Category Archives: Active Exmoor

SHARE YOUR MEMORIES OF PINKERY

For nearly 50 years, generations of schoolchildren from Somerset, Devon and further afield have been coming for residential stays at the Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning, high on Exmoor. To mark the occasion and celebrate World Outdoor Learning Day Exmoor National Park Authority – who welcome around 2,000 children a year to the Centre – recently asked people to share old photos and memories from their stay to form part of an exhibition later in the year.

John Fletcher is deputy head of Heathfield Community School, in Taunton, which has been sending  Year 7 students for residentials at the Pinkery Centre for 40 years. He said: “Our students say time again that the most important and memorable experience they had of school was Pinkery. What they learn can’t be captured by league tables or exam results and we’re delighted to have so far been able to support 15,000 students to visit. I‘m sure many will take this opportunity to share memories in celebration of this special place and the lifelong lessons it helps to make.”

Pinkery was converted into an outdoor centre in 1969, having previously been an isolated hill farm for more than a century. Arthur Philips, the Centre’s first warden, recalls: “The building had been vacant for years and there were sheep living in it. I got together some volunteers, who all gave up their weekends and camped throughout the winter while the work was going on.

“It took about six months but we made it homely enough and when those first groups came, some of the farm buildings were still in use for storing hay and shearing sheep, so that become part of the lessons. There was time for studying the geology and wildlife, helping with conservation or maintenance work, and also outdoor pursuits like map reading, climbing and canoeing. My favourite was taking groups out over the moor on horseback. They’d spend 20 minutes grooming and helping tack up and then we’d be off. The impact it had on the youngsters was quite amazing.”

Situated in open moorland at 400 metres above sea-level and in the heart of Exmoor’s International Dark Sky Reserve, staying at the Centre remains a truly off-grid experience enjoyed by thousands of schoolchildren every year. Management was transferred to Exmoor National Park Authority 25 years ago in 1994, with major investment to modernise the building over the years, including the addition of a spring-fed water supply, wind turbine, cutting-edge photovoltaic roof and a new wing opened by Sir Ranulph Fiennes in 1995.

Dave Huxtable, who now runs the centre on behalf of Exmoor National Park, said: “Gaining confidence in the outdoors and connecting with nature encourages learning right across the curriculum and is crucial to inspire the next generation to love and care for our precious landscapes. There’s always one or two kids that aren’t sure at first, but by the end they’re usually the ones having the time of their lives. It’s a very special place and we’d love to have an exhibition celebrating all of the memories Pinkery has made.”

Send in your photos and memories of Pinkery to pinkery@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or share them on social media using #Pinkery50th.

PHOTO: The first school group arriving in the spring of 1971.

NEW EXMOOR ACTIVITY BREAKS ON OFFER

Exmoor National Park has launched a new programme of activity breaks running from its Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning. For the first time in the centre’s 50-year history the public will be able to book a stay and participate in a range of guided outdoor activities led by professional Exmoor National Park staff and instructors.

Dan James, Exmoor National Park Authority’s’ Sustainable Economy Manager, said: “Our Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning provides a fantastic opportunity to escape the everyday and immerse yourself in the spectacular Exmoor landscape.”

“For over 50 years the centre has been offering unforgettable experiences for school groups and private hires. Now we’re opening the doors to the public. Over the course of each two-night break, you will enjoy the great outdoors, meet like-minded people, learn new skills and have great fun in one of the most remote outdoor centres in the country. Each break will be led by passionate staff and volunteers from the National Park who will provide you with an exclusive opportunity to discover what makes Exmoor special.”

Each break has its own theme offering participants a wide range of activities.

  • Family Discovery Breaks – 28th to 30th May and 2nd to 4thAugust.
    The perfect opportunity for families of all ages with a sense of adventure! Have fun as a family with outdoor activities such as orienteering, low ropes, archery, grass sledging, fire lighting and campfire. Prices from £120pp (based on a  fully occupied family room).
  • Active Exmoor Weekend – 9th to 11th August.
    The more adventurous can get moving with mountain biking, hiking, wild pond swimming and mountain boarding. Minimum age 12. Although activities are suitable for mixed abilities, all participants will need to be confident in riding a bike. £199 per person for adults, £169 children (based on a minimum of 2 to a room – discounts for higher occupancy).
  • Introduction to Moorland Heritage – 16th to 18th July.
    Join professional National Park staff to explore and learn about moorland heritage with guided walks, talks and visits. £219pp (based on 2 sharing – single supplement and discounts for higher room occupancy available).

For full details and to book your space visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/pinkery-breaks or call Katrina Munro on 01398 323665. Prices start from £120 per person (based on a family room being fully occupied) including all instruction and guiding, equipment, food and accommodation in en-suite bunk rooms.

ELECTRIC MOUNTAIN BIKES FOR EXMOOR!

Exmoor Adventures, who are celebrating their tenth birthday this year,  are excited to announce that they have purchased a fleet of E-mountain bikes.

Dan French, owner of Exmoor Adventures, writes:

“What better way to celebrate ten years of trading than with a brand-new offering for the area. We now have 8 hardtail and full suspension E-bikes to add to our existing fleet of 35 mountain bikes. This will make us the only supplier of E-mountain bike hire on Exmoor and the Quantock Hills, aiming to attract new audiences to the area, as well as catering for local residents.

“E-bikes have grown hugely in popularity over the years, with sales in the UK now matching sales for traditional bikes. Even Sir Chris Hoy rides one – “E-bikes are a nice combination of using your own human power and having a bit of assistance too. And once you’ve ridden an E-bike, you completely get it,” he has said.

“The motor ‘assists’ you as you pedal, so you still get to exercise, with a welcome boost up the hills, which is needed with the steep inclines of Exmoor.

“We’ll be promoting an ‘E-bike route’ which will take participants from Porlock Weir, up onto Porlock Hill and across the moors where you can enjoy fantastic views across Exmoor and the coastline, before descending back down to sea level.

“We’ve had a lot of positive interest and will be teaming up with local accommodation providers and businesses to offer packages and unique experiences.

“We’ll be hiring out the bikes from our base at Porlock Weir, as well as running guided E-rides and other courses and events. With Locanda and the Ship Inn being popular places to eat and stay at the Weir, and the Porlock Weir Hotel also opening soon, along with local shops and cafes to choose from, this will be the perfect place to start and finish a ride.

“Why not join us on Good Friday  (19 April)  for a half-day guided ride starting from Porlock Weir and heading up onto the moorland. Aimed at beginners to off-road cycling, it costs only £50pp including instruction and E-bike hire (6 spaces available).

“A big thank you to Exmoor National Park who have helped to fund this new project, and local company Tuned Cycles for helping us get them ready for the trails!

“These E-bikes are perfect for all ages (14+) and abilities – please get in touch to find out more, and keep an eye on our social media and website for upcoming special events. Come and have a go!”

Standard mountain bike hire: £25 per day
Hardtail mountain E-bike hire: £50 per day
Full suspension E-bike hire: £65 per day
www.exmooradventures.co.uk

SLEET AND SNOW FAIL TO DAMPEN WEST BUCKLAND SCHOOL’S ‘EXMOOR RUN’

It was a case of ‘four seasons in one day’ for West Buckland School’s annual cross-country run, ‘The Exmoor’!

The event, which has taken place on the last Thursday of the Easter term for over 160 years, involves pupils from year 8 upwards running up to 10 miles across some of Exmoor’s most beautiful, and steep, landscape, back to the main school.

If that’s isn’t tough enough, all senior school students from year 8 and above walk around eight miles to the start points, one of which was covered in snow this year, before they even begin the run back to school. This year’s race started in snow, threw in some hail, wind and sunshine and finished in sleet.

It is a very popular event, with over 60 parents, former pupils, friends and members of the local community participating in the race. Although most people run to achieve their best time, the sense of camaraderie is fantastic, with runners stopping to help those who need it, determined to help them to finish. Well done to all who participated in this much-loved and equally dreaded event!

NORTH DEVON NAMED AS ‘ENGLAND’S ADVENTURE COAST’

North Devon has been officially rebranded as ‘England’s Adventure Coast’ as part of an ambitious new campaign to boost tourism, encouraging visitors to discover, explore and enjoy the area.

Launched during English Tourism Week (30 March – 7 April), the new campaign will now be promoted across the country in a bid to promote North Devon like never before.

England’s Adventure Coast, which stretches from the Cornish border into Exmoor, features in a beautiful new video telling the story of North Devon and encouraging people of all ages to have adventures.

The inspiring video, made by local video production company Panoptic Motion, focuses on the outdoor landscape and the abundance of activities this offers, from wild swimming on Exmoor, to breathtaking coastal walks; from exploring pretty stone-villages, to surfing some of the best beaches in Britain.

The cinematic-style short advert is part of a wider campaign, including a comprehensive social media promotion and fresh new branding.

Nick White, Chair of the North Devon Marketing Bureau, said: “We are so very proud to announce North Devon as England’s Adventure Coast.

“It is such a special place in the country and it is our landscape that
truly sets us apart. We identified the natural resources of the region
to be something very special and wanted to recreate the spirit of
adventure the area offers to all ages.

“The campaign conveys the concept of adventure being much wider than about extreme sports: it is also about the heritage of the area, the wealth of locally produced food and drink and the independent businesses who embody the spirit of ‘adventure’. This is about celebrating that sense of adventure.

“Having a strong identity is vital in tourism – we hope this new brand
sets us apart, giving North Devon the platform it needs to compete in an increasingly competitive market.”

To watch the film, please visit: www.northdevon.com

BARNSTAPLE ABILITY FOOTBALL CLUB CELEBRATE TOUR OF BRITAIN

This is a press release from North Devon Council.

An event has been held by Barnstaple Ability Football Club to celebrate the Tour of Britain’s visit to North Devon recently, thanks to a grant from North Devon Council.

In the approach to the Tour of Britain travelling through North Devon, £3,000 of funds were made available by North Devon Council for any local community group or schools who wanted to get involved and celebrate the Tour. Barnstaple Ability FC used their grant of £200 to hold two events for their squad, including a Tour of Britain-themed football session and social, and a cycle along the Tarka Trail with players and their families. The club is made up of players over 16 with any additional needs, including sensory impairment, physical disability, learning difficulties and mental health issues.

At their football session on Thursday 30 August, the squad were encouraged to cycle to training, and afterwards spent time together enjoying a burger and the company of their family and friends. 45-50 people participated in the event, with people cycling to training from Abbotsham, Bideford, South Molton and Barnstaple to the club’s Tews Lane training ground at Bickington. At the club’s next event on Saturday 1 September, 20 cyclists from the football club set off from Barnstaple train station along the Tarka Trail to celebrate cycling and the Tour of Britain coming to North Devon, with refreshments along the way. Participants, who have a variety of additional needs including Down Syndrome, autism, learning difficulties, dyspraxia and mental health issues, used a variety of bikes to cycle along the trail to Bideford with stops at Fremington and Instow.

Melanie Regan, a volunteer coach and the chairperson for Barnstaple Ability Football Club, says: “We would like to thank North Devon Council, whose Tour of Britain grant made this event possible and meant that everyone, regardless of ability, was able to participate and enjoy cycling and celebrating the Tour coming to town. We are also grateful to Shelley’s Snacks, who provided the delicious food at our football social. Our events demonstrated that cycling is for everyone, with participants varying in age from five to sixty years old.”

North Devon Council’s Executive member for Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “We are so pleased that we were able to help our local communities get involved in the run-up to the Tour of Britain’s visit to North Devon. The events held by the Barnstaple Ability Football Club clearly brought joy to a lot of individuals, and encouraged people to get on their bikes and get fit, whatever their age and ability. We are very proud of how the people of North Devon welcomed the Tour to our beautiful district and hope our residents thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of the build-up and the big day.”

For more information about joining the Barnstaple Ability Football Club please contact Melanie Regan on 07764 767955 or by email to melanieregan7@icloud.com. Training takes place every Thursday at 5.45pm at various locations.

TEAM CALVERT MAKES WAVES AT SUPERHERO TRI

Three teams from Calvert Trust Exmoor participated in the Superhero Tri recently at Dorney Lake in Windsor, rubbing shoulders with the world of Paralympians and raising valuable funds for the North Devon charity that offers outdoor activity breaks for people with disabilities.

The second annual running of the event saw some 2,500 participants take to the water, wheels and heels to compete in this unique competition that focuses on disability. Each team of three must include at least one person with a disability.

Regular Wistlandpound guest Daisy Gregory, 14, who has Down syndrome, completed all parts of the Sprint section with her sidekicks as helpers. She was also chosen to be part of 2012 and 2016 Paralympics gold medalist Jonnie Peacock’s Superhero Team.

“I had an amazing time, made some lovely new friends and loved being in Jonnie Peacock’s celebrity team!” said an extremely happy Daisy following the event.

Jonnie Peacock is a huge advocate of the Superhero Tri: “What sets this event apart is the fact that it is all inclusive, absolutely everyone can take part. It’s not restrictive in any way and there are no real rules or regulations about it either.”

Calvert Trust Exmoor’s Events and Corporate Fundraiser, Daisy Hockin, expressed delight that David Fraser from Truro joined one of the teams: “David has cerebral palsy, and did a marvellous job completing the 10km cycle on a recumbent bike.”

David first visited the centre some 20 years ago on a work placement and recently got involved with the fundraising team.

“I felt thrilled to be part of the team,” David said. “As a guest, I have witnessed first hand the great work that goes on at Calvert Trust Exmoor, so I’m chuffed to be able to help out. Now I’m looking forward to getting involved in other events too, like the Spooky Cycle along the Tarka Trail in October.”

Calvert’s third team came from the Stables, led by supervisor Kerri Marangone, London-based Martin Green, and long-standing Stables volunteer JoJo Charman:

“This was my second time competing for Calvert Trust Exmoor at the Superhero Tri,” JoJo said. “This year’s event was certainly a step up from last year in terms of numbers, and we’re all looking forward to bringing even more Calvert teams to Windsor in 2019.”

After successfully completing the event (some more than once), participants were presented with their Superhero medals and plenty of opportunity for photos to celebrate their achievements.

On top of the £1,000 raised by ‘Team Calvert,’ celebrity team captain and paraplegic adventurer Shaun Gash later dropped by the Calvert Trust Exmoor marquee to present a cheque for £750 following his team’s climb of Ben Nevis in the summer.

You can watch the best of the @SuperheroTri 2018, the UK’s only disability triathlon, on Saturday 1st September on Channel 4 at 11.30am.

PHOTO: Calvert Trust Exmoor Superhero Tri Team Jonnie Peacock including Daisy Gregory supported by Mum Lynn and Dad Paul.

CALVERT TRUST EXMOOR DELIGHTED TO BE AWARDED GOLD

Calvert Trust Exmoor has achieved the AHOEC Gold Standard for the quality of its outdoor education, and continues to be the only centre in the South West to carry this endorsement.

The AHOEC (Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres) exists to champion high safety and quality standards in the provision of outdoor learning, and does not award its Gold Standard assurance lightly, with just 49 centres across the UK currently brandishing the accolade.

The Gold Standard is the AHOEC’s quality scheme, which recognises exceptional performance in the provision of outdoor education delivery and learning outcomes whilst also taking in to account other operational aspects, including the quality and safety of facilities, staff and customer care. Focusing on nine areas altogether, the standard provides a framework against which the top activity providers are thoroughly assessed.

On receiving the news, Sophie, Activities Manager at Calvert Trust Exmoor, said: “I am delighted to have retained the Gold Standard award, as we continue to strive to provide the best experience possible for our guests.”

Calvert Trust Exmoor strives for excellence in everything it does, and is proud to hold a growing number of awards and accreditations for the services it provides. The centre offers the only 5-star rated activity accommodation in England, and is also accredited to the AALA and CLOtC.

Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the edge of Exmoor National Park, a short distance from the North Devon coast, and with everything together on one fully accessible site, the Trust welcomes guests of all ages and levels of ability, enabling people with physical, learning, behavioural and sensory disabilities to experience exciting, challenging and enjoyable outdoor activities, together with their families & friends. Highly experienced instructors are qualified by national governing bodies such as  British Canoeing, the RYA and the BHS and are specially trained to work with disabled individuals.

Residential breaks are built around a structured programme of activities led by qualified instructors, all tailored to the specific needs of visitors. Activities include cycling, climbing, abseiling, horse riding, archery, low ropes, and crate stacking. Calvert Trust Exmoor also has exclusive access to Wistlandpound Reservoir for sailing, kayaking and canoeing. With a range of indoor and outdoor activities on offer, and standard and adaptive equipment provided to suit individual needs, the Trust’s aim is to provide each and every guest with the best possible experience so that they leave keen to return and eager to recommend it to others.

To ensure Calvert Trust Exmoor continues to meet the demands of its Gold Standard, the AHOEC carries out inspections every two years.

GREAT SUPPORT FOR PERAMBULATION; NEXT UP – THE EXMOOR EXPLORER!

Over 100 walkers set out on an epic 31-mile hike around the original boundary of the Royal Forest of Exmoor last month, as part of an iconic event organised by local adventure company, Channel Events, in aid of CareMoor for Exmoor, which raises money for the upkeep of the National Park.

Of the 122 participants who departed early on Saturday 16 June, spurred on by complimentary cups of Miles Tea along with spectacular scenery, just over half (65) completed the full course.

The event is one of three non-competitive challenges organised by Channel Events, for which £1 from each entry goes towards CareMoor for Exmoor to help fund vital conservation and access projects. An annual donation is also made to Exmoor Search and Rescue Team, a highly skilled group of volunteers who attend all events.

One of this year’s participants commented: “After completing a half perambulation over 20 years ago it has been my long-held ambition to complete the whole walk… Walking with my daughter, her fiancée and their dog, George, we managed to complete the whole perambulation in around ten and a quarter hours… The moor was beautiful and it was a real privilege to see and walk on parts of it not generally accessible to the public. Thank you to everyone involved. An amazing event.”

Event organiser Dan Brice, Director of Channel Events, said: “We’re proud to be celebrating this wonderful event’s long history, while also helping raise vital funds towards the upkeep of the National Park. One great aspect of all these events is that much of the route is only accessible with permission of the landowners concerned – so you get to access parts of the National Park not normally open to the public.”

Dave Gurnett, Learning and Outreach Officer at Exmoor National Park, who has both supported and participated in the Perambulation many times over the years, said: “This historic event dates back 725 years when it was routinely walked as a means of establishing the legal boundary of the King’s hunting grounds. It’s the knowledge that you’re treading in the footsteps of the Saxons and the Normans that I think keeps many people coming back year after year and I hope it will continue for decades to come.”

£1 from every entry goes to CareMoor for Exmoor for each of the Perambulation. The next event, in case you would like to take part, is a mountain-biking challange, the Exmoor Explorer, on 5th August 2018.

The Exmoor Explorer is a non-competitive mountain biking event of 20 or 40 miles. Open moorland, woodland trails, natural single track and secluded Combes, the Explorer doesn’t disappoint. This iconic Exmoor cycling event was started 19 years ago and you can find out more here.

TAUNTON CIDER JOINS THE GREAT EXMOOR RIDE

The Great Exmoor Ride, a new Somerset city-to-coast challenge bike ride taking place on Sunday 2nd September, has joined forces with the recently re-launched Taunton Cider Company to help riders celebrate their achievements at the end of this year’s challenge.

The Ride starts in Taunton and takes participants on a stunning 66-mile journey through quiet Somerset country lanes and across the eastern part of Exmoor National Park, before ending in a tranquil spot on the West Somerset coast at Blue Anchor near Minehead.

And, thanks to this new partnership, this summer thirsty riders can look forward to sinking a well-earned pint (or two) of Taunton Cider after a very rewarding and enjoyable day in the saddle.

Darren McKimm, the Ride Organiser, commented: “Taunton Cider has been recognised internationally as one of the best ciders in the world and we’re absolutely delighted to have them on board as one of our key supporters – it’s obviously a great Somerset partnership for the Ride which starts in Taunton, and it’s great to know that our riders will now be able to enjoy a pint of proper cider from Somerset when they cross the finish line!

“Taunton Cider has an extensive history and heritage but in its current form it’s also something refreshing and new from Somerset, just like the GER, and it feels like the perfect West Country combination for the Ride – a fabulous Somerset route with a pint of proper Somerset cider waiting at the finish – so participants can really look forward to a fantastic challenge AND a great day out.”

Matt Hill, from Taunton Cider, added: “Taunton Cider is very pleased to be supporting this fantastic Somerset event and adding to everyone’s enjoyment on the day – it’s great to see people being active and taking on this sort of personal challenge, and we also really like the fact that riders are encouraged to use their efforts to fundraise for charity. Prostate Cancer UK is a great cause to support, so we’d encourage all our customers and fans to think about taking part and then celebrating with us at the finish”.

“Taunton Cider is made from a variety of bitter sweet apples grown in a number of local orchards so it really is proper cider from Somerset, and that makes it the perfect way to round off what should be a challenging and thoroughly enjoyable day at the Great Exmoor Ride – hopefully the thought of a hard-earned and well-deserved pint of Taunton Cider at the end will spur everyone on!”.

Participants can certainly look forward to a spectacular route that will test the legs before ending by the sea on a quiet and unspoilt part of the Somerset coast.

A spokesman added: “It’s a great chance to make summer feel like it’s lasting that little bit longer, and we’re expecting to see a great big smile on people’s faces from the huge sense of achievement that they’ll feel at completing the challenge.”

The event is registered with British Cycling, the sport’s governing body, and participants will benefit from a whole host of event support services, including clear route signage, medical cover, and mobile mechanical support, and there will also be a free BBQ at the finish for riders in addition to the Taunton Cider bar.

Further information and full details on the event, including how to enter, can be found at www.greatexmoorride.com.