Category Archives: Exmoor Society News

EXMOOR SOCIETY PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION WINNERS

The winners of the prestigious Alfred Vowles Photographic Competition were announced recently by The Exmoor Society.  There were four categories: Landscape, Exmoor Activities, Heritage Buildings and Wildlife, with a prize of £50 awarded to the winner of each category and the overall winner also receiving the Alfred Vowles trophy.

“The judges were impressed by the quality and wide range of subject matter in the four categories,” said Jill Edwards, Trustee of The Exmoor Society. “They admitted that choosing winners was a difficult task, particularly in the Landscape category, which has a large number of entries.  The care and attention which the photographers had given to their work is to be applauded.”

Leanna Coles, whose ‘Seat with a View’ looking towards Cloutsham and beyond was both the overall winner and winner of the Landscape category (pictured, top),  was praised for capturing a particularly vibrant Exmoor landscape with excellent lighting and detail, and a wonderful sky.  She also won the Wildlife category with her ‘Tippbarlake Exmoor pony herd gathering on Brendon Common’: a spectacular image of this iconic Exmoor event.

Also to be congratulated is Madeline Taylor who won both the Exmoor Activities and the Heritage Buildings categories with her photographs of the Allerford Forge and of the gated entrance to the Worthy Combe toll road; two images that capture the spirit and history of the National Park. Her ‘Having a “splashing” good time in Horner Water’ in the former category was Highly Commended.

In the Landscape category, Madeline Taylor’s ‘A Walk along the River at Watersmeet’ was Highly Commended and Sharon Bailey’s ‘Looking towards Twitchen’ and ‘Valley of Rocks’ was Commended. All these show the beauty and variety of Exmoor’s landscape.  In the Wildlife category Tricia Gibson’s ‘Exmoor pony, Persica, and her six-day old foal’ and ‘Tawbits Lorna Doone with her new born filly foal’ were Highly Commended for their good composition and sensitivity.  Highly Commended also, in the Heritage Buildings category, was Patrick Hoyte’s evocative black-and-white photograph of ‘The Stables at Dunster Castle’.

Alfred Vowles was a well-known photographer at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Rachel Thomas, Chairman of the Society, said, “The Vowles’ family kindly donated the trophy to The Exmoor Society in Alfred’s memory, in order to help inspire future generations to capture the essence of Exmoor and its special qualities through photography.”

The winning photographs will be on display at the Society’s headquarters at 34 High Street, Dulverton, and on its website www.exmoorsociety.com

THE EXMOOR SOCIETY LUCY PERRY LITERARY AWARD

The Exmoor Society is pleased to announce the junior and senior winners of its annual Lucy Perry Literary Competition for Schools.  The prizes were presented at the South Molton Community Primary School in South Molton and at the West Buckland School, West Buckland.

At South Molton, head teacher Mr Parkin introduced the assembled children and the first prizewinner from the competition’s Junior Category, Jack Hosegood, with his parents present.  Jack read his winning poem ‘What I enjoy about Exmoor’ and was then given Palgrave’s ‘Golden Treasury of Verse’ and his certificate.  Former Exmoor Society trustee and competition judge, Elizabeth McLaughlin, presented the cheque for the school to Mr Parkin, who said: “It is to be spent on acquiring new books for the library as well as improving the library space.  There is much poetry in the curriculum and everyone is thrilled to have a winning poet at the school.”

The presentations in West Buckland School’s Michael Morpurgo Library were to two successful poets from the Senior category. The winner of the first prize was Isaac Spear with his poem entitled ‘Devon’ and the third prizewinner was Jazz Clarke with her poem ‘The Waymarker’.  Isaac received his prize of an autographed and inscribed book of poetry by children’s author Michael Morpurgo, and both young poets were presented with certificates. The Exmoor Society’s cheque was given to the school librarian.

The Exmoor Society emphasises the importance of having young people writing poetry and prose at a sponsored competition level, and acknowledges the importance of visiting the winning schools to make the presentations. One of the judges, Cathy Nicholls, said: “I commend the positive and receptive teachers and pupils on Exmoor and are confident that the competition will increasingly attract entries from many other schools.”

You can read the winning poems and find information on the Lucy Perry Competition 2020 on The Exmoor Society’s website www.exmoorsociety.com/content/what-we-do/competitions-awards.

PHOTO: Jack Hosegood of South Molton School – winner of the Junior Category. He is pictured with Cathy Nicholls (left) and Elizabeth McLaughlin (right).

JUST THIS WEEK LEFT TO APPLY FOR PINNACLE AWARD

The 2019 Pinnacle Award, organised by The Exmoor Society, is open to young people aged between 18 and 27 years who live, work or study in the Greater Exmoor area.  It offers up to £3,000 to an individual or group with an idea for a business venture based on Exmoor, for example in agriculture, forestry, food and drink, conservation, horticulture, craft or tourism.  The Award, now in its eighth year, was set up by The Exmoor Society to help young entrepreneurs live and work on Exmoor. As a conservation body, the Society fully recognises the importance of providing opportunities for young people to continue to live in the area by encouraging entrepreneurial activity.  The award also helps to promote the idea that livelihoods and beautiful landscapes in a National Park do go together.

Previous applications have come from people with ideas as diverse as making cider and developing a herd of pedigree cattle.  The award so far has helped fund young people either to set up or take forward businesses such as agricultural contracting, country clothing, arboriculture, metalworking and woodland management.  There were three successful applicants in 2018: Polly Goodman, Philip Stephens and Camilla Waterer, who were developing respectively goat meat from local herds, vehicle canopies from lightweight material and horse-drawn carriage rides over the moor for celebrations and special picnics.  All three applicants impressed the judges so much that Trustees decided to offer the full award to each one in celebration of the Society’s 60th anniversary.

The application process is designed to be accessible to all with a basic form to complete and a reference provided by a mentor or sponsor.  Applicants will be invited to an informal interview where judges will be looking for business ventures related to Exmoor’s rural character and likely to provide a sustainable living, with perhaps the potential in the future to offer further employment.

Chairman of the Society, Rachel Thomas, said: “There is a great deal of concern that young people have to leave Exmoor because of the lack of employment.  By providing seed core money through the Pinnacle Award, the Society hopes to enable them to stay in the area and keep the moor alive and thriving.”

The Society hopes to attract even more entries for the award this year which is open for applications with the closing date being 30 June 2019.  Forms are available on the Society’s website at www.exmoorsociety.com or by contacting its Dulverton office on 01398 323335, info@exmoorsociety.com.

Image: Tom Lile, blacksmith and metalworker.

EXMOOR GUIDED WALKS RETURN FOR SPRING

A series of free guided walks is now under way across Exmoor, led by an expert team of local volunteers from the Exmoor National Park Authority and The Exmoor Society. Nearly 100 walks will take place between now and October, with the addition of some new routes as well as old favourites.

The history of Exmoor’s settlements is covered in walking tours of Lynton and Lynmouth, Bossington, Porlock and Dunster, there’s insight into the Knight family’s estate in Exmoor’s former Royal hunting Forest at Simonsbath, a chance to tread in the footsteps of Saxon soldiers along the ancient Somerset Harepath (or Herepath), tales of murder at the abandoned mine of Wheal Eliza, a walk around Lorna Doone country, and a glimpse of the evolving salt marsh habitat at Porlock Marsh.

Natural history is also included, with walks discovering Exmoor’s butterflies and bats, coastal wildlife, temperate rainforests and how the heather moorlands are managed, as well as rambles looking at water quality improvement schemes and landscape restoration.

In May there will be four new walks linked to the annual Simonsbath Festival on the subjects of Exmoor during the Second World War, the rivers of the moor, the 150th Anniversary of R.D. Blackmore’s Lorna Doone, and the Exmoor home of Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace, a pioneer of computer programming.

Liz Pile, Walks Coordinator for The Exmoor Society, said: “The wonderfully diverse walks programme is only possible through the generosity of walk leaders in sharing their time, expertise and passion for Exmoor. The Society pays tribute to all those who lead walks in all weathers and in all places.”

Jess Twydall, Exmoor National Park Authority’s Get Involved Project Coordinator, commented: “Whether you’re fascinated by local history and village life, or looking for a longer moorland walk taking in the breath-taking scenery, there’s truly something for everyone.”

Walks generally last 1-4 hours and there is no charge, but donations are welcomed to ‘The Exmoor Society’ or ‘CareMoor for Exmoor’ towards keeping the National Park special.

The full programme of walks can be found on the ENPA and The Exmoor Society websites and in Exmoor Visitor magazine, which is available free at all National Park Centres and at The Exmoor Society’s Resource Centre in Dulverton, where advice can also be obtained.

PHOTO: Herepath, by Stan Lester.

INSPIRATIONAL EXMOOR: EXMOOR SOCIETY SPRING CONFERENCE

The Exmoor Society’s 15th annual Spring Conference, in partnership with Exmoor National Park Authority, has the theme of how natural beauty positively affects people’s wellbeing and will be held on 12 April 2019 at Dunster Tithe Barn.

2019 is the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act and celebrates how they are special places where nature and people over time have produced areas of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic values. The Government’s 25-year Environment Plan states that the creation of designated landscapes has been among the most outstanding environmental achievements of the past 100 years. At the same time, it has set up the Glover Review to see what changes are needed in delivering the National Park purposes and enhancing their environments and communities.

The conference will celebrate the British approach to the National Park concept by exploring what is inspirational about them and Exmoor in particular and how they contribute to the nation’s wellbeing from local to the national and international levels. National Parks have inspired people in the past and continue to do so today, and even though they face many challenges, there is hope for a richer future.

Dame Fiona Reynolds will open the conference by speaking about her recent book Fight for Beauty. As a member of the Glover Panel, her message and thoughts will be particularly pertinent. Peter Beacham OBE was responsible for the former English Heritage’s listing programme and will describe the significance of buildings in the landscape. He will be followed by Rob Wilson-North, Exmoor National Park Authority, Head of Conservation & Access, who will explore Exmoor’s unexpected delights.

Adrian Colston, researcher at Exeter University into the management of the natural environment, will discuss hill-farming in a time of change. Interlaced throughout the proceedings will be poems celebrating Exmoor’s farming life read by poet, Adam Horovitz, whose book The Soil Never Sleeps has been widely acclaimed.

The Society Chairman, Rachel Thomas, said: “National Parks were created because of their spectacular scenery, wide open spaces, rich wildlife and biodiversity, a rural culture stretching back to prehistoric times and their suitability for outdoor recreation. There is certainly much to celebrate about them and be inspired by places like Exmoor.”  The conference will close with further information on how Exmoor will be celebrating the 1949 Act.

The Spring Conference will be held on 12 April 2019 at Dunster Tithe Barn from 10am to 3pm and will include lunch. Further details and booking can be found on www.exmoorsociety.com or by telephoning The Exmoor Society on 01398 323335.

PHOTO by Jane A. Mares, from Exmoor Magazine

APPLICATIONS ARE INVITED NOW FOR THE 2019 PINNACLE AWARD

The 2019 Pinnacle Award, organised by The Exmoor Society, is now open to young people aged between 18 and 27 years who live, work or study in the Greater Exmoor area.  It offers up to £3,000 to an individual or group who have an idea for a business venture based on Exmoor, for example in agriculture, forestry, food and drink, conservation, horticulture, craft, tourism, or any outdoor land-based activity. 

The Award, now in its eighth year, was set up by The Exmoor Society to help young entrepreneurs live and work on Exmoor. As a conservation body, the Society fully recognises the importance of providing opportunities for young people to continue to live in the area by encouraging entrepreneurial activity.  The award also helps to promote the idea that beautiful landscapes and livelihoods in a National Park do go together.

Previous applications have come from people with ideas as diverse as making cider and developing a herd of pedigree cattle.  The award so far has helped fund young people either to set up or take forward businesses such as agricultural contracting, country clothing and woodland management.  There were three successful applicants in 2018: Polly Goodman, Philip Stephens and Camilla Waterer, who were developing goat meat from local herds, vehicle canopies from lightweight material and horse-drawn carriage rides over the moor for celebrations and special picnics.  All three applicants impressed the judges so much that Trustees decided to offer the full award to each one.

The application process is designed to be accessible to all, with a basic form to complete and a reference provided by a mentor or sponsor.  Applicants will be invited to an informal interview where judges will be looking for business ventures related to Exmoor’s rural character and likely to provide a sustainable living, with perhaps the potential in the future to offer further employment. Chairman of the Society, Rachel Thomas, said: “There is a great deal of concern that young people have to leave Exmoor because of the lack of employment.  By providing seed core money through the Pinnacle Award, the Society hopes to enable them to stay in the area and keep the moor alive and thriving.”

The Society hopes to attract even more entries for the award this year which is now open for applications with the closing date being 30 June 2019.  Forms are available on the Society’s website at www.exmoorsociety.com or by contacting its Dulverton office on 01398 323335, info@exmoorsociety.com.

FUNDING BOOST FOR PROJECTS CELEBRATING EXMOOR

Five new community projects set to benefit Exmoor and its special qualities are the latest to receive grants from the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund*.

All the schemes have been awarded funding of up to £2,500 in recognition of their contribution to National Park purposes to conserve and enhance the wildlife, natural beauty and cultural heritage of the area, and promote opportunities for people to enjoy them.

Successful bids included money towards a unique poetry project, jointly funded with the Exmoor Society, looking to raise awareness of the benefits of pasture-fed livestock. Poet Adam Horovitz will be staying with two Exmoor Hill Farming Network farmers who are championing the approach, and turning his experiences into a collection of poetry encapsulating how they work in harmony with nature to raise their animals. They will be published later this year as an addition to ‘The Soil Never Sleeps’ – an earlier collection inspired by shadowing farmers throughout the seasons.

The project is the brainwave of John Meadley, President of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association – an alliance of certified farms committed to feeding their livestock on 100% pasture throughout life. He said: “There aren’t many farming organisations who can say they have a poet in residence, but thanks to this grant we’re delighted to be working with Adam to help promote the many benefits of raising livestock in the way nature intended. We hope that through his unique talent for capturing the passions and beliefs that drive farmers, we’ll be able to convince more people why pasture-fed is best for their health, the planet, the welfare of the animals and even the farmer’s purse.”

Philip Kiberd, Funding Officer at Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “The Partnership Fund exists for the benefit of everyone who lives in, visits and cares about the National Park. We can offer match funding of up to £2,500 in return for either cash or in-kind contributions, such as volunteer time, making it really accessible for anyone with a great idea to get help with funding. It’s great to see so many innovative projects going on in the National Park and we look forward to awarding the next round of funding in March.”

Funding awards are made around four times a year, and applicants have until 4 March to submit an expression of interest in time to be considered for the next funding round. Community-led projects that can enhance the landscape, help nature, investigate heritage or introduce new people to the National Park are of particular interest. 2019 is also the Year of Green Action and the 70th anniversary of the founding legislation for UK National Parks, providing further inspiration for people to put forward their ideas.

Full details, guidance notes and application forms are available on the Authority’s website at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/partnership-fund or to discuss an idea contact the Funding Officer on 01398 322237 or partnershipfund@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.

* Recently supported projects include:
1.     A grant to help protect and conserve Brendon Hill Methodist Church, safeguarding part of Exmoor’s building heritage
2.     Funding towards the development of Porlock Weir Pilot Gig  Club adding to recreational activity on Exmoor’s coast
3.     A contribution to a new floodgate at Western Beach, Lynmouth, allowing winter access for people, while keeping the storms out
4.     A grant for a farming poetry project offering an alternative voice to Exmoor hill farming
5.     Funding towards a Lorna Doone exhibition led by Dulverton Heritage Centre, celebrating 150 years, in 2019, since the publication of this Exmoor novel.


PHOTO: Exmoor hill farmer Oliver Edwards pictured with poet Adam Horovitz during a recent stay at Westermill Farm to learn about lambing.

THE EXMOOR SOCIETY CELEBRATES ITS FOUNDATION

The Exmoor Society, celebrating its 60th anniversary, recently returned to its roots at Simonsbath House Hotel, as it was here that the Society was formally founded, on 28 November 1958.

Simonsbath Lodge, as it was then called, was the home of John Coleman Cooke, the first Chairman of the Society. Trustees and members were entertained by a dramatic dialogue, written by Trustee Roger Watts, that brought alive the reasons for the formation of the charity. The President, Sir Antony Acland, proposed a toast to the Society, followed by a convivial and delicious buffet lunch.

In 1958, proposals to afforest The Chains, the central moorland area, were made public. The National Park had only just been designated, mainly because of its wild and remote moorland. Local people from the Barnstaple area and the Dunkery side of Exmoor and coastal communities were horrified at this idea. They decided to start a petition, backed by the North Devon Journal, which collected over 3,000 signatures and was successful in persuading the Forestry Commission to withdraw their plans. Dated 28 November 1958, The Sunday Times ran an article headlined ‘No Conifers for Exmoor’ and reported that an Exmoor Preservation Society was formed on 28 November 1958. A Society that could present alternative views to public bodies and encourage activities beneficial to Exmoor was the core purpose of the founding fathers.

Steven Pugsley, local District Councillor and member of the ENPA, outlined what he considered to be The Exmoor Society’s achievements today. He mentioned the series of studies which the Society has commissioned in relation to moorland, landscape, upland farming and natural capital all providing evidence to influence National Park policy. He emphasised the development of the new and prestigious Exmoor Resource Centre and the Exmoor Review, now in its 60th edition. He also referred to the Society’s Pinnacle Award for young entrepreneurs, encouraging new generations of young people to live and work on Exmoor, keeping it vibrant and alive. He described The Exmoor Society in 2018 as supportive, active, professional, visible and enjoyable, adding: “Today it is widely respected and in vigorous health.”

Find out more about the Exmoor Society on their website.

 

100TH ANNIVERSARY OF HOPE BOURNE’S BIRTH

Today (Sunday 26 August 2018) marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Exmoor writer and artist Hope Lilian Bourne. To celebrate this, the Exmoor Society has just published a short anthology of her lesser-known writings, illustrated with her artwork.

Hope was born in Oxford in 1918 and spent much of her childhood in Hartland, Devon where her mother was the headmistress of a village school, moving to the Cotswolds in 1939. When the death of her mother led to the sale of their house to pay debts, Hope was left with no home, qualifications or income, and decided to return to Exmoor to live on and with the land, in a manner as self-sufficient and self-reliant as possible. She lived for many years in a simple caravan at Ferny Ball, a deserted farmstead near Withypool with no services or conventional comforts. Here she cultivated her garden and her natural talent as a painter and writer.

Hope gained some national attention in the late 1970s and 1980s with a series of newspaper interviews and television programmes and, on the whole, these portrayed her as a noble figure living a romantic wild life. However, she was at pains to tell friends that this was not the case and that her lifestyle was far from reclusive and also more forced upon her by circumstance than a matter of her choosing. This volume seeks to redress the balance, using Hope’s own words to illustrate how she lived and what was important to her.

The editor, Lisa Eden, said: “I have selected pieces which show Hope revelling in Exmoor’s storms and silences, and in the drama of raging seas at Hartland. Hope pays tribute to friendship – both human and animal – with a touching obituary of Mary Richards and a charming requiem for her favourite bantam. She had a justified pride in living harmoniously with her environment, as letters to local newspapers show; and her eloquent denunciation of the unfairness of the Poll Tax reveals her formidable skills as a protester. A piece that has much resonance today is her dream of re-wilding Exmoor: she imagines it restocked with aurochs, wild boar and wolves, presenting a real challenge and adventure for walkers and campers!”

When Hope died in 2010, she left her estate to the Exmoor Society, having been a member since 1959. Given how frugal her lifestyle was, she left a fairly substantial legacy which in part enabled the Society to move into larger premises in Dulverton and open a Resource Centre, including specialist storage for the Society’s archive collection. This includes Hope’s artwork, writings, journals and correspondence. These were jumbled and scattered throughout her bungalow in Withypool and sorting through them proved a difficult task for the archivist and the Society’s volunteers!

The Society is delighted with this book, entitled Hope Bourne’s Reflections in Words. It is available for sale in the Society’s headquarters in Dulverton, price £6, and is number four in a series of Exmoor Studies. The first three are Exmoor Chroniclers, The Exmoor Pony: Contested Histories and The Minehead Road: Between Exmoor and the Quantocks.

EXMOOR SOCIETY POETRY COMPETITION RESULTS

The Exmoor Society, celebrating its 60th anniversary, has just announced the winners of its poetry competition, which has been re-established after a lull of a number of years.

They are:
1st: Pat Glover’s ‘Old Ruddock’s Boy Made Good, They Say, Up Country’
2nd: Audrey Coldrick’s ‘Through Somerset Fields’
3rd: Ian Enters’ ‘Leprosy Window, Culbone Church’

Highly Commended:
Matt Bryden’s ‘An Imposition’
Paul Ings’ ‘The Sense’
Graeme Ryan’s ‘May 17th’

The purpose of the competition is to inspire people about Exmoor, one of England’s finest landscapes, in a special way though the power of poetry. The Society commented that it was amazed at the number of entries coming from as far afield as the Czech Republic and many areas of England as well as those living in the National Park.

Rachel Thomas, The Exmoor Society Chairman, said, “The Society is particularly grateful to the two judges, Richard Westcott and Cathy Nicholls, poets themselves, who read each poem anonymously and, although selecting the final three winners, commented on how difficult it was to make comparisons, worse than comparing apples and pears, as each poem was special in its own unique way. As a result, the Society will put the three winning poems, and the three highly commended ones, on its website. They will also appear in the Exmoor Review, The Exmoor Society’s annual publication, with a view to possibly publishing an anthology of all the poems.”

On the variety of themes, the judges commented thus: “There was a profound sense of history, ranging from the nineteenth-century Ada and her husband’s famous tunnels, through medieval churches, to ancient Exmoor where stones stand in silent sentry.

“Meanwhile many Exmoor birds flew by… wood warbler and redstart/Pied flycatcher and dipper/Flitting like librarians.
And larks drizzling their song, as well as buzzards, pheasants, pipits who chatter their verses, a kite, a curlew (or two), fieldfares, song thrush and cuckoo.

“Among other fauna we frequently met the Exmoor pony free roaming and of independent mind, with cream-rimmed eye, along with red deer, cattle, sheep and lambs; even an adder appeared.

“Flora was represented by pokey random heather, beech hedges fired to a warm coppery glow, snowdrops (which giggle, in lazy loveliness, lifting lacy bonnets), and shimmering blackthorn.

“We were exposed to Exmoor in every season, bright and dark, welcoming and hostile, dry and sodden. In short, Exmoor was well and truly celebrated – its clouds and big skies, rivers and hills, pathways and lanes – with enthusiasm, joy and gratitude, which could not but move us.

“From the technical point of view poetic forms ranged from the formality of the sonnet to completely free verse; we heard regular rhymes as well as some subtle and original rhymes; there was ingenious and creative use of space and enjambment, some lovely musicality, and even a concrete poem.

“Our rules did not specify a type face, so we were treated to some handwritten texts, bringing their own individuality and distinctiveness, along with a huge variety of fonts. But we did specify a maximum length, which sadly meant a couple of good poems excluded themselves.

“We hope that the Exmoor Society’s Poetry Competition has demonstrated the power of poetry, raised its profile and saluted Exmoor in a special way. Thank you then to all our poets – thanks for your thoughts and feelings so carefully presented through poetry, for offering your poems, for entering the competition and supporting the work the Exmoor Society does.”

Old Ruddock’s Boy Made Good, They Say, Up Country

I thought a jaunty walk was best
To take me down the deepened lane.
I turned my lumpen throat and back.
My father watched with straightened mouth.
No talk of pride or shame or pain.
I blinked away the scorching light.
The shadows shattered in the narrow track.

I didn’t have the words to spell
the restless itch
the urgent thirst
for towns and light, the edge, the world,
the something, not hedged in.

I used to take the kids at first.
We made our nest in Rowan Tree
where the cowshed used to be.
Just the promised August week
they swung on gates and ran with sticks.
I smarted at the change of it
and waited for the hush of sleep
to wander out in startling nights
and stride across the deep grooved fields
to thwack again the hoar oak tree.
The proof to me I’d been.
I’d creep about the cleaned up yard,
Flowered up with tubs and neat,
until, with softest soughs,
it came . . . the past . . .
the pull and pump and suckle,
the warm hay-breath of cows,
the pink and velvet nuzzles,
the muddy slap of hooves.

And yes, I’ve got the cars and house,
The long haul holiday.
I’ve even got some Cup match comps –
A good life, as you say.

Pat Glover