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

 

Date for the Diary: Christmas Fayre in Lynmouth

NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

Anyone not yet into the Christmas spirit should head for the Christmas Fayre at Lynmouth on Sunday 11 December from 10am to 4pm where a host of delights will await them.

The National Park Centre team at the Lynmouth Pavilion ran a similar event in a small way last year which was so successful that more and more people wanted to be involved so this year there will be 15 stalls inside the Centre including arts, crafts, books, pottery, woodcraft items, jewellery and other seasonal items. In addition to these, a further 15 market stalls will be open along the Esplanade outside selling food, Christmas trees, Christmas wreaths, the contents of a seaside gift shop which will be sold in aid of Unicef, a scout stall, calendars, artisan items and a host of Christmas items.

Inside the Pavilion there will also be an elf workshop where children can make a Christmas tree decoration for free; they can also make a Christmas card in a competition that will be judged by Suzette Hibbert, Mayor of Lynton & Lynmouth, later in the afternoon.

Santa will be on hand and children are welcome to come and pay him a visit – the numbers able to do this are limited so places will need to be booked by phoning the Dining Room on 01598 753484 prior to the day. There will be plenty more to see and do with Lyntones Ladies’ choir singing seasonal songs at 11am and 2pm, plus face painting for a donation to Children’s Hospice, a raffle for a £75 Christmas hamper kindly donated by Marsden Devon Cottages who are also sponsoring the event, and a special festive menu in the Dining Room. 

National Park Centre Manager Dave Wilde said: “Entry is free so everyone is invited to come along and sample the special Christmas atmosphere. All this is in addition to the normal National Park Centre retail area where there are local books, jewellery, art items, Exmoor Christmas Cards and other local items for sale.

“Proceeds from the raffle and the £5 hire fee for the stalls and market stalls outside are all going to CareMoor for Exmoor* – especially to support the Dormice boxes appeal.”

For further information please call the National Park Centre at Lynmouth on 01598 752509.

Photo: Lynmouth Pavilion by Ken Blakey 

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