Category Archives: Walking

EXMOOR SOCIETY 2018 WALKS PROGRAMME ANNOUNCED

The Exmoor Society has just released details of its 2018 guided walks programme from April until October. The programme provides a wonderful opportunity to walk through the splendour of Exmoor’s diverse landscapes including the moorlands, coast, woodland, river valleys and farmland. Starting from different locations across Exmoor and in the company of knowledgeable and welcoming guides, the walks also provide opportunities to increase fitness, wellbeing and to enjoy other peoples’ company. The wide variety of interests covered by the walks include:

  • nature walks investigating the special lower plant flora (the lichens, mosses, liverworts and ferns) of Exmoor’s Atlantic woodlands, the bluebells in Burridge Woods and the visiting cuckoos on Molland Moor.
  • accompanying the experts to learn how the ecology and management of woodlands are helping the heath fritillary butterfly and the rare pied flycatcher and how to detect and identify bats as they hunt insects in Horner Woods.
  • for history lovers, there is the opportunity to discover John Knight’s uncompleted garden landscape at Simonsbath, hear the knights’ tales through the ages, explore ancient barrows and other prehistoric sites, learn about mining projects, the tragic murder of little Anna Maria Burgess and Hope Bourne’s extraordinary life and love of Exmoor.
  • even joining a walk to find out about Exmoor’s water improvement project, and how the community came together on the Longstone Landscape Project.

Chairman of the Society, Rachel Thomas, said, “In the Society’s special 60th anniversary year the wonderfully diverse programme is only possible through the generosity of walk leaders in sharing their time, expertise and passion for Exmoor. It pays tribute to all those who lead walks in all weathers and in all places.”

There is no charge for the walks but a small donation is welcomed from non-members. Some walks end with an optional pub lunch or afternoon tea – welcome post-walk refreshments! For full details visit www.exmoorsociety.com or 34 High Street, Dulverton. For any queries, contact info@exmoorsociety.com or 01398 323335. The Society looks forward very much to welcoming you along.

WEEKEND OF SUMMER WALKING PLANNED FOR QUANTOCK HILLS NOW OPEN FOR BOOKINGS

A walking group based in the villages of Nether and Over Stowey is gearing up for a festival for walkers from near and far aimed at showcasing the landscape of the Quantock Hills, England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

With the support of the Quantock Hills AONB Service, Stowey Walking, a member of the national Walkers are Welcome network, is hosting the weekend of guided walks in and around the Quantocks from 30 June to 1 July and is ready for you to register for whichever walks suit you.

Stowey Walking has some experience of running walking festivals having helped Sedgemoor Ramblers with a similar event in the past but now feels it is ready to go it alone.

Walkers who book places at the festival will be able to choose from three guided walks each day of varying lengths, so there will be something to suit everyone, from keen hikers and ramblers to families looking for a more leisurely stroll in the countryside.

Both Nether Stowey and Over Stowey lie at the foot of the stunning Quantock Hills. The name Stowey comes from the Old English for ‘paved road’ which is fitting for the villages having welcomed walkers for hundreds of years. Nether Stowey with its shops, B&Bs and pubs is at the start of the Coleridge Way, named after the poet who wrote some of his most famous work there. The smaller settlement of Over Stowey clusters around the church of St Peter and St Paul; the parish, however, encompasses a substantial area of farmland and open access land on the Quantock Hills.

Lynne Abbott of Stowey Walking said, “The group is excited to be holding its first solo festival as a Walkers are Welcome destination and members will be working hard to ensure it is an enjoyable weekend for all.”

Numbers for the walks need to be limited so booking is essential. There is no charge for booking but walkers will be asked to make a voluntary donation to Stowey Walking on the festival weekend.

For full information and booking details contact enquiries@stoweywalking.co.uk or visit the website www.stoweywalking.co.uk.

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.

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.

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

GEAR UP FOR THE SOUTH WEST COAST PATH CHALLENGE

This October the Challenge returns to the South West Coast Path. Your Challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to help beat the record for the number of miles of Coast Path covered collectively in a month – and raise vital funds for the upkeep and improvement of this beautiful trail.

Join one of the Association’s organised events throughout October like the Minehead to Porlock 10-mile walk on 7 October, or set yourself a personal challenge. Walk, jog, skip, hop or run as much or as little of the Path as you like – it is totally up to you! Grab your friends, family and colleagues, head down to your favourite part of the Path and achieve something amazing together.

The Challenge raises money for two registered charities – the South West Coast Path Association, and the National Trust, who work together to care for and improve the Path, ensuring the unique and precious coastal landscape of the South West can be enjoyed on foot, for free, now and in future generations.

Registration is just £10 and includes an official 2017 Challenge t-shirt. You can either add a donation or fundraise. Your support makes a real difference to the millions of people who come from near and far to explore, keep fit or find peace on the Coast Path each year – good luck!

Register at southwestcoastpath.org.uk/challenge

HELP BRIDGE THE GAP AT WOODSIDE

A fundraising campaign has been launched by Exmoor National Park’s CareMoor for Exmoor* to replace a much-loved feature of Exmoor – Woodside Bridge, which has provided a crossing of the East Lyn river near Lynmouth for over a hundred years.

Woodside Bridge had to be removed last December following an inspection which revealed that the softwood timber beams had come to the end of their life. The bridge was replaced in the 1950s after the Lynmouth Flood and again in 1993 by the Royal Engineers working with Exmoor National Park. At 17.3m/57feet, the structure is the longest single span countryside bridge in the National Park.

Thousands of people used the bridge each year to enjoy the short, easy circuit  taking in Middleham Memorial Gardens along with the beauty and wildlife of the river and woodland valley. The bridge is an important link for visitors and the local businesses which they support.

Dan Barnett, Access & Recreation Manager at Exmoor National Park, said: Many people are surprised to learn that the bridge is not recorded as a public right of way which means there is no duty for local authorities to replace it, so we need your help.

“We are keen to replace the bridge as soon as funds allow so we are asking visitors, residents and anyone who cares about Exmoor to make a donation. Any amount, large or small, will help and we hope to reach our target by Christmas which will allow us to get the bridge installed ready for Easter next year when the main visitor season begins.

“We now have a price of £65,000 to install a high-quality new structure. This is a steel beam supported bridge with hardwood timber work which will have a very long design life.”

The land where the bridge is sited is owned by The National Trust, which is a partner in this project.

For more information and to contribute to the Woodside fund please visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor/woodside www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor/woodside

* CareMoor for Exmoor is the Authority donation scheme for Exmoor National Park. It offers everyone who has been inspired by Exmoor an opportunity to contribute to the upkeep of the environment of the National Park and its future. Donations help fund Nature, Heritage and Access projects to keep Exmoor special. For more information  visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor
 

PHOTO AT TOP: Colour-tinted image shows two ladies walking on the footpath opposite Tors Road, early 1900s. Photograph kindly donated by Paul Sheppard.

LATEST RIGHTS OF WAY ACCESS REPORT RESULTS FOR EXMOOR

Exmoor National Park Authority has just published its annual Rights of Way & Access Report.  The National Park Partnership Plan identifies a first-class rights of way network as one of its 12 priorities for action and the new report showcases the wide range of work undertaken to care for extensive public rights of way network and permitted paths between April 2016 and March 2017.

Exmoor National Park’s public rights of way network extends to almost 1,000km (footpaths 438km, bridleways 464km and Restricted Byways and Byways Open to All Traffic 64km). The network is one of the special features of Exmoor and offers unrivalled access on foot, horseback or bicycle – a recent visitor survey shows that 70% of visitors enjoy a short walk and 43% a long walk (over 2 hours) as part of their stay on Exmoor.

Dan Barnett, Access and Recreation Manager, said: “Our wonderful public rights of way are the backbone for getting out to enjoy Exmoor and our visitor expenditure forms the biggest single share of the Exmoor local economy so it is vital that we continue to keep our paths in great condition.”

Ceri Rapsey – Access and Rights of Way Support Officer added: “Recent surveys show that 96% of the Exmoor National Park’s public rights of way are open and easy to use, which is our highest score to date.” The surveys are undertaken by volunteers using a nationally agreed criteria.

Other highlights from the report include:
·        16 major path repairs undertaken, many funded through the Headwaters of the Exe project, part of South West Water’s Upstream Thinking programme with funding from South West Water and Exmoor National Park Authority.

·        Two Moors Way 40th anniversary relaunch resulting in numerous trail improvements, new pocket guide, website and promotional video.

·        A dedicated group of volunteers have surveyed 10 parishes and adding up to 518 hours.

·        Record numbers of public path diversions to resolve long-standing issues on the network

·        Vegetation was cut back on 184km of routes during 2016/17, a figure that has increased year on year since 2012 reflecting the highly priority given to this important maintenance work.

Managing water flow is critical to protect path surfaces, particularly with the increase in heavy rain and flash floods, and a total of 1,185 drains were repaired or cleared during the year. When major repairs are carried out or new drains installed, capacity is increased wherever possible to improve the resilience of the paths network.

Exmoor’s traditional, wooden rights of way ‘furniture’ (gates, signposts, stiles etc) is one of the best loved features of the National Park – there are approximately 286 bridges, 375 stiles, 1,942 field gates, 2,500 gates, 241 sets of steps and more than 2,700 signposts.

TIME TO GET OUTDOORS WITH NORTH DEVON & EXMOOR FEST

Keen walkers are being encouraged to come to North Devon and Exmoor this month (May, 2017) for an Outdoor Festival run by Visit Exmoor that coincides with National Walking Month.

The event hopes to inspire everyone from hardened ramblers to novice strollers, from far and wide, to pull on their walking boots and head for the area.

Outdoor enthusiast, Claire Sellar-Elliott, co-owner of The Jubilee Inn at West Anstey along with Executive Chef Sam Salway, said: “This part of North Devon and Exmoor is perfect for walkers of all abilities, as there is plenty to see and do with paths that are either challenging or easy to do.”

The Jubilee Inn is in the heart of deepest Devon, not far from the official ‘Gateway to Exmoor’– the bustling and picturesque market town of South Molton.

“Right on our doorstep here is the 117-mile Two Moors Way, which traverses the whole county, coast-to-coast, from Plymouth to Lynmouth. We get lots of walkers popping in to have teas, coffees and lunches with us en route.

“Often our guests stay with us to explore the immediate area on foot, so we provide pack lunches, everything from basic and family options, to luxury champagne hampers, on request too.

“We also welcome a lot of cyclists and caravan-holiday visitors who come to the area to enjoy the outstanding views and landscapes. We provide secure bicycle storage and free parking for those transporting their bicycles to the area from further afield, if they wish to use us as a base for a wider holiday.”

The Visit Exmoor Outdoor Festival aims to promote everything from coastal to forestry and moorland walks, as well as paths taking in the area’s quaintest villages and many other activities are being promoted too.

“Festivals like these are a great way for everyone to explore North Devon and Exmoor and take in some of our finest vistas, and just to enjoy the simpler things in life like hedgerow flowers and birdsong.

“But it’s not just about visitors coming into the area, the festival overlaps with National Walking Month, which is designed to encourage us all to get out and walk more, wherever we live. Experts say adults need to do at least 20 minutes of walking a day for health, fitness and general well-being, so it’d be really great if locals got involved too and came out walking in the area this month as well.

“We’re also close to the South West Coast Path, which has wonderful, breath-taking views. There are lots of circular walks here too, perfect for all abilities.

“But it’s not just about us humans, this part of Devon is wonderful for anyone with a dog as well and we are super dog friendly here with pet-friendly rooms. A senior member of staff also has their own Cruft’s Winner and offers doggy bathing and care!

“Those wishing to take their horses onto Exmoor for some outstanding trail riding are actively encouraged too as we’ve got box parking and local horsey knowhow to hand!”

For more information about this year’s event, which comes under Visit Exmoor’s Outdoor Festival, please visit www.visit-exmoor.co.uk.

To link with the Outdoor Festival and National Walking month, The Jubilee Inn is offering visitors throughout May a special buy one, get one half price offer for Wednesday and Thursday lunchtimes from dishes selected from its daily Menu du Jour.*

It is also offering guests a special buy one, get one half price on all main course Sunday roasts until 31 August, excluding the Bank Holiday weekends. Booking is essential to participate in any offers.

For further details about The Jubilee Inn, which is on the B3227 at West Anstey near South Molton, please call 01398 341401 or visit www.thejubileeinn.co.uk.

NEW STATUE TO BE UNVEILED IN LYNMOUTH BY BBC COUNTRYFILE’S JOHN CRAVEN

BBC Countryfile’s John Craven is unveiling an iconic new statue, ‘The Walker’, on The Esplanade in Lynmouth on Monday 8 May.

Commissioned to mark the end of The Coleridge Way long-distance walking route, ‘The Walker’ also indicates the closing stage of The Two Moors Way, as well as pinpointing where both these walks intersect with the South West Coast Path; the UK’s longest national trail.

Designed and constructed by local craftsman Richard Graham, the statue will be made from reinforced 8mm marine quality stainless steel wire and shows a larger-than-life walker stretching out his hand in greeting.

Lynton’s Mayor Suzette Hibbert, a director of the Lyn Community Development Trust, said, “We asked Richard to make a model of a walker with which the visitors could interact, we were very keen to make them aware of Lynmouth’s role as a premier walking destination and The Walker fits the brief perfectly.”

The project was led by the Lyn Community Development Trust and the design has been endorsed by the Lyn Economic and Tourism Alliance (LETA), the Cliff Railway, the Art and Crafts Centre, Andrea Davis (County Councillor), John Patrinos (District Councillor), the Coleridge Way Steering Group and Exmoor National Park. Together with the Lyn Community Development Trust all have made financial contributions to complete the project.

“It’s exciting to have this iconic statue on the seafront at Lynmouth,” commented Jennette Baxter, Development Manager, Visit Exmoor. “Its position at the conjunction of three great long distance trails celebrates the sheer choice of walks available in the area and highlights Exmoor as the place to go for a great walking experience.”

PHOTO: Courtesy Exmoor NP flickr