COOL rural tourism experiences on Exmoor

New videos launched

A series of new web videos promoting some of the fantastic experiences available in rural Somerset and Exmoor National Park have been launched to celebrate English Tourism Week (29 March – 6 April). The videos, introduced by Rural Affairs Minister Dan Rogerson http://youtu.be/vyqk-DViTlM highlight a range of experiences including watching wild Exmoor ponies, discovering great local produce, bird watching on the Somerset Levels and exploring the area’s deep history and heritage in a bid to tempt more visitors to come enjoy the countryside offer.

Tourism is a huge economic driver, and in rural areas is often the mainstay of the economy. Research has shown that visitors today are seeking deeper experiences over and above visiting a particular destination and so the videos will help to bring alive the Somerset countryside and all it can offer including popular activities such as rock pooling, fossil hunting and  wildlife watching.

The new videos have been welcomed by Defra which is working with partners to support the rural economy following the effect that the extreme weather experienced over the winter has had on people’s perception of the region and the consequential impact on tourism.

Speaking about the new videos Dan Rogerson said: “Following the extreme weather over the winter Exmoor and Somerset are very much open for business. Tourism is worth over £1.2 billion a year in Somerset and the county has a very strong rural offer where tourism is one of the largest economic sectors.

“I welcome these videos which highlight some of the great experiences that can be enjoyed in the rural areas of Somerset, including Exmoor National Park and I hope that they will inspire people to visit the area to enjoy the stunning landscapes, rich wildlife and to experience England’s countryside at its best.”

The videos, ranging from 1 to 3 minutes are intended to provide an inspirational taste of what is on offer in the area and are available via You Tube for businesses and tourism organisations to embed within their own websites and promotional activity.

The videos have been produced as part of the COOL tourism project which has seen local partners (including Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council, Sedgemoor Council and Exmoor National Park Authority) working alongside partners in England (Kent, Essex and Norfolk) and France (Somme and Pas de Calais) to promote rural tourism based on the experiences offered in these areas. The COOL tourism project was selected under the European Cross-border Cooperation Programme INTERREG IV A France (Channel) – England, co-funded by the ERDF.

 

National Park Centres open for the Season

DunsterThe National Park Centre in Dunster opens with new exhibits this Saturday 29 March from 10am to 5pm. Together with the National Park Centres at Dulverton and Lynmouth which are open year-round, all three will be now be open daily for the season.

In addition to the much loved exhibits such as Fred the Exmoor Horn sheep, the National Park Centre at Dunster will be hosting the Views of Exmoor Exhibition: a chance to rediscover the moorland past and present. The exhibition looks at how archaeologists are piecing together an amazing story of human resilience. The story begins around 8,000 years ago when hunter gatherer groups first walked across Exmoor‘s uplands and continues with the emergence of farming, the building of unique miniature standing stones – to the 19th century when Victorian landowners tried to ‘improve’ tracts of the moors.

Also in the Centre for the first time people will be able to watch the much-acclaimed, short film that was specially commissioned for the Lynmouth Pavilion.

There are plans to install a giant interactive table that will provide a range of fascinating facts and information on Exmoor’s wildlife and landscapes at people’s fingertips. The table will supplement the video microscope that was installed last year providing modern facilities in this digital age.

Tim Braund, Head of Information and Communication at Exmoor National Park said: “In an increasingly competitive market, we are delighted that we have been able to invest in new information and exhibits to attract visitors to Exmoor which we hope will benefit tourism businesses on Exmoor.”

Celebrating Climate Week 3 – 9 March 2014

News from the Exmoor National Park Authority

Exmoor National Park Authority has, in recent years, looked closely at how it could become a “carbon neutral National Park”.

Evidence has shown that Exmoor’s woodlands and hedges are a huge and possibly undervalued source of woodfuel. In recent years a number of land owners have started to look at alternatives to oil, including wind power, photovoltaics and wood fuel. The National Park Authority is particularly interested in woodfuel because it encourages the management of traditional hedgebanks and broadleaved woodlands.

One such example of this renewed interest in woodfuel is the Edwards family at Westermill Farm, near Exford in the heart of the National Park (www.westermill.com) who were supported through the Carbon Neutral Exmoor project. Westermill is a 500 acre sheep and beef farm with holiday accommodation and a campsite.  The heating requirement for the site comprised a traditional Exmoor farmhouse, six holiday cottages and a wash house/shower block for the campsite. With the shower block using LPG, the farmhouse using oil and the holiday cottages using mains electricity the heating costs were high. A district heating scheme serving all these components has now been installed powered by a large 150 kWp Froling tx150 woodchip boiler.

The farm had already been planting shelter belts with trees for the last 50 or so years. These trees are now maturing allowing for approximately 200 trees to be felled and chipped a year with harvesting and planting continuing at the same rate annually. The farm also invested in planting 18,500 new trees with support from the National Park Authority and Forestry Commission 7 years ago and now plans to introduce a coppice programme to provide further woodfuel.

Oliver Edwards commented “It’s really a win-win situation. We gain heat in a sustainable and cost effective way whilst benefiting the farm and wildlife too. The project also benefits the local economy – all the contractors and suppliers we used were local to the area. We’re now looking to secure funding for our own chipper to maximise cost savings, fuel security and lower transport emissions.”

Given the high and relatively consistent demand on the site, wood fuel is already proving to be a good solution. Even with initial high costs, the return on investment looks promising once the Renewable Heat Incentive is secured, coupled with fuels costs estimated to be reduced by over 50%. It is estimated the installation will save around 125 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

The Coleridge Way Moves On…

Photo by Tony Mann/ENPA

 Work is underway to extend The Coleridge Way, funded primarily by the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund with additional support from Lyn Community Development Trust, Lyn Valley Society, Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council and Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall Fund.

Currently 36 miles long, work has started to extend the route by an extra 14 miles further to Lynmouth. From Porlock the extended route, way marked with distinctive quill signage (produced by the National Park’s field services team) will head up through Worthy Woods and pass Ash Farm, where Coleridge once stayed, before dropping down into the Doone Valley and on to Watersmeet and Lynmouth. The new route will be ready to use this summer.

Originally opened in 2005, The Coleridge Way walking route 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.

Phil Taylor, Director of the Lyn Community Development Trust says: “Coleridge’s favourite walk was from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth and the Valley of Rocks and we are delighted that the Coleridge Way is being extended to incorporate more of Exmoor’s spectacular scenery. This will make a wonderful walk even more enjoyable and will be ideal for those wanting to try hiking for the first time as well as rewarding for experienced walkers.

“There are many places to stay along the way for anyone who wishes to extend their stay in the area.”

From Lynmouth an additional spur follows the South West Coast Path into the Valley of Rocks and Poets Corner. The total route will be a satisfying 50 miles long and the new extension will be completed by early summer. Full information will be available at www.coleridgeway.co.uk