Work is under way to repair and enhance the East Face berth at Ilfracombe Harbour.

North Devon Council is repairing worn fender fixings to improve the safety of the berth for visiting ships. The set of steps at the end of the pier will also be extended, so that local passenger boat operators have an alternative and safe landing to operate from during low spring tides.

There will be restricted access to parts of the pier to allow divers to carry out the work, which began on Monday 24 April and will take four to five weeks to complete, depending on weather conditions.

Ilfracombe Harbour Master, Rob Lawson, says: “We will try to keep any disruption to a minimum throughout the project and ask the public and harbour users for their patience whilst this important work is carried out. We are also asking all vessels to give the area a wide berth and pass slowly with caution. Warning Flag Alpha will be flying when diving operations are taking place, so that harbour users know when to pay extra attention when entering and leaving the harbour.”

More information is available  online at or on the harbour notice board.


Local Tea & Coffee merchant Miles continues to work with Somerset CCC following a successful year.

The Miles directors have announced a commitment to another year of partnership with the Somerset County Cricket ground. This will involve sampling on selected days throughout the year, competitions and exclusivity across the tea sector. Miles award winning tea blends will be available at outlets in the ground.

This is an exciting year for the County ground, with an International game and the Women’s World cup.

Sam Burton, Marketing Manager at Miles, said, “Following continued investment in our Somerset production sites, this partnership provides us with a perfect opportunity to share our passion for quality tea and provide a future for employment in our rural area. We are all excited to be working with Somerset CCC in such an historic year and congratulate them on hosting the Women’s World Cup and an international game.

Jez Curwin, Head of Commercial Operations at Somerset County Cricket Club, said, “We are delighted to continue to work alongside Miles Tea & Coffee as a local business, a good cuppa and cricket make the perfect combination. We are looking forward to developing a long working relationship.”



King’s College, Taunton set a new record when they won the Independent Schools’ Football Association (ISFA) Girls’ Under 18 eleven-a-side cup by beating ACS International School Cobham 9-1 in the final at the home of Thame United at the end of April.

King’s became the first team in the history of the competition to retain this national title. In addition, this is the third time in the past four seasons that they have lifted the trophy, underlining  the status of King’s College, Taunton as the leading independent school in England for girls’ football.

On the first evening, King’s dominated proceedings from start to finish, and by half time led 4-0 thanks to goals from Lucie Waddon (2), Karolayne Alencar and Sarah Hill.

After the break, King’s extended their lead, with goals from substitute Lannece Hole, Beth Barzotelli, Kayane Alencar, Captain Beth Beale and Sarah Hill, before Repton pulled one back late in the game.

Chris Heayns, the Director of Football at King’s Schools, said: “This is a very special group of players who have worked hard and come together to produce some outstanding football. In doing so, they have set an excellent example to the younger players following them through school. They fully deserve this success.”

The football program at King’s has come a long way under Chris Heayns, who has been in charge for eight years. The program continues to evolve to provide the right opportunities, and to ensure the experience for each player is the best it can be.

“We want every player to achieve the very best he or she can be, at the same time getting a sound education and enjoying all of the other opportunities the school offers,” said Chris.

“Many of the girls play in women’s football leagues and there is no doubt that our links with Exeter City Ladies and other clubs has been a valuable part of their development. Three girls who were part of the winning side joined our Sixth Form on scholarships two years ago. In September will be taking up scholarships in North America.”

King’s are once again offering Sixth Form Scholarships worth up to 50% in a range of subjects for candidates who have the talent and the aspiration and show outstanding potential in their field, who would like to join Year 12 in September 2017.

As well as receiving top-class coaching to develop their particular skills, all pupils at King’s benefit from being part of an exceptionally happy and caring community. The school offers highly regarded academic subjects that universities prefer, small class sizes, and teachers who inspire pupils to reach their full academic potential. There is a range of excellent facilities, a broad offering of co-curricular activities, and opportunities to stretch pupils academically, which include visits, seminars, clubs and societies that are open to all.

Anyone who would like to find out more should make contact with the school’s Registrar, Kate Rippin, on 01823 328204 or visit



Pupils from years 5 & 6 in Dulverton School recently received water safety training from Linda Steer, Swimming Lesson Manager, Mid Devon Leisure.

The children participated in a lively exchange of ideas about potential dangers in and around water, including swimming pools, canals, rivers, beaches and around the home. In a lively and instructive lesson, Linda was able to get the children to spot potential hazards around the different areas and learn safe behaviours when they are near water. Linda Steer said, “The children responded really well and interacted in the discussion, some bringing their own stories. We want all children to be able to go out and enjoy the water; they need to be aware of the potential dangers around water to stay safe.”

Dulverton Junior School Head Teacher, Sally Fulfor, added, “The pupils are very excited about taking part in the Dulverton Weir and Leat project and learning more about the ancient weir and its history. This is an important part of their heritage and it is a key part of the school’s mission for pupils to become involved in opportunities which link to the local community. The study of the weir and leat will provide the basis of year’s 5 and 6 topic work for the summer term allowing the pupils to apply practical and real life experiences to their work across various subjects such as art and science.”

Mid Devon Leisure offer a range of water safety courses and Linda Steer can be contacted by email:

More information about Dulverton Weir and Leat Project can be found on the Trust website


As it is that time of year, we thought people might like to re-read Rosemary FitzGerald’s article about bluebells, which appeared in our spring issue last year. Rosemary contributes articles about gardens and ecology to most issues of the magazine. And you can read all about her here.

An archetypal scene – ‘Bluebells’ from a set of British flower stamps issued in 1979 (designer: Peter Newcombe).

In 2002 the conservation charity Plantlife organised a national poll for people to vote for their ‘County Flower’.  Somerset’s, unsurprisingly, is the Cheddar Pink, but the Bluebell votes were so many that it became specially rated as ‘Britain’s Favourite Flower’.  It has iconic status in the British flora, and is clearly deeply loved, so it is surprising to find that its nature and existence are beset with problems and, although it seems common, it is seriously threatened in global terms.

Even its botanical name seems hard to interpret. Hyacinthoides non-scripta, a hyacinth without writing on it?  The origin comes in the ‘not-many-people-know-that’ category – Linnaeus, the great namer of plants in the eighteenth century, had the kind of classical education rarely acquired now, and knew the touching myth of the god Apollo’s cry at the death of his lover Hyacinthus.  The heartbroken sound is transcribed by the letters Ai, visible, with a little imagination, in flowers of the true Hyacinth, so he named our unmarked Bluebell, which is in the same family, ‘without writing’.

Barton Wood about half way between Rockford and Watersmeet, a mile or so upstream from Watersmeet House on the East Lyn River. Photo by Andrew Wheatley.

Bluebells grow throughout Britain and Ireland, in woods and hedgerows, on cliffs, among bracken, in permanent pasture, on roadsides and railway banks, in a wide range of habitats (only really excluding fens and bogs).  We are used to seeing flashes of blue from trains and motorways, as well as close to home, and think the species abundant, and it is, still, in these islands.  But there is a scary aspect to this abundance, because we have more than half of the world’s Bluebell biomass, and are crucially responsible for its future.  Bluebells are a real oceanic species, loving our damp Atlantic climate.  They are found in parts of France and the Netherlands and in cooler corners of Spain and Portugal.  The distribution forms a thin band across Europe, just reaching the Italian border but not dropping south of the Mediterranean or extending north into Scandinavia, and Britain and Ireland have much the most substantial populations.

So we can be deservedly proud of our national favourite, but we also need to become more conscious of its threatened status, and do
what we can to sustain healthy populations.  The dangers are various, but the biggest general heading must be ‘management’.
Bluebells are hardy plants, with populations surviving for years in stable situations.  In fact, they are thought to be allelopathic, producing chemicals at bulb level which discourage competition from other plants.  They endure wind and cold, and can even manage years with inadequate light levels.  Deciduous woodland with plenty of light in early spring is ideal for them, but they flourish under management such as coppice rotations where growing trees make increasing shade for years and the ground flora has to wait for a clear-felling phase to bring proper daylight back.  Bluebells in such
woodlands can endure 17-year cycles or even longer, making spectacular appearances when the shade is removed.  So the species does what it can to help itself survive, but an insidious modern threat is lack of management.

Bluebells also thrive on coastal cliffs, such as this site looking down and across into Watermouth Harbour with Widmouth Head centre shot, Burrow Nose tucked behind and the Hangmans in the distance. Photo by Craig Joiner. This was our cover photo for spring issue 2016.

A common misapprehension about nature conservation is that ‘leaving it to nature’ is the best idea, but plants like Bluebells have flourished throughout history, since shortly after the ice sheets retreated, with a great deal of intervention from humans, and our actions have become important to their survival.

A highly publicised threat in recent years is the possible corruption of ‘pure’ Bluebell woods with strains of garden hybrid origin.  This can happen (though for me suitable management must always be the most crucial factor).  Plantlife really raised the matter, in 2003 and 2004, and were very successful in making a wider public aware of ‘Bluebells In Need’.

Being ‘hybridised out of existence’ sounds wonderfully apocalyptic, and gave a dramatic focus, but all too often the biggest danger is ignorant and careless management by landowners, and equally ignorant and uncaring management by intensive farmers.  Many such people would claim to be in favour of keeping their Bluebells, but traditional management costs money, and has to be properly understood to be effective. Sites can sadly be lost or damaged by default rather than deliberate destruction.

Spot the difference: the true Bluebell has deep blue narrow bells (by Bob Gibbons, Natural Image).

The hybrid question can arise because in the seventeenth century nurserymen, especially in London, were importing many plants from the Continent.  One of these was Hyacinthoides hispanica, the Spanish Bluebell, which proved easy to grow and popular.  It has a sturdier stem than our native, with wide-open flowers which look outwards rather than having the graceful droop of wild Bluebells.  Colours are variable, with many shades of blue, and white and pink occurring quite commonly.  Many old gardens had it, and bees do buzz, and a fertile

But Spanish and Garden Bluebells have paler, outward-facing flowers with light-coloured anthers (by Bob Gibbons, Natural Image).

hybrid H. x massartiana (sometimes called the Garden Bluebell) readily occurs.  Both the Spanish and Hybrid varieties are vigorous, and almost impossible to get rid of once established, so near Bluebell woods there is often some introgression, but a sudden dramatic takeover is unlikely!  A bulldozed ancient hedgebank, or a once-managed woodland now choked with brambles or laurels, are much more probable disasters.

There is another threat of which gardeners in particular need to be aware.  The ‘wild’ gardening style is hugely popular now, and a little Bluebell wood in the shrubbery is a delightful thought.  We are all learning not to take the descriptions in bulb catalogues as gospel, but in this case the ambiguities can be twofold.  The bulbs you get will often not be Bluebells in fact, but the Hybrid, and even if you get the real thing, can you be sure that the bulbs are ethically sourced?  Cases of wholesale robbery of woodland bulbs, dug to sell, are becoming rarer as the Wildlife and Countryside Act begins to show some teeth, but it’s legal to dig wild plants with the landowner’s permission, so there is still a wide loophole for dirty deeds. Please consult the RHS Plant Finder for reputable sources of genuine Bluebells and, indeed, for ‘wild’ Snowdrops, and Wild Daffodils.

Be aware!  Watch over your favourite Bluebells, and speak up for them if you think they are in danger.

TOP PHOTO: Room Hill with Lyncombe Hill in the middle distance (by Andrew Wheatley).


Alistair Anderson – internationally acknowledged as the master of the English Concertina and a fine exponent of the Northumbrian Pipes – will be performing an intimate gig at Halsway Manor on Saturday 13 May at 8pm.

Alistair delights audiences with traditional music from Northumberland and beyond, as well as his own music, which has grown out of his love of these traditions. As a touring soloist, he has no less than 37 tours of the USA, 5 trips to Australia and countless European tours to his credit.

“Anderson is a treat to watch, as well; his own involvement and delight in the music are infectious. Beautiful music, played with skill, taste and affection. His own tunes are particularly welcome; recognisably working from traditional styles he nevertheless introduces quirky personal touches which give them a real charm and individuality. My only complaint is that the slow airs never last quite as long as I want them to.” fRoots

Alistair has a very wide range of experience as a musical catalyst and educator. He is visiting Halsway for this weekend to lead a concertina master class; inspiring a whole new generation of musicians. Be sure to experience the energy and skill of this master musician at work and expect a thrilling and memorable evening in picturesque and historical surroundings.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch-up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets for the gig are priced £10 / £4 for anyone in full-time education. To book, call 01984 618274 (option 1), email or buy securely online


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


Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is holding its seventh annual Coast to Coast (C2C) Cycle Challenge on Sunday 14 May 2017 and is hoping that the public will come out in support of the 600 cyclists taking part.

The event, which is not a race, involves a challenging 54-mile cycle ride which starts at Watchet Harbour in the north and ends at West Bay in the south, following a wonderfully scenic route through the beautiful Somerset and Dorset countryside. A staggered start will see the stronger cyclists set off first at 11am, with the less experienced riders departing at 11.15am. A shorter 11-mile route starts at the Royal Oak public house in Drimpton at 2pm and also finishes at West Bay.

Last year’s event saw people of all ages and abilities take part, raising over £81,000 (including gift aid) for the life-saving charity. With only 600 places available, it was no surprise that the event sold out within 11 hours of online registration being open.

This ever-popular event is renowned for being an emotional and inspiring day out for everyone involved. That’s no surprise given the fact that the cyclists include patients who have experienced the work of the air ambulance first-hand and those who take part in memory of a loved one. Others get involved as part of a team or simply want to challenge themselves and support the charity in return.

This year, for the first time, the cyclists who were fortunate in gaining a place, will be joined by members of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance crew who are set to cycle the 54 mile route on triplet bicycles.

The team, who call themselves the ‘COASTBUSTERS’ have been training for the event at their Henstridge airbase and are hoping the public will get behind them and show their support.

In a bid to raise £2,500 and fund one life-saving mission, the team have set up a JustGiving page: where donations of any size can be made. Mobile phone users can easily donate by texting: CREW54 £5 to 70070. Every penny raised really will make a big difference.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge is a fantastic occasion and the atmosphere is incredible. The fact that members of our crew are taking part this year makes the event even more special. They are incredible ambassadors of the Charity and I’m sure it will be an extremely emotional day all round; the aches and pains will definitely be worthwhile.

“Every year the event seems to get better and that is mainly due to the wonderful team of volunteers, members of the public and local businesses who help us with marshalling and keeping the cyclists safe.

“Our thanks go to the event sponsors and the various pit stop locations along the route, without their help and support, we simply could not put on such a large scale event.

“Finally, a very big thank you to all the cyclists taking part who are encouraging their friends and family to sponsor them. Let’s hope the weather stays fine and we raise as much as possible and make this the best Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge yet!”

Supporters will be able to encourage the cyclists at the starting point, along the route, or at the finishing line celebrations at East Beach Car Park in West Bay.

More information about the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance can be found by visiting: or by calling: 01823 669604.


The Hestercombe Wedding Open Day takes place on Sunday 7 May and will present this beautiful wedding venue ready for a wedding along with a hand-picked selection of florists, photographers, outfitters, make-up artists and cake makers from across the region.

See Hestercombe’s stunning Bampfylde Hall set up for a wedding, explore the picturesque gardens and watch some interesting demonstrations from suppliers. Jan Waters of Hillcommon-based JW Blooms will be showing her floristry skills, creating a hand-tied bouquet and floral crowns using flowers cut fresh from her flower field that morning.

Pip Southgate will be giving wedding make-up demonstrations to make sure you look picture-perfect for your big day, and Jinks Art will also be giving a demonstration of their wedding stationery and painting a watercolour of the venue on the day.

Other exhibitors include In the Wild Art by Helena Willford, for individual wedding stationery, Gemma Waterjohns for the perfect wedding day hair, Golden Harp music, Tilda Rose and Eden Wedding Florist for fabulous floral displays. For delicious bespoke favours, Cocoa’s Locally Handmade Chocolates will take you to chocolate heaven and be sure to impress your guests.

For exquisite, locally grown and ethically produced blooms JW Blooms will show you how to create perfect wedding posies and to demonstrate how much better British-grown flowers look and smell to their overseas counterparts, and Charlotte Jane Cakes will talk you through your options with their fabulous wedding cakes.

Christian Michael Photography, and Bristol-based Jamie Dodd Photography are on hand to demonstrate how they capture the most stunning wedding images for your special day; and for that most important detail, the dress, there is Parham House Brides, based in Dunster, to offer you advice and samples about the type of look you are going for. Astaires outfitters and tailors will leave the man in your life looking dapper and ready to go with a sharp suit and all the right accessories, and Pumpkin and Pye offer alternatives to the traditional floral bouquets, with buttons and artificial flowers.

With such a variety of wedding specialist in one place, you’ll find those all-important decisions much easier to make, and you’ll be in the superb setting of Hestercombe Gardens, with its three centuries of garden design, formal and landscape gardens, great cascade, Pear Pond, and fabulous garden buildings.

Come along to the Wedding Open Day and make planning your big day a little easier.

  • Exclusively for Wedding Open Day visitors – take advantage of Hestercombe’s exciting offer. Book your Hestercombe wedding and receive a complimentary drinks reception as a special thank you from the team! (valid until the end of June 2017)


Mountain bike enthusiasts from across the South West converged on Dulverton at the weekend for the second annual ‘Eat Dirt on Exmoor’ event, organised by Calvert Trust Exmoor and supported by Exmoor National Park and the fantastic people of Dulverton.

282 cyclists took part in the circular ride, raising over £5,650 between them, with more sponsorship still coming in. The event started in Dulverton and followed the route of the River Barle up to Tarr Steps, then up onto the moor, south-east to the River Exe and then back into Dulverton for the finish line.

The riders really enjoyed the event. As Paul Mugenyi from Bristol said, “Thank you all so much for an amazing day and course. I really loved it and dare I say it was better than last year! A massive thanks to the organisers, marshals and land owners!”

Rob Lott, Head of Communications at Calvert Trust Exmoor, said, “We were absolutely delighted that so many riders came out to support us and enjoy the beauty of Exmoor. Without the support of so many wonderful people from Dulverton and the surrounding area who allowed us to use their land, volunteered to be marshals and run refreshment stations, and helped set up the route, this event just wouldn’t have been possible. Thanks to your support we will be able to help more people with disabilities to access cycling and other adventurous activities.”

As well as the fabulous volunteer marshals and helpers, Calvert Trust Exmoor would also like to thank the brilliant local businesses and organisations whose support enabled the event to happen: Mole Valley Farmers, The Bike Shop (Tiverton), Ivan’s Coffee, GT Bicycles and AMASS Medical  as well as Exmoor National Park.

Photos from ‘Eat Dirt on Exmoor 2017 can be seen online at Calvert Trust Exmoor hopes to announce the date for ‘Eat Dirt on Exmoor 2018’ in the next few weeks.