Category Archives: Exmoor National Park news

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.

Anglo/French Exchange Focuses on Exmoor Farm Tourism

A group of farm tourism businesses from France were welcomed to Exmoor recently as part of a European project to develop sustainable rural tourism experiences.

Exmoor National Park Authority worked with the Exmoor Hill Farm Network to host members of ‘Somme Tourisme’ (the tourism board for the Somme) and ‘Bienvenue a la Ferme’ (a farm tourism network) on Exmoor. Participants spent a day visiting a range of different farm tourism businesses on Exmoor with the aim of sharing expertise, ideas and insight to develop rural tourism.

As part of the visit the group met with a range of local businesses involved in farm tourism activities including Westcountry Farm and Food Tours, the Woolhanger Estate, Coombe Farm Bed and Breakfast at Countisbury and the Culbone Inn to learn about their Food Safari weekends, in addition to a visit to the state of the art Exmoor National Park Centre at Lynmouth Pavilion.  Representatives were able to discuss their respective businesses, challenges and opportunities and share ideas and information for mutual benefit.

Alongside their day on Exmoor the French delegation also visited businesses in Sedgemoor and attended the Exmoor Tourism Conference in Minehead where they joined well over 100 local tourism businesses, where again they were able to learn from the work of partners here, as well as sharing some of their work in developing effective networks with delegates.

Alexander Lefevre of Somme Tourisme who organised the trip said: “We were very grateful to have the opportunity to visit the area – it was beautiful! We met some great people and were really inspired by the examples we saw of farm tourism businesses from farm accommodation to innovative ways of introducing visitors to the fundamentals of farming. Our intention is to share this learning with other members of our Welcome Farm network and to develop new products ourselves.”

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager for Exmoor National Park said “It was great to be able to share some of the great work that many businesses are contributing to here on Exmoor with our French colleagues. Despite the obvious differences between Exmoor and the Somme there is a shared commitment to sustainably develop our rural tourism product. We were encouraged by the reaction of our guests to some of the work being carried out here, but also took many ideas from them to better develop our offer.”

The business exchange was organised as part of the  EU Interreg funded COOL tourism project which includes partners from Somerset (Exmoor National Park authority, West Somerset Council, Somerset County council and Sedgemoor Council), Kent, Norfolk and Essex in England and Pas de Calais and Somme in France.

PHOTO: the group at Coombe Farm, Countisbury with  Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park, on the right at the back.

 

Moorland Partnership with the NHS

In a ground-breaking partnership Exmoor National Park Authority is working with the Health and Wellbeing Boards of Devon and Somerset, the first of its kind in England, to demonstrate how access to green space can reduce the need for drug-based interventions or development of long-term conditions.

Andrea Davis, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority, and Member Christine Lawrence, have both been instrumental in enabling the project to happen.  “Addressing health and wellbeing at an early stage has huge benefits both for the individual and, in the longer term, reduces the burden on already squeezed health and social care services” said Andrea.  

“National Parks are special places for their landscapes and opportunities for recreation. At the same time as enjoying ourselves, we are also benefiting from our ‘natural’ health service, reducing the need for visits to the GP or admissions to hospital.”

Studies have proved that access to ‘green space’ improves our health and wellbeing.  Whether it’s a simple as a picnic or going for a short walk up to a full on 15 mile ramble or taking part in a 6 hour cycling sportive it’s all to the good.  Taking part in practical projects can also help; tree planting, drystone walling, scrub bashing, wildlife surveys.  All of these activities bring in to contact with the natural environment and other people.

The Moor to Enjoy Project is joint funded for three years and, following a recruitment process, Keeley Rolfe has been appointed Project Coordinator.

The project will enable people who experience mental, emotional and physical health challenges to get involved on Exmoor as part of a programme to improve their health and wellbeing.  It is primarily aimed at reaching communities that would not normally consider visiting Exmoor.  Ultimately, the project will give skills, knowledge and confidence to health and social care professionals and groups to enjoy Exmoor independently without the support of the project officer.

The Archaeology of Hill Farming on Exmoor

The story of hill farming on Exmoor is told for the first time in a new book, The Archaeology of Hill Farming on Exmoor, through archaeological evidence newly revealed after two years of systematic survey work.

The book has been published by English Heritage and is derived from information gathered in the National Mapping Programme survey carried out by Exmoor National Park Authority and English Heritage.

It is full of air photographs, reconstructions, detailed maps and plans and charts the story of hill farming since the medieval period using archaeological evidence. It is divided into three sections: The Royal Forest, The Commons and the Farmland.

In his Foreword Sir Anthony Acland KG says: “The most exciting revelation was the sheer extent and dramatic influence that farming and reclamation have had on Exmoor’s landscape. The book, therefore, offers an archaeological insight into how people – farmers and landowners – have shaped Exmoor over the last centuries.”

Rob Wilson-North, Conservation Manager at Exmoor National Park who co-authored the book, says: “Hopefully the book will appeal both to those who know and love Exmoor and anyone with an interest in hill farming and how the uplands have been farmed through time.”

The book is available from National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth and through the online shop at: www.english-heritage.org.uk

Bogtastic Festival 2014

Bats, bogs and stars will have top billing at the Bogtastic Festival Weekend (16 and 17 August), the South West’s biggest and best bog festival celebrating the special qualities of Exmoor’s bogs, rivers and wildlife.

The fun starts with Exmoor’s Wild Night Out on Saturday 16 August 2014 from 7.30–10pm, kindly hosted by the Simonsbath House Hotel, Simonsbath. Food and a selection of wildlife themed ales will provide the backcloth for storytelling, campfires, star gazing, the chance to get up close to Exmoor’s amazing bats and moths and a whole host of other nocturnal wildlife opportunities.

Jess Robertson, part of the Bogtastic team, says:There will be plenty to see and hear from the nocturnal creatures of Exmoor at this free event – there’s something for everyone at the Festival.”

If bats aren’t your thing, then you can sit around the campfire and hear story telling by Frances Harrison from Dark Starry Skies or visit  the Dark Skies Exhibition.

If the night sky is clear, then star gazing will also be available so why not try and identify some famous constellations?  For further event information visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/visiting/events  or call 01598 752509.

there will be more Bogtastic fun on Sunday 17 August Exmoor – highlights include the Bogtastacle course, bog safaris, a hunt for Exmoor’s carnivorous plant with the Bog Boffins, cream teas,  undercover stalls and activities and a chance to meet an Exmoor pony. And there’s more – face painting and a chance to win an Exeter Chiefs top signed by the players in the Bogtastic raffle. Also on offer will be an opportunity to view one of the remaining operational water-powered sawmills and guided tours of ‘the last Parish in England’.

David Rolls, from the Heart of Exmoor , says : “Bogtastic is a festival of fun and learning about Exmoor’s amazing bogs, wildlife and heritage. We are extremely grateful to all our event sponsors, especially, Exmoor National Park, South West Water and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“It’s ‘wetter the better’ when it comes to bogs and we have plenty of activities under cover, so whatever the weather come along and make a weekend of Bogtastic. Anyone wanting accommodation advice should ring the Porlock Visitor Centre on 01643 863150.”

Entrance is free though some activities may request a small charge. Chrildren must be accompanied and please wear appropriate clothing for a Bog Festival! Profits from the event will be used to support the vital work of local groups and charities that have assisted in the organisation of Bogtastic. 
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The Great Exmoor Welly Boot Show 2014 – Sunday 17 August 2014

Rubber boots, wellies, galoshes, wellingtons, top boots, billy-boots, gumboots – whatever you call them ‘wellies’ are an iconic part of life on Exmoor.  Exmoor’s inaugural Great Welly Boot show is a celebration of this wonderful piece of footwear and is the brainchild of the Bogtastic Festival team.

The Show, part of Bogtastic 2014 on Sunday 17 August, is being held at Simonsbath in Exmoor National Park. It is free to enter and there are prizes for everyone.

Jessica Robertson, the show organiser, says: “All you need to do is decorate an old pair of wellies or shoes with a wildlife or boggy theme and bring them along to Simonsbath to claim your prize. The finale will be the announcement of ‘Best in Shoe’ with prizes given to the best decorated pair of wellies and shoes.

“Why not go one step further and turn your decorated shoes or wellies into gardens? By filling them with soil and planting seeds or flowers in them, you can make your very own welly garden.”

The Show is open to everyone of all ages and is wonderful opportunity to be creative and reuse old wellies or shoes. Rain or shine, everyone is welcome to come along to celebrate the good old welly at Bogtastic 2014; entries from schools and youth clubs will be particularly welcome.

The Show has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of Masons Kings Country Store. “It’s a pleasure to be the sole sponsor of the Exmoor Welly Boot Show, at Bogtastic 2014. As proud residents of Exmoor, we take pride in supporting the local community and events” says Elliot Prior from Masons Kings Country Store.

Entries open at 10am in Simonsbath and the winners and runners-up will be announced at 2.30pm. For more details on the show ring 01398 322164 or visit the Bogtastic page on the Exmoor National Park website 01398 322164.
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Exmoor Pony Festival Poster Competition Winner

The winner of the Exmoor Pony Festival poster competition has been announced. Millie Salway, aged 10, produced very colourful, eye-catching artwork which the judges felt best captured the spirit of the Festival.

Millie is pictured holding the finished poster which features her painting. The poster is being distributed far and wide to advertise the 2014 Exmoor Pony Festival which runs from Saturday 9 to Sunday 17 August, the ideal way to discover the unique Exmoor Pony breed and the famous free-running herds in their native landscape. There are activities on every day including safaris, country shows, rides and much more – for details visit:  exmoorponyfestival.org.uk where you can download the poster!

Commenting on the poster competition, Linzi Green, festival manager and Exmoor Pony Officer for the Heart of Exmoor Scheme, said: “There were some wonderfully talented entries and we would really like to thank everyone who entered. It was a difficult decision, but we felt that Millie had not only produced a lovely painting, but it also captured the distinctive characteristics of the Exmoor Pony breed.”
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