Category Archives: Exmoor National Park news

EXMOOR RURAL HOUSING NETWORK LAUNCHED

A new Exmoor Rural Housing Network, launched by Exmoor National Park, has commissioned Devon Communities Together to work across the National Park to bring people together – local people who are looking for a home in the right place that they can afford and those who have some land or a redundant building or holiday let that could be used in this way.

It can be very difficult for people living on Exmoor to find homes that are affordable and close to work and family.  House prices are high and average wages low. Unless local people are able to live and work on Exmoor, village community life will suffer and enabling the provision of more affordable housing in Exmoor has been a long-term priority for the National Park.

As well as making local-needs housing a primary aim of Exmoor’s planning policies, in 2002 the National Park brought together housing authorities (the district councils), housing associations and other agencies to form the Rural Housing Project with the main objective of helping to bring forward new schemes.  The Project had a good deal of success and between 2006 and 2012, more than 100 new affordable homes have been provided in the National Park for local people in housing need.

The majority of these new homes benefitted from public funding from the Homes & Communities Agency but, unfortunately, since 2010 government has withdrawn the vast majority of support for rural housing.  These changes, combined with local government cuts and changes in the rules imposed on housing associations, led to partners having to withdraw their funding support leading to the eventual winding up of the Rural Housing Project in 2015.

“At the National Park we share the very real concerns about the need for suitable affordable housing being expressed by groups like Exmoor Young Voices and Exmoor Uprising,” said Dr Nigel Stone, Chief Executive at Exmoor National Park. “Unfortunately, Government has cut funding, made changes to the planning system, and made various impositions on housing associations, that have combined to make it extremely difficult to bring forward new housing proposals in the most rural areas, like Exmoor.”

He continued, “That is why we have taken the initiative of bringing together a number of Exmoor based organisations with an interest in housing to form a new project to help address the need for local housing.  We are looking for an ‘Exmoor solution’ to an Exmoor problem that will explore new ways forward including charitable organisations, potential new Community Land Trusts, and possible ways to help people meet their own housing needs through self-build.”

The Rural Housing Network will be building a register of people who are looking for alternative housing so that there is a better understanding of the locations and type of housing that is needed.  To help with this work it will be recruiting and training ‘Local Housing Contacts’ to act as a link within communities and help signpost households in housing need to the appropriate organisations.

Exmoor Rural Housing Coordinator, Sue Southwell, says, “I will be recruiting and training Local Housing Contacts who will help signpost households in housing need to the appropriate organisations so if you are interested in becoming a Contact or if you are in housing need within the National Park, do get in touch with me for a chat on 01392 248919*121 or email me: sue@devoncommunities.org.uk. All contacts and enquiries will be dealt with in the utmost confidentiality.”

EXMOOR ARCHAEOLOGY FORUM

This year’s Exmoor Archaeology Forum will focus on Exmoor’s historic buildings and will be looking at the rich built heritage through recording, conservation and development projects. The Forum is on Saturday 15 October 10.30am to 4.30pm in Brushford Village Hall (TA22 9AH).

Presentations will include the results of new investigations into the historic settlements of Dunster, Dulverton and Porlock, including projects by Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, the Time Team Dig Village project at Dunster and excavations in advance of development at the Luttrell Arms Hotel.

Rob Wilson-North, conservation manager at Exmoor National Park, says: “In addition to the above, we will be comparing the evidence of our medieval buildings from excavation at Ley Hill and standing building recording at Holnicote.

With items on mills and water power plus climate change and historic signposts, it promises to be a fascinating day, so if you have an interest in historic buildings or would just like to know a bit more about them do book your place and join us.”

Speakers include Claire Fear, Bryn Morris, Richard Parker, Isabel Richardson, Martin Watts and staff from Exmoor National Park.

The Forum costs £16 per person including lunch. Advance booking is essential and spaces are limited; to book online visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk and search for ‘archaeology forum’. Booking forms are also available from National Park Centres in Dunster, Dulverton and Lynmouth or by post by telephoning 01398 323665.

PHOTO: Courtesy ENPA

#SELFTEA ON EXMOOR

This Summer Miles Tea and Coffee is working with the National Park to promote the areas beautiful scenery through an interactive social media campaign.

As ‘Pokémon Go’ takes the nation by storm, Miles and Exmoor National Park are making brighter moments in the warm West Country through social media.

The campaign is to encourage visitors to take a ‘selfie’ on Exmoor with a locally blended Miles cuppa and post it on social media. Simply tag Miles and Exmoor National Park on your post and use the hashtag ‘#SelfTea’! A winner will be selected at the end of the summer and receive a selection of Miles products.

Sue Windley, Marketing Officer at Exmoor National Park, said ‘Miles Tea & Coffee have been great supporters of our donation scheme, CareMoor for Exmoor, so we jumped at the chance for a fun way to help promote the company and CareMoor at the same time. When you talk to anyone at Miles Tea & Coffee, it’s easy to see how the landscape of Exmoor has inspired them; the care and attention they take in producing lovely tasting drinks shines through everything they do. So we want as many people to join in and take a #SelfTea on Exmoor!”

Miles Tea & Coffee blend tea and coffee daily. Their best-known products are West Country Original tea blend, Bright and Breezy coffee and Heavenly Hot Chocolate. It is hoped this campaign will reach over 50,000 people. To find out more about participating visit the Miles or Exmoor National Park websites.

PHOTO: by Channel Training, Minehead.

NATIONAL PARK CHAMPIONS CELEBRATED

CareMoor for Exmoor™ has raised in excess of £60,000 over the last ten years through contributions from visitors and businesses within Exmoor National Park to support important conservation and access work.

CareMoor champions and National Park Partner businesses met at the Lynmouth Pavilion National Park Centre recently to celebrate the partnerships that have been developed between visitors, businesses and the National Park Authority in keeping Exmoor special.

“Partnership working is essential to keeping Exmoor Special given it is a living and working landscape,” commented the National Park’s Sustainable Economy Manager, Dan James.  “We are indebted to all those that help contribute to this special area.  Recently the Authority held a ‘Get Involved’ event celebrating all that are individual volunteers achieve.  This particular event was opportunity to thank those businesses and organisations that are helping us through our CareMoor fundraising scheme and Park Partner scheme.”

CareMoor encourages those that enjoy Exmoor to make small contributions towards the upkeep of the area through the businesses that they use.  Over 50 businesses and organisations across the National Park currently take part with some raising hundreds of pounds a year for CareMoor including accommodation providers, information centres, tour operators and activity providers.  Projects supported have ranged from habitat management to the Porlock Marsh boardwalk installed last year.

The National Park Partner scheme was launched last year to recognise and reward those businesses and organisations that place the National Park at the heart of their operations ensuring they are contributing positively to the area.  Since then almost 20 businesses have joined with each of them, demonstrating their commitments to working together for Exmoor.

Dan James continued, “National Park Partners and CareMoor supporters are great examples of businesses that recognise the value of the National Park and its high quality environment as a key driver for the economy, and therefore invest time and resources into helping look after it.”

Peter Larcombe who runs West Hollowcombe Farm cottages, a self-catering business located in Hawkridge, has been a CareMoor supporter since 2007 and raises several hundred pounds most years. He said, “It is a great scheme: my guests are drawn to the area due to the special nature of Exmoor and in return are happy to make contributions towards its upkeep.  Most individual donations are relatively small but collectively they add up to something very significant.  My hope is that more businesses will join this scheme so that projects which would not otherwise be undertaken are properly financed.”

Philip Kiberd, funding officer, said: “We reviewed the CareMoor scheme last year and as a result have recently introduced new branding , promotional materials and a suite of resources to help ensure the scheme can maximise its potential.  If each visitor to the area donated just £1 we’d be raising over £2m a year towards important conservation and access work.  We are currently targeting donations at Rights of Way improvements, small grants for traditional hedgerows and restoration of the historic landscape at Ashcombe gardens in Simonsbath.

“If anyone is interested in becoming a CareMoor supporter or National Park Partner please do get in touch with me on 01398 322237or email: pkiberd@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.”

EXMOOR RIGHTS OF WAY VOLUNTEERS SHORTLISTED FOR AWARD

The efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers who help look after Exmoor’s rights of way, have been recognised after being shortlisted for the Campaign for National Parks Park Protector Awards 2016.

Park Protector Awards recognise, reward and celebrate exceptional projects or individuals that have made a lasting contribution to the protection, restoration or conservation of the National Parks of England and Wales.  The awards are open to groups or individuals who are delivering projects, campaigns, or activities in one or more of the National Parks in England and Wales and the prize is a £2,000 bursary to develop the project.

The volunteer Path Watcher’s scheme was set up by staff from Exmoor National Park Authority’s Access and Recreation Team and plays a vital role in ensuring Exmoor’s paths are well cared for and that any issues are reported and resolved quickly.  To date the 12 volunteers covering 15 parishes have surveyed over 300km of paths.  The benefits to the community are enormous making paths easily navigable for everyone in the local community and visitors alike, ensuring hazards or dangers are reported swiftly to the authority’s Field Services Team.  Path Watchers report, refresh way-marks and carry out minor repairs to gates and signs.  They also receive ongoing training for their role and recently got to learn more about all-terrain mobility Trampers (pictured) which helped them understand more about issues particular to individuals with limited mobility.

National Park rights of way support officer, Ceri Rapsey, who helps coordinate the volunteer Path Watchers says, “They are so passionate about making Exmoor’s rights of way the best in the UK and are constantly thinking of innovative ways of improving their surveying and maintaining rights of way for the enjoyment of others.  We’re thrilled their enthusiasm and dedication has been recognised.”

Results will be announced soon and the winner will be invited to attend the award ceremony at the House of Commons in October 2016.

Jackie Kiberd, Project Coordinator for Get Involved at Exmoor National Park Authority, said, “Path Watchers has proved an incredibly successful scheme and although we’re not looking for additional Path Watchers just now, there are many other ways in which people can get involved across Exmoor.

“Volunteering is fun, it’s a great way to meet new people and learn new skills.  We advertise a whole range of opportunities on the Get Involved pages of our website for a wide range of organisations across Exmoor.  So whether you’ve got a few hours or a few days to offer, whatever your interest, there’s something there for you.” www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved/latest-volunteering-roles-and-opportunities

WEST SOMERSET COLLEGE FARM UPDATE

Tony James reported on fears for the future of the Farm Unit at the West Somerset College in our summer issue (see page 11) and since then there have been some developments.  As you may have read in the Free Press last Friday, Exmoor National Park Authority has been exploring opportunities with The Bridgwater College Trust  for West Somerset College’s Farm education facility to continue operating.  

As the article explained, discussions have been held with a group of key businesses and local organisations all with an interest in the farm.  There is optimism that a viable future may well be achievable, although it will take time to put the plan in place.  ENPA has offered West Somerset College a grant to enable them to continue operating the farm unit until the end of February whilst work continues.

Dr Nigel Stone, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park, said, “We first became aware of the issue after reading an article about the College Farm on the front of the West Somerset Free Press.  This was followed by approaches seeking National Park support from people concerned at the potential closure of the farm unit.  We approached the College and asked if they would be happy for us to look at ideas to help support the continuation of the Farm.

“The College has been very open minded and we invited a number of businesses and local organisations, West Somerset and Somerset County Councils and potential funders to an initial meeting.  The response was very positive and the group has subsequently met on a number of occasions together with staff at the farm unit to look at options for a future self-sufficient operation of the unit.  There looks to be a good prospect of developing a viable plan and we are pleased to be able to offer the College some funding to keep the facility operational while the future plans are put in place.”

Peter Elliott, CEO of the Bridgwater College Trust commented, “Over the past 12 months we have had a lot of work to do to put the College back on the right path.  We have since achieved a ‘Good’ rating from Oftsed and have made vast improvements to the school’s financial position.  Some difficult decisions have been necessary and this includes doubts regarding the immediate prospects of the College Farm.  However, we are pleased the National Park Authority and other local organisations are looking to support the education facility and look forward to seeing what the future holds.”

PHOTO(repeated from our summer issue): Left to right: Rosie Iles, Martha Little, Mathew Williams, Kerry Marks (agriculture teacher), Sophie Stephens (farm technician) and Harry Nichols with the very successful showing team from 2015. Photo by Steve Quantick.

CAMPAIGN FOR NATIONAL PARKS: 80TH ANNIVERSARY WALKS

On Saturday 30 July campaigning organisation 38 Degrees and the charity Campaign for National Parks are celebrating our nation’s most beautiful landscapes. They’re hosting free organised walks and natural art workshops in every national park in England, Scotland and Wales, including Exmoor of course.

80 years ago a group of people came together to launch a campaign to protect our national parks. These events across the country celebrate this incredible achievement, and the things that can be done when people work together. The theme for the events is ‘inspired by nature’, and brings together experts from the natural world as well as the arts.

On Saturday 30 July, join 38 Degrees and the Campaign for National Parks for one of two very special events…

Join a walk led by a professional guide, who’ll share the very best that Exmoor National Park has to offer – it’s history, it’s wildlife and much, much more!

Or join the ‘art in nature’ walk with a very special workshop, curated by land artist Richard Shilling and hosted by local artists. It will explore the natural environment as we walk and work together to collect abundant natural materials to create a unique piece of artwork. Everyone is welcome, big or small!

Where: Start and finish at Dunster Steep car park.
When: 30 July 2016, 11am.
How to book: 38degrees.org.uk/national-park-walks

Maddy Carroll, 38 Degrees Campaign Director, says, “The UK’s national parks only exist because a group of people came together 80 years ago to protect them. 38 Degrees is the biggest people-powered organisation in the UK, so this year we’re teaming up with the Campaign for National Parks to help people enjoy these places in the height of summer, when they’re at their most beautiful. Come and join us to celebrate the 80th anniversary of this amazing campaign.”

Fiona Howie, Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks, says, “For 80 years the Campaign for National Parks has been working hard to make sure that some of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes are preserved for everyone to enjoy and are protected against threats that would have damaged what makes them so special. We’re delighted to be working with 38 Degrees again so that as many people as possible can get together and celebrate the true diversity and spectacular sights of the National Parks in the UK.”

To find out more visit: 38degrees.org.uk/national-park-walks

MEND OUR MOUNTAINS EXMOOR PLEA

Exmoor National Park Authority wants to raise £10,000 for a spectacular path in Exmoor, but they are a long way off target – and they need everyone’s help… so please share this story.

The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has launched the ‘Mend our Mountains’ crowdfunding campaign, which aims to raise money for urgent path repair projects in some of the most spectacular places in Britain.

Sir Chris Bonington, Doug Scott CBE and presenter Julia Bradbury are supporting it, along with eight National Park Authorities.

A badly eroded section of the path near Long Chains Combe in the Exmoor Forest is part of this project as Mend Exmoor, and in just over three weeks has raised £860. But if pledges continue at this rate, it simply won’t be enough.

Dr Nigel Stone, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, says: “We are very pleased to be working with the British Mountaineering Council in this innovative way of encouraging people to help maintain some of the most important walking routes in the National Park.

“The project we have put forward is one of Exmoor’s most remote and rugged tracks – an ancient route over the moor which is part of the Two Moors Way. 2016 is the 40th anniversary of this famous trail and we hope that people will support the work that is needed as part of the year’s celebrations. We are very grateful to local Exmoor businesses XMAN Events and Encounter Walking Holidays for their help in providing some of the rewards on offer to donors.”

Sue Applegate, rights of way officer at Exmoor National Park says: “Our aim is to raise £10,000 in order to airlift approximately 30 tonnes of stone to repair the path near Long Chains Combe and bring it back to a good standard so that riders, cyclists and walkers don’t get stuck in the mire.

“We have less than five weeks left to get near this total, so you can appreciate the scale of the task facing us. We need to spread the word much more widely to get as many donations so possible so please help if you can.”

Great rewards

Not only do you get to support a really worthwhile cause, there are also some great rewards up for grabs for pledging your support, including:

  • 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor (pledge £10)
  • A Mend Our Mountains T-shirt and a huge range of BMC rewards (£50)
  • Entry to the Exmoor-based ‘Tri The Goat’ extreme triathlon on 3rd September (£100)
  • Encounter Walking Holiday voucher
  • Exmoor Signposts – have your own single finger ‘Exmoor’ fingerpost made by the ENPA Field Services Team (£200)
  • A day out with a ranger for up to three people discovering hidden Exmoor (£250)

If you’ve enjoyed the giant coastal cliffs, whale-backed hills and winding valleys of Exmoor before, now is the time to give something back.

Spread the word

Please pledge what you can spare and share the word among people you know. If everyone who used this path in a year gave just 50p, it would be sorted!

www.crowdfunder.co.uk/mend-exmoor/

MoM thunderclap (2)

EXMOOR WILD WATCH 2016

2016 sees the launch of the third year of the Exmoor Wild Watch Survey.  Exmoor Wild Watch is an opportunity to be part of a ‘citizen science’ project to find out more about some wild species particularly characteristic of Exmoor. Exmoor National Park Authority would love to hear from you if you see any of the 2016 Exmoor Wild Watch species. This year’s list of wildlife stars include new species and old favourites. The full list is: barn owl, Daubenton’s bat, glow worm, toad, string of sausages lichen, waxcap fungi, harbour porpoise, hedgehog, common blue butterfly, cuckoo, red kite and kestrel.

Please keep your eyes open for barn owls during the early months of the year. This much-loved bird has suffered decline in numbers nationally, and any recorded sightings will be invaluable in helping us all to better understand the status of the barn owl in the National Park.

One of the Exmoor Wild Watch success stories of 2015 was the brilliant extra data we collected on string-of-sausages lichen – nationally very rare but Exmoor provides an ideal habitat – and your records highlighted a number of sites including Molland Moor, Watersmeet, Withypool, Winsford Hill, Wimbleball and Haddon Hill. Are there yet more undiscovered sites? This time of year is great for spotting lichens.

Records for 2015 ended with a real flourish, with 400 new records sent in. Last autumn we received 18 waxcap toadstool records with sites including Foreland Point, Wimbleball, Brendon Common, North Hill and Hoar Oak Cottage.  The hedgehog records kept coming late into the autumn. Did all the hedgehogs hibernate? Winter sightings would particularly be welcomed as would early sightings of toads and cuckoos.

Please do keep records coming in for 2016 – this is the third year of Exmoor Wild Watch which was originally started through the Heart of Exmoor Scheme and is getting more popular each year.

Submitting records is easy. Simply go online to exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/wild-watch and click on the species you have seen, and say where and when you spotted it. There you will find more information on each species. Alternatively, please call the National Park Centre at Lynmouth on 01598 752509 to let them have your Wild Watch records. All the National Park Centres have a handy spotter guide. To find more Exmoor Wild Watch events and training in 2016 please visit the Exmoor National Park website.

PHOTO: Cuckoo by John Bridges (rspb-images.com).

LYNMOUTH PAVILION EVENTS BETWEEN NOW AND CHRISTMAS

Need an excuse to get out in this grey weather? Look no further – there’s plenty going on at the Lynmouth Pavilion in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year. All the events are free, unless stated otherwise, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor (the National Park conservation and access fund) are invited. 

Thursday 26th November (7pm-8.30pm) – an illustrated talk by Simon Phelps about the fascinating “Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project”. Tea/coffee provided.
 
Sunday 6 December (11am-4pm) – Christmas Fayre with 15 stalls of seasonal and gift ideas; children’s activities and seasonal food and drink available in the restaurant.
Wednesday 9 December (11am-1pm) – jewellery making workshop “Treasures of Exmoor”. A chance to create your own special necklace and take it home with you. £10 per adult; £5 per child up to 13 years (must be accompanied by an adult). Booking essential.
 
Thursday 10 December (7pm-8.30pm) – an illustrated talk on “The Beekeeping Year at Quince Honey Farm” by Jo DeWittvine. Learn how 1,500 hives with their bees are cared for season by season. Tea/coffee provided.
 
Saturday 12 December (11am or 2pm) – Christmas Wreath making workshop; £12 per person to include all tuition and materials – take home what you make. Children are welcome, but must be accompanied if under 14 years. Booking essential.
 
Saturday 12 December – closing date for the Exmoor Short Story competition. Classes are 10 years and under (max 500 words); 11-16 years (1000 words); 17 years and over (1500 words). Judged by local authors Victoria Eveleigh, Simon Dawson and Daisy Perkins. Special prize for the best entry from a National Park resident.
 
Sunday 13 December (11am or 2pm) – Christmas Decoration making workshop. A “make and take” workshop for £12 to include all tuition and materials. Children under 14 are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult. Booking essential.
 
Dave Wilde, joint Centre Manager at the Pavilion, says, “We look forward to welcoming people to the Pavilion over the coming weeks and have been working hard to make sure that there are interesting things to enjoy.
 
“Also coming up is a great “Exmoor in winter” photograph competition with differing age groups and great prizes. These will form an exhibition to be shown in our Centres over Exmoor next spring.”
 
The National Park Centre in the Pavilion will be open as usual from 10am to 5pm every day, including New Year’s Day, but closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The Pavilion Restaurant will be open every day except Christmas Day.
 
For further details of the above, to book an event or to find out more, please phone the Pavilion on (01598) 752509. In the meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Lynmouth Pavilion.