All posts by Naomi Cudmore

Editor and designer for the magazine, Naomi has lived in and around Exmoor since 1979. She spent most of her childhood in Nettlecombe parish, went to school at Minehead Middle and the West Somerset Community College and studied English Literature at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She worked in publishing for ten years after graduating in 1996, then took a break when she left her role as Commissioning Editor in 2004 to sail around the world, during which she was an on-board writer and the racing team's 'media person' for ten months. Afterwards she set up on her own (she runs www.lighthousecommunications.co.uk), before taking on the editorship of Exmoor Magazine in 2008 and buying the business with colleagues in 2010. She lives near Washford with her partner Pete and an extremely lazy 'editor's cat', Turtle, who makes guest appearances on our Facebook page from time to time. She spends most of her spare time gig rowing at Appledore.

MERLIN HELICOPTERS HELP MEND OUR MOUNTAINS

Two Merlin MK3 Helicopters from the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) have been working high up on Exmoor despite challenging weather conditions. The trainee pilots and aircrewmen from CHF’s 846 Naval Air Squadron and Mobile Air Operations Team (MAOT) have been helping National Park Rangers shift 80 tonnes of crushed stone along a 2km stretch of the Tarka Trail in North Devon that had become badly eroded.

It’s part of a training exercise that forms the final stage before these pilots and aircrewmen get their ‘wings’ and are signed off as fully operational pilots ready for frontline duties.

The repair work that will now follow has been made possible through the British Mountaineering Council (BMC)’s Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign, which has been raising money for vital path repair works throughout the family of 15 UK National Parks.

The project will resurface sections of a bridleway that forms part of the Tarka Trail, popular with walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers for its sense of remoteness and panoramic views. The route is naturally very wet and has become eroded, with instances of having to close the path to avoid horses becoming stuck and diverting users onto other fragile routes.

Not far from the site is the National Park’s Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning, which provides around 9,000 schoolchildren a year with a taste of life off-grid in the National Park and frequently uses the trail. It is also in the heart of its International Dark Sky Reserve amid pristine starry skies.

Dan Barnett, Exmoor National Park’s Access and Recreation Manager, said: “The area of ‘The Chains’ where this work is happening lies above 1,500 feet and, before 846 Naval Air Squadron stepped in, we had no way of getting such a quantity of stone up there. So it’s great they have been able to help us as part of their training exercise and that Mend Our Mountains has provided the funding for this project.

“This ancient site has long been home to our iconic Red Deer and ponies, and is littered with signs of Neolithic man, and with the backing of these two partners we’re pleased to be able to secure safe passage for another generation.”

Commander Ed Vaughan RN, Commanding Officer 846 NAS said: “Injecting real life tasks into flying training and the development of aircrews is invaluable. It cannot be replicated in routine training and the variable, quick-changing weather on the moor adds a significant dimension to testing competencies and capabilities. Working with and alongside the National Park is something that the Squadron looks forward to, especially as we are able to contribute something to the region in which we also live and train.”

The work is expected to continue next month, weather permitting.

HALSWAY CONCERT: ANNE NIEPOLD AND RICCARDO TESI

Halsway Manor is delighted to present an evening concert with two extraordinarily gifted and influential European musicians, Anne Niepold and Riccardo Tesi on Thursday 17 October at 8pm. Both are considered amongst the greatest living exponents of the diatonic button accordion (melodeon), though their styles and repertoire vary greatly.

Anne Niepold is a familiar name to many at Halsway, having tutored at several courses at the Manor; this will be Riccardo Tesi‘s first visit to Halsway, and a rare chance to see him play in the UK. Both Anne and Ricardo are tutoring on a week-long Melodeon Workshop for advanced/intermediate players at the Manor, in addition to performing around the UK.

Anne Niepold is a renowned musician and composer. Having started in the world of traditional music, she developed an interest in improvised music and studied jazz composition and arrangement at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, where she won her Masters degree as well as the prestigious Toots Thielemans Jazz Award. Anne will be debuting material from her new album Vita Brevis.

“Anne is an incredible diatonic accordion player. Nothing scares her. She knows no limits. On the contrary, she magnifies the constraints of her accordion with impressive results.” Accordéon et Accordéonistes magazine

Riccardo Tesi is an internationally acclaimed accordion player and composer, and one of the most daring and authoritative musicians on the European world music scene. He has an instantly recognisable style, drawing on ancient and modern musical languages, he has widened the vocabulary and the technique of an instrument that has long been associated with traditional music. Over 35 years he has played with world music artists such as Elena Ledda, Justin Vali, Kepa Junkera, John Kirkpatrick and Patrick Vaillant, jazz musicians Gianluigi Trovesi and Gabriele Mirabassi, and great songwriters such as Ivano Fossati, Fabrizio De Andrè and Gian Maria Testa. Leader of Banditaliana , one of the most renowned Italian groups on the world music international scene , and member of Samurai, all stars quintet of European accordion players, he has played in the most important jazz and folk festivals all over Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan.

Tickets are priced £10; £4 student concessions. Buy securely online at www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

PHOTO: ®JPohl

DUNSTER BEACH HUT URGES OTHERS TO JOIN THE PLASTIC FREE REVOLUTION

Salad Days and Holi Moli, two multi-award-winning 5-star beach huts at Dunster Beach, have received further recognition, this time by Surfers against Sewage and Plastic Free Minehead & West Somerset.

“The two beach huts have a long list of awards, but this one is really special,” said Brett Bates, who co-owns the beach huts with his partner Susan Juggins. “We have always been environmentally conscious, during the refurbishment and the running of both our huts, but when we got involved with Plastic Free Minehead & West Somerset, an environmental action group run by Surfers Against Sewage as part of their Plastic Free Communities campaign, we decided we could go one step further and make our little green huts just a little bit greener.”

Dunster Beach Huts looked at all their processes and supplies to see how they could become as single-use-plastic-free as possible. Brett said, “Some areas were easier than others; for example, we have always done beach cleans inspired by 2 Minute Beach Clean, so we now actively encourage our guests and social media followers to do their own beach cleans, and the ‘David Attenborough effect’ has certainly made it easier to get this message across.” Guests at Salad Days and Holi Moli are now provided with their own picker sticks and beach clean bags. Brett and Susan changed some of their supplies to include eco-friendly shower and shampoo cubes instead of plastic bottles, locally made natural guest soaps, homemade jam and marmalade in reusable jars, homemade wax food wraps to replace cling film and glass water bottles in the fridge to save wasting water by running the tap to mention just a few of the changes. Even their doggy guests can get involved using bamboo dog bowls, refillable water bottles and biodegradable poop bags. Their guest changeovers have become greener too, by only using environmentally friendly cleaning products and using old tea towels as cleaning cloths instead of bought-in cloths.

“Our aim now is to continue on this green path even further, by being even more conscious of our sustainability as a company, but also in our private lives and to encourage other Somerset businesses to follow our lead and help give the world a single-use -plastic-free future,” Brett concluded. For further information on becoming a plastic-free champion see the Surfers against Sewage website or follow Plastic Free Minehead and West Somerset on Facebook.

PIONEERING FEMALE MATHEMATICIAN’S FORGOTTEN LEGACY AND PORLOCK’S INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY ON 5 OCTOBER

It will soon be possible to walk in the footsteps of  nineteenth-century computer pioneer Ada Lovelace when visiting Exmoor National Park, as work has begun this month to restore and reveal parts of the historic carriage routes, viewpoints and other features that formed part of her former Porlock estate.

It is while walking the terraces of these once ornate gardens that Ada and the famous mathematician Charles Babbage were reputed to have come up with the principles behind the ‘Difference Engine’ – a forerunner to the computer.

The National Park Authority now plans to restore parts of the old carriage ways and other surviving features in Culbone wood, granting walkers on the South West Coast Path a taste of the sense of awe that must have been felt upon emerging from historic tunnels into breathtaking views out to sea, framed by groves of giant redwoods and firs.

The effect was created by Ada Lovelace and her husband, William King, as part of a Picturesque designed landscape inspired by the fashion at the time to try and capture the beauty of nature by design. Exmoor National Park Authority are also undertaking a detailed survey to identify if any of the original trees planted by Ada and William survive.

Graeme McVittie, Exmoor National Park’s Senior Woodland Officer, said: “Woodland walks carefully planted with native and exotic species to maximise dramatic effect, long, mysterious tunnels set to build anticipation ahead of awe-inspiring views and the remnants of meandering old carriage ways designed to show off the best of the coastal views are all part of this estate’s forgotten legacy.

“The principles of the early-nineteenth-century Picturesque movement were to create views or pictures into the natural world. And now we are simply trying to create a picture into their world, and the passions and inspirations that lay behind Ada’s genius.”

On 5 October Porlock will also be holding their annual “Cream Tea with Inspirational Women” in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day, held annually in honour of the achievements of women in science all over the world. The ticketed event held at Porlock Village Hall sees five women, from the worlds of art, travel, film, education and theatre, share their passions, achievements and inspirations, with this year’s speakers billed as Molly Rooke, Hilary Bradt, Lynn Pearson, Jane Keeley and Sarah Peterkin. Information and tickets are available from Porlock Village Hall (01643 863117).

Rosalinde Haw, who is organising the event, said: “We celebrate Ada for her connection to the landscape and the inspiration she brought to all women, at a time when the very idea of a female mathematician was often viewed as distasteful. Join us this October to hear from today’s inspirational women and how their passions have helped drive them to success.”

HEDGELAYING SKILLS REWARDED

The important work of Exmoor’s hedgelayers has once again been recognised and rewarded through the Exmoor Hedge Competition.

Peter Smith received first place and the ‘Mary Stacey Trophy’ (locally made using beech wood from a laid Exmoor hedge), which was kindly donated by the late Mrs Stacey of Foxhanger Farm, Brompton Regis.  As winner, Peter is also invited to join the judges in deciding the winners of next year’s competition.

Well-laid hedges store more carbon, harbour more wildlife and provide a range of environmental benefits that far outstrip any other method of boundary management. They are also key to the National Park’s landscape, wildlife and farming history and provide employment for numerous skilled craftspeople during the winter months.

In recognition of this valuable work, Exmoor National Park Authority launched the Exmoor Hedge Competition in partnership with the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups, together with the generous support and sponsorship of the Exmoor Trust.

Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust, and Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, presented the prizes of up to £200 to the winning hedgelayers. First Place in the Open Class was Peter Smith, who laid the hedge for Timothy and Sally Stevens of Summerings Farm, near Wheddon Cross. Second prize went to Gary Atkins, who laid one of the hedges belonging to Shiamala Comer at Ashott Barton Farm, Exford. In third place was a hedge belonging to Robert Kilvington of Parsonage Farm, Hawkridge, whose hedge was laid by Adam Tarr of Lower Hunstone.

Heather Harley, Conservation Officer (Farming & Land Management) for Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We’re extremely grateful to the Exmoor Trust and the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups for supporting this competition. This traditional skill is so important to the wildlife and landscape of the National Park and an integral part of the rural community.

“Agri-environment support for hedge management has changed dramatically over recent years and the future of hedge management on Exmoor is not certain. I hope that this competition goes a little way to promote the work of these craftspeople.”

Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust, said: “The Exmoor Trust is very pleased to continue to sponsor the Exmoor Hedge Competition and to support this very important rural skill.  Exmoor would not look like it does today if it were not for these skilled hedge-layers. With uncertain times ahead for agriculture, management of the land and hedgerows becomes ever more important.”

Those looking to develop their hedge-laying skills may be interested in the one-day introductory courses being offered in the Quantocks this autumn, organised by Somerset Hedge Group (£25 per person). See www.fwagsw.org.uk/Pages/Events/Category/events-and-workshops.

For more information about the competition, grants for hedge management or farming and wildlife advice, contact Heather on 01398 322277 or hjharley@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

THE HOUSE WITHOUT WINDOWS AT NUMBER SEVEN DULVERTON

Following on from the phenomenal success of The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, many will be intrigued to discover the next publication to feature Jackie’s distinctive illustrations. The Lost Words was recently awarded the prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. Judged solely by librarians, the award is the highest accolade awarded to illustrators working in the UK – past winners include Raymond Briggs, Shirley Hughes and Quentin Blake.

Jackie is much in demand for public appearances due to the success of The Lost Words. She was recently centre stage at the Royal Albert Hall, painting live and reciting poems as part of The Lost Words BBC Prom. Number Seven has supported Jackie for many years and they are delighted to be hosting the launch party for The House Without Windows, published by Hamish Hamilton, away from the bright lights of London, here on Exmoor.

Two events are planned. The first is at Loyton Lodge, where a relaxing afternoon awaits with the aim of capturing the essence of The House Without Windows which is an entirely unique story of one little girl’s desire to escape into the wilderness.

Little Eepersip doesn’t want to live in a house with doors and windows and a roof, so she runs away to live in the wild – first in the Meadow, then by the Sea, and finally in the Mountain. Her heartbroken parents follow her, bringing her back home to ‘safety’ and locking her up in the stifling square of the house. But she slips away once more, following her heart into the richness of untrammelled nature and disappearing forever.

First published in 1927 and written by a child of just 12 years old, The House Without Windows is an extraordinary paean to the transcendent beauty of the natural world, and the human capacity to connect with it.

Throughout the afternoon Jackie will be painting and discussing her desire to illustrate and re-publish Barbara Newhall Follett’s book. Musical accompaniment is provided by cellist Julia Vohralik and principal violinist Katherine Shave. Julia has played with the Hallé and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, and Katherine was leader of the English Touring Opera Orchestra. Both currently play for the Britten Sinfonia. Christopher Jelley has mown a labyrinth into the long grass and Adam Fanson, the chef at Loyton, has planned a picnic of sandwiches, colourful cakes and pots of tea. Booking is essential and tickets (£24) are available direct from Number Seven.

The second event is on Saturday 28 September and you will find Jackie in residence at Number Seven from 10am until 3pm, signing copies of her many titles. There is no need to book and admission is free. Copies of all her titles will be available to purchase, alongside a display of new illustrations created for The House Without Windows.

www.numbersevendulverton.co.uk.

EXETER JOCKEY CLUB CHAMPIONS DEVON AIR AMBULANCE RACE DAY 2019: TICKETS AVAILABLE

The popular charity race day returns with a full day of family-friendly fun and an exclusive dining experience in support of Devon Air Ambulance.

The Jockey Club at Exeter Racecourse is once more supporting the local charity with a Devon Air Ambulance Race Day on Sunday 24 November, 2019.

This year’s event will feature a dedicated race of the county’s famous and much-loved Dartmoor ponies, who are typically more familiar with the challenging terrain of the moors than the even, maintained grass of the racecourse.

Horse enthusiasts are in for a treat as not only will they enjoy the Dartmoor Hill Pony charity race, but they will also have the chance to watch the spectacle of seven other more conventional races.

For £75 per person, the charity hospitality package includes the charity race followed by the conventional races, the advice of a professional Race Day presenter and tipster, and a delicious menu comprising locally sourced ingredients created by Head Chef, Ian Brimacombe.

Jack Parkinson, Exeter Racecourse General Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome back the Devon Air Ambulance Trust to Exeter for its Charity Race Day. It’s an outstanding organisation that serves the people of Devon every day by delivering critical care in time-critical situations. The Air Ambulance has attended Exeter races on several occasions over the years and we are indebted to them. We hope that families will come and enjoy a day at the races, and our charity race too, when a team of Dartmoor Hill Ponies will be dashing to the line for glory.”

Devon Air Ambulance crew and volunteers will have a presence at the Race Day, collecting donations, selling raffle tickets and chatting about the charity – there may even be an appearance from charity mascot, Ambrose Bear.

Devon Air Ambulance Fundraising Manager, Tracy Owen, said: “We’re looking forward to returning to Exeter Racecourse for this enjoyable fundraising event. Last year it cost £7.5 million to keep Devon’s two emergency air ambulances flying and because we are independent of Government and National Lottery funding it is entirely thanks to our supporters that we raised this sum. We’re very grateful to the Jockey Club at Exeter Racecourse for their continued support of the charity.”

Businesses looking to take staff out for a social or savvy shoppers looking for an unusual early Christmas gift might want to secure their place in what will be either the Travado or Golden Jubilee Suite – both of which are private boxes with fantastic views over the course – for the Devon Air Ambulance Race Day.

Tickets can be purchased by phoning 01392 466666 and speaking to the fundraising team, or by visiting the Devon Air Ambulance website: bit.ly/DAARaceDay2019 

BAMPTON EVENT CELEBRATES HISTORIC BUILDINGS

The Bampton Heritage and Visitor Centre are delighted to be holding a special event on Friday 20 September to unveil their new ‘Our Buildings’ exhibition boards, oral histories and family trail.

The exhibition, which will be on display in the centre for a limited period from the end of September, is the result of a year-long project researching and collating information about the history of some of the town’s buildings. The project was supported by a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Volunteers visited various homes and then conducted research both online and at the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter. They looked into a buildings’ ages, construction and architectural details as well as their different uses over time and the people who lived there.

Another strand of the project was to trace residents who had recollections of the town and its buildings from the middle of last century – they were then recorded and the material carefully edited to form a digital oral archive of the town for future generations.

Bridge House Luke Street

Judi Thomas, a trustee of the Heritage Centre, who was in charge of the oral history recordings, said, “All too often we leave it too late to record the memories of older family members and residents but their accounts form such a valuable addition to the heritage of our town. Young people in particular can learn such a huge amount about everyday life from the past by listening to recordings.”

Judi Thomas and other Heritage Centre volunteers have also been working closely with teachers and children at Bampton School who have been learning more about their town. Two classes visited the Heritage Centre and were taken on a special guided town trail during which the children were taught more about some of the town’s buildings and history from the centre’s guides. Judi added “We’re delighted to have the support of the school teachers as we aim to encourage residents and visitors of all ages to appreciate our rich social and industrial heritage and historic buildings.”

The group have also produced a new booklet which gives the history of St Michael and All Angels Church – believed to the town’s oldest building.

Katrina Munro, chair of the Trustees, said, “This project has helped everyone involved to learn so much about our town. Many of the buildings we see today have a rich and colourful history and many have fine architectural features. Through this exhibition, we hope more people will visit our town and learn about our heritage. We’re very grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting the project. Aspects such as the exhibition, family town trial, new guide book to the church and oral archive will help us to reach as many people as possible.”

The Heritage and Visitor Centre, which is based inside St Michael and All Angels Church, is open from Wednesday to Saturday 11am to 3pm.

Everyone is welcome to join the volunteers for the Exhibition launch at the Centre on Friday 20 September starting at 7pm. Free refreshments will be served.

There will be a special Bampton Guided Town Trail at 11am on Saturday 21 September. Find out more or book a space by emailing bamptonheritage@btinternet.com or phoning Wendy Boothroyd on 01398 331219. Guided town trials can also be arranged for groups on other dates.

SCHOOL LAUNCHES EXCITING CREATIVE ARTS EVENTS FOR NORTH DEVON PUBLIC

West Buckland School is opening its doors as a new venue for the arts in North Devon, with the launch of ARTS@WB, an exciting cultural programme of stand-up comedy, dance, music, art and drama events, open to the North Devon public. The majority of the productions will be held in the school’s fabulous 150 Arts building, where visitors will also be able to browse exhibitions from distinguished artists.

ARTS@WB has been created by the school’s Director of Music and Performing Arts, Emma Kent, who many will know from her work with the North Devon Sinfonia and who has always been a great supporter of the arts in North Devon.

“ARTS@WB is a really exciting new venture for the school and the wider community,” she said. “Hopefully everyone will find something in the programme which will whet their appetite for culture and the arts and tempt them to visit our beautiful campus to enjoy a social and thought-provoking evening.”

As well as enjoying the main attraction, visitors are encouraged to come early, pick up a glass of something and enjoy a browse around the school’s stunning 150 Arts building where there will be a number of exhibitions on display from emerging artists.

The programme is suitable for people across the age groups and there are a limited number of student tickets, priced at just £1.

Legally Blonde and Katie Derham

Highlights for the 2019-2020 programme include a critically acclaimed circus and dance performance by Nikki Rummer and JD Broussé, a comedy club night featuring Noel Brodie, Jo Coffey, Chris Leworthy and Angie Belcher, a show-stopping production of the West End hit Legally Blonde at the Queen’s theatre and an Evening with Katie Derham – an insight into the life of the well-known arts journalist and presenter of the Proms season on the BBC.

For more information, or to download a copy of the full ARTS@WB brochure, please visit: www.westbuckland.com/arts-at-wb.

TOP: “Thirsty” by Paper Birds, just one of the many exciting productions at West Buckland School as part of their ARTS@WB.

HISTORIC BUILDINGS FESTIVAL AND PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION

Exmoor’s first ever Historic Buildings Festival is due to kick off this month, with a week of events celebrating the National Park’s impressive array of buildings from throughout the ages.

From 16-22 September, a wide range of expert walks, talks and practical demonstrations will be on offer celebrating this cultural heritage. Guest speakers and skilled craftspeople will shed light on how and why these structures came to be and what they can teach us about how our ancestors lived and worked. The Festival forms part of Heritage Open Days*, when places right across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history.

The week of largely free events will begin with an open day to see conservation in action in Simonsbath’s Ashcombe Gardens, where a project is underway to restore and uncover the story behind a Picturesque garden and the unusual Scottish croft-house that formed part of it. This is the first time the public will have an opportunity to go inside the buildings since restoration works began, and the first time they have been without scaffolding for many years.

Find out the story of Lynton and Lynmouth’s famous cliff railway and walk in the footsteps of computer pioneer Ada Lovelace to discover the extensive network of intriguing paths, viewpoints and tunnels found on her former Porlock estate. Get an exclusive tour of medieval buildings in Dunster as part of a project to trace and record the town’s early history and take part in a convoy of military vehicles on route to the former secret Second World War radar station and tank training grounds found on Minehead’s North Hill.

Festival organiser Thomas Thurlow, Exmoor National Park Authority’s Historic Buildings Officer, said: “Whether it’s the medieval hall houses of Dunster, the late Georgian Scottish croft-style buildings of Simonsbath, or the industrial structures of the West Somerset Mineral Line, all these buildings have a story to tell and have helped shape the landscape we see today. There are so many historic treasures to be found on Exmoor if you know where to look and we can’t wait to showcase these amazing buildings.”

The full programme of events can be found on the Exmoor National Park Authority website at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/historicbuildingsfestival and is available in printed form free from National Park Centres in Lynmouth, Dunster and Dulverton.

People may also wish to take part in the Exmoor Society photographic competition, which this year includes a historic buildings category (the closing date is 30 September). Find out more at www.exmoorsociety.com/content/news/alfred-vowles-photographic-competition-2

PHOTO: White Rock Cottage in Simonsbath seen without scaffolding for the first time in decades.