Exmoor National Park Rangers teamed up with the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) yesterday (Wednesday) to move 60 tonnes of local stone needed for repair work along the Two Moor’s Way, near Simonsbath in Exmoor National Park.

Two huge Merlin MK3 helicopters from CHF’s 846 Naval Air Squadron collected the crushed stone in underslung bags from a nearby farm and delivered them to an eroded section of path near Wheal Eliza, which forms part of the Two Moors Way. The repair will improve the accessibility of the path, enabling more people to enjoy the stark beauty and tranquillity of the ancient Barle Valley.

The operation took place as part of routine training undertaken by 846 Naval Air Squadron for pilots new to the Merlin to gain experience in real-life specialist manoeuvres and helicopter handling.

The Two Moor’s Way is a 102-mile coast-to-coast walking route passing through some of the most dramatic and remote landscapes of Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks. A programme of major improvement work, including new signs, bridges and surface renovations, was kicked off in 2016 for the 40th anniversary of the route, together with a new website and pocket guide available at National Park Centres.

Dan Barnett, Exmoor National Park’s Access and Recreation Manager, said: “The Two Moors Way is an iconic long distance walking route and it’s our mission to make sure people of varying ages and abilities can get out and enjoy it. The path between Simonsbath and Wheal Eliza is level, dry and easy to use, meaning it’s a great spot for those with young families, or even Tramper mobility scooters, to get off the beaten track and explore this breath-taking landscape.

“It’s great that 846 Naval Air Squadron has been able to help us get the job done as part of their training exercise, as to get the stone shifted over land would have been considerably more challenging and costly.”

Lieutenant Commander Andy White from 846 Naval Air squadron said: “It’s important and very rewarding to be able to occasionally undertake tasks such as this to reinforce that we are part of those communities in which our own family’s live. Today has formed a link with the Exmoor National Park Authority in undertaking a pretty huge task. We fly and exercise over Exmoor and Dartmoor frequently and it is gratifying that we can say thank you in some meaningful way.

“The Commando Helicopter Force, which is part of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm comprises Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel. It is a deployable Force on notice to move anywhere in the world at short notice to undertake humanitarian and defence tasks and operations. To be able to do that with skill and confidence all its personnel need to constantly train and keep their skills honed. Not only is CHF based in Somerset but many of our personnel live in communities across the south west of England.”

Help us give a dormouse a home

Dormouse numbers on Exmoor and in many other parts of the country are in decline, so to help reverse this CareMoor for Exmoor* is launching a Winter Appeal to raise funds for 150 dormouse boxes at three woodland sites in Exmoor National Park. 

Philip Kiberd, CareMoor funding officer says: “We already have some dormouse boxes on Exmoor and know that they are being used, but over the years they become damp and we need to replace them and put up many more. 

“To supply, install and monitor a dormouse box costs more than £20 and every penny helps, but all donations over £20 will receive an attractive ‘thank you’ card which could be sent to someone else if you’d like to make it a gift.”

Dormice are one of the world’s most ancient mammals and although their numbers have halved in the UK over the past 100 years, they are still be found on Exmoor, a nationally important habitat for the species.

Maintaining good dormouse population is particularly important as they are an indicator of the health of the environment in which they live. They are omnivorous – eating insects, flowers, nectar, berries and nuts, but they need a good source of food from April to October. This means if they are doing well the woodland is in a good condition for many other creatures, but when numbers decrease it suggests a lack of food that will also affect other animals. 

The boxes provide shelter and safe nest sites for summer breeding.  Most mice have regular broods, but dormice (not actually a mouse, despite the name) live much longer, around 5 years, have smaller broods and usually only one a year.  A pair of dormice will usually have a brood of 4 – 6 of which maybe only one or two will survive their first year to breed themselves, making the population very vulnerable.   

Patrick Watts-Mabbott, volunteer and outreach officer at Exmoor National Park says: “The boxes also make monitoring the health and population of the dormice much easier, so if you would like to help us please donate what you can and give a dormouse a home this winter.”

Donations will be welcome online via or by cheque to CareMoor for Exmoor, Exmoor National Park, Exmoor House, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9HL or at any National Park Centre.

Photo: Hazel dormice – John Webley

National Parks UK and Mission Explore launch new adventure children’s book for National Parks Week

Today marks the beginning of National Parks Week, the UK National Park family’s annual celebration of Britain’s breathing spaces.  Taking place between Monday 25 July and Sunday 31 July, this year’s National Parks Week theme is ‘adventure’.

To get the Week off to a flying start, National Parks UK are launching their new adventure children’s book. National Parks UK have teamed up with Mission Explore to produce the pocket sized book filled with challenges and adventures for children to try out and keep a record of when they are in one of the UK’s 15 National Parks.

Television presenter and National Park enthusiast Julia Bradbury said: ‘I absolutely LOVE this book, drawing a cow-pat emoji is a must-try! It’s so important to encourage kids to enjoy our UK National Parks from an early age and instil a love of the countryside that will last all their lives thus helping to secure the future of our protected landscapes’.

Helen Steer, Director of Mission Explore said “”The Mission:Explore team are extremely excited that our latest book is a collaboration with National Parks UK. Each member of the UK National Park family is a unique place, ideally suited for discovery, curiosity and creativity. Mae’n amser mentro! It’s time to explore!””

The book will be sold at a cost of £5.00 per copy and for this the reader can expect to be entertained by over 90 fun-filled pages, jam-packed with weird and wonderful ideas of things to do whilst at a National Park. It is aimed at encouraging children to explore the enormous world of the National Parks and engage them with all the brilliant things that are on offer throughout the UK. The book is available from outlets in the National Parks or online at 

“Our book challenges the owner to become an extreme explorer, natural navigator and wildlife watcher in one of our 15 awesome National Parks.” Said Kathryn Cook, UK Director, National Parks UK.  “Missions range from simple tasks to more challenging ones. An example of a simpler task would be ‘Eat like a local’, encouraging children to try food produced by local businesses. At the other end of the scale there are challenges to ‘Go on a poo hunt’ and ‘Get stung’. Go explore our UK National Parks and have fun!  

All of the challenges were voted for by schoolchildren from all over the UK and the favourites were selected to be published. 

Nick Gardner, Co-Founder & CEO of Project Dirt said of the book “What a wonderful resource! Mission:Explore and the National Parks have developed a really imaginative way of re-engaging children with nature.  Through its wacky drawings and irreverent tone, this book effectively gets across a fundamental truth: exploring our natural world is FUN!””

To help everyone to make the most of National Parks, there are a number of Top 15 Adventure lists offering ideas to inspire young and old. These include ‘Adventures for the non-adventurous’, ‘Family-friendly adventures’ and ‘Quirky Adventures’.          

In addition, there is information on events taking place during National Parks Week, and ideas on how to get out and get active. Activities include walking routes, cycling and star-gazing. You can also find information on how to travel to the National Parks sustainably, making use of our car-free guides.

To learn more about National Parks Week, as well as search a database of National Parks Week events taking place close to you, visit:

There are 15  members of the UK’s National Parks family: the Broads, Brecon Beacons, Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales.


Big Adventures off to a flying start

This year’s Exmoor National Park Big Adventures got off to a flying start with more than 300 people enjoying the Big Moorland Adventure at Haddon Hill recently. With family friendly games, bush-craft skills, orienteering and scavenger hunts, there was plenty to keep everyone entertained.

National Park ranger Adam Vasey said: “It was fantastic to see so many people enjoying being outdoors and although the weather wasn’t perfect it didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s fun.

“We’d like to thank the volunteers that helped us set up and run the event, we couldn’t do it without them and if anyone would like to help us with the upcoming Big Adventures please get in touch.”

More Big Adventures

The next event in this series is the Big Woodland Adventure at Nutcombe Bottom just outside Dunster (TA24 6TA) on Wednesday 1 June from 10am-4pm. With family games and activities lasting all day, there will be plenty to enjoy for all ages. Car parking and toilet facilities are available on site – there’s no need to book and no charge, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor will be welcome.

Camp out in one of the most amazing locations on Exmoor at The Big Adventure Family Camp Out @ Horner from Saturday 18 June to Sunday 19 June. Booking is essential – the site opens from 4pm and there will be a chance to set camp and cook your dinner with activities starting from 6pm including story-telling, bat walks and astronomy with the Dulverton Stargazers. Tents should be taken down by 11am the next day.

Space is limited for this special event which is ideal for first time campers with support on hand for help with tasks like putting up tents, so early booking is recommended via the National Park Centre at Dulverton on 01398 323841.

Discover Porlock Marsh 

On Friday 3 June there’s a Discover Porlock Marsh Walk – join a Heritage Walk Leader to learn about the history and formation of the Porlock bay landscape. The walk leaves the Porlock Visitor Centre at 10.30am (ends approx.1pm) and booking is essential, call the Porlock Visitor Centre on 01643 863150. Dogs are welcome and there is no charge – donations requested.

There are hundreds more events on the Exmoor National Park website – for more information visit: or call in at one of the National Park Centres at Dunster, Dulverton and in the Lynmouth Pavilion.

Haddon Hill Big Adventure: photo by Dan James/ENPA

Haddon Hill Big Adventure: photo by Dan James/ENPA

Headwaters of the Exe Launch

Picture (Device Independent Bitmap) 1

Left to right: Bea Davis (Headwaters of the Exe project manager), Adam Lockyear (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West), John Hickey (Westcountry Rivers Trust), Katherine Williams (Exmoor Hill Farming Network), Stanley Johnson, Mark Thomasin-Foster (Chair of Headwaters of the Exe steering group). Photo by Steve Guscott/ENPA

Eighty-five people gathered to celebrate the launch of the Headwaters of the Exe project at Hawkridge Village Hall recently and the project team was delighted to welcome Stanley Johnson – former MEP, author, journalist, environmentalist and local landowner – to formally launch the project.

The Headwaters of the Exe project is working with farmers and land managers to ensure good water quality in the catchment of the River Exe.  It is part of South West Water’s Upstream Thinking programme. The project will run until 2020 and is funded by South West Water and Exmoor National Park Authority, with support from the Exmoor Hill Farming Network.

At the launch event a number of presentations were received from project partners, including the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West, Westcountry Rivers Trust, South West Water and Exmoor National Park Authority. The event also included a nearby river walk to discuss water quality issues.

Chair of the Steering Group, Mark Thomasin-Foster, said “This excellent project will build partnerships with farmers and land managers bringing increased benefits to the valuable water resource and ecology of the River Exe headwaters. We are very grateful to South West Water and Exmoor National Park Authority for providing this opportunity.” 

Project manager, Bea Davis, said “We were overwhelmed by the fantastic turn out for the launch event. It was wonderful to see so many people coming together to celebrate this innovative new project.”

The Headwaters of the Exe project covers an area of 27,559 hectares and includes the upper Exe, the Rivers Barle, Quarme, Pulham, Haddeo and smaller tributaries, as well as Wimbleball Reservoir.

If you would like to get involved with the project please do not hesitate to get in touch with Bea Davis on 01398 322278 or or Katherine Williams on 01643 841455 or

For further information please visit the project webpage at

HotE gathering compressed

Successful first year for Moor to Enjoy project

Tenpahis November marks the first anniversary of the Moor to Enjoy project. Aiming to increase the mental and physical wellbeing of participants, the project hosts community groups from outside of Exmoor, and enables them to use the open space of the moor as a health and wellbeing resource for the long term by increasing their knowledge of the landscape and the opportunities that the National Park provides.

To celebrate the achievements of the first year, beneficiaries of the project joined together with interested groups, and the projects funders, Somerset and Devon County Councils, at the Lynmouth Pavilion to share the impact that the project has had on them so far. Andrea Davis, Chairman of Exmoor National Park said “it was good to meet up with some of the groups who have benefited from this ground-breaking project on Exmoor, working with the two County Councils we have the only project like this in the country. With rising demand in the NHS it is vital that we all encourage greater responsibility in our own Health and Wellbeing. It is well evidenced that being outside in a natural environment is good for us, meeting the groups and hearing how they have been enjoying Exmoor was an uplifting experience.”

In the first year the project saw groups from Somerset Cancer Care, Live at Home Barnstaple, Wilcombe Primary School and many others visiting. In total 168 individuals were involved, 88% of whom reported having their ‘spirits lifted’ after visiting.

One participant said it was, So enjoyable in so many different ways, listening and being listened to, stimulating, feeling special’. Another, remarking on the range of experiences they enjoyed said ‘’this would not have happened had we not been introduced to Keeley – every experience has had positive and profound impacts on the health and well-being of our families, albeit just through shared laughter. We have been allowed to explore an area of beauty with security and are now becoming independent users of Exmoor as a school, as individual families and as a community. Thank you!”

Among other plans for the second year of this three year project, will be the launch of a green prescription scheme with Dunster Surgery that aims to increase the wellbeing of local people identified as having low mood by increasing their connection with the outdoors.

Louise Finnis, Somerset County Council Health Promotion Manager – mental health, said: “We know that being outside and enjoying nature is both enjoyable and good for us, so we are pleased to be working with Exmoor National Park to promote health in this way.

“There is growing evidence of the great benefits to health and wellbeing in understanding the potential of greenspace to support public health delivery. The Moor to Enjoy Project is reaching out to new groups of people promoting their wellbeing and increasing physical activity and we are very much looking forward to the next year of the project.”

 If you are part of a community project based just outside of the National Park and would like to be involved please contact Keeley Rolfe for more information. You can also follow her on Twitter @Keeley_ENPA or email Keeley to sign up for the newsletter.


Roll up, roll up for the 12th Annual World Bolving Championship



This year’s World Bolving Championship takes place on Saturday 17 October at Draydon Rails, Dulverton (TA22 9QE) in Exmoor National Park starting at 6 pm and everyone is welcome.

It’s an evening with a difference as National Park Ranger Richard Eales explains:  “This is a competition to find out who can sound most like a rutting stag – can you get a real live deer to answer you across the wild deep valley?

 “This year there is a beautiful, framed stag picture that has been kindly donated by as well as the Phil Ferris Shield that will go to the winner. Mike Sherwin has also kindly donated a picture that will be presented to the best junior bolver, so get practicing kids.”

Anyone that would like to join in and test their vocal chords can just turn up on the night and enter. Entries are a minimum donation of £2 per person and all the money raised will go to Devon Air Ambulance Trust.

People can either meet up with other competitors at The Rock House Inn, Dulverton at 5pm or just turn up at Draydon Rails at 6pm. After the competition it’s back to the pub for the results and winners’ presentation, beer, food and the prize draw.

For further details please contact Richard on 07772 989737 or the Rock House, Inn on 01398 323467.

Exmoor stag, photo by Tony Piper

Exmoor stag. Photo by Tony Piper

South West National Parks essential for the region’s economy

enpaThe contribution made by Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks to the region’s economy has been highlighted in a new economic prospectus.

The two National Parks are living, working landscapes that are home to approximately 44,000 people and 3,145 businesses with an annual turnover of £770m a year.

National Parks are also world renowned brands, recognised for quality of environment and visitor experience. Dartmoor and Exmoor attract over 8 million visitor days and generate £428 million for the greater Dartmoor and Exmoor areas annually.

The prospectus highlights the high quality of the National Park environment underpins economic activity both within the National Parks and the wider Heart of the South West area. National Park Authorities bring together key players to support and enable sustainable economic growth within these deeply rural landscapes.

Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities have been at the forefront of supporting pioneering new ways to unlock economic growth within the National Parks, the prospectus highlights some of these success stories.

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley, said: “Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks are key partners in the HotSW LEP, and are exemplars of the distinctive assets of our area that we so proudly promote. This prospectus shows that value of the National Parks to our area and that of the UK, and we welcome their drive to showcase their unique selling points in the national and international arena.

“HotSW LEP is supporting programmes to aid the 3,000 businesses in the National Parks, that have a turnover of £770m, through our work on improved connectivity in transport and broadband and the roll-out of our Growth Hub business support service.”

Peter Harper, Chair of Dartmoor National Park Authority said: “We work hard to support and promote sustainable development within our National Parks. We also know that these economic assets are important to wider regional growth through the visitor economy, quality of life, health and recreational offer as well as providing valuable carbon and water catchment.

“Our National Parks are national and regional assets; this prospectus shares the innovative work we have undertaken to help support growth within our boundaries and beyond.”

Andrea Davis, Chairman of Exmoor National Park Authority agreed: “We are keen to play a pro-active role with partners across the area to secure sustainable economic growth within some of the most rural areas. Within the prospectus we highlight our aspirations for what economic potential can be unlocked with additional investment and are already working up more detailed proposals with a range of partners to turn these aspirations intra reality.” 

Both National Park Authorities are keen to continue to build on their successes in contributing to regional growth and have identified four key areas for investment to release future growth potential:

  • Improving connectivity – through superfast broadband and better mobile coverage to deliver 4G service to all settlements
  • Promoting the place and product – recognising the value of the National Park and local supply chains, including food and drink, as quality destination ‘brands’ and the unique distinctive product they offer to the region
  • Support key sectors – such as farming, forestry, food and tourism. The creation of rural growth hubs, to increase productivity and develop rural skills
  • Sustain the resource – There is a need for continued investment managing the National Park resource: The environment; Access to it and; Promotion. Without this the resource will degrade and opportunities for sustainable rural growth lost.

The Economic Prospect can be read here:

Launch of new extension of Coleridge Way

On the afternoon of Wednesday 21 May 2014 the new 15 mile extension of the Coleridge Way will be officially opened in the picturesque village of Malmsmead, in the Doone Valley on the Devon/Somerset border, which is approximately half way along the route.

On the day there will be an optional guided walk finishing in Malmsmead, where others will join for the official launch, after which there will be a cream tea and minibus transport back for the walkers.

Originally opened in 2005, The Coleridge Way walking route, currently 36 miles long, links sites and locations associated with the Romantic Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge during his stay in Somerset. The route begins at Coleridge Cottage in Nether Stowey and wends its way through the Quantocks to the coast, finishing in Porlock. The new section, way-marked with distinctive quill signage, will extend the walk to Lynmouth making the Coleridge Way a satisfying 51 miles in total.