Category Archives: Tourism

Halsway Manor House breaks at the heart of the British Folk scene

If you fancy a last-minute holiday or change of scene for half term and enjoy a place with a story, Halsway Manor could be for you.

Halsway Manor is the National Centre for Folk Arts, a charity offering residential folk music courses throughout the year. But Covid restrictions have taken a toll on the programming and while some of the dance and European music events are postponed the venue is offering out its rooms for holiday accommodation. This is a rare treat to stay in a venue with history at the heart of the English Folk Music Scene.

Halsway Manor, with its medieval origins, offers simple, affordable and homely accommodation in beautiful building and grounds. You can expect the same warm and friendly welcome as course participants do with breakfast and evening dinner served in the dining room. The bedrooms recently received a makeover thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund award. The library is also open to guests with its decorative Tudor ceilings and collection of local folklore and music.

The Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are the backdrop for Halsway Manor, making it a perfect base for cycling, walking and nature holidays. You can explore the local villages, footpaths throughout the Quantocks and Exmoor, and the West Somerset coastline all of which are within easy reach. There is plenty of space for arts and crafts activities. And after your day’s adventures you can relax by the fire and enjoy a drink in the panelled bar. Single, double and family rooms are available and each has its own bathroom. With so much space the Manor lends itself to these times and has Visit England’s Good to Go mark.

At a time when music venues and performing artists are struggling this is a great way to support this arts charity which supports musicianship and helps to keep traditional English Folk music scene alive.

To book a stay at Halsway Manor visit www.halswaymanor.org.uk tel 01984 618 274.

HIGHEST NUMBER OF BRITS HOLIDAYING AT HOME – EXMOOR AIMS FOR ITS SHARE WITH DRAMATIC NEW VIDEO

A survey released by VisitEngland today shows that over 7 million Brits are planning a UK break this Easter weekend. This is the highest figure recorded since the survey began in 2013.

VisitEngland Director Patricia Yates said, ““It is great to see so many Brits are planning holidays at home in the UK in what is set to be a cracking Easter, bringing a boost for businesses and local economies. Right across the country visitors will find experiences to enjoy no matter what the weather.”

This report coincides with a big marketing push from Visit Exmoor and the launch of a brand new video: Exmoor #VisitMoorThanOnce promoting the highlights of one of the smallest, yet most diverse of the UK’s National Parks. The video has already reached over 40k viewings on Facebook and Instagram. Watch the video here www.facebook.com/VisitExmoor/.

It was filmed by Olco Studios, partners Connor Purcell and Ollie Pritchard-Barrett, who grew up on Exmoor. These young film makers have travelled all over the world filming for the likes of the Discovery Channel, but both wanted to shine a light on how beautiful their home was. “Although we know this area, we were both blown away by the landscape. Getting up before dawn to see the sun rise and staying out in pitch darkness to capture the stars gave us a whole new perspective,” says Connor. “Everyone was so friendly,“ adds Ollie. “We were regularly whisked away to look at new-born lambs and meet families during filming.”

Connor has a special connection to the place as his grandfather is renowned local artist Maurice Bishop, who has a cameo in the film. The video is social media optimised – the format perfect for viewing on a phone or tablet.

The video was commissioned by Visit Exmoor. Jennette Baxter, Visit Exmoor’s Marketing Manager, is delighted with it. “We wanted to highlight the different colours of Exmoor, to show how varied and attractive the landscape is and to show different ways to explore the area. Exmoor is an accessible wilderness, you don’t have to drive for hours to get off the beaten track, it’s here on our doorstep.”

The new video, a new Bradt Travel Guide to Exmoor, the 150th anniversary of Lorna Doone and the continued #EatExmoor project are all putting Exmoor firmly on the map this year, and the area is well positioned to capture those brits looking to stay in the UK this summer.

NORTH DEVON NAMED AS ‘ENGLAND’S ADVENTURE COAST’

North Devon has been officially rebranded as ‘England’s Adventure Coast’ as part of an ambitious new campaign to boost tourism, encouraging visitors to discover, explore and enjoy the area.

Launched during English Tourism Week (30 March – 7 April), the new campaign will now be promoted across the country in a bid to promote North Devon like never before.

England’s Adventure Coast, which stretches from the Cornish border into Exmoor, features in a beautiful new video telling the story of North Devon and encouraging people of all ages to have adventures.

The inspiring video, made by local video production company Panoptic Motion, focuses on the outdoor landscape and the abundance of activities this offers, from wild swimming on Exmoor, to breathtaking coastal walks; from exploring pretty stone-villages, to surfing some of the best beaches in Britain.

The cinematic-style short advert is part of a wider campaign, including a comprehensive social media promotion and fresh new branding.

Nick White, Chair of the North Devon Marketing Bureau, said: “We are so very proud to announce North Devon as England’s Adventure Coast.

“It is such a special place in the country and it is our landscape that
truly sets us apart. We identified the natural resources of the region
to be something very special and wanted to recreate the spirit of
adventure the area offers to all ages.

“The campaign conveys the concept of adventure being much wider than about extreme sports: it is also about the heritage of the area, the wealth of locally produced food and drink and the independent businesses who embody the spirit of ‘adventure’. This is about celebrating that sense of adventure.

“Having a strong identity is vital in tourism – we hope this new brand
sets us apart, giving North Devon the platform it needs to compete in an increasingly competitive market.”

To watch the film, please visit: www.northdevon.com

FURTHER ACCOLADES FOR DUNSTER BEACH HUTS

Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts at Dunster Beach have been recognised by Theo Paphitis, retail magnate and entrepreneur. He is best known for his appearances on the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den but also runs #SBS on Twitter to recognise small businesses with entrepreneurial spirit.

Theo says, “I admire people who have passion and energy. If you cannot bore your friends to death about your own small business then something is seriously wrong. I was struck by the number of business owners on Twitter who wanted to tell me about their new products and services. Small Business Sunday was born so that people have a specific time slot to tweet and can pitch their ‘sell’ directly to me.

“My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club. Like-minded individuals can share successes and learnings. This website will give a valuable profile to the winners chosen to date and should help those who have not yet won but want some tips on how to do so. You will find news about the latest winners plus events and activities of interest.

“I know I have been lucky in business and I am keen now to spread goodwill to others, of course not forgetting that, very often, you make your own luck by making use of every opportunity.”

“We are absolutely delighted being chosen from hundreds of applicants to win this accolade. Being an #SBS winner will give Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts as well as Dunster Beach unprecedented exposure nationwide,” said Brett Bates, co-owner of the beach huts with his partner Susan Juggins. ”With the launch of our newest beach hut Holi Moli it will only add to the incredible success of Salad Days, helping to bring many more tourists to this wonderful part of South West England.”

Find out more on the Salad Days & Holi Moli website dunsterbeachhut.com/

Salad Days & Holi Moli Facebook page

OPPORTUNITY TO RUN ILFRACOMBE’S POPULAR LAND TRAIN

The contract is up for renewal to run Ilfracombe’s popular land train.

North Devon Council will be going out to tender for an operator to take the wheel in April. It is five years since the ‘Dotto’ land train took to the streets of Ilfracombe, following a successful funding bid to the EU Leader 4 programme. Since then it has become an established tourist attraction, providing an all-weather ride for visitors taking a whistle-stop tour of the town and all it has to offer.

The service runs from Hillsborough, through High Street, Church Street, Wilder Road, St James Place to The Pier and back to Hillsborough via The Cove from April to October.

North Devon Council’s Executive Member for Economic Development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “The land train is now a firmly established seasonal attraction in the town and is very popular with Ilfracombe’s numerous visitors. This is an attractive opportunity for anyone to build on what has already grown into a very popular service. Please get in touch with us for an informal chat if you’re interested.”

The opportunity to tender can be found here. For more information contact Vanessa Harrison in the Economic Development team on 01271 388216 or vanessa.harrison@northdevon.gov.uk. The deadline for tendering is 25 February.

QUINCE HONEY FARM IS ON THE MOVE

There’s a buzz in the air as popular attraction Quince Honey Farm is on the move to a brand-new, purpose-built site, with the opening weekend being on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April. The new venue can be found at Aller Cross near South Molton, Devon, just off the A361 North Devon Link Road, and promises to be even bigger and better than before.

One of Britain’s leading honey farms, Quince Honey Farm is a family-run business which was first established in 1949 by George Wallace with two hives of bees. It is now run by George’s son Paddy, his wife Jean and their son Ian with a team of hardworking, dedicated staff.

Quince Honey Farm Partner, Ian Wallace, said, “We have reached the limits of our current site, with no room left to grow, so the move to the much larger site is essential. It’s a very exciting opportunity to create a unique tourist attraction in North Devon and expand our beekeeping operation to produce even more delicious UK honey.”

The new attraction will have a sweeping driveway that will take visitors past the wild-flower meadows and fruit orchard down into the main complex. The buildings will be spaced around a large hexagonal central garden, with the new light and bright Visitor’s Centre being the first port of call. The main entrance will house the Farm Shop selling their range of seasonal honeys, beeswax items and gifts, and the Restaurant that will serve up delicious home-made dishes, drinks and special honey cream teas with views out to the gardens and woodland.

One of the main attractions at the new site is The Honey Factory which promises to be an educational, memorable and interesting area to visit. It features a large ‘Products of the Hive’ exhibition and viewing windows into the honey production area. A behind-the-scenes guided tour will also be offered, enabling visitors to get a close-up look at how honey is extracted from the hive and then bottled in jars ready to sell in the shop.

The Play Hive Adventure Park will see the return of the ever-popular indoor soft play area, improved at the new site with an extension and more seating for parents. It also features an attractive lake and large outdoor play area, creating a fantastic space for children and families to enjoy together.

Quince Honey Farm’s well attended daily activity programme will return, including beekeeping demonstrations and taster sessions, candle rolling and critter encounters, plus new activities such as a beekeeping tour and garden trails will be introduced, making the most of the new surroundings.

The centrepiece for the new attraction will be beautifully landscaped hexagonal gardens that can be explored and enjoyed all year round. Here visitors can take in the wonderful display of colours and textures, with seasonal planting and unique features such as dry stone walling and willow structures.

The Quince Honey Farm team are passionate about bees and the role pollinators play in our eco-system, and the only stipulation for the new gardens is that all planting should be bee-friendly. It means that it will have an exciting place in the natural world, as it will become the first known gardens and woodland in the UK planted specifically for bees.

Plans are also afoot to create a bespoke, eye-catching building to house the unique BeeWorld Exhibition and Beekeeping Museum.

Ruby Mapp, Marketing & Business Development Manager said, “We are creating an enjoyable, educational and unique attraction for people of all ages. To open the doors on this exciting project, welcome visitors in and see all our hard work come to fruition will be extremely rewarding.”

There will be plenty of opportunities to visit and take a look for yourself; the special launch weekend takes place on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April, and from then it will be open seven days a week. Please visit the website for further details: www.quincehoneyfarm.co.uk/

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Maker Series


MINEHEAD’S MARITIME MILE

News Release From West Somerset Council

Minehead’s Maritime Mile was launched last week, to give the resort a fresh, new boost designed to attract more visitors in time for the start of the main holiday season.

At an informal ceremony last Tuesday, Minehead’s Deputy Mayor Cllr Gail Everett cut the ribbon to open the new attraction.

The £80,000 project, largely funded through LEADER – an EU scheme that allocates money to help rural areas – will complement the Enterprising Minehead project that has won substantial funding to make the resort the go-to seaside destination by making the most of its traditional appeal as a seaside resort – with a twenty-first-century twist.

The Maritime Mile creates a new heritage interpretation trail, running the length of the seafront to showcase Minehead’s maritime history, myths and legends. The trail has the central theme of ‘find and follow the shells’ and be way-marked to draw people along the route. It will link to existing features like the South West Coast Path and England Coast Path.

An open-air gallery is being built at the trail’s central point to display images and artefacts from Minehead’s past. And there’s an App (suitable for Android and iOS devices).

The App features a quiz designed to entice people to walk to the Harbour and complete the trail, those presenting correct answers to Minehead Visitor Centre will be eligible to collect a prize. This feature technology will also link to the new Minehead destination website for visitors widening Minehead’s appeal as a tourist destination.

The new, high-tech App features *augmented reality, videos and 3D images to make the walk more exciting and interactive – and it links to the new website being launched – www.mineheadbay.co.uk – to further enhance Minehead’s appeal to new and wider audiences.

The state-of-the-art responsive website has been developed to capitalise on marketing the town as a key destination and will also link to the seafront trail/walk and its innovative technology.

The Minehead Coastal Community Team projects have been developed in collaboration with Minehead Museum, Minehead Development Trust, and Butlin’s.

Cllr Andrew Hadley, West Somerset Council’s Lead Member for economic regeneration, said: “The Maritime Mile showcases Minehead’s history and heritage and is a great new feature to enhance what we can now offer our visitors – and encourage more people to enjoy Minehead.

“We are lucky to have a fascinating history that can be brought to life through harnessing the incredible technology that is available now. “

Katrina Midgley, who chairs Minehead Coastal Community Team, added: “This is the first in a series of enhancements to Minehead’s Esplanade, aimed at attracting local people and tourists to enjoy our seafront. I am delighted to see the work of Minehead Coastal Community Team coming to life. I would like to thank everyone who has been instrumental in making this happen.”

*Augmented reality uses computer-aided graphics to add an additional layer of information to aid understanding and/or interaction with the physical world around you.

PHOTO: Ribbon cutting: from the left are Katrina Midgley (MCCT chair), Nicky Bradley, Bernard Maynard-Smith, Gail Everett (Minehead Deputy Mayor), Gary Woolmer, Maureen Smith, Nicki Maclean, Roger Thomas, Mandy Chilcott.

 

 

EXMOOR BUSINESSES COULD BENEFIT FROM INTERNATIONAL TOURISM BOOST

Tourism providers in and around Exmoor and Dartmoor are being invited to a free session this month as part of a £1.4 million project to develop new products and experiences that will attract more overseas visitors to explore England’s National Parks.

Dartmoor and Exmoor have worked with other English National Parks to secure the funding from Visit England’s ‘Discover England Fund’.  Whilst initially the project will be targeting German and Australian visitors, the new products created would be available to all markets.

The sessions are being held as follows:

·       Dartmoor – Tuesday 24th April. 10am-12noon at Islington Country House Hotel and 5.30pm- 7.30pm at Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre, Princetown

·       Exmoor – Thursday 26th April. 6-8.30pm at the White Horse Inn, Exford (there is an additional drop-in session from 4pm to 6pm for anyone unable to join the main session).

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park, said, “Through this project, we are seeking to offer unique, immersive visitor experiences, which stand out in the global marketplace and tell the stories of our landscape, history and heritage. We want to support our local business to develop experiences which can be packaged together, adding value to the many unique experiences already attracting millions of visitors to our National Parks every year.”

Significant research has been undertaken to identify the most compelling experiences available in each National Park, which reflect the local character and distinctiveness of these jewels in the crown of the English countryside. These include wildlife encounters, opportunities to meet with local farmers and producers and to discover England’s great history within our National Parks.

The next step is to recruit businesses who will benefit from a significant support programme (including workshops and one-to-one sessions) to help develop their products, engage with the travel trade and welcome overseas visitors. At the end of this process the National Parks hope to have a suite of over 50 top experiences within the English National Parks for tour operators to utilise in their programmes – the English National Park Experience Collection.

Richard Drysdale, Visitor Services Manager at Dartmoor National Park, said, “There will be opportunities for all types and sizes of business to get involved from small activity providers to large accommodation providers. A core part of the project will focus on packaging individual components to create compelling stories, so you may want to get involved in either leading or supporting one of the identified experiences. These open sessions are free to attend and we would encourage anyone wanting to find out more to come along and get involved.”

Each session will cover the background and context to the project, provide some examples of the experiences being developed and the step changes required to deliver these on a global platform, as well as details of how businesses can apply to be a part of the programme and the benefits they will receive.

The business support element of the project is being supported by Visit Exmoor and Visit Dartmoor (the Destination Management Organisations for the National Parks) with expert support and training from Max Lawrence (Inspire Hospitality) and Jo Butler Consulting.

To sign up for the Dartmoor sessions please email Jenny@VisitDartmoor.co.uk or for the Exmoor sessions contact experiencecollection@mail.com

COAST PATH WORKSHOP AT DUNSTER

A tailored workshop designed to help local businesses from transport providers to tearooms make the most of the Somerset section of the England Coast Path is being held in Dunster in February. The section, which was opened in 2016, runs for 58-miles, from Minehead to Brean, following some of the country’s most spectacular coastline and opens up a new and exciting experience for walkers.

The workshop, at the Luttrell Arms Hotel on 22 February, offers the chance to find out how:

  • the new Coast Path can benefit business
  • to attract more walking tourists/visitors
  • the latest trends in social media and walking tourism will impact business on the Coast Path
  • local distinctiveness and authenticity can increase business
  • to create unique experiences
  • to build a great social media campaign around the new coast path product
  • to provide the best customer service to visitors coming to the coast path to ensure they return and spread the word to attract new visitors.

Cllr Andrew Hadley, West Somerset Council’s Lead Member for economic regeneration and growth, said: “The new Coast Path is a great natural asset for West Somerset and I hope that local businesses involved in tourism will join the workshop to discover how they can make the most of it.

“Tourism is a vitally important industry locally with as many as a third of the local workforce employed in this sector. The path is another attraction to add to the many we are proud of and it will attract more visitors, providing new opportunities for tourism businesses.”

Exmoor speakers include: Max Lawrence – www.hospitalityassured.com plus others from Somerset – Sarah Littler – Project Manager Rights of Way, Kate Doodson – www.cosmic.org.uk, and Nell Barrington – www.barringtonassociates.co.uk.

A finger buffet and refreshments will be included along with time for networking with like-minded businesses. Those attending will receive a pack of information on how to get the most from the Coast Path with loads of helpful links, ideas and contacts.

Places are limited so please book now here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-the-somerset-coast-path-can-benefit-your-business-workshop-in-dunster-tickets-42272178223?aff=HTAPemail

PHOTO: The opening of the Somerset section of the England Coast Path back in 2016. You can read the story which we published at the time here.

EAT EXMOOR FOOD & DRINK TRADE SHOW

An exciting new, free event, the Eat Exmoor Food & Drink Trade Show, is for everyone involved in producing, preparing, selling and celebrating Exmoor food and drink.

The event is designed for hospitality and experience providers, chefs, retailers and food and drink buyers to meet local producers from the Greater Exmoor area, and is being held at the Beach Hotel in Minehead (TA24 5AP) on Wednesday 7 February.

There will be a range of cooking demonstrations and some short, inspiring and informative talks from chefs and producers as well as experts in the marketing of local food with themed toolkits for producers and food/accommodation businesses. With plenty of trade stands from local producers, this FREE day runs from 10am to 4pm and people are welcome to drop in any time or come for the whole day.

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager for Exmoor National Park, said, “This will be the ideal opportunity for the trade to meet up, make new contacts from Exmoor and beyond and really focus on the importance of local food and the Exmoor brand.”

Barrie Tucker, Head Chef at the Luttrell Arms, will be demonstrating how to cook a Porlock Bay oyster to perfection. In addition, award-winning chef Werner Hartholt will be showing how to develop the perfect menu and promote the use of local produce within it and social media consultant to Visit Exmoor will be on hand to share his wealth of experience managing social media channels and providing training courses. More details of talks and demonstrations can be found at: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/tourism

Also at the Show, Visit Exmoor will also be launching their new Eat Exmoor Food and Drink Guide on the day. The guide will distributed widely and is available free from our National Park Centres from February 2018.

The Trade Show has been organised by Exmoor National Park, supported by Visit Exmoor and West Somerset Council. More details can be obtained by emailing KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or by calling 01398 323665.

Eat Exmoor is a partnership initiative between the National Park Authority and Visit Exmoor with support from West Somerset Council to encourage more visitors to enjoy the area’s delicious local produce and the landscape it comes from.

PHOTO: Barrie Tucker, Head Chef at The Luttrell Arms