Category Archives: Exmoor National Park news

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/

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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.

15th ARCHAEOLOGICAL FORUM BOOKING NOW

Archaeology and communities is the focus for this year’s Exmoor Archaeology Forum, which is on Saturday 14 November in Lynton Town Hall from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

The Forum will look at how Exmoor’s rich archaeological heritage is significant to local communities and learn more about the range of projects that are being carried out.

The Longstone Landscape Project is a community project investigating the moorlands above Challacombe and Parracombe. Presentations will include recent fieldwork on abandoned medieval settlements at Radworthy.

“There have been new geophysical and measured surveys on the outstanding Bronze Age landscape around Chapman Barrows,” says Rob Wilson-North from Exmoor National Park Authority, “and we will be considering what this new work can tell us about these iconic prehistoric burial mounds by placing it into context across the South West.”

Also under discussion will be Simonsbath, the tiny community that was brought into existence at the beginning of the nineteenth century. A series of presentations will show how current research is helping to tell the story of that community, through documents, memories and an understanding of the landscape and its building. Together this knowledge is beginning to guide the process of managing Simonsbath’s heritage for the greater benefit of the community.

Prior booking is essential and places are limited: prices are £15 per person (lunch included) and £10 per person (lunch not included). More information and the booking form can be downloaded here: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/history  (PDF at the bottom in the far left-hand column).  For more information call Carol Carder on 01398 322229.

PHOTO:  Geophysical survey on one of the Chapman Barrows. Photo by Faye Balmond/ENPA.

EXMOOR WOOD FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND

A free Exmoor Wood Festival is being held on Exmoor Lawns in Dulverton on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 September from 10am to 4pm on both days.

Friday will be aimed at educational groups while Saturday will be open to the general public and everyone is welcome along.

“Exmoor’s woodlands are such a key part of what makes Exmoor so special,” says Abbie Thorne of Lynmouth Pavilion Project, “that we wanted to celebrate them as a grand finale to our ‘woodland’ year.”

The Festival will showcase the important work that is carried out by many teams and individuals, including volunteers, all year round to continue the important management of woodlands which has taken place over thousands of years across Exmoor. It will also encourage people to explore the woodlands and have fun.

“We’ve invited organisations and groups from across Exmoor to join in with this event to help celebrate with us, and there will be fun activities to enjoy to show everyone how they can get out into the woods and explore,” says Louise Reynolds from Lynmouth Pavilion Project.

“Woodland owners and managers will be on hand to chat and share their knowledge and experience,” adds Woodland Conservation Officer Graeme McVittie “…so many people work hard all year round to look after the woodlands of Exmoor and in many cases keep traditional woodland skills and crafts alive.”

“With a mixture of stalls, demonstrations and hands on activities, charcoal burning, bow-making and archery to name a few as well as guided walks up into Burridge woods and information on woodland skills courses, we’re hoping there’ll be something for everyone at Exmoor Woodland Festival 2015!” says Abbie.

Louise is keen that this will spark an annual event: “there is just so much to explore about Exmoor’s woodlands – we’ve been surprised by the number of people literally coming out of the woodwork who in some way work in, or are inspired by, Exmoor’s amazing woods – there’s been a real enthusiasm to get together and showcase what they love.”

For more information about visiting the Festival, please call 01598 752509. Please be aware that the initial capacity for education and school groups on Friday 25th has been reached, but other groups may be accommodated by special arrangement.

Hedge laying skill rewarded

The essential work of Exmoor’s hedge layers has once again been recognised and rewarded through the Exmoor Hedge Competition.
 
High-quality hedge laying is of huge benefit to Exmoor’s farming, wildlife and landscape. This work is very skilled and provides employment for numerous people during the winter months on Exmoor.
 
In recognition of this vital work, Exmoor National Park Authority launched the Exmoor Hedge Competition in partnership with the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups, together with the generous support and sponsorship of the Exmoor Trust.
 
Susan May, Chairman of the Exmoor Trust, and Nigel Stone, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, presented the prizes to the winning hedge layers; first place and £200 in the Open Class went to Ricky Atkins of Wellshead Farm, Exford. Second prize and £100 went to father and daughter John and Julie Petherick who jointly laid one of their hedges at Higher Heale Farm near Parracombe. In third place was a hedge belonging to Maurice Scott of Brendon Hill Farm, near Watchet, whose hedge was laid by Martyn Sloley of Brompton Ralph who collected £50.
 
Ricky Atkins received the beech trophy (locally made using wood from a laid Exmoor hedge), which was kindly donated by Mrs Stacey of Foxhanger Farm, Brompton Regis.  As winner, Ricky is also invited to join the judges in deciding the winners of next year’s competition.
 
Susan May said: “This year’s entries came from right across the National Park which shows that farmers and land managers realise the importance of maintaining rural skills. The Exmoor Trust is delighted to sponsor the prizes for this competition and is now looking for a way to encourage dry stonewalling as well.”
 
Heather Harley, Conservation Officer (Farming & Land Management) for Exmoor National Park Authority added: “We are extremely grateful to the Exmoor Trust and the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups for supporting this competition.
 
“This traditional skill is so important to the landscape within the National Park and an integral part of the rural community. Agri-environment support for hedge management has reduced dramatically over recent years and the future of hedge management on Exmoor is not certain. I hope that this competition goes a little way to promote the work of these craftsmen.”
 
Heather added “we will be running the competition again so I encourage anyone planning their hedge laying this winter to give it a go and enter.”  

Exmoor’s Hedgelaying Competition Open for Entries

 

Exmoor National Park Authority is delighted to announce the launch of the 2014/15 Exmoor Hedge Competition.

The competition is aimed at the landowners, managers and contractors who actually carry out the high-quality hedgelaying work for the benefit of Exmoor’s farming, wildlife and landscape.

Although it is not essential for a whole farm/property to be in the National Park, any hedge entered must be within the boundary of Exmoor National Park and have been laid during the winter of 2014/15. There will be two classes, ‘Open’ and ‘Novice’ and the winner of each class will receive £200, 2nd place £100 and £50 will go to the 3rd place. The judges include members of the Devon and Somerset Hedge Groups, who are experienced West Country hedge layers themselves. The previous year’s Open Class winner is also invited to join the judging panel.

Work carried out during the autumn and winter months has resulted in a considerable transformation along many lanes and field edges, as once-shady, outgrown hedges are cut and laid. This traditional management is critical in order to rejuvenate the hedgerows which are iconic features of the Exmoor landscape, reflecting our cultural heritage and supporting an incredible range of wildlife. The work is very skilled and provides employment for numerous people on Exmoor during the winter months.

Heather Harley, Conservation Officer (Farming & Land Management) for Exmoor National Park says, “If you would like to enter the competition you have until 5 June 2015 to submit your entry form together with at least one photo of the completed hedge. For further information or an entry form please ring us on 01398 323665 or email hjharley@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.

The Exmoor Hedge Competition is being run by Exmoor National Park Authority and again comes about through the generous sponsorship of the Exmoor Trust www.exmoortrust.org.uk

Back in 2010, Michelle Werrett contributed a feature all about hedges. You can read it here.

 

Training Opportunities for Wildlife Volunteers

Over the last few years staff at Exmoor National Park Authority have been working in partnership with many organisations to deliver a programme of wildlife training events for volunteers.

This began with a pilot project in 2013 during which time 21 training events were held which were attended by over 400 people. This pilot was subsequently taken forward as part of the New Ecologists Project in 2014, again with over 400 people participating in the free training workshops. During 2013 and 2014 the training programmes included a mix of one-off ‘taster’ events and specific survey training events, designed to help volunteers take part in future surveys for species such as otters and dormice.

The training programme for 2015 is now available, with events ranging from wildflower and winter tree identification, to otter and nightjar surveys. Some of these events have been run in previous years while some are new events for 2015, which will cover subjects including hedgehogs, bees and beetles. This year’s events are set to be very popular; indeed the first training event of 2015, a lichen training day which took place at the end of February, was fully booked within 48 hours of advertising. Where possible popular events will be repeated.

Full details of the 2015 training programme and instructions on how to reserve your place can be found on the ENPA website.

Exmoor Community Groups Celebrate Bogtastic Funding Success

Four Exmoor community groups have received donations totalling £1,000 thanks to the Bogtastic Festival held at Simonsbath.

The Exmoor Community Youth Club was one of the fortunate recipients. Member Cathy Nicholls said: “There was so much to do at Bogtastic.  We loved being involved in the organisation and the day itself enabled our young people to further enjoy Exmoor’s wonderful moorland. We look forward to the next one!”

Bogtastic was a celebration of fun and learning about Exmoor’s amazing bogs, wildlife and heritage. The 2014 event saw literally hundreds of people of all ages enjoying the activities based in and around Simonsbath. The many highlights included Bog Safaris, tours of Simonsbath sawmill and the welly-wanging competition.

The other benefiting groups were: Dulverton & District Young People’s Project,  South Molton Scouts and The Friends of Simonsbath Sawmill.  All the groups contributed to the organisation of the event.

The Dulverton and District Young Peoples Project was just one of the many youth groups which attended. Jude Atkins, the Project leader, highlighted how the projects young people “had learnt so much as well as having a lot of fun! Bogtastic is always a real hit with the group, thank you for another wonderful time.”

David Rolls, from the Heart of Exmoor, said: “It was great to see so many people out enjoying Exmoor’s wonderful wildlife and heritage. We are extremely grateful to everyone who donated on the day and to our event sponsors, especially, Exmoor National Park, South West Water and the Heritage Lottery Fund.’

This year’s event is on Wednesday 29 July. Visit the National Park’s website, www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/visiting/events for more details about this and other events.  Updates and a celebratory Bogtastic film can be found at www.facebook.com/ExmoorMires and www.heartofexmoor.wordpress.com.

If you would like to be involved in this year’s Bogtastic please contact David on 01398 322164.

Could you Become a Parish Member of Exmoor National Park Authority?

After the Parish Council elections in May 2015, there will be opportunity for those elected to any of Exmoor’s Parish Councils to become a Parish Member of Exmoor National Park Authority.

The National Park Authority consists of six County Council appointed members, six District Council members, five members appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs and five Parish Members. To become a Parish Member of the National Park Authority someone must first be elected to an Exmoor Parish Council, or as the Chairman of an Exmoor Parish Meeting.

After May’s elections, all of the Parish Councils and Parish Meetings in the National Park will be invited to nominate a parish councillor to go onto the National Park Authority.  Once all nominations have been received, Parishes will then elect five Parish Members to join Exmoor National Park Authority, with the election process being administered by the Somerset Association of Local Councils.

It’s the role of all National Park Authority Members, including Parish Members, to seek to ensure that the Authority furthers its statutory purposes – to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park; and to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of Exmoor’s special qualities.  Parish Members are appointed to represent the wider National Park view and not their own parish or group of parishes.

Andrea Davis, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority, says “The Parish Members on the Authority play a vital part in ensuring that local people have full involvement in the running of the National Park. So if you’re eligible to stand for election to an Exmoor Parish Council and you’re interested in helping to shape the future of Exmoor, I urge you to consider putting yourself forward in the Parish Council elections next year.  That way, you’ll also have opportunity to be elected to join the National Park Authority as a Parish Member.”

Parish Members serve as a Member of the National Park Authority for four years until the next Parish Council elections or until their term of office as a Parish Councillor or Chairman of a Parish Meeting ends. There is no limit on the number of times a person may be re-appointed to the National Park Authority, so long as they remain a Parish Council or Chairman of a Parish Meeting.

National Park Authority Members receive an annual basic allowance and travel and subsistence payments in accordance with Local Government rules. Members are bound by the Authority’s Member Code of Conduct.  For more information about what National Park Authority Members visit:  www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/about-us/parish-members.  For information about the process for electing Parish Members to the National Park Authority contact the Somerset Association of Local Councils www.somerset-alc.org.uk or 01823 252515.