Category Archives: Events

Somerset Woodland Association New Date for Willett Walk

DATE: Friday 8 March 2013
LOCATION: Willett Hill
TIME: 9am-1pm

This is the new date for the event which Somerset Woodland Association had to postpone due to the snow a few weeks ago. If you wanted to go but could not make the date in January, hopefully you will be able to make the revised date.

This will be an interesting and informative walk; talk to experts in the field about current and topical aspects of Ash Dieback. The walk will focus on how to identify diseases such as Chalara fraxinea and Phytophthora ramorum, discussing the impact on native woodlands, an owners responsibility and management issues.

The event, which is open to all,  is free for members and £10 for non-members. Lunch costs £3 per person if requested.

Please book in advance by emailing; directions will be sent on confirmation.

Sports Celebrity Dinner raises over £1500 for new Minehead Cricket Pavilion

Rugby World Cup winner Mark Regan, MBE, and Somerset Cricketer Arul Suppiah were the special guests at the recent Sports Celebrity Fundraising Dinner which was held at The Culbone  in association with Minehead Cricket Club. The sporting stars helped to raise over £1500 which will go towards the building of Minehead Cricket Club’s new pavilion, due for completion this summer.

It was a full house at the restaurant where Head Chef Jack Scarterfield and his team produced a delicious 3-course meal including Ruby Red Devon Beef Steak and Pork Belly with celeriac mash and purple sprouting broccoli. The Culbone has recently won awards for its great menus and has been praised for its commitment to local produce and suppliers, as well as its warm and friendly service.

Managing Director, and keen cricket fan, Mark Sanders was delighted with how the evening went. “After all the snow we were dreading having to cancel the evening, but the roads opened just in time and everyone made it up here for one of the best nights we’ve ever had. It was really successful and we would love this to become an annual event.”

This function was the first of Arul Suppiah’s benefit year and he opened the after dinner entertainment with a varied and wide-ranging question and answer session. Locally, Arul Suppiah will also be playing in a summer benefit match along with Marcus Trescothick on Friday 9 August at Minehead Cricket Club – with a pre-match buffet to be served in the new pavilion. Rugby international Mark Regan, MBE, gave a hilarious speech on his famous rugby career covering his time as a member of the side that won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, and as a British Lion.

The main sponsors of the evening were Jewson Builders Merchants of Minehead who are also the suppliers of the building materials for the new cricket pavilion. Extra funds were raised by a raffle and auction from which proceeds were shared between the Benefit Fund, Arul’s chosen charities Children’s Hospice South West & the PCA Benevolent Fund, and Minehead Cricket Club’s new pavilion fund.

Simonsbath Festival 2013 – even bigger and better

The programme for Simonsbath Festival 2013 is confirmed, the website is live and tickets at affordable prices are already on sale – and some events are free.

The festival will take place from 4 May to 22 June in the beautiful heart of Exmoor with May Day and Midsummer’s Day celebrations of traditional music and songs from Exmoor, and a variety of events in between, including world music concerts to celebrate music from other cultures.

Events at the newly-restored church of St Luke’s include a performance by the internationally acclaimed concert pianist Helen Yorke, an evening of opera from students of the Italian academy founded by Sir Georg Solti, an all-female trumpet quartet and African, Indian and Spanish Flamenco concerts.

Exmoor resident Sir Andrew Burns will reflect on his 45-year career in the Diplomatic Service and his current role as UK Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues. There will be a presentation about farming life in the area from the 1920s to 1970s with archive film and traditional music and song. Celebrated musician Geoff Nichols will present an evening of words and music featuring poems by Thomas Hardy, while photographer and film maker Chris Chapman will give a talk and preview of his new film Hope Bourne – a celebration of Exmoor.

The Exmoor Forest Inn will host an art exhibition throughout the festival as well as a jazz concert and a poetry afternoon, and Simonsbath’s historic Sawmill will host a fascinating series of talks and walks uncovering the local history. And there are lots more events, including recreational activities for all the family, so there is something to suit everyone’s taste.

Full details of the programme and how to buy tickets are available on the website. You can also find the festival on Facebook and follow events on Twitter. For more information or if you would like to receive a printed programme when it is published, please contact Victoria Thomas on 01643 831343 or email

With support from Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership/Heart of Exmoor and ARTlife in partnership with West Somerset Council.

Simonsbath Festival Website now live!

The website for Simonsbath Festival 2013 is now LIVE!

The organisers are happy to announce a line-up of top performers and speakers, with more events and more variety. Simonsbath Festival 2013 brings you an exciting variety of music, fascinating talks, bracing outdoor activities and fabulous food. Please visit the website and let them know what you think:

You can follow them on Twitter and find their page on Facebook.

Exhibition: Royal Celebrations past and present

Coronation celebrations, West Exe, 1911.
Coronation celebrations, West Exe, 1911.

Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life has opened its new temporary exhibition ‘Royal Celebrations past and present’ at the museum on Thursday 6 December.

The exhibition is filled with photographs of local celebrations for Coronations and Jubilees, from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 to the 2012 Jubilee. Earlier this year the museum asked local communities to take photos of their Jubilee celebrations and send in copies. We were delighted to get such a positive response, and have photos from Bickleigh, Black Dog, Coleford, Thorverton and Morchard Bishop on display.

The exhibition will run from 6-22 December.

Entry to this exhibition will cost £1 for adults and accompanying children are free.

About Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life

The museum is open February to Christmas and provides extensive permanent displays on the history of Mid Devon, as well as running a lively temporary exhibition programme consisting of displays put on by the museum as well as those featuring local artists and groups. The museum’s Education Department is used by schools from all over Devon and beyond. The museum is family friendly and runs holiday activities.

Opening Hours:

February to Christmas

Monday to Friday 10:30-4:30

Saturdays 10:00-1:00

Open Bank Holidays.

Tel: 01884 256295

Pony drift reminiscences

Amanda Barton or shares her personal take on the Exmoor Pony drift 2011 as we arrive at drift weekend 2012.

This is the calm before the storm. As I stand on a quiet hillside in the heart of Exmoor, watching the cobwebs glistening in the early morning dew, its impossible to imagine how different things will be at the end of the day. Then, it begins – a soft hum in the distance that builds slowly, until over the top of the hill comes a stream of 4×4’s and horseboxes, rudely awakening the sleepy moorland.

The Pony round up starts here. Its a major event in the Exmoor Calendar and one that I’m privileged to share in this year. The sudden scurry of activity is like watching an ants nest that’s been poked with a stick and it soon becomes obvious that there are many sightseers present too. Rex Milton dons his red boiler suit which will make keeping track of him easier than I had expected. The horses are unloaded and the ladies head off over Withypool Common like a small group of cowboys. Strangely enough, the lads have decided not to flaunt there equestrian skills and settled for scramblers. Rex has commandeered the only quad bike, but then it does match the colour of his boiler suit. As they head off the crowds begin to dissipate, some heading for the customary river crossing and others to the finishing points, or the roads along the way – keen to watch the action.

Today, the ponies are in an even less co-operative mood than usual. Just as they get them all together, a small group breaks away and heads back the way they came, forcing the ladies to start all over again. The lads don’t appear to be getting off lightly though. The ponies have decided to invent a brand new river crossing with a scrambler in hot pursuit, but the water is far too deep and the bike is swept out from under its rider. The poor boy disappears beneath the surface before rising up like the loch ness monster – in a colourful frame of mind. His clothes maybe dampened, but not his spirit as he rescues his bike and returns to the fray.

As I head off to the temporary holding pens, I find myself praying that the second leg of their journey will be a little less eventful.

Eventually, the ponies can be seen heading up the road, but no sooner do they see the start of the natural funnel like hedge formation, then they break away again, resulting in some truly remarkable horsemanship. Then they begin thundering down towards me with the sound building quickly and dramatically. As they swoop past my vantage point I can feel the ground shaking beneath me. If I hadn’t been perched on the back of the truck, I think my heart would have been pounding too.

Now comes the arduous task of identifying the ponies and which mares have foals in tow. A crush has been set up into which the ponies can be moved one or two at a time. One surprise is the identification of a mare that hasn’t been seen for a couple of years – I wonder where she’s been hiding. The double bonus being that she has a foal with her. Robin Milton is in charge of spraying the foals with a temporary mark, although Rex thinks his numbers need a little downsizing. It’s no easy task to separate the mares from the foals and takes some nifty footwork. The foals are moved up into a waiting trailer and the mares are released through the side gate.

The mares seem more puzzled then distressed by the separation, reassuring one another with nuzzles and grunts. The foals are less impressed and take to stamping in their trailer and it’s this that moves the mothers to investigate the trailer which they had previously ignored. I leave my vantage point and position myself closer to the action. The foolhardiness of this manoeuvre is quickly evident when one of the ponies exits the wrong way and I find myself positioned between them and freedom. I slowly move round to keep the camera between myself and the mare, hardly daring to draw breath as she passes within touching distance and away.

With 6 foals safely installed in the trailer and the rest of the ponies free to go, its time for me to head home, leaving the moor to return to its peaceful if somewhat depleted state of beauty.

(This is my story based on my experience on 15/10/11 by Amanda Barton –

Carhampton Apple Day

Carhampton’s 21st Apple Day will be celebrated on Saturday 20 October, 2012, at the Community Orchard, on Main Road, and round the corner at the Village Hall, in the High Street. Many varieties of apple will be on sale, together with apple juice, cakes, chutney and other apple-related products. There will be a raffle, apple-peeling and other competitions. Open times at the Village Hall are likely to be 10:30am until 3:30pm, and from 11am till 3pm at the Community Orchard.


Captain of the West returns to Baggy Point

On Sunday 28 October, Mark Harandon, otherwise known as ‘The Captain of the West’ is returning to North Devon to take visitors on an adventure walk around National Trust’s Baggy Point.

Mark, who is currently appearing at the Minnack Theatre in Cornwall, is a well known story teller who travels the South West and beyond with his work and has performed at numerous National Trust properties. He is always a resounding success on the Trust’s Smugglers and Wreckers adventure walk which takes place on Morte Point during August.

Visitor Services Manager Hannah Jefferson comments: ‘We always get the most amazing feedback from our smugglers and wreckers walk, with people coming back each year to enjoy it again and again, so we’re really pleased to be able to bring a new adventure walk to Baggy Point for October half term. Mark is a captivating story teller, who gets people of all ages wrapped up in the atmosphere and excitement of a place.’

National Trust Ranger Jonathan Fairhurst comments; ‘We’ve been working with Mark to help develop the adventure walk and it’s been fantastic to see how he has really taken in the coastal and farmland setting with its local stories and weaved them into a great family adventure. Even if you think you know Baggy Point really well, Mark’s story telling makes you really consider it in a different light – it’s going to be great fun seeing families enjoy this unique experience.’

British Kitesports championships final

Photo by Roy Riley

The final showdown of the British Kitesurfing Association’s (BKSA) national tour will play out on Westward Ho! beach this October when the UK’s best kite surfers compete to win the British title at the British Kitesports championships.

The RWE npower renewables Kitetastic Finals Week will take place from Sunday 14 to Saturday 20 October at Westward Ho!, near Bideford. Over 100 competitors will attend the week-long event which features a number of disciplines all propelled by powerful kites. The event will finish with the BKSA British Champions being crowned at a special prize giving evening on Saturday 20th.

Event organiser and BKSA Chairman Richard Gowers is excited about the tour’s culmination. Richard said: “This is the first time we have held a major kiting event at Westwood Ho! and I can’t think of a better place for us to bring the tour to a close. The beach has plenty of open space and works in most wind directions. Although the first few events of the year suffered from light winds, we have had a fantastic season that has taken us across all areas of the UK. The talent and ability of the competitors taking part today is phenomenal and the race for British Champion is still very open.”

The competition will feature top female and male kitesurfers who will compete in the water in freestyle, race and wave events, whilst on the beach competitors will take part in freestyle kite landboard and kite buggy competitions.

This is the final event on the BKSA tour, which has held legs in seven venues across the UK, including Watergate Bay in north Cornwall, Clacton on Sea in Essex, Redcar on

Teesside and Troon in Scotland. Peter Sawyer from Kitemare, a Barnstaple kitesurfing shop and sponsor of the event, said: “Westward Ho! is a great place for kite sports. A few years ago there were only a handful of locals out there and now on a good day you might see 50 to 100 people and its a very friendly atmosphere. I have been travelling up and down the country competing for years, so it is nice to finally have a competition at my home beach. There are a few local sponsored riders that haven’t competed on a BKSA tour event before and so it’s going to be a kind of grand unveiling for them. Jon Bleaker and Dan Sweeney are definitely ones to watch in the pro men freestyle. They both trained abroad last winter and are equally hungry for success.”

Sponsored by RWE npower renewables, local kitesurfing shop Kitemare and Torridge District Council, the Kitetastic Finals Week starts on Sunday 14 October with the Wavemaster all fleets event.

Westward Ho! is one of the few beaches in Devon that welcomes kitesurfers, buggies and landboards. With its wide sandy beach, is regarded by kiting enthusiasts as one of the best venues in the UK with up to 60 people kite surfing and kite buggying at peak times.

Also called kiteboarding or flysurfing, kitesurfing is an extremely young sport with a very recent history. Kitesurfing involves standing on a surfboard in the water while holding and steering a multi-line kite in the air, which propels the surfer across the water. Although the sport originated from the advent of windsurfing and the kite itself, kitesurfing didn’t truly emerge until the late 1990s and wasn’t popular until the beginning of the 21st Century.

Fancy having a go yourself? With the support of Torridge District Council and Sport England, the organisers are putting on a week of FREE coaching session for beginners to try out the sport. To book your free place email

Success for Exmoor Pony Festival

Hundreds enjoyed the first ever Exmoor Pony Festival held at Exmoor National Park recently. The festival has been established by local breeders and volunteers supported by Heritage Lottery Funding from the Heart of Exmoor scheme.

Jason Ball, Heart of Exmoor scheme manager, said: “With safaris, country rides and world class horse agility, everyone had a great time, enchanted by Exmoor Ponies in the moorland landscape. People took beautiful photographs and they also took home a deeper appreciation of Exmoor Ponies.”

“Events showed the Exmoor Pony to be very intelligent, a popular breed for riding and responsive to trust-based horsemanship. On the moorland safaris, local farmers explained that these ponies are perfectly suited to life roaming free on the moors and how it is essential to conserve these original herds.”

Over 100 visitors spent an afternoon with a herd of Exmoor Ponies owned by Victoria and Chris Eveleigh (author and illustrator of the Katy’s Ponies Trilogy) at their traditional moorland farm near Lynton. The family fun day included meeting mares and foals, pony stories, games, farm tours and a presentation by Exmoor Pony expert Dr Sue Baker (who appeared on BBC Autumnwatch last year).

Over 60 came to watch ‘Bear’ a horse agility world champion Exmoor Pony stallion who gave a captivating demonstration of his skills with owner Dawn Westcott, at Holt Ball Farm near Minehead. Far from being a circus act, the workshop was all about understanding equine instincts and working with them to develop a cooperative partnership with a pony. Gold medal winning Bear – whose full name is ‘Hawkwell Versuvius’ – was a big hit with the crowd.

Dawn said, “The positive energy from such an interested and enthusiastic crowd was really picked up on by Bear, who was genuinely interested in them and went along the front row, stretching out to greet people, one by one, until he reached the end.”

“He’s becoming a true partner to work with in situations like this and understands that he’s got an important job to do in showing people how we train for Horse Agility.”

There were three Exmoor Pony Photo Safaris with Experience Exmoor, run by Neil and Christel Osmond. Passengers toured the dramatic moors and coast, photographed ponies at close quarters, and learned about the ponies from Sarah Eveleigh, Gill Langdon and Exmoor National Park ranger Richard Eales.

A pleasure ride with the Exmoor Pony Society rounded off the festival – a convoy of riders traversed Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor, with views to the sea. Sue McGeever commented, “The Exmoor Pony Society was delighted to be involved in organising and promoting the festival and look forward to next year’s event. EPS members from around the country expressed a great deal of interest in coming to Exmoor with their ponies for next year’s ride although my thoughts turn now to autumn gatherings and inspections.”

Mr Ball said, “We are very grateful the Heritage Lottery Fund and to all who made this festival come to life, particularly the farmers and volunteers. The Exmoor Pony Festival gave people a chance to see the beautiful ponies in their native landscape and meet some of the people who look after the moorland herds.”

Find photos online and watch for details of the 2013 Exmoor Pony Festival on Facebook or at – the festival blog.