Category Archives: Tourism

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.

EXMOOR DARK SKIES FESTIVAL ONLINE BOOKINGS NOW OPEN

The full programme has been produced and event booking has now opened for the first Exmoor Dark Skies Festival from 19 to 29 October celebrating the National Park’s status as Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. There are more than 25 events to appeal to families and children, as well as those more experienced in watching the stars.

The festival is sponsored by Airband. Managing Director, Redmond Peel, said, “We’re delighted to be sponsoring the very first Dark Skies Festival. Over the last two years Airband have worked closely with Exmoor National Park on the roll out of superfast broadband, so it’s a great opportunity to be involved with the festival focussing on just some of the incredible and unique phenomena Exmoor has to offer.”

At the start of the festival over 500 schoolchildren will be on Exmoor to learn about the night skies before the festival launch event with astronomer, journalist and presenter Will Gater. The launch will include the first public showing of a new film all about Exmoor’s Dark Skies followed by a talk about viewing the stars and Milky Way from Exmoor as well as rarer phenomena such as the Northern Lights which people might not think they could see or photograph from so far south.

Other indoor events include an astro-photography talk, a special film showing of 2001: Space Odyssey and art displays as well as several planetarium sessions all around Exmoor. The planetarium offers inspirational and immersive 360-degree experiences of the solar system. 3D digital projections are created using sophisticated computer simulations, presented by an experienced astronomer to take you deep into the wonders of space.

For families there will be an amazing Astro Party at Wimbleball Lake, with fun hands-on sessions and virtual-reality experiences as well as traditional stargazing and a night-time forest walk and campfire. For the more adventurous there is night-time mountain biking, a night swim or an exhilarating night-navigation walk with a National Park Ranger. Other outdoor activities include dusk safaris and a guided night walk up to Dunkery Beacon – the highest point on Exmoor.

Exmoor National Park’s Katrina Munro, who is co-ordinating the festival, said, “Interest has already been high including international enquiries and media coverage. The printed Festival Programme can now be collected from National Park Centres and our online booking facility has also opened enabling visitors to plan in advance. This is the first festival of its kind on Exmoor and we’re looking forward to introducing many people to the wonders above!”

Full details of the Dark Skies Festival events and online booking is available from the National Park’s website www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/stargazing/dark-skies-festival  . Advanced booking is highly recommended to guarantee entry to events and a special early bird discount of 10% is available for many events booked before the 15 September.

www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival 

 

NEW VIEWING AREA FOR VERITY IS NOW COMPLETE

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.

FREE WORKSHOPS TO HELP YOU INCREASE YOUR BUSINESS FOOTFALL FROM THE RELAUNCHED TWO MOORS WAY

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 ColinJPiper@aol.com

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 (www.twomoorsway.org) 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 ColinJpiper@aol.com with your choice of workshop.

PHOTO: DTJ

ATTRACTING INTERNATIONAL VISITORS TO WALK THE EXMOOR COAST

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

LONGLANDS FINALIST IN VISIT ENGLAND AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE

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.”

www.longlandsdevon.co.uk

VISIT EXMOOR BUSINESS NETWORKING DAY IN PORLOCK (INCLUDING LEAFLET EXCHANGE)

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 www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk/trade

CLEAN SWEEP AT TOURISM AWARDS FOR KENTISBURY GRANGE

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.