Category Archives: Quantocks

KITTY MACFARLANE: ‘NAMER OF CLOUDS’ ALBUM LAUNCH TOUR COMES TO SOMERSET

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, is delighted to be welcoming Somerset singer-songwriter Kitty Macfarlane to perform at the Manor on Sunday 4 November at 7.30pm, as part of a nationwide tour to support the release of her stand-out debut album, ‘Namer of Clouds’. ​

Released only last month, on Navigator Records, the album has already garnered huge acclaim from both the mainstream and folk press. The Guardian wrote, “Her remarkably accomplished debut album beguiles with its poetry and tenderness, and her eye for detail, vivid imagination and bright vocals make it a captivating listen. She is a talent to watch.” Speaking on BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, Mark Radcliffe declared tracks from the album as “Stunningly beautiful – what a production, what a sound”.

Over a few short years Kitty Macfarlane has rapidly risen to become a ‘must-see’ name on the UK folk scene.  While her support appearances on tours with Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, and Blair Dunlop have fuelled her growing fan-base, it was her acclaimed 2016 EP ‘Tide and Time’ that got everyone talking; still in her early 20s, her “impressively mature” (fRoots Magazine) debut album is cementing her reputation as a major talent. Kitty is coming into her own with some remarkable songwriting, a marked empathy with the environment, and a strong sense of place; references to Somerset landscapes, wildlife and folklore pepper Kitty’s music, connecting to her love of the area where she grew up.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills, it provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch-up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets are priced £10, with a concessionary price of £4 for children and full time students of any age. Buy securely online at www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

QUANTOCK HILLS AONB OUTSTANDING WEEK EVENTS IN SEPTEMBER

Saturday 15 September marks the beginning of ‘Outstanding Week’, a national week celebrating our 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) across Britain, with a week of Outstanding events and project run by AONBs across the country.

September has always been an outstanding month in our countryside, with harvests being brought home, trees and meadows taking on their autumnal colours, skies offering a full palette of hues, musky bonfires lingering in the evening air and a welcoming calmness for visitors.

September this year, however, promises to be even more outstanding!

The AONB Family has worked together to organise a week (and a bit) long programme of events to help people enjoy and be inspired by Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Starting on Saturday 15 September and continuing through to Sunday 23 September, the events for all AONBs can be found on www.landscapesforlife.org.uk/events/outstanding-week/

The Quantock Hills AONB have a couple of special events planned to celebrate this outstanding week – a ‘Creatures of the Night Walk’ being led by rangers so you can see how the woodland comes to life after dark and also a ‘Whittling in the Woods’ workshop for adults who’d like to learn more about this ancient craft.   Go to www.quantockhills.com/aonbevents to find out more.

As NAAONB’s Jill Smith, explains, “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are some of the most beautiful, cherished and outstanding landscapes in the UK. They are vibrant and dynamic and offer a wealth of opportunities for people to enjoy our countryside.

Outstanding Week helps people connect with nature, getting them out into and engaging with the the UK’s outstanding landscapes by enjoying local food and drink, country shows, dark sky discovery nights, walking festivals, archaeology walks, wood fairs, foraging, wildlife walks, coastal and marine days, thatching courses, drystone walling competitions, charcoal making, bioblitz, inspiration through art and music and many, many other activities.

“Whether you are looking for an outstanding view, intending to reward yourself with a cream tea or trying to kick start a new health regime, you can’t fail to have a great time in one of the UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are Landscapes for Life in so many different ways”.

See www.landscapesforlife.org.uk/events/outstanding-week/

Twitter @naaonb & @aonbfamily #outstandingweek for new events to enjoy each day.

PHOTO: Birches Corner near Lydeard Hill, from our autumn issue Quantock Hills Special Feature (courtesy Quantock Hills AONB).

QUANTOCK HILLS AONB AND DUKE OF EDINBURGH PHOTO COMPETITION

Just like last year, the many talented photographers who entered the DofE Quantock Hills OANB photography competition made the judging very hard.  The AONB apologises for the delay in judging and subsequent exhibition, but snow and ice played havoc with proceedings.

Chris Edwards and Katy Coate (both Quantock Hills AONB), Jeff Brown from Duke of Edinburgh Award and Matt Bowen from Taunton Leisure convened at Fyne Court in late March and spent the morning making the difficult decisions. With over 100 images to choose from, the sticky notes were flying around the old library to identify the most striking. This year the AONB had four categories, two with straight winners and two that had so many entries of such quality that the judges chose winners and two runners up for each. Here are the winners and runners up in each category.

Best Landscape Image (top) was won by Sally Pryde with her image Sunset at Bicknoller Post

Runners up were Ian Sherlock with his view over Quantock Vale towards the Brendons and Dawn Mahoney with her image taken at Kilve called ‘Time to Reflect’.

Best Expedition Image was won by Robert Blake School.

Best image in the ‘Loving the Great Outdoors’ category went to Dawn Mahoney for her ‘Quantock Fling’ image. Runners up were Marcin Jankowski’s mountain biking image from Wills Neck and Kimberly Gray’s pony and toddler image.

Best Film was won by James Marshall with his atmospheric film talking about the Quantock Hills and its importance to him.

AONB Manager, Chris Edwards, said, “This year’s judging was even harder than last year – the quality is so high and peoples’ desire to capture the spectacular beauty of the Quantocks along with more intimate, smaller-scale images of moments and detail is inspiring. I thank all the entrants for again reminding us why it is so important to protect and enhance the natural beauty of these hills.”

Winners will receive prizes from Taunton Leisure and have their winning image printed onto a canvas; runners up will also receive their image on a canvas. All the images on show in the music room at Fyne Court, the beautiful National Trust property at Broomfield, until this Saturday. Entry is free so come and make a day of it, why not take a walk around Fyne Court’s extensive grounds and treat yourself to a cake from the café while you’re there.

 

WEEKEND OF SUMMER WALKING PLANNED FOR QUANTOCK HILLS NOW OPEN FOR BOOKINGS

A walking group based in the villages of Nether and Over Stowey is gearing up for a festival for walkers from near and far aimed at showcasing the landscape of the Quantock Hills, England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

With the support of the Quantock Hills AONB Service, Stowey Walking, a member of the national Walkers are Welcome network, is hosting the weekend of guided walks in and around the Quantocks from 30 June to 1 July and is ready for you to register for whichever walks suit you.

Stowey Walking has some experience of running walking festivals having helped Sedgemoor Ramblers with a similar event in the past but now feels it is ready to go it alone.

Walkers who book places at the festival will be able to choose from three guided walks each day of varying lengths, so there will be something to suit everyone, from keen hikers and ramblers to families looking for a more leisurely stroll in the countryside.

Both Nether Stowey and Over Stowey lie at the foot of the stunning Quantock Hills. The name Stowey comes from the Old English for ‘paved road’ which is fitting for the villages having welcomed walkers for hundreds of years. Nether Stowey with its shops, B&Bs and pubs is at the start of the Coleridge Way, named after the poet who wrote some of his most famous work there. The smaller settlement of Over Stowey clusters around the church of St Peter and St Paul; the parish, however, encompasses a substantial area of farmland and open access land on the Quantock Hills.

Lynne Abbott of Stowey Walking said, “The group is excited to be holding its first solo festival as a Walkers are Welcome destination and members will be working hard to ensure it is an enjoyable weekend for all.”

Numbers for the walks need to be limited so booking is essential. There is no charge for booking but walkers will be asked to make a voluntary donation to Stowey Walking on the festival weekend.

For full information and booking details contact enquiries@stoweywalking.co.uk or visit the website www.stoweywalking.co.uk.

DEADLINE APPROACHING FOR QUANTOCK HILLS AONB PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION

Following on from the success of last year’s photography competition, the Quantock Hills AONB and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award are running the competition again.  The AONB team love the Quantock Hills and know you do too; they really want to see the wonderful images and films you have captured whilst on your Quantock adventures. They are hoping to receive as many entries as possible from all ages, encapsulating what this beautiful landscape means to you. If you need inspiration you can always view last year’s entries on the Quantock Hills AONB Flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/157033168@N08

This year they are being supported by Taunton Leisure who are donating prizes for the winning entries in each category. Also all photographs and films will be exhibited over the Easter holiday at the National Trust’s Fyne Court Music Room.

There are four categories you can enter your masterpieces into, two extra ones for this year!

  1. Best Landscape Image
  2. Best Expedition Image – must be of a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, ideally on the Quantock Hills
  3. Loving the Great Outdoors
  4. Film entry – fits any of the above but is a film no longer than 30 seconds

A maximum of three entries per person per category is allowed, and if you want to enter an image in more than one category you can.

Jeff Brown, Somerset County Council’s Duke of Edinburgh Award Manager, says: “The Quantock Hills provide the setting for thousands of young people on their first Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition.  This two-day, one-night adventure will provide a physical and mental challenge as well as teaching practical life skills; navigation, countryside code, route planning, campcraft, teamwork and leadership.  This competition will allow them to share all their experiences, good and bad, so don’t forget the photos of; sore feet, walking through horizontal rain, the World’s best hot chocolate cooked on a Trangia at the end of day one, or the feeling of pride when you complete your first ever expedition.”

Chris Edwards, Manager for the Quantock Hills AONB Service, says: “So many fantastic amateur photographers are inspired by the Quantock Hills and we regularly see really great photos on Facebook and Flickr so do submit your best Quantock images to this competition and we will showcase them in an exhibition and on social media. We may even use them (accredited of course) in documents we produce – celebrating your impressions of this nationally protected landscape in a more lasting format.”

The deadline for submissions is 5pm on 23 February 2018.

See the Quantock Hills AONB website for full rules and details on how to enter. By submitting an entry to the competition you are giving permission for the Quantock Hills AONB Service and the Duke of Edinburgh Award to use your photo or film in their marketing material, displays, leaflets, magazine and newspaper articles (produced by third parties) cards, calendars and other forms of publicity at their discretion. Your photo or film will be credited to you.

PHOTO: Frank Clatworthy’s previous winning entry.

QUANTOCKS IN LINE FOR LOTTERY SUPPORT

A £1.9 million grant to Quantock Hills ‘Reimagining the Manor’ Scheme has been given initial support¹ by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its Landscape Partnership (LP) programme², it was announced yesterday.

The scheme, developed by the Quantock Hills AONB Team in partnership with South West Heritage Trust, Friends of Quantock and others, aims to inspire the local communities to learn from the centuries of landscape development on the Quantock Hills and undertake a wide range of projects providing resilience and protection of the landscape into the future.

The Quantock Hills are a special place. Their designation in 1956 as England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was not only for their particular qualities as a natural environment, but also for their remarkable story of human interaction with nature reaching back many thousands of years.   The Quantock Hills landscape is based on a ring of historic estates. These estates have ensured a holistic landscape-scale approach to land management. However, a number of these estates are experiencing changes such as breaking up into smaller farm units, leading to an increasingly fragmented approach to land management.

The ‘Reimagining the Manor’ scheme is made up of over 26 separate projects which aim to work together to

Inspire – engage people in understanding the landscape, its cultural influence and work with communities to understand the pressures and opportunities into the future.

Live – undertake physical works to conserve and enhance the landscape and heritage assets of the Quantock Hills.

Learn – increase knowledge of the Quantock Hills and the role of the estates in the formation of its landscapes.

The scheme will increase interpretation of the Quantock Hills, including historic figures such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Andrew Crosse by linking with local schools, leading walks and village events. Also there will be training available for young people, landowners and local communities in the skills required to enhance the landscape and manage land and assets into the future. There will be a focus on those features that make up the special qualities of the Quantock Hills area such as orchards, hedgerows and parkland trees as well as follies and other built features. Other exciting projects will engage the local communities in capturing the traditions and memories of the Quantock area, as well as training in undertaking heritage investigations to increase knowledge of the pre-historic landscape and how it has changed over time, shaping the landscape we see today.

Iain Porter Project Officer at the Quantock Hills AONB said, “This is the start of a very exciting journey for the Quantock Hills AONB and the surrounding communities, a big thank you to the National Lottery Players for making it all possible. We can’t wait to get the ball rolling with the Reimagining the Manor project. The Quantocks are a living and working landscape and always have been. Although the way we live and manage the land is constantly changing, with this project we want to give people the inspiration, knowledge and skills to move forward but continue to enhance this special landscape and historic environment for future generations to enjoy and love.”

Drew Bennellick, HLF Head of Landscape and Natural Heritage, said: “Across the UK people are increasingly realising that nature is in trouble and it’s time to take a more proactive approach. Schemes like these provide a creative solution to helping people reconnect with landscapes and the environment, to implement solutions at a truly landscape-scale and tackle issues such as soil loss and flooding by supporting partnerships and coalitions of the willing.”

A development grant of £91,300 has been awarded by HLF to enable the Quantock Hills AONB service and others to develop its plans and seek final approval for the full grant amount of £1.9million at a later date.

Photo by Adam Gerrard

QUANTOCK HILLS AONB AND DUKE OF EDINBURGH PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION 2017

Following on from the success of last year’s photography competition, the Quantock Hills AONB and Duke of Edinburgh Awards are running the competition again.   The AONB team say, “We love the Quantock Hills and we know you do too, we really what to see the wonderful images and films you have captured whilst on your Quantock adventures. It would be great to get as many entries as possible from all ages, encapsulating what this beautiful landscape means to you. If you need inspiration you can always view last year’s entries on the Quantock Hills AONB Flickr page www.flickr.com/photos/157033168@N08

“This year we are very kindly being supported by Taunton Leisure, who are donating prizes for the winning entries in each category. Also all photographs and films will be exhibited over the Easter holiday at the National Trust’s Fyne Court Music Room.”

There are four categories you can enter your masterpieces into, two extra ones for this year!

  1. Best Landscape Image – must be of the Quantock Hills but can be taken anywhere
  2. Best Expedition Image – must be of a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, ideally on the Quantock Hills
  3. Loving the Great Outdoors – any image that you think fits the category
  4. Film entry – fits any of the above but is a film no longer than 30 seconds

A maximum of three entries per person per category is allowed, and if you want to enter an image in more than one category you can.

Jeff Brown, Somerset County Council’s Duke of Edinburgh Award Manager, says: “The Quantock Hills provide the setting for thousands of young people on their first Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition.  This 2 day, 1 night adventure will provide a physical and mental challenge as well as teaching practical life skills; navigation, countryside code, route planning, campcraft, teamwork and leadership.  This competition will allow them to share all their experiences, good and bad, so don’t forget the photos of; sore feet, walking through horizontal rain, the World’s best hot chocolate cooked on a Trangia at the end of day 1, or the feeling of pride when you complete your first ever expedition.”

Chris Edwards, Manager, Quantock Hills AONB Service says: “So many fantastic amateur photographers are inspired by the Quantock Hills and we regularly see really great photos on Facebook and Flickr so do submit your best Quantock images to this competition and we will showcase them in an exhibition and on social media. We may even use them (accredited of course) in documents we produce – celebrating your impressions of this nationally protected landscape in a more lasting format.”

The deadline for submissions is 5pm on 23rd February 2018.

See the Quantock Hills AONB website for full rules and details on how to enter www.quantockhills.com/news/article/the_quantock_hills_aonb_and_duke_of_edinburghs_award_photography_competitio/

By submitting an entry to the competition you are giving permission for the Quantock Hills AONB Service and the Duke of Edinburgh Award to use your photo or film in their marketing material, displays, leaflets, magazine and newspaper articles (produced by third parties) cards, calendars and other forms of publicity at our discretion. Your photo or film will be credited to you.

PHOTO – Previous landscape winner by Frank Clatworthy

ANDY MAY TRIO AT HALSWAY THIS SUNDAY

The North East’s finest, the Andy May Trio, will make a rare appearance in the South West when they visit Halsway Manor as part of their short National tour. The trio will perform on Sunday 15 October at 8pm.

The Andy May Trio are three award-winning musicians from Newcastle – Northumbrian piper Andy May (Jez Lowe and The Bad Pennies, Baltic Crossing), guitarist Ian Stephenson (Kan, Baltic Crossing) and fiddler Sophy Ball (422, Bottle Bank Band). Together they play high-energy instrumental folk, inspired by the music of their native North East.

A typical performance might include traditional tunes from Northumberland, newly-composed material by all members of the band and an introduction to the pipes, all delivered with a warmth and humour which is sure to draw in both folk aficionados and newcomers alike for a dazzling show filled with virtuosity and energy.

There’s a certain connection only heard between musicians after many years’ playing together; after more than a decade’s music making together in various guises, the tight interplay and sense of fun between these three friends is sure to delight.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch-up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets are priced £10, with a concessionary price of £4 for children and full time students of any age. Call 01984 618274 (option 1), email office@halswaymanor.org.uk or buy securely online at www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

AREAS OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY LAUNCH OUTSTANDING WEEK

Saturday 16 September marks the beginning of ‘Outstanding Week’, a national week celebrating our 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) across Britain, with a week of Outstanding events and project run by AONBs across the country, including the Quantock Hills.

September has always been an outstanding month in our countryside, with harvests being brought safely home, trees and meadows taking on their autumnal colours, skies offering a full palette of hues, musky bonfires lingering in the evening air and a welcoming calmness for visitors.

September this year, however, promises to be even more outstanding!

The AONB Family has worked together to organise a week (and a bit) long programme of events to help people enjoy and be inspired by Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Starting on Saturday 16 September and continuing through to Sunday 24 September, the events can be found on www.landscapesforlifeevents.org.uk

As NAAONB’s Jill Smith, explains, “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are some of the most beautiful, cherished and outstanding landscapes in the UK. They are vibrant and dynamic and offer a wealth of opportunities for people to enjoy our countryside.

Outstanding Week shows people how to get involved and get out into our AONBs’ outstanding landscapes to enjoy country shows, dark sky discovery nights, walking festivals, archaeology walks, wood fairs, foraging and local food festivals, wildlife walks, coastal and marine days, thatching courses, drystone walling competitions, charcoal making, bioblitz, inspiration through art and music and many, many other activities. Whether you are looking for an outstanding view, intending to reward yourself with a cream tea or trying to kick start a new health regime, you can’t fail to have a great time in one of the UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are Landscapes for Life in so many different ways”. 

See www.landscapesforlifeevents.org.uk and Twitter @naaonb & @aonbfamily #outstandingweek for new events to enjoy each day.

PHOTO by Rich Hill

SOMERSET TO HOST BRITISH PLOUGHING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Champion ploughmen and women from all over Great Britain will be making their way to Somerset this autumn when the county will host this year’s British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival.  This unique two-day event will take place on land at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October.

The highlight of the country’s ploughing calendar, the event is one of the few agricultural shows which is held in a different part of Britain each year and the event is returning to Somerset courtesy of landowner Ken Coles and family who have provided over 200 acres of their prime arable farmland just north of the town of Taunton.

Around 250 ploughmen and women will take part, including past World and European champions.  At stake are the British National Ploughing Championship titles and the selection to represent England in World and European ploughing competitions next year, with one ultimate winner taking the title of Supreme Champion.

It’s not just about ploughing, though over the two days visitors will see competitions for many different styles, from the more modern reversible and conventional ploughing through to many types of vintage tractors and the graceful and magnificent horse ploughing of years gone by.  Alongside the competitions there will be demonstrations of giant steam engines, vintage and rural craft exhibits with the provisional themes ‘Welcome to Somerset’ and ‘Horse to Horse Power’, trade stands, shopping stalls and country crafts.

The Society of Ploughmen, who are organising the event, are expecting an exceptional crowd over the two days as the Championships always attract a varied mix of spectators – from farmers with a love of the land and agricultural machinery, vintage tractor enthusiasts, people with a love of horses, steam enthusiasts and those with a general interest in the countryside.  It also gives a unique opportunity for families to see how our farming heritage has changed over the past 300 years.

Chief Executive of the Society of Ploughmen, Sue Frith, said, “The interest and attention we have at the moment is fantastic after holding the World Ploughing Contest in England last year.   The support we have in the south-west of the country is especially good and clearly the decision to bring the Championships back to Somerset is a good one.”   She added, “You don’t have to be interested in ploughing as there will be something for everyone at the event, but it is wonderful to see what these highly skilled competitors can do.  It’s important we ensure these skills are kept alive as even with all the changes in agriculture, they still play an important part in the food chain as good ploughing will prepare the land well for better crops to be grown”.

There will be a wide selection of trade stands – from agricultural trade stands ranging from tractors and machinery to insurance through to the smaller shopping stalls with anything from countrywear to confectionery. Sponsorship opportunities are available for both market leaders and small companies with main sponsors this year being Bridgestone/Firestone and Bridgwater Agricultural Society.

Further information can be found on www.ploughmen.co.uk or from the Society of Ploughmen on  01302 852469 and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO taken at Bishops Lydeard for Exmoor Magazine by Andrew Hobbs