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

BE A QUANTOCK EXPLORER

The Quantocks Events Programme starts this weekend with a woodland spring flowers walk from Aisholt so we thought this would be a good time to share a post from the team at the Quantock Hills AONB…

Grab your rucksack and flask of sugary tea and come and join the Quantock Rangers as the Quantock Hills AONB Service launches its Events Programme for 2017.

Explore the Quantock Hills with our Rangers and Specialists in a series of guided walks throughout the year. Walks include hunting for fossils on our Jurassic Coast Walk, a Wellbeing Walk to help celebrate ‘Naturally Healthy Month’ in May, a Family Bushcraft Day, an evening Bats and Owls Walk and even a Quantock Quiz Walk for the walker who enjoys solving puzzles!

The programme also includes a set of special walks run by the Quantock Volunteer Rangers called Quantock Explorer Walks. These are specially designed to introduce you to different parts of the Quantock Hills and to find out more about the wildlife, plantlife and history of that part of the hills. From Fyne Court to Cothelstone, the Bicknoller loop and a Hill Fort Walk too.

We are also helping to promote others running guided walks on the Quantocks, including a series of walks at Durbourgh Farm including a Dawn Chorus Walk, a Spring Flowers Walk and in the autumn a Fungi Walk. Also, June brings the Quantock Walking Festival run by the Sedgemoor Ramblers.

Quantock AONB Manager Chris Edwards says: “These events are about experiencing the very best of the Quantock Hills, from the 200-million-year-old fossils on the Quantock coastline, to finding out more about how prehistoric people used and changed this landscape. It’s about enjoying the outstanding nature of this important and nationally recognised landscape.”

To book onto an event and to see the programme go to the Quantock Hills AONB website at www.quantockhills.com/events/view you can also find us on Facebook at /Quantock.hills or on Twitter @quantockhills

EXMOOR SOCIETY 2017 WALKS PROGRAMME NOW LAUNCHED

The Exmoor Society has just released details of its guided walks programme for 2017. The programme provides a wonderful opportunity to walk through the splendour of Exmoor’s beautiful landscapes and villages, starting from different locations across Exmoor and in the company of knowledgeable and welcoming guides. Joining a walk is a great opportunity to enhance fitness and well-being and enjoy the company of others. The Society is now the largest provider of guided walks on Exmoor and offers a very wide variety:

  • Discover prehistoric sites on ‘A Walk Through Two Iron Ages’, ‘From Withypool to Tarr Steps, a step back in time’ and ‘Dulverton Woodland Walk’
  • Enjoy stunning Exmoor landscapes on ‘The Hidden Landscape of Culbone Wood’, ‘Avill Valley Vistas’, ‘Two Exmoor Rivers and Villages’, ‘Horner Woods and Water and ‘To the Source of the River Tone’
  • Hear about figures from literature and the Arts and see the landscapes that inspired them on ‘In the Footsteps of Rachel Reckitt, Sculptor, Engraver & Welder’, ‘To Culbone, in Coleridge’s Footsteps’ and ‘Lorna Doone – A Shorter walk’
  • Explore the history of Exmoor settlements on ‘Discovering Dunster’s Hidden History’ and ‘Lynton and Valley of Rocks – An Historic Tour’
  • Learn about Exmoor wildflowers, insects and lichens on ‘Wildlife of the Doone Valley and Moorland’, ‘Discovering the Flowers of the Barle Valley’ and ‘Wildflowers of Watersmeet Woodlands’
  • Spot wildlife (hopefully, but no guarantee!) on ‘Ilkerton Ridge and the first Cuckoo’, ‘Ponies on Winsford Hill’ and ‘Autumn Sights and Sounds around Dunkery’

Running from April to October, the programme offers four to six guided walks each month starting on 5 April with ‘Two Exmoor Rivers & Two Villages’ around Withypool and Exford, then on 18 April, repeated by popular demand, is ‘Historic Lynton and Valley of Rocks’. ‘Discover Dunster’s Hidden History’ on 23 April and explore its historic buildings and secret places. With the hope of hearing the first cuckoo, join a new guided walk ‘Ilkerton Ridge and the Cuckoo’ set in spectacular moorland landscape on 24 April.

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 – a social opportunity for the walkers and support for local businesses, not to mention welcome post-walk refreshments!

For further details visit www.exmoorsociety.com. For any queries, contact info@exmoorsociety.com or 01398 323335.

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

EXMOOR SOCIETY WALKS PROGRAMME

The Exmoor Society’s 2016 guided walks programme proved to be another great success, building on and surpassing the figures from 2015. Through the support, commitment and energy of the Society’s volunteer walk leaders, the 2016 programme comprised 26 walks.

Running from February to the end of October 2016, the walks covered a wide variety of landscapes and subjects across Exmoor, starting with the springtime theme ‘Snowdrop Valley in Full Bloom’ and ending with the autumn scenery of ‘Deer on Dunkery’. To give an indication of the breadth of the programme, the subjects have included:

  • Prehistoric sites visited on the walks ‘From Withypool to Tarr Steps, a step back in time’ and ‘Coast and Common from Barna Barrow’
  • Exmoor landscapes – rivers, moorland, farmland, coast and woods – featured in the walks ‘Two Exmoor Rivers and Villages’, ‘Anstey Commons and Hawkridge’, ‘Selworthy and North Hill’, ‘The Woods of Simonsbath’, ‘Avill Valley Vistas’ and ‘Autumnal Woods around Dulverton’
  • Literature and the Arts have been the focus in ‘To Culbone, in Coleridge’s Footsteps’, ‘Doone Country’, ‘In the Footsteps of Rachel Reckitt, Sculptor, Engraver & Welder’ and ‘Hope Bourne and her Beloved Exmoor’
  •  The history of Exmoor settlements have been explored in ‘Discovering Dunster’s Hidden History’ and ‘Lynton and Valley of Rocks – An Historic Tour’.

The 26 walks in 2016 were joined by over 370 walkers (353 in 2015) and £515 was raised in donations. These figures have steadily increased over the last eight years. The walks are supported by locals and visitors from the UK and abroad, by members and non-members, individuals and families. Some walks include an optional pub lunch or afternoon tea, offering a social opportunity for the group and support for local businesses. In addition to the programme being advertised through the Society’s website, it also appears in the Exmoor Visitor and on the ENPA website, in the national and local press and via Twitter. The Society is now the largest provider of guided walks throughout the year on Exmoor.

It is the walk leaders, however, with their enthusiasm, dedication and willingness to share their love and knowledge of Exmoor, and who plan, research and prepare the walks, who are at the core of the programme’s success.

The 2017 programme

This year the programme expands even further, with 33 walks. Some are new, including a walk around Ashley Combe (home of Countess of Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron), one along Ilkerton Ridge in search of the first cuckoo, ‘A Walk Through Two Iron Ages’ and another to the source of the River Tone. There are new themes, such as ‘Wildlife of the Doone Valley and Moorland’ and ‘Wildflowers of Watersmeet Woodlands’, and old favourites, such as historic Lynton, Dulverton’s autumnal woods, and the lives of artist Rachel Reckitt and, of course, Hope Bourne.

In addition, the Society is strengthening its links with other groups. There will be a guided walk ‘In Search of John Knight’s Lost Mansion’ led by ENPA’s Rob Wilson-North and linking with his Simonsbath Festival talk. Also, a member of the partnership project ‘Upstream Thinking’, improving the quality and delivery of the South West’s water, will lead a walk around Wimbleball Reservoir.

Find out more by visiting the Exmoor Society’s Online Diary

PHOTO: by David J. Rowlatt