Category Archives: Tourism

MEND OUR MOUNTAINS RETURNS WITH £1 MILLION TARGET FOR BRITAIN’S BEST-LOVED LANDSCAPES

The award-winning, headline-grabbing campaign which raised more than £100,000 to repair Britain’s hills and mountains has returned – and is raising its sights ten times higher.

In last year’s campaign a section of path that was in need of restoration work formed part of the Two Moors Way where access along a 50-metre stretch of the path was difficult, with deep mud that stayed permanently saturated even in summer.

The campaign was incredibly successful and raised a total of £104,000. Within this, £7,500 came to Mend Exmoor which was added to through CareMoor for Exmoor (Exmoor National Park Authority’s donation scheme).

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million aims to raise £1 million in total for a range of vital path repair projects within Britain’s entire family of 15 National Parks, including two on Exmoor – one The Chains and another on the River Barle at Great Bradley.

Team effort
The projects supported by Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million will range from the high reaches of the Cairngorms to the gentle coast of the Solent; from England’s highest mountain to the fabled seat of a Welsh giant; from the rolling hills of Exmoor to one of Scotland’s most well-trodden Munros.

Sue Applegate, public rights of way and access officer at Exmoor National Park, said: “We were delighted to be invited back to submit Exmoor projects for the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign. The funding we received from the previous one has helped improve one of Exmoor’s more remote paths and we are hoping that people will get on board and support this exciting new initiative.

“This year two Exmoor projects have been put forward, the first is to repair the surface of a popular walking and riding route across the top of The Chains.  Over the years, the route has become wet and boggy through use and simply due to the wild, wet environment it passes through.  As people try to avoid the difficult sections, the route has spread out and in places has caused a widening erosion scar. This project aims to carry out path surface improvements on a 3.8-kilometre stretch between Exe Head and Woodbarrow so that a long-term sustainable route is put in place – we will be using a natural soil inversion technique which provides a good surface without bringing in lots of external materials to this sensitive environment.

“Our second project is on the River Barle at Great Bradley.  Currently, the Two Moors Way, a popular recreational route linking Dartmoor & Exmoor, follows a very eroded permitted path on the eastern bank of the river.  We would like to move the route onto a bridleway which runs along the western bank but, where it crosses the River Barle at Great Bradley, there is currently only a ford.  For much of the year the water is too deep for walkers to get through.  We plan to build a new bridge at this point so that the bridleway can be used at all times and we can move the Two Moors Way route onto it to a position where it is secure and sustainable.”

Here are the direct links to the two projects on Exmoor:

The Chains
The River Barle at Great Bradley

Overall coordination is provided by the BMC, funding comes from the BMC’s charity (the BMC Access and Conservation Trust), and headline sponsorship is generously provided by Cotswold Outdoor and Snow+Rock, two of Britain’s leading outdoor retailers and the BMC’s recommended retail partners.

Individual projects are backed by a range of National Park authorities, outdoor enthusiast groups and charitable trusts, and in Scotland the campaign is represented by the BMC’s sister organisation, Mountaineering Scotland.

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million will run over a whole year. It will employ a wide range of fundraising techniques in addition to crowdfunding, from harnessing the generosity of ‘ordinary’ outdoor enthusiasts, to drawing in money and support from large businesses, corporate donors and charitable foundations.

The appeal is divided into three phases.

The first phase will run between now and the spring of next year, during which time the fundraising focus will be on drawing in large donations from individuals, businesses and grant-giving bodies.

The second phase will run over the spring and summer of 2018 and will see the main drive to encourage the public at large to donate. The third phase will run in the autumn of 2018 and will see a crowdfunding ‘crescendo’ aimed at raising the remaining sum of money.

The National Park is encouraging everyone who wants to to donate today if they are able, but also to keep an eye on BMC and National Park media over the course of the year for more information about how they can get involved as the campaign progresses and develops.

Photo: Badly eroded permitted path on the eastern side of the river Barle at Great Bradley

CAN YOU HELP DEVELOP A BRAND FOR MINEHEAD

Workshops and surveys are being carried out with local residents and visitors this month  in order to develop a new tourism brand for Minehead.

Leading this work is the Minehead Coastal Community Team. Town and district Councillor Roger Thomas, who chairs the team, said: “We are seeking to get a cross-section of views from residents, visitors and businesses on what makes Minehead special and how this can be distilled into a clear message that will help in attracting more visitors to the town.”

A variety of methods is being used to capture these views, including workshops, street and phone interviews in Minehead and Taunton, online surveys and a review of what other seaside towns have achieved.

Roger continued: “We would welcome involvement from anyone who is interested. In particular we would like to hear from people who would be interested in attending one of the two one-hour workshops taking place in Minehead at 1pm and 5.30pm on Thursday 23 November. For those people who can’t make it we would appreciate your time in completing an online survey.”

The development of a new brand for Minehead is being carried out as part of the Enterprising Minehead project, which aims to significantly raise the quality of what’s on offer for visitors. Match funding has been secured by the Regeneration Team at West Somerset Council that will see £1m of investment in improving the seafront, and developing new events, skills and marketing.

A recent procurement exercise to deliver the branding work led to the employment of RH Partners and Flotilla Media. Work will be delivered in two phases, starting with the development of a brand identity for Minehead in November, and then the development of branding designs in December. Local residents will then have a second opportunity to express their views on the potential design options in open events being planned for January 2018.

If you are interested in taking part in one of the workshops at the Beach Hotel on 23 November 2017 or doing one of the online surveys, please contact Robert Downes by email at tourism@westsomerset.gov.uk.

  • Minehead Coastal Communities Team (MCCT) is a partnership group of organisations that are working collectively on projects to improve the town. The team is made up of representatives from business, the community, Minehead Town Council and West Somerset Council.
  • The Enterprising Minehead project takes its lead from the priorities and strategic direction set out in the Minehead Economic Plan which was developed by the Minehead Coastal Communities Team in 2016. The plan can be viewed at westsomersetonline.gov.uk/Business/Economic-Strategies.
  • Further information on Enterprising Minehead project can be found at westsomersetonline.gov.uk/Business/Regeneration-and-Development-Projects.

TRANSATLANTIC CELEBRATIONS FOR DUNSTER BEACH HUT

Salad Days is one of around 250 beach huts at Dunster Beach, but this one is special.

To begin with, it has a Visit England 5-star rating, making it the only beach hut in the UK to receive such an accolade, and now it has won two awards at the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards: Silver for ‘Self Catering Business of the Year’ and Gold for ‘Dog Friendly Business of the Year’.

Designed and rebuilt from the ground up, the 80-year-old beach hut is the pride of Susan Juggins and Brett Bates. They took on a run-down beach hut that had been used by holiday makers since the end of the war and had housed coastal defence workers before that. They wanted to give it a new lease of life as a luxury beach hut with all the comforts of modern-day living. Salad Days offers boutique-style accommodation in a beach hut environment and it is dog friendly to boot.

News of the awards was not just celebrated by co-owner Susan who collected the award at Somerset County Cricket Club in Taunton, but also 3,500 miles away in Toronto Canada.

 

Brett had previously arranged a trip to visit his son Brett jar, who lives there with his fiancée Aisha, before the finalist’s announcement was made in October. He spent the day eagerly awaiting news via Twitter from Susan and the organisers at Visit Somerset. “You can hardly believe the excitement when the news came through,” said Brett. “Toronto certainly knew Somerset had arrived in the city.”

Susan, who attended the awards event with her sister Anne, said, “We felt so honoured just to be there, amongst the best that Somerset has to offer and to come away with two awards is just amazing. We love this area and our little beach hut to bits. It just goes to show even though we may be small we can still play with the big boys and win’”

The story of their success may not stop there; Salad Days will soon find out if they are to represent Somerset at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February next year.

The awards are run annually by Visit England with the judging carried out locally by industry experts, followed by area and national finals. To be a finalist in any category, each entrant has to be at the top of their game, offering world-class service within the highly competitive tourism industry. The South West has won more awards than any other area of the UK. Somerset had the highest ever number of awards entrants this year.

For further details see: dunsterbeachhut.com/  twitter.com/DunsterBeachHut

Or read the extract from an article which appeared in our autumn issue here:

TRAINING PROGRAMME FOR TOURISM PROVIDERS

A new training programme to support tourism businesses in making the most of their connections with Exmoor National Park has been launched. The programme will be repeated at different locations, with the first sessions being offered at Dunster National Park Centre on the 7th and 14th November 2017.

Building on the previous Exmoor Awareness courses, the revised programme consists of three days, which can be taken as a collective or individually to suit specific business needs. The programme introduces businesses to what makes the area so special and supports them in developing their offer. The aim is to help businesses to achieve the maximum benefit from their association with the National Park and to keep them updated with all the latest news and information. The courses will be led by specialist staff and ranges from the National Park, alongside tourism professionals.

Session 1 – Moor Discovery will introduce businesses to the National Park, its management and its special qualities such as its landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage and provide top tips and links to resources to help their guests enjoy the area. It is particularly suited to new businesses or those that want to gain a better understanding of what makes Exmoor special.

Session 2 –  Moor Connections  is an interactive day to help improve tourism business skills and increase confidence, knowledge and understanding of the National Park. It aims to enable businesses to benefit fully from their association with the National Park through developing concepts such as experiential tourism.

Session 3 – Moor Update – A spring update day suitable for all businesses to learn about the latest initiatives and goings on within Exmoor and an optional field trip.

“Tourism is the mainstay of our economy and we benefit tremendously from being a National Park,” said Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park. “National Parks are internationally recognised as some of the best natural attractions and through this programme, we want to forge stronger links with the businesses based in and around the National Park to support them in developing their offer.

“We’re excited to be able to work alongside businesses to unpack and utilise the resources available to them to increase visitor numbers and satisfaction.”

Session 1 is at the National Park Centre in Dunster from 11am to 4pm on Tuesday 7 November and Session 2 on Tuesday 14 November, at the same place and time.

Each session costs just £15 per person (or £25 per person for both sessions 1 and 2) including all course materials and a local produce lunch. Places must be booked in advance via www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/living-and-working/info-for-tourism-providers/events-and-training. For further details please contact Katrina Munro on 01398 323665.

PHOTO: Valley of Rocks by Mike Watson

MINEHEAD TO HOST A MARITIME MILE

Minehead has netted more funding to help revitalise the town. The LEADER funding – EU money allocated to help rural areas – of almost £80,000 has just been announced and means Minehead’s dream of creating a Maritime Mile can be realised.

It will complement the Enterprising Minehead project that has already won substantial funding to make the resort the go-to seaside destination by making the most of its traditional appeal as a seaside resort – but with a twenty-first-century twist.

The aim is to give Minehead the buzz that is needed to bring new visitors in, while retaining the Edwardian charm that keeps holiday-makers returning year after year.

The Maritime Mile initiative will create a new heritage interpretation trail, running the length of the seafront to showcase Minehead’s maritime history, myths and legends. An open-air gallery will be built at the trail’s central point to display images and artefacts from Minehead’s past.

The Maritime Mile walk will link to existing features like the South West Coast Path/England Coast Path and signpost to other points of interest along the seafront that will be included in the new interactive/interpretation signage.

The signs will feature augmented reality technology to make the walk exciting and interactive – and it will link to a new website that will be launched. West Somerset Council will be working with Minehead Museum and Butlins on the materials. Augmented reality uses computer-aided graphics to add an additional layer of information to aid understanding and/or interaction with the physical world around you.

The central area of the seafront trail will incorporate the open-air gallery as a showcase for the trail and will be an attraction in its own right. This is the central gateway to the seafront from The Avenue and West Somerset Railway, and will have real impact.

The gallery will be formed from stone-filled gabion baskets with gallery images of Minehead mounted onto marine plywood. Content for the gallery will depict historic images of the town provided by the local community and the museum. The gallery will also include augmented reality to make it more fun – and informative.

A new state-of-the-art responsive website will also be developed to capitalise on marketing the town as a key destination and will also link to the seafront trail/walk and its innovative technology.

Cllr Andrew Hadley, Lead Member for economic regeneration, said: “This is excellent news for Minehead, and will give an added boost to the exciting projects already being developed to regenerate The Esplanade and give our visitors even more reason to come and enjoy what Minehead has to offer.”

“We will be working hand-in-hand with the community, and our Coastal Community Team to deliver this imaginative and exciting project,” said Cllr Roger Thomas, who chairs the Coastal Communities Team in Minehead.

“Our team of officers has worked incredibly hard to secure funding from a variety of sources so that we can invest in Minehead to benefit the local economy and provide visitors with a fun and informative way of finding out about Minehead’s past.

“We are lucky to have a fascinating history that can be brought to life through harnessing the incredible technology that is available now. “

WIMBLEBALL LAKE REACHES FINALS OF BRISTOL, BATH & SOMERSET TOURISM AWARDS

Wimbleball Lake has been selected as one of the finalists in the 2017/18 Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards in the ‘Tourism Experience of the Year’ category.

Wimbleball is managed by South West Lakes Trust whose challenge it is to balance conservation with recreational enjoyment of the lakes as a visitor attraction. Wimbleball boasts the perfect blend of excitement and tranquillity, offering visitors a peaceful retreat into the countryside or a more adventurous day out on Exmoor.

The family-friendly site offers something for everyone including the delightful Duck Café serving fabulous, fresh, local food, a children’s play area, a network of footpaths and cycle tracks as well as archery, high ropes, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, sailing and windsurfing. In addition, there is also a popular campsite offering visitors the opportunity to extend their stay on Exmoor and camp or glamp on site.

Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of South West Lakes Trust, said, “To be a finalist in a very tough category really underlines the fantastic achievements of our awesome Wimbleball team – they are absolutely dedicated to providing unrivalled experiences to our customers, helping them to create treasured memories. We are very proud of this nomination and look forward to welcoming many more new people to the lake to enjoy all that it has to offer.”

The annual competition saw an increase to 24 categories this year, with 111 entries received from across the county. The South West Lakes Trust team will be in suspense until the prestigious Awards Ceremony on 9 November, when they will learn whether they have won a Gold, Silver or Bronze award.

Successful businesses in the Awards will automatically be considered for matching categories in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2018 with the chance to go on to represent Somerset, Bristol and Bath at the National VisitEngland Awards.

Follow Wimbleball Lake on Facebook to find out how they got on.

SOLAR-POWERED TOURISM FOR WATCHET: PLEASE VOTE NOW

A funding application to pay for solar panels on the community-led Visitor Centre and Boat Museum in Watchet has been shortlisted, and is now up for public vote.

The project, which is a Marks and Spencer Energy Fund application, is called ‘Solar Powered Tourism’. Solar panels would save money and create income for the building, so freeing up funds to spend on high quality tourism marketing for the town, which would help to boost its economy. Grant-funded solar panels would also help the boat museum to retain its free entry.

To find out more, and to cast your vote, go to: www.mandsenergyfund.com/projects/solar-powered-tourism.

The application has been made by Onion Collective, a community interest company in the town who facilitated the creation of the Watchet Visitor Centre in 2016. The building is an extension to the Watchet Boat Museum, which simultaneously underwent refurbishment. This followed consultation with the people of Watchet to determine what local people felt was needed to give the town a stronger future. The response was almost unanimous: a more buoyant local economy, provided in large part by an increase in the tourist offer.

The Visitor Centre building work was carried out thanks to grant funding from a Hinckley Point Community Impact Mitigation fund and the Trust House Charitable Foundation. A local voluntary group, known as the Watchet Community Makers then carried out much of the internal refurbishment of the boat museum, supporting the town and learning skills along the way.

If the application is successful, the panels will be installed at the end of this year. Planning permission has already been granted. The system will be battery ready, which also leaves scope for a future sustainable community business to be run from the building.

The Marks and Spencer Energy Fund is run annually, and provides UK community organisations with an opportunity to win a share of £300,000 to support their renewable energy projects and technologies.

 

EAT EXMOOR INITIATIVE BEGINS

From mouth-watering ruby red beef to award-winning gin, fresh oysters, high-quality caviar, and whortleberry jam to sparkling cider and flavoursome ales, to mention but a few, Exmoor has an incredible array of delicious produce. Seeking to highlight the bountiful nature of this stunning area, Exmoor National Park and Visit Exmoor are working in partnership, with further support from West Somerset Council, to launch Eat Exmoor.

Eat Exmoor is a comprehensive marketing project aimed at encouraging more visitors to come to the area to enjoy Exmoor’s unique and tasty produce and the landscape it comes from.

“With such an important role in the overall visitor experience, we felt it was time to bring together all the wonderful food and drink related produce, events and experiences that already exist in and around Exmoor and promote them under one umbrella,” said Jennette Baxter, Development Manager for Visit Exmoor.

Included in the initiatives will be a brand-new Eat Exmoor section on www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk, incorporating listings as well as inspirational content ranging from food trails to local produce stories. It is also planned to produce an Eat Exmoor printed guide as well as run training and networking events to connect local suppliers with hospitality businesses. The project will be supported with additional PR, social media and a number of food-related events planned throughout 2018.

“Cafes, inns, pubs, hotels and restaurants that are truly making the most of the great local offering, as well as retailers and experience providers, will be encouraged to sign up so that we can market ourselves to a much wider audience,“ added Jennette. “We are delighted that we will be working in partnership with Exmoor National Park and with the support of West Somerset Council but we also need to come together as a tourism industry to support and promote our natural assets.”

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park, commented: “The project aims to place the emphasis on food and drink that is grown and produced on Exmoor and inextricably linked in its production to the Exmoor landscape. This is part of the Exmoor story: farming sustains the landscape, the landscape sustains tourism and food sustains visitors!

“Already over £40m a year is spent by visitors to Greater Exmoor on food and drink and a Defra report has highlighted that local food and drink on Exmoor is an important element of the local tourism offer. Working collaboratively we aim to grow this market and further position Exmoor as a great food destination whilst supporting producers to continue to care for the iconic landscape of Exmoor.”

Visit Exmoor and the National Park will be joining local chefs and producers in the Exmoor Live marquee at Dunster Show on 18 August, where local businesses can find out more about Eat Exmoor and discuss their ideas.

PHOTO by Julia Amies-Green, who is part of Wild Exmoor with Claire Lynch. The project is a new and exciting series of unique and inventive short films, featuring exquisite al fresco cuisine in stunning locations across Exmoor.

THE NAUGHTIEST CREAM TEA IN THE WEST COUNTRY?

The cream tea tradition flourished in the West Country following the tourism boom in the 1850s, aided by the opening of railways. Fitting therefore that the Victorian Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway should be at the centre of a cream tea controversy.

The Cliff Top Café, perched 500ft above Lynmouth, is already famous for its amazing views and home baked cream tea scones almost as high as the cliffs themselves. But cream tea etiquette has been well and truly tested recently, with the launch of the Cliff Railway ‘Naughty Cream Tea’.

Café Manager, Jasmine Knowles, launched the ‘Naughty Cream Tea’ as a bit of fun to celebrate the provision of an alcohol licence at the Café but said that, “The twist on tradition has become an instant hit, the visitors seem to love it.”

The Naughty Cream Tea replaces the traditional pot of tea with a Prosecco, a locally Brewed FatBelly Ale or even wine or local cider and provides the perfect accompaniment to that long walk and the stunning views. With huge scones, local clotted cream and spoonfuls of jam, this new twist on the traditional is probably the Naughtiest Cream Tea in the West Country!

However, the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway believe that some traditions must remain; tea is still available and, whilst in Devon, you don’t cut your scones, simply break them apart with a gentle twist, dollop, don’t spread the clotted cream and always, always put the jam on top!

BOOKINGS NOW OPEN FOR THE TENTH NORTH DEVON FOODFEST

North Devon’s biggest celebration of local food and drink is back and exhibitors are being urged to get in quick to secure their place at the event.

Online bookings are now being accepted for Foodfest 2017, which takes place on Sunday 22 October at Barnstaple Pannier Market and will feature over 100 local food and drink exhibitors.

Now in its tenth year, event organisers Barnstaple Town Centre Management and North Devon Council have seen the event increase in popularity and success since it first launched in 2008. With over 10,000 visitors, 100 exhibitors and top chefs from some of North Devon’s best local restaurants at Foodfest last year, the annual event is now a firm favourite in the foodie calendar.

Hannah Harrington from Barnstaple Town Centre Management, says: “This year’s event will be as busy and popular as ever, showcasing and celebrating the best of our local food and drink and will, as it always does, helping promote our area and support our suppliers, growers and traders.”

Executive Member for economic development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “Foodfest is always a massive boost for the town’s economy, with thousands of visitors enjoying some of the best food and drink our wonderful district has to offer. Foodfest is a great opportunity for local food producers to showcase their business with a guaranteed audience of about 10,000 – get your applications in quick!”

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 1 August. Apply online at www.barnstaple.co.uk/north-devon-foodfest, email foodfest@barnstaple.co.uk or call 01271 321049 for more information.