Category Archives: Events

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.

Queen’s Theatre Silver Jubilee

The Queen’s Theatre in Barstaple is celebrating its Silver Jubilee later this month. On Friday 14 September they are holding a grand open day followed by an amazing variety show in the evening showcasing the very best of local talent alongside the smash hit comedy ensemble, Slightly Fat Features. There will also be a free exhibition at the Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon (8 September to 13 October) entitled “60 Years of Entertaining North Devon”.

Visit their website to find out more.

Brand new studio/gallery opening in Porlock

Ignis Studio, showcasing contemporary art and craftwork by local practitioners, will be celebrating its opening at Doverhay Forge this Saturday evening with a special evening of drinks, music and of course, a preview of the gallery’s intriguing and diverse collection.

Artists and hosts Dan and Sally Bryant will be utilising the working forge and studio space to produce a range of works including drawings, gifts, digital media, printmaking, textiles and large scale metal sculpture.

Ignis Studio offers the public the opportunity to see artists at work and will be hosting a series of creative events starting with “Illuminate”, an innovative workshop to celebrate the national “The Big Draw” event.

Ignis Studio’s Grand Opening will be held on Saturday 1 September 6-9pm and all are welcome. The studio will then be open from Monday 3 September.

Opening hours will be: Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 10am-5pm and Sundays 11am-4pm.

For more information see the website or e-mail

International artist brings permanent exhibition to South Molton

Following on from his very successful ‘An Artist on Exmoor’ exhibition at Christmas, internationally renowned artist Ken Hildrew’s work can be permanently viewed at the Exmoor Gallery, Photoscene, The Square, South Molton from Saturday 14 July, when it officially opens.

Ken is a major artist who has won accolades and prizes in Europe, America and Japan, but who has lived quietly in North Molton for more than 20 years. On opening day, he will be at the gallery from 10.00 to 2.00, to meet the public and talk about how his collection was inspired. There will be a free glass of wine and nibbles for all comers, and complementary postcards of some of Ken’s finest works, with donations going to the Devon Air Ambulance.

Exmoor in its many guises, Ken’s primary inspiration, will be the subject of his opening exhibition. The initial collection will include atmospheric pictures of Exmoor in all its glory, as well as local wildlife such as The Emperor stag, owls and falcons.

However he already has plans to feature other art collections in the future, with the titles like All About Owls scheduled for October, and The River Thames for New Year 2013.

Ken said: “After the Artist on Exmoor Exhibition was so well received last year, I decided to take up Photoscene’s offer of a permanent Exmoor Gallery. South Molton seems to be doing well, despite the tough financial climate, and that fact that it is fast becoming a destination shopping town, make me sure that this is the right move for me.”

He continued: “I love the local area and find that Exmoor gives me a ceaseless canvass of rugged beauty, which I believe keeps my art fresh and timeless”.

With original works, signed limited edition prints and Art Cards Devon Air Ambulance Appeal, the exhibition will have something for every pocket.

For further enquiries about the Exhibition, please ring Photoscene on 01769 57982.

Woodland Playscheme events coming up

The Woodland Playscheme is running a Diamond Jubilee Hatter’s Tea party on Friday 8 June 1-5pm.  There will be games and activities for everyone to get involved in or you can merely enjoy the woodland and atmosphere. Of course there will also be ample tea and cake!

Organiser Louise Kennedy is still on the lookout for items which they can borrow to dress the woods for the Hatter’s Tea Party so if anyone has large tea pots, bunting, trestle tables, table cloths, mirrors stored away they would love to hear from you! Don’t forget it is fancy dress attire for all too!  Bring your own cup and saucer and your own cream bun!

It’s a tea party theme so you will need a chair,
Come dressed as the Hatter or the Queen to be there!
And don’t forget, be you a rabbit or hare,
Bring a picnic party plate of food to share!
Tea, coffee, squash and cakes will be provided
Wear sensible outdoor clothing, especially wellies if it’s been raining!

This event is being held in a secret squirrel location, so please contact Louise to book.

The cost is £5 per child and £3 per adult

Hunting of the Earl of Rone

If you’re looking for alternative ways to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, the Hunting of the Earl of Rone (1-4 June) in Combe Martin is a spectacle not to be missed. Once banned for ‘licentiousness and drunken behaviour’, village maidens, hobby horse, fool and band hunt the earl all weekend. When they finally find him, they march him the length of the high street (stretching two miles, it’s reputedly the longest in the country), regularly shooting and reviving him until he is cast into the sea! Heading into Exmoor’s heartland, the Dulverton Folk Festival (1-5 June) has a host of impressive free acts to entertain in an extended Jubilee Special – you can book a pitch at a local campsite or enjoy the hospitality of hotels, B&Bs and pubs in this most charming Exmoor town.

Cutcombe Parish Prepares for the Beacon Lighting

Planning for the lighting of Dunkery Beacon is now well underway as Cutcombe Parish prepares to welcome visitors to watch the lighting of its beacon on Monday 4 June. Having learned from previous events in this area, traffic will be carefully managed and arrangements made to facilitate parking as close to the beacon area as is possible.  Roger Webber, Chairman of Cutcombe Parish Council, said that part of the uncertainty will be the numbers of people with cars wishing to attend and the weather could greatly affect the turnout.

The plan recommends that all cars approach the area from Wheddon Cross on the B3224 towards Exford before turning off at Blagdon Cross towards Dunkery and the road will be restricted at Dunkery Gate with parking provided in a field just before the gate. The small parking area inside the Gate will be for emergency vehicles only.  The footpath route to the Beacon area is about a kilometre following a zig-zag path unsuitable for those physically limited.  It will take about 30 minutes to ascend to the Beacon Area on foot.

The stretch of road between Dunkery Gate and Webbers Post will have restricted parking on the right hand side. All its lay byes and car parks will be cordoned off and only available for the bus service for disabled users which will be available from 7.30 to 11pm on 4 June, operated by ATWEST. This bus service will run from the Exmoor Farmers parking area about 400 metres from Wheddon Cross crossroads, where there will also be free parking available.  Less able people will be able to take a picnic to the largest car park on the road from where they will have a clear view of the Beacon.  Mark Courtiour, the Countryside Operations Manager for the National Trust which owns the land surrounding the beacon, said that they must preserve the area close to the beacon site and therefore the fire will be sited just to one side.  Also vehicle access from the road along the horizontal path has to be restricted to emergency vehicles only.

Edwin Beckett, who is the appointed Beacon Registrar for Dunkery Beacon, said that over 4,000 beacons will be lit between 10pm and 10.30pm on 4 June. Dunkery Beacon is part of the ancient Anchor Chain of Beacons which will all be lit at 10pm.  The view from Dunkery Beacon enables people to see many of the beacons in the South West, and also in Wales, used to alert England throughout the ages.

Mr Beckett said:  “We hope that people from near and far will join this celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We request that visitors to the area  bring a torch and take all their belongings and any rubbish home.  We are delighted with the help being provided by the National Trust, our Parish Council and volunteers from the area, Exmoor Farmers for the use of their car park and Mr and Mrs Harold Stevens for also allowing cars to be parked at the owners risk in their field by Dunkery Gate. But special thanks to ATWEST, which will only levy a reduced  charge for passengers of £2, which enables us to offer access to the less-abled and their carers. The help provided  by PC Bruce Strachan has also been invaluable.”

Rest & Be to repeat Shear Exmoor event

Following the success of last years’ Shear Exmoor the Rest & Be Thankful Inn at Wheddon Cross have organised it again. Shear Exmoor is a charity sheep-shearing competition to be staged in the Bottom Shed at Goosemoor Farm on Sunday 10 June 2012, Registration before 12noon, 1st class to start approximately 1pm. There are 5 different classes including Open, Intermediate, Veterans, Young Farmers Junior and Senior, plus a fun Team Shear event. There will be additional demonstrations of shearing equipment and local produce and uses of Wool, Bar and BBQ, and CLOWNS will be on hand to do keep the children entertained to create a fun day out for the whole family.

The aim of Shear Exmoor is to raise funds for a local charity CLOWNS, who provide learning and entertainment opportunities all over Exmoor for young children and our local Young Farmers Club. We hope that if the event is successful, it will become the country’s premier shearing competition and perhaps become as famous as the Golden Shears, staged in New Zealand. Shear Exmoor’s aim is to be informative with a fun dimension – Shearing is a very important and skilful job and Exmoor has an abundance of talented shearers, we the organisers wanted to show locals and visitors alike an example of what Exmoor has to offer from the high speed shearing of the Open class to the precision of the Blade shearing – even some well known local farmers are dusting off their equipment for the Veteran class.

We are looking for Entrants for Shear Exmoor the shearing competition – so if you have experience in shearing, whether you are a novice or think yourself a ‘Pro’ please contact either James Webber 07967 358017, Caroline Norman @ the Rest and Be Thankful 01643 841222 or Dave Takle for an entry form.

Plans for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower in Minehead

People around the nation are gearing up to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in a variety of ways. There are plans for street parties, firework displays, the lighting of beacons and much, much more.

One group in Minehead have come together to raise funds to construct an 8.5m high clock tower, with three clock faces, a tidal times face and radial seating on Minehead’s seafront, opposite the West Somerset Railway Station.

The clock and tower have been designed by Conservation Architect and Marine Historian Peter Ferguson. He has based the design on that of a ‘Screwpile Lighthouse’ which serves to reflect the maritime location. The unique and practical structure will incorporate low-maintenance materials which should easily deter damage by bad weather or vandalism. All necessary legal permissions have been granted and the local council have pledged to be responsible for all future maintenance.

Funding is being generated by the generosity of advertisers, private donors, grants and local fund raising activities. The local community has been active in generating funds; there have been garden parties, walks, a jazz concert, a Celtic evening, and the Minehead Middle school took part in a competition to design posters. The local Rainbows, Brownies and Guides raised money for the project during the recent late night shopping event. In February the Minehead Male voice choir held a very successful concert, in the Methodist Church, to raise more funds and also the exposure profile of the project.

To encourage local people to contribute, anyone donating £30 or more can elect to have a chosen name on the base of the tower. Full information is available on the website:

Another initiative that the group has undertaken is the construction of an information hoarding on the site of the proposed siting of the tower. There are six sides, all useable for display. Four are currently in use, two for information about the project, one to display the winning poster from the competition and the fourth for advertising kindly sponsored by local businesses who are keen to show their support.

The advertisements will be on permanent display for at least six months. Details of how to become involved can be found on the website.