A very special place: Lundy’s future secured for another 50 years

The future of Lundy, an island off the North Devon coast that has been transformed over the past fifty years, is secure as a haven for wildlife and visitors that are looking for their own little bit of peace and tranquillity. A fresh 50-year agreement between the National Trust and the Landmark Trust, the two charities that own and run Lundy, has been signed, which will offer protection for years to come.

“Fifty years ago Lundy was on a knife-edge,” said Derek Green, the Landmark Trust’s Manager of Lundy.  A new chapter in the island’s history began in 1969 when the late Sir Jack Hayward, the former owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers football club, bought Lundy and donated it to the National Trust, who leased it to the Landmark Trust. “It’s been a fantastic journey and we’re thrilled to be signing the new lease. The island offers a rare experience: large enough to have a life of its own, which visitors can share and enjoy, but small and far away enough being a world apart.”

On Sunday 29th October the island celebrated the Golden Anniversary 1969-2019 in style with a church service in the newly renovated St Helens church. The bells rang out across the island as Reverend Jane Skinner gave a wonderful service, followed by speeches and a toast to all that Lundy offers and to all the people past and present who have contributed to this beautiful place.

Lundy being Lundy it wouldn’t have been right as on any big occasion if a new set of Lundy stamps were not issued, so the Lundy post office has been really busy putting together the first day covers and stamp sets for the Golden Jubilee 50th Anniversary.

Later in the day a wonderful spit roast was presented followed by the Dambuskers playing well into the evening, such an amazing celebration enjoyed by all. 


By Tracey Crumb

The Green-Eyed Monster of Exmoor

Guest Post by Tracey Gemmell

Is it possible for clotted cream to evoke jealousy? Yes, as it turns out, because clotted cream leads to hireth, and hireth ‒ the Cornish word for homesickness with a sense of longing and loss ‒ wakes in me the green-eyed monster. Of course, that silky, smooth nectar of the cows is not the only trigger for this chain reaction. It may be an Exmoor pony on North Hill, or thatched cottages at Selworthy. It may be Landacre Bridge, the Doone Valley, the beach at Porlock Weir. I could go on and on. No matter the image flitting across my laptop portal out here in Wisconsin, USA, jealously follows; directed at those living on Exmoor.

I know, I know. It’s not your fault I don’t live there anymore. The blame for that lies squarely on the shoulders of my American husband. Well, maybe a little bit on my shoulders for leaving my Porlock-based equestrian life to marry an American. Anyway, not a day goes by my soul doesn’t return, and I’m fortunate to get to physically visit twice a year. But I have to leave again, and it gets harder every time. Oh, to live in that place where I sleep the best and breathe the deepest! There’s something otherworldly about Exmoor; a small world, or vast, depending on my mood or exact location. I can walk along Horner Water and feel cocooned, as though swathed in the combe’s deep, comforting folds. Or, from the crown of Porlock Hill, I can gaze up at the entire nightly universe, stunned by its ability to reduce me to nothingness. Sheltered from the world or dwarfed by the universe; my choice on Exmoor.

I selfishly began writing ‘Dunster’s Calling’ as a personal balm for hireth. I could sit 3,842 miles away from Exmoor ‒ though who’s counting? ‒ and hear again the winds whipping across Dunkery Beacon, and hooves clip-clopping through Luccombe. In time, the balm turned into a novel; a humorous, yet poignant, tale of an expat’s search for home. Based on reviews, the tale struck a nerve for other hireth-sufferers ‒ and clotted cream lovers. Readers who’d never heard of Exmoor vowed to visit, and readers who’d never owned a horse fell in love with Dunster, the cheeky Exmoor pony character who guides Sam through her trans-Atlantic dilemma. It seems many can relate to the pull of home.

As I plan my permanent return, I know this for certain: when I finally get there, I’ll recognise the green-eyed monster in the faces of visitors unable to call Exmoor home. And I’ll understand. One question: does clotted cream count as a liquid in carry-on luggage?

Tracey Gemmell’s novel, ‘Dunster’s Calling’ is available worldwide on Amazon. A percentage of royalties is donated to the Moorland Mousie Trust, working to promote and protect the endangered rare-breed Exmoor pony.
Visit Tracey on Twitter @TraceyGemmell17, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/author.traceygemmell/, Instagram traceygemmellauthor or at www.traceygemmell.com

Tracey Gemmell will be at the Exmoor Store
in Minehead (1 Friday Street, TA24 5UB)
on 10 November 2018, 2pm:

Book your tickets  now

Letter from Exmoor: The Exmoor Beast

Gary’s account of the popular cycling event, which took place this weekend, was first published on his blog here.

Exmoor Beast 2013…………or “In the darkness at the dances in the school canteen”

I’m normally only awake at 5.00am when I’m at work or getting ready to go to work but this Sunday I was eating my Weetabix and getting ready to drive to the Exmoor Beast sportive which was starting in Tiverton this year. I for one liked it when it was based in Minehead because it meant a five minute roll down to the start. At least driving over the moors gave me an idea on what condition the roads were in which was covered in debris, apparently there was a storm, I slept through it, other aspects of my life resulted in no sleep the night before.

It was very dark when I got parked up at the school in Tiverton, the last time I was hanging around a high school in the dark was back in my schooldays lurking around the school disco. We never had proms in my day mainly because I lived in a northern industrial city and we weren’t the kids in America. I registered in the gym were they told me the start was delayed until 7.15 due to the gloom, checked my helmet tag and bumped into Andrew who was doing some photography for The Western Morning news. I then bumped into Chris and Jennifer who said Guy was also there as I made my way back to the car, Chris cheerily reminded me what fun it must be to drive thirty miles to ride back past my house, yeah, cheers! As I thought I had some time to kill I sat in the car and considered going back to sleep only to hear the PA calling the riders to the start and starting the briefing. So a I quickly threw on my  far too warm should have left at home jacket and made my way to the start. I shuffled into the second pen but couldn’t see anyone else I knew except Guy who was in the first pen and set off before I could say hello, he was wearing shades though so I doubt he would have seen me.

So just after 7.00am I set off into the dark which was quite a novelty for me, I was glad some people had really good lights so I sat behind them. This first half of the ride was pretty new to me and I quite enjoyed the gentle climbs up around Bampton and Morebath and past Wimbleball Lake. It was warm, I was warm and overdressed for the occasion and with just one heavy shower was a bit annoyed with myself for my poor choice of cyclewear. Perhaps I should of worn a shirt, jeans and wellies like one bloke and ridden my mtb for one hundred miles, well done to you for putting us Lycra lovies to shame.

I like the descent down to Timberscombe but I knew what to expect as I normally ride up it (?) I was slightly worried by the over confidence of one rider in front of me who insisted on riding down no-handed, bloody show off. I was soon in Dunster and the first feed stop, I only had a banana and I probably should of had more and was about to get on my way when Chris and Jennifer rolled in. I thought it rude not to say hello and also bumped into one of my workmates, Carl, who was doing his first sportive although he is a seasoned cyclist. Off we went again, past my house, sort of, without first nearly becoming victim of a water bottle incident and it was my mates bottle!

We were soon at the foot of the climb up and over Dunkery. I’ve tried it before and failed miserably and guess what I did again. It doesn’t matter what gearing or bike you have it’s about your head, heart and lungs and I had none, nothing there I even felt like turning tail and going home. I limply persevered and did the hill by instalment, ride, stop, ride a bit more until I got over the thing. I didn’t think anyone would wait for me as I was taking so long and quite rightly they didn’t. They got over it though and was quite rightly happy and they deserve to be in a happy place once in a while 🙂 It was very busy on Dunkery with horsey types and weekend warrior downhillers getting a lift up with a Land Rover and trailer. Note to driver of said Landy, don’t beep your horn at cyclists struggling up a hill you should know better! So I carried on alone again but not after blowing up big time as I rode up from Luckwell Bridge, if I was a car they would probably say my big end had gone. The legs were turning but not a lot happening, I just told myself to get to the split point and have a breather and eat something. I nearly missed the split point I was in such a stupor, another sixty hilly miles would not be a good idea.

I stopped, ate something and got on my way, twenty odd miles to the finish, head down and just get it done. I passed the odd cyclist and many passed me all far too quick for me to jump on with. I finally managed to jump onto the back of a little group in the last few miles and got a tow to the finish. I like the finish, inside the gym, name announced and a free tankard to fill with ale and a friendly face as Carl said hello. I chucked the bike back in the car and grabbed my change of clothes and made my way back to the gym where Chris and Jennifer were enjoying their ale after a good ride around Exmoor. We sat and chatted and I got changed in lovely warm changing rooms before heading off home the way I had just ridden, at least I beat the rain if little else.

I think I might have preferred last year’s route but I’m probably only saying that because I could ride most of it. Last year I took over six hours for sixty two miles this year albeit a different route I did sixty six in five and a half. I should be pleased with that but I feel slightly disappointed with myself, just one of those days……

Letter from Exmoor: Fun Sized Fish

Wow, this weather is incredible.  Not so good for the fishing so it may seem, but in fact there is great sport available, especially on the rivers (find some shade around a bit of oxygenated water) and as we found yesterday it seems the Bass are starting to show on the estuaries.  More about that in a moment.

My guest for the last 3 days has been Simon Whitworth who originally visited me two years ago for a course.  Due to work commitments he had managed just 3 sessions since then so we started out with a casting refresher.  I have to say that Simon did not take long to get back into the swing of things and before long talk about the river began.

Simon Whitworth with an eleven inch wild Brown Trout form the River Exe

A bit better than fun size brown!

He took to the running water scene pretty quickly, nailing a palm sized fish on the first cast!  This was really in at the deep end stuff, casting under trees, controlling the line, watching out for drag and then having to make a cast.  All in the space of about 10 seconds.  By day 2 things just got better and our very last fish of the day was this little stunner which is above average at about 11 inches.  Taken on a gob full of a Sedge pitched into a back eddy under an overhanging branch.

The small stillwater Rainbows Simon had previously caught may have been bigger but as we chatted away about his experience so far it transpired (as I hear so often) that the size of the fish really didn’t matter.  It was the whole package.  The scenery.  The serenity.  The Take.  And of course the chance to witness these beautiful little fish in all their glory.

A River Exe Brown Trout nestled in the net prior to release

Who needs big when you can have beautiful?

We still had day 3 ahead of us; so what to do?  Simon did not need asking twice when I mentioned Bass.  This year they have been few and far between, so I explained that a blank was certainly possible, although if nothing else I could show him a few spots, the flies to use and who knows maybe the tide would deliver us a little bit of Summer Silver?

The first half of the session was as I expected. Hot, sticky and fishless, although within minutes of arriving I managed to spook a Bass of a good few pounds, hiding in some weed fronds just inches from the shore.  So at least there was one to catch!  Despite some cracking casts being thrown by Simon (remember this was just his 7th ever fly fishing session!)  …it didn’t bite.  With the tide changing it was time to rack up the rods and head for a new mark in the hope that the three pounder was not alone in the estuary.

Turns out it wasn’t …. as upon arriving we could see Gulls in a frenzy.  ”That’s Bass – guaranteed” I said and before long we had broken into a jog (thank god for breathable waders!) and were heading towards the activity.  The frustration as can be the case during these bait ball busts is that the fish were moving so fast, oh for a kayak, a float tube … even a set of arm bands.  And to add to the frustration a North Easterly was pushing across Simons shoulder making fly casting at best tricky.  Enter the lure rod.

Simon had never caught a Bass, so what should we do, hope that the fish came within casting range or chuck out a lure?  First cast he was smashed hard twice and then lost a fish on a Little Sammy skittered across the surface (I just couldn’t risk the last 2 Salt Skimmers that I have at the moment … and anyway I had left them at home!) before another chuck resulted in a super visual bust on the surface and this time … the fish was on!

Simon Whitworth displays a North Devon Bass

Fun sized Bass on a fun filled day

The first fish of any species is special and now Simon had three as the day before we had also picked up a nice size Grayling, which would be shown here if I had not locked the SD card and not noticed!  All good but what really pleased me more than anything was that Simon had seen now varied fishing can be.  One minute tucked away on a river wafting stealthy little casts under a tree at Trout sipping on the surface and the next stood in gin clear saltwater frantically casting at Bass smashing bait.  Does the size of the fish really matter during moments like this?

You may notice the black frames on these images, I’m not sure personally but will try a few more experiments with this iPad Snapseed software until I get it right.  I also have the May & June catch up to complete (as promised here) but right now I must admit that the typing is becoming a little more frantic as I think I am going to steal the afternoon and see if I can get into a Bass myself.  There were plenty of the fun size Basslets but I also watched a huge bust and aerial display from a fish that must have been 5lb, along with a further specimen that was even bigger.  Who knows, perhaps my next post will be Super sized?!


Nick Hart originally posted this on his blog on 12 July 2013. You can find more info on how to go fishing with Nick here.


A Letter from Exmoor: Countryside Music

Guest blog by Robin ‘Hopcott’ Watson

Enjoy local music traditions after exploring Exmoor and West Somerset traditional arts, crafts and glorious natural countryside


301 WashfordInnTraditionalMusicExmoorWestSomerset

Exmoor and West Somerset is well known for its unspoilt countryside, dramatic coastline, historic buildings and craft but is perhaps less well known for the thriving music traditions still very much alive within its local community.

For those that know where to look, hidden away in the pubs and clubs of Exmoor and West Somerset, often off the beaten track, you can still find the sort of countryside music that has been making pulses beat faster in English rural areas for centuries.

So, after a leisurely day enjoying the beautiful Exmoor countryside and local arts and crafts, why not relax with a pint of ale or glass of wine

and a meal to the sounds of traditional music with the locals?

In the good old fashioned way, much of the music is provided by amateurs so expect the odd blemish but the local musicians are more than likely  to give you a cheery welcome and make you feel at home. If you are an acoustic musician yourself, you may well be invited to join in and play along with them because traditional music is social music and it’s all about people getting together to have fun!

The photo (top) shows some local musicians playing some tunes and singing some songs at the Washford Inn, Washford, West Somerset (Saturday 2nd February 2013) but, for up-to-date details of local traditional music sessions, the Somerset and Dorset Folk Diary (or SaDFolk) at http://www.sadfolk.co.uk/weekly.php gives details of weekly events. Look down the page for ‘Half Pace’ to find the regular Exmoor and West Somerset traditional music sessions.

302 Busking Minehead QuayWest SomersetOf course, if you are around Minehead Sea Front in West Somerset on a sunny day, you may well also see one or more of the local musicians enjoying the sunshine and keeping Exmoor and West Somerset music traditions alive outdoors which, of course, is probably where all traditional music began.


Guest blog: Exmoor House at Wheddon Cross – Snowdrop Valley

Snowdrop Valley 2013, Wheddon Cross, Exmoor, Somerset

 203 Rosi Davis Snowdrop Valley
Would you like to do something really special in February? How about a visit to Snowdrop Valley? It’s about a mile and a half from where we are and – as the name might suggest – is a place to see a host of snowdrops in a natural setting.
The snowdrops carpet the woodland floor and cover the banks of the river Avill, which flows through the valley. It’s a lovely, magical place at any time of year, whether or not it is the snowdrop season. You can walk from our place via a number of different routes, the quickest being straight down the winding path to snowdropthe valley and back up again (aerobic exercise guaranteed; sensible footwear essential).At snowdrops time, there is a park & ride bus service from Wheddon Cross, organised by our Parish Council. Parking is in the village car park (next to the pub), where there’s also a special information point with people to give directions and advice. The narrow road to Snowdrop Valley is closed during this time (otherwise there might be traffic problems as it’s single track and there are no passing places). So, you need to either walk or get the bus in order to see the snowdrops (people with disabilities can make special arrangements). In 2013 the park & ride operates from 2nd to 24th February and the road remains closed for an extra week after this.For more details, including a bus timetable, an information leaflet to download and regular updates, visit the Wheddon Cross snowdrops page

Book dinner, bed and breakfast at Exmoor House and make a few days of it. You could stay over Valentine’s Day for a really romantic break (we’ll even order champagne and local chocolates for you if you like!).

Steam and SnowdropAs usual, we’ll be opening our lovely guest dining room (which has a great view of Dunkery Beacon, and by the way was once the village tailor’s shop) as a tea room for the whole of Snowdrop Valley season. Frank’s scones have become legendary and there’s a good choice of more substantial food too (e.g. mega ploughman’s lunches, hot soup, sandwiches. Everything is of course home-made, including all our bread. Home-smoked chicken and real corned beef are two popular sandwich fillings…

The West Somerset Railway’s Snowdrops and Steam excursion was such a success last year that they’re running it on more dates this time. Find more information at their website.

If you are doing the train trip and would like to have lunch here at Exmoor House, it may be advisable to book, especially if there are four or more of you.

To see more of Rosi’s Snowdrop Valley photos, pop over to Facebook.

For more information on Exmoor Hourse, go to www.exmoorhotel.co.uk