org.uk/snowdropvalley.htm. For coach bookings and disabled access please contact the Co-ordinator, Gemma Parry, on 07507 797169 or email snowdropvalley@googlemail.com and don’t forget to like Snowdrop Valley on Facebook!

Written with the help of Ros Simons, an artisan, writer and teacher of the old ways ~ you can find out more about her and her work at www.ros-simons.co.uk.

PHOTO: Late winter light in Snowdrop Valley by Andy Stuthridge, as published in our article on snowdrops by Rosemary FitzGerald in the spring 2015 issue of Exmoor Magazine. Photograph copyright Andy Stuthridge.