Category Archives: Tourism


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

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

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

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


Work to provide a new seating and information area next to the Verity sculpture in Ilfracombe is complete.

The project to re-landscape the area around the sculpture to provide a larger viewing platform, seating and lighting was finished last week with the installation of a new information plinth.

Damien Hirst’s 20-metre sculpture was loaned to North Devon Council by For Giving CIC in 2012. The information plinth is located at the foot of Verity and provides visitors with information on what the statue is all about.

Ilfracombe Harbour Master, Rob Lawson (pictured), says: “Completion of the re-landscaping works have provided an exceptional new viewing area for the statue.  The materials used, both in colour and texture, have enhanced the Verity experience and I feel privileged to be able to see this iconic landmark every day.  Verity will continue to provide much interest and discussion for the many visitors who come to see her and I would like to thank Mr Hirst for his continued support of Ilfracombe.”

Work started on the final phase of the project in November 2016. Since Verity has been installed she has become a popular draw for tourists and this work will further enhance the Pier area and improve the visitor experience.


Last year the Two Moors Way – Devon’s Coast to Coast walking route – celebrated its 40th anniversary. A series of improvement works were undertaken and the 115+ mile route, linking two coasts and the South West’s two National Parks, re-launched to celebrate this milestone. Local businesses are now invited to join free workshops to discover how they can benefit from the work as the industry gears up for the new visitor season.

Three workshops will take place along the route at the Simonsbath House Hotel on Exmoor (27 March), The Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton (25 April) and the Watermark Centre at Ivybridge (8 May). Each session will provide local businesses with an overview of the route’s history, a virtual tour of the trail and the points of interest along the way, a guide to the new website, films and other resources for businesses as well as top tips on attracting business from walkers. The workshops will be delivered by speakers from the National Park Authorities, the Two Moors Way Association and Encounter Walking Holidays.

“The aim of these workshops is to let businesses know what’s been happening along the Two Moors Way and to share some opportunities in helping a growing number of hungry, thirsty and tired walkers and their baggage along the route,” said Colin Piper of the Two Moors Way Association.

“As a result of our work with partners and better publicity, we can expect many more walkers to use the route, resulting in a greater need and use of a wide range of local services. We want all those who provide these services to be fully aware of these new opportunities, and how sharing ideas can be beneficial.”

Each workshop runs from 11am to 2pm and businesses can attend whichever is most convenient for them free of charge (including lunch and refreshments). Places must be booked in advance by emailing the name of your business and those attending with your choice of location and any dietary requirements to

To celebrate the Ruby Anniversary of the route Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities, together with Devon County Council helped to re-establish the Two Moors Way Association. In addition to a series of trail improvements the partners worked together to launch a new website ( providing inspiration and information regarding the route, in addition to a new pocket guide.

More recently additional funding has been secured for the Association from the National Lottery’s Awards for All scheme allowing these workshops to be run, and the production of two stunning films showcasing the route to the world. A new visitor passport scheme is being developed to help walkers record their route and the Association is also being helped to develop its volunteer opportunities and support to help look after and promote the route into the future.

Press and journalists are also invited to attend the workshops to discover more about one of the South West’s most popular walking routes. Please book in advance by emailing with your choice of workshop.



The National Park is working with the South West Coast Path Association and Visit Exmoor to market the region as a top tourism destination to overseas visitors.

Discover England’s South West Coast Path is one of a number of projects across the country to benefit from the initial round of the Discover England Fund to encourage year-round visits, outside the peak holiday season and specifically targeting Dutch and German visitors.

Itineraries for three-, five- and seven-day walking holidays within Exmoor, and five other areas, have been developed in English, Dutch and German and are available in print as fold-out leaflets, and as mix-and-match day walks online, and a new app has been produced.

To complement the itineraries, video footage has been produced and a public relations campaign is underway in the German and Dutch markets. This includes visiting some of the leading travel and tourism trade shows and hosting a number of journalist visits to the area.

You can access the Exmoor itineraries on the Visit Exmoor website and further details on the project can be found here.

PHOTO by David J. Rowlatt


VisitEngland, the national tourist board, has announced the finalists for the Awards for Excellence 2017 with Longlands BEING named as a finalist. The winners of this prestigious accolade will be announced at the Awards ceremony on Monday 24 April at the Hilton Waldorf, London.

Working collaboratively with industry, VisitEngland’s Awards for Excellence celebrate the best in English tourism.

Longlands , announced as a finalist on Friday, represents one of the three Glamping Provider finalists in England. All finalists must wait until the Awards ceremony to discover whether they have won an award.

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “The Awards shine a spotlight on an industry driven by the highest-calibre people and organisations who deliver unforgettable experiences for visitors, raising the profile of England as a world-class destination and driving the economic benefits of tourism across the regions.

“Awards for Excellence finalists exemplify outstanding tourism talent and distinguished businesses throughout England. We received over 600 truly impressive applications this year and there’s absolutely no doubt that the finalists represent the very best in the industry. I’d like to congratulate all finalists and wish them the very best of luck.”

Bella Given, owner of Longlands, said: “We are thrilled to be a finalist for such a prestigious award, particularly as it is the first year that glamping has had its own category. To be recognised as one of the best three glamping sites in the country is a huge honour and testament to the hard work and dedication of the fantastic team of people we have at Longlands.”


Getting the season off to a promising start, Visit Exmoor are holding a Business Networking Day at Porlock Village Hall on Wednesday 15 March. The event is FREE to attend and anyone who benefits from tourism in the Greater Exmoor area in North Devon and Somerset is very welcome to come along.

As well as presentations from Exmoor National Park, the Hinkley Tourism Action Partnership and the South West Coast Path, the day will include the popular Leaflet Exchange where local businesses can swap information and leaflets for the coming season.

New for this year, a business Networking Café will run alongside the Leaflet Exchange and visitors can meet the Visit Exmoor team over tea and coffee and glean advice on PR, marketing, customer service and hospitality from industry professionals. There’ll be practical advice on queries such as, ‘How to make your accommodation more appealing to dog owners’ and ‘How to enthuse your team’ and tips on how to make the most of your social media streams.

“2017 is an exciting year for the tourism industry. All the signs are that, for a whole host of reasons, many more holidaymakers will be looking to take their well-earned break in the UK this summer,” says Visit Exmoor Development Manager Jennette Baxter. “We’ve got a great product in and around Exmoor and the Quantock Hills and we need to work together to promote our destination and make it the very best it can be.”

The day will start with the Visit Exmoor AGM at 11.30am, followed by presentations and then a pre-bookable buffet lunch will be served at 1pm (£10 for Visit Exmoor members* and £12.50 for non-members). The leaflet exchange and Network Café are open between 2pm and 4pm.  For attractions and event organisers wishing to take the opportunity to promote their businesses, stands can be booked from £25.

*To say ‘Thank You’ to their loyal supporters the Visit Exmoor team are offering a complimentary lunch to the first 50 Visit Exmoor Members that book.

Tickets can be booked at


Kentisbury Grange Hotel and The Coach House by Michael Caines took home two gold awards for Restaurant of The Year and Small Hotel of The Year at the 2016/17 South West Tourism Awards.

Over the last two years Kentisbury Grange Hotel and on-site restaurant, The Coach House by Michael Caines, have brought home eight gold awards in the county and regional awards.

In November 2016, the hotel and restaurant were awarded gold for Small Hotel of the Year and Restaurant of the Year in the Devon Tourism Awards for the second year in a row. The South West Tourism Awards in February saw the Devon businesses going head to head with the top businesses in the South West and winning gold in the same categories – also for the second year running.

Peter Farquhar, General Manager at Kentisbury Grange, said of the awards: “WOW – what can I say? We are lost for words. To have won gold again this year, with so many other outstanding businesses entering the awards, is incredible. I’m so very proud of the outstanding team we have here – without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

The team at Kentisbury Grange and The Coach House by Michael Caines are looking forward to the year ahead and have recently welcomed a new Head Chef, James Mason, to the helm. James also has an award or two under his belt, including South West Young Professional Chef of the Year 2015.

Michael Caines said: “We are absolutely delighted that our hard work and investment has been recognised through such prestigious awards. The two gold medals are a great tribute to the hard work of our talented teams lead by Martin Robinson and Tom Hine who was recently replaced by Head Chef James Mason.”

Foodies are eagerly awaiting the launch of Michael Caines’ first country house hotel and restaurant, Lympstone Manor, opening on 3 April 2017. Located between Exeter and Exmouth, the Georgian mansion will be transformed into a 21 bedroom hotel and 60 seat fine dining restaurant.


Hestercombe has been named as one of the top small attractions in the South West, picking up a Silver at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

The attraction, now in its 20th anniversary year, is famed for its historic gardens, house and art gallery, is based near Taunton and welcomes almost 80,000 visitors each year.

The awards ceremony was held at Bristol’s Ashton Gate Stadium on Thursday (February 2), and CEO Philip White and General Manager Richard Mira (pictured) were on hand to collect the accolade.

Mr White said: “What an extraordinary start to 2017 this has been. Receiving this award means so much to us in this, our 20th year of opening to the public. Hestercombe is committed to developing both its world-class gardens, and the house to bring together art and the landscape, and this year also sees the launch of a fundraising initiative to further improve the attraction.

“We are delighted that we’ve been chosen as the recipients of this prestigious award and congratulate all the other fabulous and well-deserving venues that were nominated.”

After judging a record 602 entries, 380 business visits and 24 hours of panel discussions, 132 Finalists and 5 Highly Commended entries were put through to this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Richard Stanbrook, Director of headline sponsors South West Water Business, said: “We’re committed to playing our part in delivering a sustainable economic future for the South West and feel there’s never been a better time to showcase the individuals and businesses who pioneer, create jobs and help drive the region’s economy and growth.  We understand how crucial the leisure & tourism industry is to the region and how important water is for such businesses. We’re thrilled to be supporting the Tourism Awards again, and celebrate the hard work, innovation and determination that goes into making the thriving tourism industry in the South West such a success.”

Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism Ltd, who manage the Awards, commented: “Tourism is one of biggest and fastest growing industries in the world and is at the heart of the South West economy.  Recent research has proved that investing in tourism reaps a greater economic return than virtually every other industry, not to mention contributing to the unique assets and quality of life of this fantastic region.  I pay tribute to all this year’s Finalists for being ‘beacons’ for the region and demonstrating just what tourism can do.”



Layout 1To celebrate Chinese New Year 2017 – The Year of the Rooster, Exmoor National Park Authority has produced its popular Exmoor Pocket Guide, an introduction to the National Park, in the Chinese language.

The guide is one of  a suite of Pocket Guides which cover a range of subjects to help people get the most out of their visit to Exmoor and for those that want to learn more about Exmoor National Park, its wildlife, Butterflies, Moorland Birds, Rivers and Streams, Woodlands and of course Dark Skies.

Ben Totterdell from Exmoor National Park said: “We know that not many Chinese people are visiting Exmoor at the moment and so there is real potential to encourage more visitors from mainland China to come and discover this beautiful corner of the UK. We are also hoping to welcome more members of the local Chinese community, some of whom have kindly helped us with the translation.

“Promoting international tourism in National Parks is one of the actions in Defra’s 8 Point Plan for National Parks and we look forward to welcoming many more overseas visitors from China and other countries across the world.”

Pocket Guides are available from Exmoor National Park Centres and other outlets across Exmoor or by visiting:



Staff at Dunkery Beacon Country House Hotel on Exmoor are raising their glasses after being selected as the Editor’s Choice in two categories in the 2017 Good Hotel Guide (November, 2016).

Dunkery Beacon in Wootton Courtenay near Dunster was named Editor’s Choice in the ‘Rooms with a View’ and ‘Hotels for Walking’ categories.

John Bradley, who runs the award-winning Dunkery Beacon together with his wife Jane, said: “Being named Editor’s Choice in the 2017 Good Hotel Guide is a fantastic way to top off an already award-filled year. We are among some fantastic company in the Guide.

“We pride ourselves on our beautiful accommodation and we feel our rooms are really top notch and wonderful places for our guests to really relax. There’s no doubt the view of surrounding Exmoor is really quite something. There are so many different walks across the moor and we’re always on hand to advise our guests on the best ones to take.”

The Good Hotel Guide is the leading independent guide to hotels in Great Britain and Ireland. It is written for the reader seeking impartial advice on finding a good place to stay. Hotels cannot buy their entry as they do in most rival guides.

The Guide is published each autumn. It specialises in small owner-managed hotels and B&Bs in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands and in Continental Europe. It includes budget B&Bs and good value hotels as well as luxurious country houses.

John has more than 25 years’ experience in catering, notching up numerous top chef roles in this country and overseas.

Jane has a background in hospitality and worked in the wine industry for more than 15 years.

To find out more, please call 01643 841 241 or visit

Photo: Jane and John Bradley, owners of Dunkery Beacon Country House Hotel, which has recently been named Editor’s Choice in the Rooms with a View and Hotels for Walking categories in the 2017 Good Hotel Guide.