Category Archives: Walking

EXMOOR’S RIGHTS OF WAY RATED FIRST-CLASS

The following is a press release issued by ENPA

Rights of way on Exmoor have been assessed as some of the best in the country for a second year running, in the National Path Authority’s newly published annual Rights of Way and Access Report*.

96 per cent of public footpaths, bridleways and byways were classed as ‘open and easy to use’ – the highest of all National Parks, and the number of issues resolved within three months has increased to 84 per cent.

The report also records the highest ever output of ‘National Park furniture’ – with a total of 831 signs, 404 sign posts and 155 gates having been constructed and installed this year alone, using timber sourced from the National Park’s own woodland estate.

Lots of the assessment work is carried out by National Park volunteers, who this year provided crucial feedback on paths throughout 11 parishes, totalling 360 hours of work.

Each season they help to survey a randomly selected set of paths covering 10 per cent of the network. Using nationally recognised assessment criteria, volunteers score each route according to how easy it is to navigate, the state of vegetation, and the condition of stiles, gates, signage and surfaces.

Kevin Snewing, Path Watcher Volunteer, said: “A bonus of being a Path Watcher volunteer is that I get to walk parts of the National Park that I probably wouldn’t normally visit, and there are some gems out there. I was particularly impressed by the network above Lynton.”

Dan Barnett, Access and Recreation Manager, said: “Keeping the rights of way network in top condition is crucially important, not just for people’s enjoyment but also to protect precious habitats and reduce disturbance to farming. But we wouldn’t be able to achieve these kinds of targets without ongoing support from our partners and highly-skilled contractors, along with donations from the public through CareMoor for Exmoor, plus our fantastic volunteers. It really is a team effort.”

For more information about National Park volunteering opportunities visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved

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).

KINGS HALL FAMILY TACKLE THREE PEAKS FOR CANCER

A family from King’s Hall School recently completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge for Cancer Research UK.

Former King’s Hall pupils Harriet and Tom Kittow, along with their younger sister Anna, a current Year 4 pupil at the school, tackled the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, all in under 12 hours.

Diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012, thirteen-year-old Harriet wished to raise money for those suffering from the disease.

Joined by family and friends, the trio completed the challenge in 11 hours 17 minutes, raising a fantastic £1,700 for the deserving charity.

The family are particularly thankful to the King’s Hall community, who have shown their support over the past six years.

In 2013, a number of King’s Hall parents undertook the National Three Peaks Challenge, raising money for CLIC Sargent, a leading cancer charity for children, young people and their families.

Victoria Kittow, Harriet’s mother and Year 2 teacher at King’s Hall, said: “Harriet was diagnosed when she was in Year 2. She faced all of her treatment at King’s Hall and everyone was kind and supportive during those years.”

She added: “We are extremely proud of Harriet, Tom and Anna, and hope that their determination and spirit will influence others to get involved in similar life-changing challenges.”

 

GREAT SUPPORT FOR PERAMBULATION; NEXT UP – THE EXMOOR EXPLORER!

Over 100 walkers set out on an epic 31-mile hike around the original boundary of the Royal Forest of Exmoor last month, as part of an iconic event organised by local adventure company, Channel Events, in aid of CareMoor for Exmoor, which raises money for the upkeep of the National Park.

Of the 122 participants who departed early on Saturday 16 June, spurred on by complimentary cups of Miles Tea along with spectacular scenery, just over half (65) completed the full course.

The event is one of three non-competitive challenges organised by Channel Events, for which £1 from each entry goes towards CareMoor for Exmoor to help fund vital conservation and access projects. An annual donation is also made to Exmoor Search and Rescue Team, a highly skilled group of volunteers who attend all events.

One of this year’s participants commented: “After completing a half perambulation over 20 years ago it has been my long-held ambition to complete the whole walk… Walking with my daughter, her fiancée and their dog, George, we managed to complete the whole perambulation in around ten and a quarter hours… The moor was beautiful and it was a real privilege to see and walk on parts of it not generally accessible to the public. Thank you to everyone involved. An amazing event.”

Event organiser Dan Brice, Director of Channel Events, said: “We’re proud to be celebrating this wonderful event’s long history, while also helping raise vital funds towards the upkeep of the National Park. One great aspect of all these events is that much of the route is only accessible with permission of the landowners concerned – so you get to access parts of the National Park not normally open to the public.”

Dave Gurnett, Learning and Outreach Officer at Exmoor National Park, who has both supported and participated in the Perambulation many times over the years, said: “This historic event dates back 725 years when it was routinely walked as a means of establishing the legal boundary of the King’s hunting grounds. It’s the knowledge that you’re treading in the footsteps of the Saxons and the Normans that I think keeps many people coming back year after year and I hope it will continue for decades to come.”

£1 from every entry goes to CareMoor for Exmoor for each of the Perambulation. The next event, in case you would like to take part, is a mountain-biking challange, the Exmoor Explorer, on 5th August 2018.

The Exmoor Explorer is a non-competitive mountain biking event of 20 or 40 miles. Open moorland, woodland trails, natural single track and secluded Combes, the Explorer doesn’t disappoint. This iconic Exmoor cycling event was started 19 years ago and you can find out more here.

TV ACTRESS CAROLINE QUENTIN BACKS EXMOOR BRIDGE APPEAL

Men Behaving Badly star Caroline Quentin is the latest TV personality to get behind a community-led fundraising appeal to replace a popular footbridge in Exmoor National Park that forms part of a century-old walking route.

In her campaign video, she asks those who share her love for Exmoor to get behind the appeal by spreading the word to friends and family and on social media, and urging them to donate to Caremoor for Exmoor, via the Exmoor National Park website www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor or by sending a cheque to “CareMoor (Exmoor National Park)” to Exmoor House, Dulverton, TA22 9HL.

Caroline, who lives locally to Exmoor and is President of the Campaign for National Parks, joins Julia Bradbury, TV presenter and co-founder of The Outdoor Guide – a free web resource for walkers, in supporting the appeal led by Exmoor National Park Authority and the Lyn Community Development Trust (LCDT).

The bridge once formed part of a favourite circular walk on the outskirts of Lynmouth, enjoyed by Caroline along with thousands of others seeking to experience the spectacular East Lyn Valley. It connects to the Middleham Memorial Gardens, created in memory of victims of the 1952 flood which destroyed much of Lynmouth, and featured in Julia Bradbury’s hit TV series Britain’s Best Walks.

Caroline Quentin, said: “Together we can build a new heritage bridge fit for the twenty-first century that will allow people of varying abilities to experience this enchanting ancient woodland and its unique heritage. For me deepening people’s enjoyment and understanding of our wonderful countryside is a big part of what National Parks are all about, which is why I’m delighted to get behind the cause.”

Sarah Bryan, chief executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “As the tourism season picks up, Exmoor is gearing up to welcome more than two million visitors. But in Lynmouth we feel there’s still one important thing missing, which is why we’re so grateful to Caroline for helping raise the profile of this important cause.

“This crossing has endured for more than a century. And with everyone’s help we hope to be able to replace it with a new heritage bridge built in solid Exmoor oak timber, putting this much-loved route back on the map for another generation.”

EXMOOR SOCIETY 2018 WALKS PROGRAMME ANNOUNCED

The Exmoor Society has just released details of its 2018 guided walks programme from April until October. The programme provides a wonderful opportunity to walk through the splendour of Exmoor’s diverse landscapes including the moorlands, coast, woodland, river valleys and farmland. Starting from different locations across Exmoor and in the company of knowledgeable and welcoming guides, the walks also provide opportunities to increase fitness, wellbeing and to enjoy other peoples’ company. The wide variety of interests covered by the walks include:

  • nature walks investigating the special lower plant flora (the lichens, mosses, liverworts and ferns) of Exmoor’s Atlantic woodlands, the bluebells in Burridge Woods and the visiting cuckoos on Molland Moor.
  • accompanying the experts to learn how the ecology and management of woodlands are helping the heath fritillary butterfly and the rare pied flycatcher and how to detect and identify bats as they hunt insects in Horner Woods.
  • for history lovers, there is the opportunity to discover John Knight’s uncompleted garden landscape at Simonsbath, hear the knights’ tales through the ages, explore ancient barrows and other prehistoric sites, learn about mining projects, the tragic murder of little Anna Maria Burgess and Hope Bourne’s extraordinary life and love of Exmoor.
  • even joining a walk to find out about Exmoor’s water improvement project, and how the community came together on the Longstone Landscape Project.

Chairman of the Society, Rachel Thomas, said, “In the Society’s special 60th anniversary year the wonderfully diverse programme is only possible through the generosity of walk leaders in sharing their time, expertise and passion for Exmoor. It pays tribute to all those who lead walks in all weathers and in all places.”

There is no charge for the walks but a small donation is welcomed from non-members. Some walks end with an optional pub lunch or afternoon tea – welcome post-walk refreshments! For full details visit www.exmoorsociety.com or 34 High Street, Dulverton. For any queries, contact info@exmoorsociety.com or 01398 323335. The Society looks forward very much to welcoming you along.

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.

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.

SNOWDROP VALLEY 2018

In 2018 the valley will be closed to traffic from Saturday 27 January to Sunday 25 February. During the road closure the lanes into the valley (Drapers Way and Steart Lane) are closed by a legal road closure order and any vehicle entering the valley without an authorised Vehicle Pass will be reported to the Police.

For walkers there is a marked walking route down into the valley from the long stay car park at the livestock market, the walk is about a mile and takes around 30 minutes. On Exmoor the weather can change quickly so all visitors should make sure that they wear appropriate clothing and footwear for winter walking. Walking boots, or at the very least a good pair of wellies, are essential as the walking routes use local footpaths and bridleways, and there are always some muddy areas. For the more intrepid there are additional, longer walking routes offered, taking between 45 minutes and 3 hours; full details and maps are on sale in the Wheddon Cross car park.

During the middle two weeks, Saturday 3 February to Sunday 18 February, access is via the Park and Ride buses, run by AtWest, which leave from the village car park at Wheddon Cross, next to the Rest and Be Thankful Inn. Buses run regularly from 10.30am to 3.40pm with the last bus back from the valley at 4.30pm. The return bus journey costs just £6 for adults, £5 for senior citizens, and £2 for children aged 5-15, with children under 5 travelling free. There are tail lifts for anyone with mobility issues or using a wheelchair – please ring or email in advance to let the organisers know you are coming. Long-stay parking for cars and coaches is provided at the livestock market 150 yards further down the road from the buses towards Dunkery Beacon. Coach parties must be pre-booked with the co-ordinator.

During the scheme many members of the local community get involved and there is a great team of volunteers who help to run the Snowdrop Café, in the Moorland Hall, providing delicious teas and cakes to support local charitable organisations. There are great meals and teas to be found at other businesses in the village such as the Rest and Be Thankful Inn and the Exmoor House Hotel, as well as a wide variety of accommodation options from self-catering cottages to B&Bs and more to extend your winter trip to Exmoor.

Full information, as well as regular updates throughout the scheme can be found at www.wheddoncross.org.uk/snowdropvalley.htm. For coach bookings and disabled access please contact the Co-ordinator, Gemma Parry, on 07507 797169 or email snowdropvalley@googlemail.com and don’t forget to like Snowdrop Valley on Facebook!

Written with the help of Ros Simons, an artisan, writer and teacher of the old ways ~ you can find out more about her and her work at www.ros-simons.co.uk.

PHOTO: Late winter light in Snowdrop Valley by Andy Stuthridge, as published in our article on snowdrops by Rosemary FitzGerald in the spring 2015 issue of Exmoor Magazine. Photograph copyright Andy Stuthridge.

MEND OUR MOUNTAINS RETURNS WITH £1 MILLION TARGET FOR BRITAIN’S BEST-LOVED LANDSCAPES

The award-winning, headline-grabbing campaign which raised more than £100,000 to repair Britain’s hills and mountains has returned – and is raising its sights ten times higher.

In last year’s campaign a section of path that was in need of restoration work formed part of the Two Moors Way where access along a 50-metre stretch of the path was difficult, with deep mud that stayed permanently saturated even in summer.

The campaign was incredibly successful and raised a total of £104,000. Within this, £7,500 came to Mend Exmoor which was added to through CareMoor for Exmoor (Exmoor National Park Authority’s donation scheme).

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million aims to raise £1 million in total for a range of vital path repair projects within Britain’s entire family of 15 National Parks, including two on Exmoor – one The Chains and another on the River Barle at Great Bradley.

Team effort
The projects supported by Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million will range from the high reaches of the Cairngorms to the gentle coast of the Solent; from England’s highest mountain to the fabled seat of a Welsh giant; from the rolling hills of Exmoor to one of Scotland’s most well-trodden Munros.

Sue Applegate, public rights of way and access officer at Exmoor National Park, said: “We were delighted to be invited back to submit Exmoor projects for the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign. The funding we received from the previous one has helped improve one of Exmoor’s more remote paths and we are hoping that people will get on board and support this exciting new initiative.

“This year two Exmoor projects have been put forward, the first is to repair the surface of a popular walking and riding route across the top of The Chains.  Over the years, the route has become wet and boggy through use and simply due to the wild, wet environment it passes through.  As people try to avoid the difficult sections, the route has spread out and in places has caused a widening erosion scar. This project aims to carry out path surface improvements on a 3.8-kilometre stretch between Exe Head and Woodbarrow so that a long-term sustainable route is put in place – we will be using a natural soil inversion technique which provides a good surface without bringing in lots of external materials to this sensitive environment.

“Our second project is on the River Barle at Great Bradley.  Currently, the Two Moors Way, a popular recreational route linking Dartmoor & Exmoor, follows a very eroded permitted path on the eastern bank of the river.  We would like to move the route onto a bridleway which runs along the western bank but, where it crosses the River Barle at Great Bradley, there is currently only a ford.  For much of the year the water is too deep for walkers to get through.  We plan to build a new bridge at this point so that the bridleway can be used at all times and we can move the Two Moors Way route onto it to a position where it is secure and sustainable.”

Here are the direct links to the two projects on Exmoor:

The Chains
The River Barle at Great Bradley

Overall coordination is provided by the BMC, funding comes from the BMC’s charity (the BMC Access and Conservation Trust), and headline sponsorship is generously provided by Cotswold Outdoor and Snow+Rock, two of Britain’s leading outdoor retailers and the BMC’s recommended retail partners.

Individual projects are backed by a range of National Park authorities, outdoor enthusiast groups and charitable trusts, and in Scotland the campaign is represented by the BMC’s sister organisation, Mountaineering Scotland.

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million will run over a whole year. It will employ a wide range of fundraising techniques in addition to crowdfunding, from harnessing the generosity of ‘ordinary’ outdoor enthusiasts, to drawing in money and support from large businesses, corporate donors and charitable foundations.

The appeal is divided into three phases.

The first phase will run between now and the spring of next year, during which time the fundraising focus will be on drawing in large donations from individuals, businesses and grant-giving bodies.

The second phase will run over the spring and summer of 2018 and will see the main drive to encourage the public at large to donate. The third phase will run in the autumn of 2018 and will see a crowdfunding ‘crescendo’ aimed at raising the remaining sum of money.

The National Park is encouraging everyone who wants to to donate today if they are able, but also to keep an eye on BMC and National Park media over the course of the year for more information about how they can get involved as the campaign progresses and develops.

Photo: Badly eroded permitted path on the eastern side of the river Barle at Great Bradley