Fairground Flair on Porlock High Street

A third Pop-up Event will again draw attention to Porlock’s vibrant and authentic High Street and its independent Traders

Porlock.  A “Family & Circus” themed pop-up along Porlock High Street on Saturday, 4 September 2021, is the third in a series of events, animating and celebrating Porlock High Street, to aid recovery from Covid-19 lockdowns.

Funded by Somerset West & Taunton Council and organised by Porlock High Street Support Group, this event aims to draw the local community, as well as visitors, to the High Street in support of local traders.

Following the great success of the first pop-up events, the third event in the series will bring a fairground atmosphere to the High Street where children will have the opportunity to try out their circus skills. 

“Porlock High Street will experience jugglers, fortune tellers, guerilla knitters and traditional fairground games,” said Sarah Shorten who heads the Events Team. “Families are encouraged to explore the High Street and the areas beyond where they will find giant bubbles, face painting with a twist and even the odd bearded lady!”

“We want to encourage locals and visitors to rediscover a High Street and traders that are vibrant and authentic. The owners of Ted’s, for example, are styling their ice cream parlour as a circus for this event, and they will be serving their special ice cream sundaes dressed up as lioness and ringmaster.”

Any money raised during the event will go towards Homestart.

Duncan McCanlis, Chair of the Porlock High Street Support Group, explained: “We are grateful to Somerset West & Taunton Council for providing the finance. This allows us to not only organise these community events, but we are also able to provide traders with a new online platform, put out more flower planters and benches around the High Street, all in support of Porlock’s amazing range of High Street shops.”

Two further pop-up events will take place on Saturdays 4 October and 1 November with wellbeing and retail therapy themes. 

The event this Saturday 4 September 2021 will run from 12 to 4 pm.

More details about the event and Porlock traders can be found via the Porlock High Street Support Group’s Facebook Group.

Chloe is enjoying a triple scoop ice cream at Ted’s in Porlock High Street.

Traders are flying the Flag for Porlock

Local sewing group make new flags for Porlock High Street

Porlock.– Flags have gone up along Porlock High Street to bring cheer and vibrancy to the village at a time when the annual Carnival fell victim to Covid for the second year. The new flags are part of the High Street Recovery Programme funded by Somerset West & Taunton Council.

A number of Porlock traders had approached the Porlock High Street Support Group (PHSSG) earlier in the year whether there was a way to bring seasonal colour to the High Street. With bunting not being an option due to taller buses and lorries using the narrow street through the village, project lead Lesley Thornton worked on a flag design inspired by the Exmoor palette, with the Christmas tree supports being used as flag holders.

“In no time, a community project was well under way”, explained Lesley Thornton. “It is fantastic to see what can be achieved when people come together from the village. We have been able to create a legacy for the future, and it is hoped that this project is a catalyst for a whole series of flags to celebrate local events for years to come.”

“Porlock resident Jackie Jago, owner of Minehead’s Threads, sourced all material at cost”, Lesley Thornton continued. “Jackie is now helping all volunteers to sew the flags she has cut out. Anita Lovell, who runs Bramdowns Tearoom in Porlock, is hosting the sewing group, which she hopes will become a regular community group as a result. The volunteers were excited for this opportunity of a community project as they had felt very isolated during the recent lockdowns.”

Duncan McCanlis, Chair of the PHSSG, commented: “We are grateful to all the volunteers who helped with the flags. Saturday, 4 September, will see our next big pop-up event in the High Street, with a ‘Family & Circus’ theme. We hope this will not only cheer up those upset about the absence of Carnival, but also help our many independent traders.”

£50k secured towards restoration plan for Dulverton’s weir and leat

Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) has received a grant of £50,000 to carry out investigative works as part of a joint plan to restore Dulverton’s medieval weir and leat.

Proposals for the restoration project were submitted to Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) in November 2020 in partnership with Dulverton Weir & Leat Conservation Trust (DWLCT) to address historical flooding issues suffered by the town.

Over the last 30 years there has been several catastrophic flooding incidents, the most recent of which was in 2012 when many homes and businesses were flooded, cutting it off from the A396 and causing thousands of pounds of damage.

The need for a programme of restorative works was agreed between SWT and DWLCT following a recent survey of the weir, attributing the flooding to a prolonged build-up of debris originating from the structural stonework and obstructing the flow of water into the leat.

The weir, which is owned by SWT, is 150 metres wide and diverts water from the River Barle into a complex leat system believed to have been built in the 14th century to provide power for up to six watermills. Water from the leat flows alongside and under properties between Town Mills and Lower Mill before re-joining the Barle on the other side of the town.

The restoration project will be delivered by the Council in two phases.

The £50,000 granted by the SRA is already being used to fund the first phase, to include: flood alleviation modelling; ecological surveying; finalising designs for repairs and improvements; obtaining necessary approvals; tendering and agreeing costs for the restoration work; and securing funding for the second phase.

Providing no obstacles are encountered which could affect the viability for the planned restoration, a second phase of repairs and improvements will commence in 2023, at which point a further application will be made to the SRA with funding sought from other potential benefactors.

Portfolio Holder for Economic Development & Asset Management, Cllr Marcus Kravis, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with the SRA and DWLCT to further our plans for Dulverton’s weir and leat and we remain hopeful that the groundwork currently being undertaken will allow for the restoration work to commence in 2022.

“The ancient weir and leat are key features of the town and it’s vital that they’re maintained for the benefit of future generations and to protect local residents and businesses from flooding which has become more frequent in recent years.”

Once the restoration works are complete, the DWLCT has agreed, in principle, to lease the weir and leat from the council and to accept responsibility for all future maintenance and costs.

Trustee of DWLCT, Philip Hull, said:

“This is tangible evidence of Somerset West and Taunton’s commitment to restore the weir & leat and we are delighted to see it”.

More information about DWLCT can be found on their website.

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
http://www.lundyisland.co.uk

NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK: Help us to bridge the gap

A fundraising campaign has been launched by Exmoor National Park’s CareMoor for Exmoor* to replace a much loved feature of Exmoor – Woodside bridge, which has provided a crossing of the East Lyn river near Lynmouth for over a hundred years.

Woodside Bridge had to be removed last December following an inspection which revealed that the softwood timber beams had come to the end of their life. The bridge was replaced in the 1950s after the Lynmouth Flood and again in 1993 by the Royal Engineers working with Exmoor National Park. At 17.3m/57feet, the structure is the longest single span countryside bridge in the National Park.

Thousands of people used the bridge each year to enjoy the short, easy circuit  taking in Middleham Memorial Gardens along with the beauty and wildlife of the river and woodland valley. The bridge is an important link for visitors and the local businesses which they support.

Dan Barnett, Access & Recreation Manager at Exmoor National Park said: Many people are surprised to learn that the bridge is not recorded as a public right of way which means there is no duty for local authorities to replace it, so we need your help.

“We are keen to replace the bridge as soon as funds allow so we are asking visitors, residents and anyone who cares about Exmoor to make a donation. Any amount, large or small, will help and we hope to reach our target by Christmas which will allow us to get the bridge installed ready for Easter next year when the main visitor season begins.

“We now have a price of £65,000 to install a high quality new structure. This is a steel beam supported bridge with hardwood timber work which will have a very long design life.”

The land where the bridge is sited is owned by The National Trust, which is a partner in this project. 

For more information and to contribute to the Woodside fund please visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor/woodside

 

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  http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/CareMoor-for-Exmoor/dormouse-appeal 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

5 things to do in Lynton & Lynmouth this Summer

The twin towns of Lynton & Lynmouth are in the middle of the rugged Exmoor coastline with Lynton 500 feet above Lynmouth and the two towns connected by a cliff funicular railway. Five reasons to visit Lynton & Lynmouth this summer include open air Macbeth, the most scenic of Devon cream teas, a new arts trail, scenery that influenced the Romantic Poets and riding a water powered funicular.

See Macbeth in the Valley of the Rocks

New for this summer is the Pleasure Dome Theatre, an open-air theatre set in the dramatic and beautiful scenery of The Valley of The Rocks near Lynton.  The Pleasure Dome Theatre are an artistic collective with the aim of using the natural landscape of the area to make Exmoor a cultural destination as well as a tourist hub. Their first performance is Macbeth which will be running from August 2nd until the 20th.

Enjoy a scenic Cream Tea at Watersmeet

The National Trust’s Watersmeet House is a 19th century fishing lodge with a beautiful Edwardian tea garden. Living up to its name, Watersmeet is where the East Lyn and Hoar Oak Water meet and cream teas can be enjoyed overlooking the rivers and spotting herons and dippers. Watersmeet is also located along some of Exmoor’s best walking and so makes a great spot for a mid-hike rest.

Indulge in Exmoor culture on the Arts Trail

Exmoor Arts Trail is a new concept which makes it easy for people to engage with art, craft and photography on and around Exmoor. Through-out the year visitors to Exmoor can use a web page with a clickable map that shows participating venues on the Trail including art and craft shops and galleries, eateries which have art on the walls, art and craft workshop venues and artists and artisans with studios which are open to the public.

Take a ride on a water powered funicular

No trip to the towns of Lynton and Lynmouth would be complete without a trip on the water powered Cliff Railway, formed through an Act of Parliament in 1888 which gave perpetual right to extract up to 60,000 gallons of water a day. The funicular is an exciting way to travel between these two historic towns. Enjoy stunning views of the North Devon Coastline as you glide up and down the 862-foot length of track from Lynmouth nestling at the foot of the cliffs to Lynton perched 500 feet above.

Channel your internal Romantic poet on the Coleridge Way

Walk up to 51 miles through the stunning Somerset countryside of the Quantock Hills, the Brendon Hills and Exmoor, a landscape that inspired Coleridge to produce some of his best known work. At Lynmouth the path links with the South West Coast Path National Trail. A delightful 30-mile circular walk can be made by walking from Porlock on the Coleridge Way to Lynmouth and returning along the coast path. 

For more information on Lynton and Lynmouth visit http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk

Minehead anticipates tourism boost with new all-in-one West Somerset Railway ticket

Visitors to Minehead, in the heart of Exmoor, will now be able to travel on the West Somerset Railway, the largest heritage railway in the UK, with an all-in-one ticket as GWR trains complete a new ticket initiative.

The initiative sees the launch of a ‘one ticket’ solution enabling passengers to explore Britain’s longest heritage railway, the West Somerset Railway, with GWR rail and a local bus service fare included. The one ticket solution will include train travel from mainline stations and a connecting bus service (at present) from Taunton to Bishops Lydeard.

Visitors travelling from outside of Somerset could see significant savings with the removal of a peak time ticket restriction on a service from London.

Paul Conibeare, West Somerset Railway General Manager, has said; “We are delighted with this news. There has been months of planning and engagement between West Somerset Railway, the Visit Somerset team and the GWR team.  This will be a huge boost for the WSR and the local economy”.

John Turner, Visit Somerset’s Chief Executive and member of the executive board for Exmoor Tourism said; “We have studied a previous example of this kind of development in East Grinstead on the Blue Bell Railway.  Although it was a cross platform link we still believe that we can derive connections between the two schemes due to West Somerset Railway as an attraction being far larger. The Blue Bell team saw 60,000 more visitors and an increase of over a million pounds. With some extensive marketing for West Somerset Railway we will hope that we can see this type of increase over a five-year period”.

For more information on visiting Minehead visit the official Visit Exmoor website http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk

Photo credit: Ian Brodie / Visit Somerset

Exmoor Pony News

Exmoor National Park has been working closely with the Exmoor Pony Society, the Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group and the Moorland Mousie Trust to develop a number of projects to support free-living Exmoor pony herds. Exmoor ponies are an important part of the landscape of the National Park and one of its special qualities.

What makes an Exmoor pony an Exmoor Pony? Trying to find the answer is one of the actions the group agreed on. In addition to the organisations mentioned, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Defra, local vet Peter Green and Nottingham University have been working together to work out how to characterise the full genome of the Exmoor pony.  The genome is an animal’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. If the genome is defined, it will help us to understand where the pony has come from and which other breeds it is closely related to.  It could also help to guide future breeding programmes.  

During the last World War, pony numbers on Exmoor were drastically reduced – meat was in short supply and by the end of the war only around 50 ponies were left.  It is from this tiny population that all Exmoor ponies derive.  The genetic pool is, therefore, very small and it is important to try and preserve as much genetic diversity as possible to ensure the long term welfare of the ponies on the moor. 

The team is currently agreeing the scope of work and fundraising for the project. If successful, the first phase will go ahead when the ponies are collected from the moor at the annual gatherings.  Samples will be taken from the ponies and analysed by scientists at Nottingham. It is hoped that by early next year we will, for the first time, have the genome of the Exmoor pony.

Exmoor Pony Grant Fund

In another initiative, Exmoor National Park Authority has established an Exmoor Pony Grant Fund to promote and conserve free-living Exmoor ponies. Grant applications could include equipment, measures to conserve the landscape using Exmoor ponies, promotion of the breed, marketing or research.

Sarah Bryan, Head of Conservation & Access at Exmoor National Park said:

“The Exmoor landscape would be incomplete without the free living Exmoor pony and I believe that the Genome Project marks a pivotal moment in the long term survival of this endangered breed. We are delighted with the progress that is being made and look forward to seeing the results of this innovative project.

“We are also pleased to be able to announce the launch of the Exmoor Pony Grant in recognition of the essential work that owners carry out to keep these iconic herds on the moor and we look forward to receiving applications.” 

Grants of up to £500 on a total project spend of £1,000 are available. For more information visit: http://bit.ly/1XV6zCG or from Monday 6 June please contact Heather Harley, conservation officer (farming & land management) on 01398 322277, hjharley@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Photo taken by Nigel Stone/ENPA

Photo taken by Nigel Stone/ENPA

 

National Parks: Breathing Spaces

British public support corporate involvement in National Parks to secure future sustainability

Nearly half of people surveyed on the future of the UK’s National Parks are concerned they will deteriorate if funding levels reduced in coming years, while 85% say that their perception of a large company would improve if it provided them with support, according to a survey by the National Parks Partnerships.

Launched today, the National Parks Partnerships has been created to enable businesses to readily engage with all 15 UK National Parks to enhance the quality and utility of the Parks now and for future generations. The Partnership is led by a Board of Directors of senior executives volunteering from the private sector and key commercial leaders from UK Parks.

Steve Curl, Chair of the Board and spokesperson for the National Parks Partnership, said:

“Government and the general public provide important support to the National Parks but we need additional commitments to make sure that they are not only sustained but enhanced for future generations. Partnership with responsible businesses – without commercialisation – can deliver the support needed to secure benefits from Parks for the massive number of visitors from the UK and overseas, local communities and the environment.”

In the survey of 2000 people across the UK, 67% strongly agreed that children need to get active in the great outdoors and nature and become real kids again and 68% strongly agreed that everyone should have the basic right to access nature in green spaces, fresh air and places like the National Parks.

Curl added: “At a time when children are being encouraged to play more outdoors and we all recognise the importance of being active, companies can facilitate engagement from their own employees and all sections of the public through health and wellbeing, conservation and other initiatives. We believe this will also bring substantial business benefits to partner companies – a real win-win.”

Current plans for major partnerships include an ‘Active Parks Partner’ to jointly promote health and wellbeing activities within the National Parks; a ‘Parks Discovery Partner’ to help provide for children who wouldn’t normally get the chance to have educational experiences in ‘outdoor classrooms’ in Parks; an official outdoor clothing supplier to the UK’s 255 National Park Rangers; a national funder for the ‘Miles without Stiles’ programme that creates and maintains accessible paths throughout the Parks; and opportunities to collaborate on environmental initiatives including sustainable transport, water and carbon management.

The mission of the UK National Parks is to conserve their natural beauty, promote public understanding and enjoyment, and foster economic and social development of local communities. The National Parks have 110 million visitors each year with an annual visitor spend of £5.5bn. 50% of people in England live within one hours’ drive of a National Park.

The survey of 2000 people was conducted across the UK in April.