Category Archives: For children & families

Half-term Coastal Tractor and Trailer Rides

If you fancy seeing the spectacular North Devon coastline the easy way, why not join the National Trust on the first of their tractor and trailer rides this half term on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 May?

Tuesday’s rides will take you out onto the wild and rugged coast near Bull Point lighthouse where a local guide will entertain you with stories about wrecked boats and smuggling from days gone by.

Morte Point is the destination on the Wednesday, where you will have a good chance of spotting kestrels, oystercatchers, a host of delicate coastal flowers and some Atlantic grey seals if you are lucky. Your guide for the Wednesday trips will be a National Trust ranger who will also be able to show you some of the ways in which they manage the headland for wildlife and people.

The covered, purpose-built trailer has comfy seats, an easy-access ramp and space for one wheelchair user and is pulled by an experienced tractor driver which means you can relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. All of the money from these rides goes directly to helping the National Trust ranger team look after Morte Point and Bull Point and towards the upkeep of Mortehoe Museum.

The Tractor rides start and finish at Mortehoe village car park and will be running throughout the day. Rides last around 45 minutes and cost £4 for adults and £2 for children. Booking is advisable as the rides can be weather dependant. More information about times and booking is available through Mortehoe Museum on 01271 870028.

More Great News for Ilfracombe: Swimming Pool to be Refurbished

Funds have now been secured to repair and refurbish Ilfracombe swimming pool.

North Devon Council has been awarded over £52,000 from Sport England to help carry out a refurbishment. Parkwood Leisure, who manage the pool, has also now confirmed their contribution to the costs.

The Council is using the current closure of the swimming pool as an opportunity to carry out plans that were previously in place to add a multi-gym and a competition boom to the pool, creating a standard 25-metre pool plus learner pool.

Ilfracombe swimming pool closed in January, when corroded pipework caused the water to unexpectedly drain away.

Executive Member for Leisure, Councilor Derrick Spear, says: “I’m so pleased that all the funding is now in place to repair Ilfracombe pool. We’d like to thank the public for their continued patience during the closure period. I hope that the added benefits of the refurbishment work, multi-gym and boom will make up for the closure. These improvements will help to secure the long-term lifespan of this important and much loved facility in the town.”

Local ward member, Councillor Mike Edmunds, says: “Brilliant news! Not only will the pool be repaired, it’ll be refurbished too. I personally can’t wait to see it open again and I hope people won’t mind waiting that little bit longer, with the knowledge that their pool will be much improved when it reopens.”

Work on the repairs to the deep end will start immediately and the council will be meeting with Parkwood Leisure later this week to confirm a timescale for the refurbishment work.


Molly Races to Become First Young UK Point of Light

A 16-year-old girl from Tiverton, Devon, who saved her local BMX team, is the first-ever young winner of a new volunteering award.

Against the odds, Molly Pattison overcame illness and ensured the survival of her BMX team so that other young people could continue to enjoy their passion for cycling.

Molly is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers; people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day someone across the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

The new award has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in America. Established by President George H. W. Bush, it has recognised over 5,000 individuals and has the support of President Barack Obama.

Whether it’s a plumber regenerating local parkland, a teenager setting up a new cancer campaign, a Scout leader turning round the lives of hundreds of young people, or a Mum engaging the community to care for its neighbours, the Point of Light award will honour shining examples of volunteering across England.

In 2013, when Molly was 14, she was diagnosed with acute demyelination, which affected her balance and meant she was unable to ride her bike. Instead, she got involved with British Cycling’s Award for Young Volunteers, helping out in all areas of her local BMX club. When she heard that the organisers of the team were retiring, Molly was determined to keep the team running so that young people in her area could continue to enjoy racing.

At just 15 years of age, Molly set up her own team, ‘Revolution Racing’. She sought the help of sponsors and raised enough money through fundraising to cover the team’s running costs. The team is now full of young people enjoying an activity that wouldn’t be available if it wasn’t for Molly.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Despite her illness and the blow of not being able to race, Molly didn’t give up. Instead, she channelled her passion into setting up her own team so that others could continue to enjoy the sport. I am delighted to be recognising Molly as the first young winner of a Point of Light award.”

Molly said: “It was a bit of a shock to get this award – I really didn’t expect it. I don’t feel like I am putting myself out to volunteer, it just comes naturally. But it’s really nice to know that people appreciate the work that I do.

“British Cycling has really helped me, and the opportunities that they have opened up for me to develop myself as a volunteer and as a person have been phenomenal. The most important thing for me is that it has helped to build my confidence. People do take me seriously; I’m listened to, my voice is heard, and my suggestions are taken on board.”

Find out more here:

The Exmoor Moorland Classroom springs into action with new sites, free resources and school travel bursary

Dave Weatherly, Curriculum Advisor,  with local children exploring Moorland Classroom sites.
Dave Weatherly, Curriculum Advisor, with local children exploring Moorland Classroom sites.

The Moorland Classroom has now engaged with over 6,000 pupils and this spring sees the launch of two new Moorland Classroom sites in Exmoor National Park. 

The new sites are Grabbist, overlooking the medieval village of Dunster, and Winsford Hill, above Tarr Steps.  Dulverton Middle School has recently returned from Winsford Hill as teacher Sophie Hanson from the school highlights: “Winsford Hill is a great resource. It covers many curriculum areas and is very hands-on with The Punchbowl, burial mounds and Tarr Steps all with easy walking distance of each other.”

Grabbist and Dunster also provide a great package and with plenty of wet-weather options. Curriculum Advisor for the Moorland Classroom, David Weatherly, stresses how the “Moorland Classroom is an ideal mechanism for delivering the new curriculum for 2014 – cross-curricular, engaging and challenging. It provides a real context for meaningful outdoor learning linked to places and issues that will inspire children and young people. Throughout there is an emphasis on enquiry based investigative learning and teaching which encourages children and young people to take responsibility for their own learning.”

David Rolls, Moorland Education Officer for the Heart of Exmoor Scheme, says: “To get your local school involved just google ‘Moorland Classroom’ and remember thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Exmoor Trust and the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund, our travel bursary can help schools with travel costs.

“A big thank you to all the schools that have helped us develop these resources for use in both the classroom and out in the National Park.”

The Artist & The Illustrator: Joint Exhibition by Two of Our Magazine Contributors, Trevor Beer & Endymion Beer


Endymion's ‘Uncle Willow’ series in Exmoor Magazine is a family feature based on Willow the dog’s adventures in the countryside.
Endymion’s ‘Uncle Willow’ series in Exmoor Magazine is a family feature based on Willow the dog’s adventures in the countryside.

Endymion Beer, Illustrator, and Trevor Beer, Artist, have joined forces to present a joint exhibition of wildlife art based on the flora and fauna of the West Country. The exhibition, which was previously shown at  the Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe, is now showing at The Queens Theatre, Barnstaple, until 12 April.

Endymion’s illustrations have been used in several books, some of which she has written herself.  She is also well known for her ‘Uncle Willow’ series in Exmoor Magazine, a family series based on Willow the dog’s adventures in the countryside. The series is aimed at young people following willow’s exploration of various wildlife habitats which also has projects for youngsters and their mums and dads to do each issue. Endymion is the national Youth Officer for the British Naturalists Association.

Trevor Beer’s highly detailed pen and ink and watercolour work depicts wildlife in its natural environment, often with a humorous edge to it.  Trevor has written every day in the Western Morning News for over 20 years and also writes nature columns for the North Devon Journal as well as a ‘Country Matters’ feature for Exmoor Magazine. He has written several books on nature subjects and a number of wildlife tourist guides with Endymion.

Woodland Playscheme events coming up

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

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

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

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

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

Exmoor Children Enjoy Writing Workshop with Award winning Author

Usually the nearest children get to meeting an award-winning writer is when they queue for a signed copy of a book. For 20 Exmoor children that was not nearly enough in early April as they were treated to a full day’s workshop run by Ellen Renner, author of two award winning books Castle of Shadows and its sequel City of Thieves.

Run over two days for children of different age groups between 9 and 14, the Workshop was given free of charge by the Exmoor Society in conjunction with the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Project, as part of their continuing efforts to encourage children to develop a deeper appreciation of art and literature, and be inspired by Exmoor. During the day the children were taught the importance of establishing a clear character around which to write a story. To assist with that first step they spent some time drawing and painting to get a clear idea into their minds of the character they were creating and the setting for their story. From then on they started writing their stories, building in lots of drama and excitement. By the end of both days a delightful collection of paintings and collages had been produced and some really excellent, imaginative and interesting writing had been done. A day is a very short time to complete a story and Ellen Renner was generous enough to invite the children to contact her after the event for guidance on how to finish their work.

Jackie Smith, Trustee of the Exmoor Society, said: “The Society is very thrilled to have this opportunity to bring together local children from around the moor with an award-winning author, in order to encourage their love and appreciation of Exmoor through the use of their imagination and at such a young age. This bodes well for future generations in understanding the importance of Exmoor’s special qualities and landscapes.”

The Workshop was deliberately run during the school holidays and away from any school environment. Having chosen the glorious setting of the Exmoor Community Youth Club Pavilion at Exford this was a first venture for the Exmoor Society who hope to make this an annual event open to children living anywhere on Exmoor. This will also help in encouraging the children to take part in the annual literary competition held by the Society.

Science Week on Exmoor

Schools and Sixth form students from around Exmoor took part in science-based investigations recently as part of National Science Week

Dave Gurnett, Exmoor National Park education manager, joined Minehead Middle School Year 5 children for an assembly on energy and Patrick Watts-Mabbott demonstrated petrol, wind and solar power. Later Patrick led the children on a walk from school up onto Grabbist to discuss whether they (hypothetically) would like the idea of having wind turbines on the ridge.

At the Pinkery Outdoor Education Centre, West Buckland Prep School joined up with Dr David Smith from the Exmoor Mires Project and David Rolls from Heart of Exmoor to undertake a range of experiments using ‘MICCI’ resources (Moorland Indicators of Climate Change Initiative).

One of the students Hector Bunclark (aged 10) said: “It was brilliant, I loved the measuring and the pH testing – we even found a frog!”

Dr Smith remarked: “The monitoring work carried out so enthusiastically by the school groups on Exmoor is happening in the same way on moorlands all over England, which is what makes it such a good initiative to be involved in. The results will help us understand changes which are happening on our moorlands in response to climate change – and the children had a fantastic day they will never forget.”

David Rolls said: “This was hardcore science – and lots of fun! As part of the day we compared Exmoor peat depths with other places recorded by schools around the country. The pupils did very well and they are a real credit to their school.”

Mires-themed activity days for the general public coming soon include: ‘Bogtastic’ a free fun and messy day of bog exploration on Saturday 9 June, and a ‘Beginners Guide to Moorland Plant Identification’ on Saturday 30 June, and ‘The Past in Peat’ on Wednesday 25 July. More details can be found at:

Schools involved in Science Week with Exmoor National Park were Pathfields (Barnstaple), Minehead Middle and West Buckland.

The Exmoor Society Targets Young People

The Exmoor Society is championing two new events this year for young people. First is a two-day writing workshop is to be held in the Easter holidays for children aged between 9 and 14 years, the idea being to encourage them to explore Exmoor through the written word, stretch their imaginations and extend their literary horizons. The second event, announced earlier this year, is the Pinnacle Award for young entrepreneurs aged between 16 and 25 who have a concept for a business that would help them to stay and work in the Exmoor area. The Society, in promoting these two events, is targeting young people, helping them to understand Exmoor’s special qualities and enabling them to see these assets as a business opportunity.

The writing workshop sponsored by the Exmoor Society and the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership is to be held over two days at the Exmoor Community Youth Club Pavilion in Exford: on 2 April for 9 to 11 year olds, and 3 April for those aged between 12 and 14 years. The Society is very fortunate to have attracted well-known children’s writer, Ellen Renner, to take the workshops. Ellen is a widely published and very popular children’s writer who has been nominated for a number of literary awards. She has had considerable experience in running workshops and is renowned for her ability to awaken children’s imagination through the use of both literature and art. Being local, Ellen is well placed to work with children from the Exmoor community.

There are still some spaces and interested youngsters should contact the Exmoor Society (01398 323335/

The new Pinnacle Award worth up to £3,000 is being piloted this year. The Society hopes to encourage people who want to develop a business on Exmoor. Exmoor has so much to offer in developing traditional and new skills relating to agriculture, forestry, conversation, horticulture, crafts and different forms of tourisms. The Society would like the Pinnacle Award to act as a catalyst to unlock enterprise in young people by providing seed-core money for them to develop a rural business that will enable them to stay in the area. Anyone with a good idea should contact the Exmoor Society before 30 April with their proposals.

Exmoor Society Continues To Support The Exmoor Curriculum

The presentation of the cheque to pupils at the Dulverton Middle School with Chris Whinney, Vice Chairman of the Exmoor Society on the left and Head Teacher Jerry Weedon on the right.

The Exmoor Society has again awarded the Dulverton Federation of Schools a cheque for £2,000 to help continue its pioneering work on the Exmoor Curriculum (as featured in summer 2011 issue of Exmoor Magazine). Started over ten years ago the special curriculum was designed to give opportunities to all pupils to learn about their environment, experience outdoor activities such as map reading and hill walking and develop skills such as team working and leadership.

The children, over a four-year course, learn about the landscape, wildlife and the historic environment of Exmoor National Park. They take part in activities such as navigation and building a shelter to survive on the moor. These skills are backed up by national qualifications including cycling, first aid and work towards a GCSE qualification. At the end of the four years, successful pupils can become Exmoor Junior Rangers, several of whom have helped the Exmoor Society in hosting big events such as its autumn Annual Meeting and more recently at a gathering of all National Park Societies held on Exmoor.

Chris Whinney, Vice Chairman of the Society said, “The Society has identified education as a key priority for further involvement and funding. We have supported the Dulverton Middle School by over £18,000 in the last few years because of this exciting and unique initiative.”

The Head Teacher of Dulverton Federation of Schools, Mr Jerry Weedon said “The contribution that the Exmoor Society makes has enabled us to broaden the learning that our pupils receive which is of enormous benefit to them all as they experience something totally different from the rest of the curriculum that sets this school apart”

The Society wishes to extend the Exmoor Curriculum to other schools in the area because it believes that the special curriculum will lead to a deeper understanding of why Exmoor is a national park and how it is managed and that the children, when adults, will support this important national designation.

If you need more information about the Exmoor Curriculum please contact the Exmoor Society to see whether we can help at Parish Rooms, Dulverton 01398 323335 or email us at