Category Archives: Coast

ON THE TRAIL OF MINEHEAD’S HISTORY

From bathing machines to The Beatles, from smugglers to stagecoaches – Minehead’s history has been brought to life in a newly enhanced set of Storywalk trails.

They’re designed to guide visitors around different areas of the town while revealing its history – all via a website on a mobile phone.

Three of the trails concentrate on the original settlements – Higher Town, Middle Town and Quay Town – which were eventually joined together by new building as the town’s popularity as a Victorian seaside resort led to major expansion.

And three more offer a fascinating guide to the trees and shrubs in the Parks Walk – essentially a mile-long arboretum leading from a point close to the town centre into open countryside.

All the trails have been researched and created as a website accessible on a mobile phone by Dunster-based author Chris Jelley, who’s been supported by Minehead Information Centre and Minehead BID, the traders’ consortium set up two years ago to promote the town and raise its profile as a holiday destination.

He said one of the challenges was deciding what to leave out, given that Minehead has such a long and fascinating history, from its origins as a small but bustling trading port surrounded by farms to a modern holiday resort.

“It is always tricky striking a balance between making the trails family- friendly and informative,” he said.

The Storywalks reveal the past importance of herring fishing, recount how some of the earliest aircraft landed on the beach and trace the history of the West Somerset Railway, including the time it was used by The Beatles for filming ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.

The trails bring together folklore, local customs and dialect words as they guide users to features and buildings which were key to the town’s development.

Minehead BID manager Andrew Hopkins said the updated Storywalks offered a wonderfully interesting way of discovering the modern town – and its history.

“A lot of our visitors never stray very far from the town centre,” he said. “They only see what the Victorians and the Edwardians created – with a few modern additions.

“But it literally only requires a few yards’ walking to find oneself in an older, even more attractive Minehead, with original cottages, cobbled paths and a real sense of time standing still.

“And some of the Higher Town locations featured offer magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.

“We’re delighted with what Chris has produced for us, particularly his celebration of the Parks Walk, a particularly undervalued attraction offering a real oasis for relaxation.

“And the fact that these trails can be followed so easily via a mobile phone should hopefully encourage a lot of our visitors to discover them.”

The Minehead Hidden History Storywalks are free for all to access at: minehead.storywalks.info

LAUNCH SYSTEM FOR ILFRACOMBE’S HARBOUR WASTE SHARK IS NEARLY READY

The new launch system for Ilfracombe Harbour’s very own waste shark, ‘Sharkie’, is getting closer to completion thanks to the arrival of a new shark cage and a lot of hard work.

The custom-built shark cage, along with a trolley and a waterproof cover, have been presented to Ilfracombe Harbour Staff and The Shark Ambassadors from Commando Logistic Regiment, Royal Marines Chivenor and the North Devon branch of the Royal Marine Association. ‘Sharkie’ is the nickname given to the aquatic drone, designed to clear unwanted debris such as plastics and oil from waterways and a much-loved resident of Ilfracombe Harbour. The items will be used to transport it from its home to the new bespoke launch system once complete and installed at the harbour.

The new launch system for ‘Sharkie’ is currently being  set up specifically for Ilfracombe’s tidal range by harbour staff and The Shark Ambassadors. The Shark Ambassadors are local residents who have volunteered their time to help with the set-up of the system and operating ‘Sharkie’ and also the organising of other volunteers who will be trained up when the system is complete. Once complete and Covid-19 restrictions ease, it will mean that ‘Sharkie’ can be launched on a more regular basis in the harbour.

Lead Member for the Environment at North Devon Council, Councillor Netti Pearson, says: “‘Sharkie’ is a real asset to Ilfracombe and as a resident of the town I look forward to seeing it back in action. I was at the launch last year, it is a novel way to raise awareness of the amount of plastic waste that washes up in the harbour and is a useful tool for measuring and reducing other pollutants in the water. The new equipment will make it easier to launch ‘Sharkie’, and house it safely, so we will be able to see it in action more often.”

Ilfracombe Harbour Master, Georgina Carlo-Paat, says: “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Commando Logistic Regiment, Royal Marines Chivenor and the North Devon branch of the Royal Marine Association for all their hard work developing these items for us to house ‘Sharkie’, the resulting cage, trolley and cover are brilliant and have moved the completion of the project a huge step closer.”

Chairman of the Royal Marines Association in North Devon, John Peel, says: “The communities of Ilfracombe and North Devon are very appreciative of the Armed Forces and the work they do and particularly those stationed at RMB Chivenor and the base at Instow.  As chairman, acknowledging the responsibilities we have to our local veterans, it is great to have such a good relationship within the community and we are always very well received when out and about.

“It is a great pleasure to able to support projects when they come around and the ‘Sharkie’ project has, yet again, been an opportunity to collaborate in a positive way and continue to enhance relationships.  We look forward to being able to come back to Ilfracombe for future events.”

‘Sharkie’ was first launched in Ilfracombe Harbour in March 2019 and has been stored away during the winter months. This recent project has been funded with a grant from the AONB along with other local contributors. Once launched, the drone has the capabilities to gather air and water quality data, and filter chemicals out of the water such as oil, arsenic, and heavy metals through filtering pads.

‘Sharkie’ is controlled by harbour staff alongside the Shark Ambassadors and all waste recovered from it will be deposited in the Ocean Recovery Project bins at Ilfracombe Harbour, then collected by North Devon Council for sorting.  Ocean Recovery will then recycle the separated plastic waste into pellets, which can in turn be made into kayaks and composite flooring.

 

RNLI TO INCREASE LIFEGUARD PROVISION IN THE SOUTH WEST THIS SUMMER

Since lockdown restrictions were eased last month, the RNLI has worked hard to roll out lifeguard patrols on 22 beaches in the South West.

Now these beaches are operational and new ways of working and equipment have been properly put to the test, the RNLI is accelerating its service roll-out and increasing the number of beaches which will have a lifeguard service. The charity is hoping to have lifeguards on around 170 beaches in the UK by early July – 70 per cent of the beaches it would patrol in a normal summer.

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: “We are now confident we can provide a more comprehensive lifeguard service this summer safely, despite the continuing challenges created by the pandemic. The first few weeks having lifeguards back on beaches has helped us properly test the new ways of operating and reassured everyone that we can accelerate and expand our plans.

“Our original plan to lifeguard 70 beaches this summer was a conservative one, made when many things were still unknown. Now, though, we have a better idea of the journey out of lockdown for all parts of the UK, understand the new regulations with which we must comply as an employer and service provider and, most importantly, feel we can properly manage the risks associated with Coronavirus. So, we are revising our plans and adding to the number of beaches we can lifeguard this summer.”

There are already 22 beaches with a lifeguard service in the South West. In Cornwall, there are currently lifeguards on Constantine, Fistral, Gwithian, Hayle Towans, Mawgan Porth, Perranporth, Poldhu, Porthmeor, Porthtowan, Polzeath, Praa Sands, Sennen, Summerleaze, Watergate Bay, and Widemouth. In North Devon, Croyde and Woolacombe are currently lifeguarded, as is Weymouth in Dorset. Four beaches in Jersey – St Ouens, St Brelades, Plêmont and Greve de Lecq – have lifeguard patrols.

As of this Saturday (20 June), lifeguard patrols will start at the following beaches in Devon and Cornwall:

Exmouth, Bantham, Sedgewell Cove, Tregonhawke, Sharrow, Portreath, Chapel Porth, Holywell Bay, Treyarnon, Harlyn, Trebarwith, and Crooklets. Bringing the total number of beaches with lifeguards across the south west to operational to 34 beaches across the South West.

The RNLI is continuing to talk to its 55 partner local authorities and beach owners about which additional beaches might be lifeguarded this summer, seeking to align with the proposed early-July lifting of restrictions on the tourism and hospitality industries. The RNLI will announce this information as soon as possible.

Mark Dowie added: “With schools closed and restrictions on foreign travel, we know that lots of people will be heading to UK beaches – this could be the busiest summer ever for both our lifeguards and our lifeboat crews.  I’m very grateful to all those lifeguards who have already started their patrols or are now preparing to get back on the beach – they know this will be a challenging summer and are doing a brilliant job helping to keep the public safe during this pandemic.

“We must all continue to be aware that the risks from the pandemic have not gone away, but if people work with us and the other emergency services by following social distancing and other Government guidance relevant to their home country, we hope to be able to continue to provide lifeguard services this season. We’d like to thank all our partners – from Her Majesty’s Coastguard, to local councils and landowners – who are also working hard to help us patrol as many beaches as possible.”

New measures to deal with the Coronavirus mean the RNLI lifeguard service will look a little different this year. Lifeguards will wear PPE like ambulance crews in some situations. New protocols for all first responders mean the lifeguards may not deal with some minor first aid cases but will support people to treat themselves. They will also try to keep socially distant from beach goers, and may need to adopt different patrol methods at times, such as not using the red and yellow flags and asking people to keep apart but close to shore, to help keep people safe while maintaining social distancing.

The charity is also continuing to urge anyone planning to visit the coast to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice. Anyone planning a visit to the coast should remember to:

  • Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
  • Don’t allow your family to swim alone
  • Don’t use inflatables
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float
  • In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard

PHOTO: RNLI lifeguards patrolling Perranporth Beach at a socially distanced 2m in June 2020 @triggerleephotography

BISHOP TO VISIT ILFRACOMBE LIFEBOAT

The Right Reverend Jackie Searle, Bishop of Crediton, will be arriving in Ilfracombe on Sunday 8 March, and will visit the RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboat station to meet the volunteers and bless the lifeboats.

Bishop Jackie will meet some of the volunteers who support the work of the RNLI in Ilfracombe, including those who work in fundraising, in the RNLI shop and in the boathouse and visits teams, as well as members of the crew and shore crew. After spending some time with the volunteers Bishop Jackie will tour the boathouse and will say a prayer of blessing over the lifeboats and the work of the RNLI.

The boathouse will be open to the public from 9.40am and members of the public are welcome to join the volunteers for the prayer of blessing.

It is a busy time for Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station, which has just launched a campaign to raise £12,000 to go towards a new D class inshore lifeboat, about which you can read more here.

The Revd Peter Churcher, Vicar of Pip and Jim’s Church in Ilfracombe and Chaplain to Ilfracombe RNLI, says: “It is my joy to serve the RNLI Ilfracombe as Chaplain, and I am humbled by the amazing work of the volunteers who invest so much time, in such a variety of ways, in this vital life-saving work. I am very pleased that Bishop Jackie will be visiting the RNLI and meeting the volunteers to celebrate the work they do.”

He adds: “The visit to Ilfracombe RNLI is part of JOY 2020 where Bishop Robert, Bishop Jackie and Bishop Nick will be touring the county and taking part in events in all sorts of places across Devon. These promise to be great events for those with a strong faith or none at all. They will show that Christianity isn’t about buildings, rules and rotas, but it is about people and God’s immeasurable love for every single person in Devon.”

Photo: Revd Peter Churcher Chaplain to Ilfracombe RNLI and Jo Bolton Chair of the Ilfracombe RNLI Management Group with the station’s Shannon class lifeboat.

HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE ILFRACOMBE SEAFRONT MASTERPLAN

Local residents and businesses are being invited to take part in a public consultation event to comment on a new masterplan for Ilfracombe seafront. The consultation includes a face-to-face event at the Landmark Theatre on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 January and an online survey an online survey – www.northdevon.gov.uk/Ilfracombe-consultation – which runs until 9 March.

As part of Ilfracombe’s Strategic Plan 2015-2025, North Devon Council and the Ilfracombe Regeneration Board have been working together to oversee the process of a new public realm masterplan for Ilfracombe seafront. Consultants Node were appointed to create a masterplan that will enhance the seafront’s natural beauty, draw tourists and local residents to the seafront area of the town and help regenerate the area.

A stakeholder consultation took place last year, during which members from a wide range of Ilfracombe’s community groups were asked to help shape the masterplan in a way that represented the views of Ilfracombe. Now the public are being invited to examine the ideas and share their own in a six week online consultation, which began on Monday 27 January or by attending a face to face event at the Landmark Theatre on Thursday and Friday (30-31 January).

Some of the ideas that are the subject of the Ilfracombe seafront masterplan consultation are:

  • improve accessibility and connections to the High Street and the harbour
  • more seating, shelter, lighting, interpretation and dog bins are needed throughout the seafront area
  • public spaces need a clear function and purpose in order to make the seafront a better experience
  • the wilderness and natural aspects of Capstone Hill should be protected
  • more activities for all ages including young and elderly should be provided
  • play park precedents from Paignton and Minehead should be looked at
  • the museum should be extended or possibly relocated to the old pavilion site
  • a fitness and/or art trail could be incorporated that also includes sculpture and work by local artists
  • an outdoor amphitheatre / stage should be incorporated with three possible locations: Jubilee Gardens / Capstone Hill top / Old Pavilion site

North Devon Council’s Lead Member for Economic Development and Strategic Planning Policy, Councillor Malcolm Prowse, says:  “We have lots of exciting ideas for how we would like Ilfracombe’s seafront to be regenerated in order to improve the health and well-being of all those who live and work in the town – as well enhancing the enjoyment of the tourists who visit it. We now want to hear from our residents about what they’d like to see happening on the seafront, to make sure we have captured the views of those who matter most. I hope the people of Ilfracombe will help us by sharing their views, either by coming to our face to face event in Ilfracombe or taking part in the online consultation.”

Officers from the council’s regeneration team will be available to chat through their ideas at the Landmark Theatre between 10am and 2pm on 30-31 January. Residents who are unable to attend the event can take part by completing an online survey at www.northdevon.gov.uk/Ilfracombe-consultation between 27 January and 9 March.

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.

ILFRACOMBE LOCALS RAISE CASH TO LAUNCH HARBOUR’S MARINE ROBOT

Two Ilfracombe residents have raised £300 in a show of community spirit to ensure the town harbour’s marine robot can continue its clean-up.

Carol Chapple and Rose Fisher, who live close to Ilfracombe Harbour, organised a raffle to raise money to fund the WasteShark launch project when it became apparent that Ilfracombe’s high tidal range was preventing the robot from being used on a regular basis.

The autonomous marine robot was first launched in Ilfracombe in March this year to help clear the harbour of waste. The WasteShark is designed to roam distances of up to 5km of water, capturing plastics, microplastics, oils and other pollutants.

Ilfracombe was the first place in the UK to host the WasteShark, which is the world’s first marine robot designed specifically to eat waste and collect data. It does not emit carbon or produce noise or light pollution, so is kind to nature and poses no threat to wildlife.

Ilfracombe is located on the Bristol Channel, which has the second highest tidal range in the world (the first being in the Bay of Fundy in Canada). This has meant that the launch system devised by the manufacturers of the WasteShark does not always work in Ilfracombe Harbour. Together with local firm Coastal Engineering Services, Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat and Deputy Harbourmaster Ric Simpson designed an alternative launch system, consisting of a crane and bespoke shark cage to name but a few parts.

Ilfracombe Harbourmaster, Georgina Carlo-Paat says: “I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Lantern Court community and local residents for organising and taking part in a raffle in support of the WasteShark. Raising this money to go towards the launch system will enable the ‘shark’ to go out and about more often and keep our beautiful harbour clear of debris. Thanks to the community’s efforts we are now well on the way to having the WasteShark on a regular patrol around the harbour.”

You can keep up to date with what’s happening at Ilfracombe Harbour on North Devon Council’s website www.northdevon.gov.uk/business/ilfracombe-harbour.

PHOTO: Ilfracombe Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat (centre) with Carol Chapple (left) and Rose Fisher (right).

HERITAGE TRAIL OF NORTH DEVON TO LAUNCH ON D-DAY ANNIVERSARY

75 years on from the D-Day landings a new trail launched this week will commemorate 12 of the most important military and cultural sites of the Second World War in North Devon. The World War II Heritage Trail will be unique in including sites of both strategic magnitude and human significance, and will highlight locations from Great Torrington in the south to Watermouth Cove in the north of the area.

Developed by North Devon’s museums and the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the trail unveiling follows the announcement that one of its sites, the D-Day practice structures at Braunton Burrows, is to be given heritage protection by the Department for Media, Culture and Sport, on the advice of Historic England.

Each location on the North Devon-wide, 12-point trail will be marked with a bronze plaque. An accompanying booklet will feature an area map and grid references, helping local people and visitors to find their way around the key sites while revealing the military and human stories behind them.

Claire Gulliver, project coordinator, said: “The North Devon coast closely resembled that of Normandy. We hope that this trail will bring to life the military strategy that was being developed on North Devon’s beaches, estuaries and sand dunes, in practising for the biggest amphibious assault in military history. But we also hope to evoke the human stories of the British and Allied soldiers who lived and trained here, together with those of the local communities they mixed with.

“Some of the trail sites are well known for the role they played in the D-Day preparations, such as the concrete structures at Braunton Burrows where soldiers practised debarking from their landing craft, or the dunes of Northam Burrows where British personnel experimented with adapted tanks known as ‘Hobart’s Funnies’. Other locations are more surprising, such as Torrington Square where off-duty American GIs used to gather before a night out on the town, or the American Red Cross Centre in Woolacombe, now the Red Barn Pub and popular with surfers today.”

A special booklet, Devon D-Day: A World War II Heritage Trail of the North Devon Coast will be available from museums from the D-Day anniversary, 6 June.

The trail is part of Devon D-Day. Devon D-Day is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, with additional financial support from North Devon Council, North Devon Coast AONB and North Devon Marketing Bureau.

PHOTO: GI soldiers at the American Red Cross Centre, Woolacombe (now the Red Barn pub), 1943 (courtesy of Mortehoe Museum).

 

SEABIRDS FLOCK BACK TO LUNDY ISLAND

A new study led by the RSPB has revealed that total seabird numbers on the island of Lundy have now tripled to over 21,000 birds, and key species such as Manx shearwater have increased to more than 5,500 pairs and puffins to 375 birds.

This growth over the past 15 years resulted after the island was declared rat free in 2006.  The eradication of rats was necessary after evidence from other important seabird islands revealed that the biggest threat to burrow-nesting birds such as Manx shearwaters and puffins on Lundy was predation of the eggs and chicks by rats.

In 2002 a partnership of Natural England, the Landmark Trust, the National Trust and the RSPB was formed to eradicate the rats on Lundy, which are not native to Britain but were imported unwittingly on ships visiting the island or from shipwrecks.

Rosie Hall, Director of Science & Nature at the National Trust, said, “We were really concerned as previous records showed that puffin numbers on Lundy had plummeted from over 3,500 pairs in 1939 to fewer than 10 pairs in 2000.  And although around 75% of the global population of Manx shearwaters breed on UK islands there were only 297 pairs on Lundy in 2001 – way short of its potential considering its size and available habitat.”

Helen Booker, Senior Conservation Officer for the RSPB in South West England, said: “This study clearly shows how quickly and positively seabirds respond to the removal of non-native predators. Of course, we had anticipated major population increases when the project was launched, but the scale of this recovery has far exceeded our expectations.

Dean Jones, Lundy Warden, speaking for Landmark Trust, said, “It is exciting to see this level of recovery in Manx shearwaters, one of our most important seabirds. In spring the island comes alive at night with the sound of these amazing birds. The increases in puffins, guillemots and razorbills is also very encouraging for the future of seabirds on Lundy and we are maintaining our vigilance to ensure rats cannot return to the island.”

Tim Frayling, Senior Specialist in Ornithology at Natural England, said, “Lundy Island is home to one of the most important seabird colonies in England and it is fantastic to see such a revival in numbers.

“The current challenges facing wildlife are huge, but this remarkable increase demonstrates that wildlife recovery can be achieved by partnerships and local communities working together, in this case by
combining their expertise to create a safer breeding environment for the fantastic diversity of breeding seabirds that help make Lundy so special.”

Ms Booker added, “The partners are grateful for all the support we’ve had over the years from a huge team of volunteers without which both the work to eradicate the rats and our knowledge of the seabirds’ recovery simply would not have been possible.”

PHOTO by Elisabeth Price

RNLI ILFRACOMBE RECEIVES GRANT FROM NORTH DEVON COAST AONB

Ilfracombe Lifeboat station has an area reaching from Woolacombe in the west to Foreland Point in the east with call-outs to Lundy Island where necessary. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it attracts many visitors throughout the year.

The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service.  The station has initiated a project over the last 12 months to support the lifeboat station to purchase additional life-saving equipment.

Jenny Carey-Wood, AONB Manager, says: “Despite the beauty of the seas and coast of North Devon they can be a challenging environment to explore and enjoy. The improved  capability from this valuable new equipment will help to save lives and we are delighted to support the RNLI’s work.”

Chris Wallis, RNLI Operations Manager for Ilfracombe, says: “The grant of £3,500 from the North Devon Coast AONB Sustainable Development Fund will be of huge benefit to the work of the RNLI Ilfracombe Lifeboat station to help us save lives at sea and will be used to purchase valuable life-saving equipment.”

PHOTO: Jenny Carey-Wood, Manager at the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), presented Chris Wallis from Ilfracombe RNLI with a cheque for £3,500 from their Sustainable Development Fund earlier this month. The presentation took place at the Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station and was attended by volunteer crew members.