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.

Eat Dirt on Exmoor

Exciting Bank Holiday Thrills

3rd May 2016

A group of Mountain Bike enthusiasts from across the South West and beyond took to the Exmoor hills yesterday for a new May Day bank holiday ride,  “Eat Dirt on Exmoor”, organised by Calvert Trust Exmoor.

195 cyclists took part in the ride, raising over £3,000 between them, with more sponsorship still coming in. Much of the 25 mile main route took riders through areas of Exmoor not normally open to the general public, thanks to the Hollam, New Invention and Broford Estates allowing special access for this event.

The circular route started in Dulverton following the route of the River Barle up to Tarr Steps, then up onto the moor, south east to the river Exe and then back into Dulverton for the finish line.

 Despite mixed weather the riders enjoyed the event, with many already asking when it will be repeated, like Julian from Tiverton; “I had a great time today, it was a well organised fun event. The course was really enjoyable. I’m looking forward to the next one already!”

Rob Lott, head of Communications at Calvert Trust Exmoor said “What an amazing day we’ve had! We were absolutely delighted that so many riders came out to support us and enjoy some beautiful Exmoor countryside. Thanks to these riders, the support team, volunteers and marshals we will be able to support more people with disabilities to access cycling and other adventurous activities.”

As well as the fabulous volunteer marshals and helpers, Calvert Trust Exmoor would also like to thank and the brilliant local businesses whose support  enabled the event to happen; Mason Kings, Mole Valley Farmers, The Bike Shop (Taunton), Ivan’s Coffee, GT Bicycles, AMASS medical, and Altitude 58 Film Company.  A film of the event produced by Altitude 58 will be available in the next few days.

image018Tarr Steps from Above (image © Altitude 58 Film Company)

 Calvert Trust Exmoor hopes to announce the date for the next “Eat Dirt on Exmoor” in the next few weeks. In the meantime the Trust is running another cycling event on the 25th of June, the Calvert Coastal 100. This is a cycling sportive event, following the coastal roads of North Devon from Lynmouth round to Barnstaple with stunning views and 3 different routes for people with a wide variety of experience and fitness levels. You can find out more about the Coastal 100 from www.calvert-trust.org.uk/100

 

 

Web:             www.calvert-trust.org.uk/exmoor

Facebook:   www.facebook.com/CTExmoor

Twitter:        www.twitter.com/calvertexmoor

YouTube:     www.youtube.com/CalvertTrustExmoorUK

LinkedIn:     www.linkedin.com/company/calvert-trust-exmoor

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 bdavis@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or Katherine Williams on 01643 841455 or KWilliams@northdevonplus.co.uk.

For further information please visit the project webpage at http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/headwaters.

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 krolfe@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk for more information. You can also follow her on Twitter @Keeley_ENPA or email Keeley to sign up for the newsletter.

 

Launch of Exmoor Horn Wool

enpa              NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

DSCF6406A new local venture was given a flying start at a well-attended launch of the Exmoor Horn Wool company hosted by the National Park Centre in Dunster recently. The project, supported by the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund, is a culmination of two years of hard work by a handful of Exmoor sheep farmers determined to find a way to add value to the fine fleeces produced by the indigenous Exmoor Horn sheep.

On display was the full range of dyed wool for knitting, in five colours that reflected the Exmoor landscape such as purple for heather, yellow for gorse, and a range of socks in a variety of colour combinations, each one unique to a particular village on Exmoor. The knee length socks are designed as shooting socks, but are also perfect as wellie socks or, as one satisfied purchaser pointed out, golfing socks.

Brian Buckingham, an Exmoor Horn breeder for over 40 years, and now chairman of the Exmoor Horn Wool company, is very enthusiastic about the new enterprise, “So many of the towns and villages in the South West were built on the back of wool production, even our launch took place only a few yards from the old Dunster yarn market building, so it is great to see sheep farmers once again restoring that link between their sheep and the final wool product – and what a fine wool product it is. 

“Thanks to their wool our Exmoor Horns can withstand days of blizzard out on the moor, so what better wool could there be to knit into warm outer garments such as jumpers and scarfs?”

Exmoor Horn wool project leader Lindy Head added: “The two years it has taken to get to the final IMG_1668product range has been an incredibly steep learning curve. With the help and guidance of John Arbon Textiles and the Wool Board, all those involved, including the Exmoor Horn Wool board, its shareholder farmers, and the Exmoor Horn Sheep Breeders Society, have had to get to grips with the intricacies of the spinning process – from deciding on yarn specifications to fibre conditioning techniques, the challenge of getting the colour mix right, and understanding the working methods of the traditional sock manufacturing industry.

“Then there has been the digital marketing element, a vital component for any new company, but not something Exmoor sheep farmers normally have to handle. I’m now delighted to say that a website, www.exmoorhornwool.co.uk, is up and running and we are hoping that lots of people will support the new venture.”

PS:  The project has been part funded through the Exmoor National Park Authority Partnership fund, at 39%, and the rest of the funding has been supplied by the Exmoor Horn Sheep Breeders Society and individual Exmoor farmers.

To order wool and/or socks, please go to www.exmoorhornwool.co.uk

Exmoor Horn Wool 1