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

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

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

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

Find out more about the Exmoor Society on their website.



Visitors to Barnstaple Pannier Market can stock up on Christmas cheer and soak up the traditional atmosphere whilst searching for that perfect Christmas gift with additional opening times in December.

This December the market is open for late-night shopping every Thursday evening in the run up to the big day. As part of the late-night festivities, special street food parties will be held on Thursday 13 and 20 December from 5.30pm to 9.30pm.

Barnstaple Pannier Market offers a unique shopping experience right in the heart of town, with something for everyone. Shoppers will be spoilt for choice with a full array of stalls offering delicious, fresh local produce, seasonal handmade arts and crafts and a fabulous range of antiques and collectables.

As well as this, visitors can also enjoy special Christmas markets offering a fantastic variety of stalls bursting with treasures on Sunday 16 and 23 December.

Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, Hannah Harrington, says: “This year Barnstaple Pannier Market’s Christmas events will be bigger and better than ever.  I am very excited to announce our special Christmas street food parties with live music, a licensed bar and street food traders, which will be a great way to get into the festive spirit.”

Executive Member for Economic Development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “We are so lucky to have a thriving market in Barnstaple and some fantastic events have been organised which are sure to make you feel full of festive cheer.  I would encourage everyone to pop in and browse some of the fantastic items the traders have on sale.  It is so important to buy local and support local businesses, not just at Christmas but all year round.”

Throughout the festive season, Pannier Market shoppers can also admire the beautiful Christmas wreaths on display which were decorated by local businesses, charities and community groups.

The market will also play host to the following festive events:

Thursday 6 December Barnstaple Town Council’s Christmas Fayre and Carol Service 6.3-8.30pm

Make sure you stay up to date with all the fantastic events by liking Barnstaple Pannier Market on Facebook facebook.com/BarnstaplePannierMarket



Exmoor Ales was the first brewery to produce a golden ale with Exmoor Gold back in the 1980s, while Wicked Wolf was the first gin-maker on Exmoor. So it seems only right that the two of them have got together to produce the limited-edition Exmoor Gold Gin, the first gin to incorporate in its ingredients a distillation of beer.

The two drinks’ producers are no strangers to one another, having worked together to produce Wicked Wolf, a 4.2% juniper-infused golden ale, released under the brewery’s ‘Exile’ range of beers. This time, though, it is the gin-maker’s chance to take the spotlight with a limited-edition 42% gin.

Pat Patel is the co-founder of Wicked Wolf, which is based in the lush and breathtakingly beautiful Lorna Doone countryside around the village of Brendon. “The idea for both the juniper-infused ale and the gin came from a meeting, which was originally about Exmoor Ales distributing our gin,” he says. “I just thought that as we both wanted to promote Exmoor it made sense working together to produce an ale and a gin.

“For the gin, we take Exmoor Gold and double distil this to create a distillate which is basically a smooth beer schnapps; we then use this as a botanical distillate when blending the gin. Our process for making our gins remains the same, in that we distil each botanical individually, to capture the total range of flavour, then blend to our recipe, giving us a smooth, fuller-flavoured gin.”

According to Exmoor Ales Managing Director, Jonathan Price, “With Wicked Wolf on Exmoor already supplying most of our regular pubs on Exmoor with their gin, it made sense to collaborate. Our head brewer made a joke about an Exmoor beer-influenced gin, which then inspired Pat to experiment with both Exmoor Gold and Exmoor Beast, producing astounding results. Exmoor Gold Gin is the first and borrows the brewery branding…perhaps Exmoor Beast might follow.

“As for the flavour of the gin, it is subtle and beguiling and clearly a gin out of the Wicked Wolf den. There is not the slightest taste of beer, but instead a rich creaminess to the spirit as is the hallmark of the beer. Both distillery and brewery are very pleased with the result and also excited that we can collaborate to produce this taste of Exmoor. Dare I also say, it will make a wonderful Christmas present for the beer and gin connoisseur.”

Wicked Wolf was set up by Pat and wife Julie Heap in 2015. They had met in college in Falmouth and then moved to London and worked in graphic design. During this time they discovered Brendon, fell in love with the village and bought the old chapel, from where they run their design business, also called Wicked Wolf. As for the name, it comes from a pub in London where the couple used to meet.

“When we moved to Exmoor we looked to do something that was about our interests,” says Patel. “I have always had an interest in food and flavours and smoke food as a hobby; cheese and sausages for instance. We also love gin — we have between 30 and 40 bottles of different gins in our collection. So going on to making it was a natural progression.

“We wanted to make a good standard gin where there would be an exemplary balance of 11 botanicals in our unique blend. With this in mind we used dried Seville orange and lemon peel and also added lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, which give a more complex citrusy note. However, the flavours produced by grains of paradise, juniper and coriander, which are traditional gin flavours, remain the backbone of the gin. Business is going well; we have expanded and added an extension for the distillery to increase production. We sell nationally and into Europe and are in talks to export to Asia.”

The company currently produces four gins:
Exmoor Gin, 42%, RRP £35
Full Moon limited edition, 42%, RRP £38
Exmoor Gold limited edition, 42%, RRP £38 (only 1000 have been made)
Silver Bullet limited edition, 57%, RRP £57 (only 300 have been made)

For more details contact pat.patel@wickedwolfgin.com (www.wickedwolfgin.com) or jonathan.price@exmoorales.co.uk (www.exmoorales.co.uk)