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

National Parks UK and Mission Explore launch new adventure children’s book for National Parks Week

Today marks the beginning of National Parks Week, the UK National Park family’s annual celebration of Britain’s breathing spaces.  Taking place between Monday 25 July and Sunday 31 July, this year’s National Parks Week theme is ‘adventure’.

To get the Week off to a flying start, National Parks UK are launching their new adventure children’s book. National Parks UK have teamed up with Mission Explore to produce the pocket sized book filled with challenges and adventures for children to try out and keep a record of when they are in one of the UK’s 15 National Parks.

Television presenter and National Park enthusiast Julia Bradbury said: ‘I absolutely LOVE this book, drawing a cow-pat emoji is a must-try! It’s so important to encourage kids to enjoy our UK National Parks from an early age and instil a love of the countryside that will last all their lives thus helping to secure the future of our protected landscapes’.

Helen Steer, Director of Mission Explore said “”The Mission:Explore team are extremely excited that our latest book is a collaboration with National Parks UK. Each member of the UK National Park family is a unique place, ideally suited for discovery, curiosity and creativity. Mae’n amser mentro! It’s time to explore!””

The book will be sold at a cost of £5.00 per copy and for this the reader can expect to be entertained by over 90 fun-filled pages, jam-packed with weird and wonderful ideas of things to do whilst at a National Park. It is aimed at encouraging children to explore the enormous world of the National Parks and engage them with all the brilliant things that are on offer throughout the UK. The book is available from outlets in the National Parks or online at www.nationalparks.gov.uk/missionexplore 

“Our book challenges the owner to become an extreme explorer, natural navigator and wildlife watcher in one of our 15 awesome National Parks.” Said Kathryn Cook, UK Director, National Parks UK.  “Missions range from simple tasks to more challenging ones. An example of a simpler task would be ‘Eat like a local’, encouraging children to try food produced by local businesses. At the other end of the scale there are challenges to ‘Go on a poo hunt’ and ‘Get stung’. Go explore our UK National Parks and have fun!  

All of the challenges were voted for by schoolchildren from all over the UK and the favourites were selected to be published. 

Nick Gardner, Co-Founder & CEO of Project Dirt said of the book “What a wonderful resource! Mission:Explore and the National Parks have developed a really imaginative way of re-engaging children with nature.  Through its wacky drawings and irreverent tone, this book effectively gets across a fundamental truth: exploring our natural world is FUN!””

To help everyone to make the most of National Parks, there are a number of Top 15 Adventure lists offering ideas to inspire young and old. These include ‘Adventures for the non-adventurous’, ‘Family-friendly adventures’ and ‘Quirky Adventures’.          

In addition, there is information on events taking place during National Parks Week, and ideas on how to get out and get active. Activities include walking routes, cycling and star-gazing. You can also find information on how to travel to the National Parks sustainably, making use of our car-free guides.

To learn more about National Parks Week, as well as search a database of National Parks Week events taking place close to you, visit: http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/visiting/national-parks-week

There are 15  members of the UK’s National Parks family: the Broads, Brecon Beacons, Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales.

‘Bogtastic’! – Tuesday 26 July 2016

NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

A free, fun family adventure day for all ages around Simonsbath and Blackpitts, Exmoor National Park

 “I held my first glow worm”; “Amazing fun, very informative”; “fantastic free event”; “lots of muddy but happy people”
Bogtastic visitors

This  ‘drop in’ event will feature the Bogstacle course, stream dipping, live bats, the opportunity to visit one of the South West’s last remaining operational water powered sawmills, and lots more all-weather and undercover activities. There is something for everyone! Entrance is free, although some activities may request a small charge. There are toilet facilities and food available on site – parking at Simonsbath, follow the Bogtastic signs.

Held during UK National Park’s Week and in the month of International Bog Day, Bogtastic is the South West’s biggest and best bog festival celebrating the special qualities of Exmoor’s bogs, heritage and wildlife. Over 400 people attended last year!

The UK has 20% of the World’s blanket bog and Exmoor is fortunate to have some of this rare and fascinating habitat.  This unique and internationally important landscape is often considered to be the UK’s equivalent of Brazil’s exotic rainforest. Not only is it home to numerous endangered species and a carnivorous plant, the sundew; it naturally stores carbon dioxide and water.

Exmoor National Park ‘has some of the finest and unique examples of bogs in the UK. Bogtastic is a festival of fun and learning – a great opportunity to learn more about this special landscape and Exmoor’s amazing wildlife and heritage’ Morag Angus (Exmoor Mires Partnership).

Bogtastic coordinator Lucy McQuillan says: ‘Bogtastic is great fun for all ages so do come and join in the fun, please wear outdoor clothing, wellies and bring spare clothes.”

For further information on Bogtastic please contact: Lynmouth National Park Centre on 01598 752509. If you’d like volunteer at this event please contact Patrick Watts-Mabbot on 07973 727469|
or visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk
or the Facebook page www.tinyurl.com/bogtastic16.  #Bogtastic16.

Porlock Marsh BioBlitz Wildlife Adventure Day

Wannabe wildlife explorers, young and old, are invited for a day of discovery to help find out what’s living on Porlock Marsh, on the coast of Exmoor National Park. The Porlock Marsh BioBlitz Wildife Adventure Day takes place from12 noon on Saturday 9 July to 12 noon on Sunday 10 July 2016, based in Bossington village, and everyone is welcome. 

The team of experts on hand will be looking for people to help them to identify as many birds, bugs, plants and beasties over 24 hours as possible. There will be events for kids, grown-ups, beginners and experts running throughout the day … and night.

For families and beginners, there will be stacks of activities to help introduce everyone to nature, including a chance to join a guided walk looking for birds, butterflies, bugs and saltmarsh plants, or join the sea-watch crew looking for porpoises and seabirds. ‘Night owls’ can join the creatures of the night walk to look for bats and moths, and get up close to real owls from the Exmoor Hawk and Owl Centre. Or early birds can join the breakfast bird walk and see some of the creatures that have been spotted overnight at Basecamp.

Amateur naturalists can join one of the survey teams, led by local experts and enthusiasts, and take part in identifying and recording particular wildlife groups and help complete the big nature survey. Just like the wildlife, different teams will be active at different times of day so people can change groups if they wish.

All activities are free, but numbers may be limited for some walks. See the programme at http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/bioblitz for full details or follow us on Twitter @WildlifeENPA, #pmbioblitz. 

The BioBlitz is being organised as part of the Porlock Marsh Vision project. Project Manager Clare Reid said “The BioBlitz is a great opportunity for people to get involved in surveying the wildlife of Porlock Marsh. It will help us to understand more about what’s living on the Marsh, and what’s special about it, and hopefully we’ll have lots of fun finding out! We’re very grateful to the two landowners – the National Trust and Porlock Manor Estate, and to Mike Dyer for the use of his barn for our Basecamp.  We’d also like to thank all the activity leaders and volunteers for helping to run the event.” 

Nigel Hester, from the National Trust which is hosting the event, said “We are very pleased to be working with our partners Exmoor National Park Authority, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset Environmental Records Centre, Natural England and the Exmoor Natural History Society to put on this event. Porlock Marsh has changed significantly since the breach in the shingle ridge 20 years ago, so this BioBlitz provides a great opportunity for us to find out more about how wildlife is adapting to the changes since then. Let’s hope we can rack up a great species list – and perhaps even find something rare.”

A range of accommodation is available locally including hotels, B&Bs, and campsites. Anyone that would like help in finding suitable accommodation should contact the Porlock Visitor Centre, telephone: (01643) 863150, email: visit@porlock.co.uk

  ***

 The Porlock Marsh BioBlitz Wildlife Adventure Day will be based at Bossington village, accessed from the A39 Minehead to Porlock road. Additional car parking will be provided in Bossington village. Please follow local signage.

The BioBlitz will run from 12 noon on Saturday 9 July, to 12 noon on Sunday 10 July. Some activities will be running throughout the day, and there are a number of specific surveys and guided walks which will take place at particular times – please check the website for the full programme and detailed timetable. All events are subject to change and some may be weather and tide dependent. 

Please take care when visiting Porlock Marsh, keep to the footpaths and be aware of the tide times as the Marsh and some footpaths will be flooded at high tide, including the boardwalks.

A range of accommodation is available locally including hotels, B&Bs, and campsites. Please contact Porlock Visitor Centre if you need help in finding suitable accommodation. Tel: (01643) 863150, email: visit@porlock.co.uk

The BioBlitz is being organised as part of the Porlock Marsh Vision project, a partnership project promoting the conservation and enjoyment of Porlock Marsh. For further information about the project, go to http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/porlock-marsh-vision

Photo: Porlock Marsh, credit:  Dan James/ENPA

 

 

Bogtastic 2016

Following on from last year’s successful event which was attended by more than 400 people, Bogtastic 2016 takes place on Tuesday 26th July from 10am to 4pm in and around Simonsbath

Bogtastic A4This free family event is a fun adventure day celebrating Exmoor’s wildlife, moorland and heritage with many activities and displays.  In Simonsbath, the River Barle flows past the historic water-powered sawmill, under the old stone bridge and by a meadow, along a beautiful moorland valley. Here you can play games and go stream dipping to find out about the river’s wildlife – fish, otters, birds, bats and creatures you’ve never seen – it’s a great place for a picnic too. Take a minibus up the hill to where the sky larks sing at Blackpitts and explore the bogs full of multi-coloured mosses.

Held during UK National Park’s Week, Bogtastic is the South West’s biggest and best bog festival. This  ‘drop in’ event will feature the Bogstacle course, live bats, the opportunity to visit one of the South West’s last remaining operational water powered sawmills, and lots more all-weather and undercover activities. There is something for everyone! It is free entry, with toilets and food on site and locally. Bring your wellington boots and dress for any weather – there is shelter in case it tries to rain.

See you at the welcome tent! 

Entrance is free, although some activities may request a small charge. For further information on Bogtastic please contact: Lynmouth National Park Centre on 01598 752509 or visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or the facebook page.

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.

NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

Big Adventures off to a flying start

This year’s Exmoor National Park Big Adventures got off to a flying start with more than 300 people enjoying the Big Moorland Adventure at Haddon Hill recently. With family friendly games, bush-craft skills, orienteering and scavenger hunts, there was plenty to keep everyone entertained.

National Park ranger Adam Vasey said: “It was fantastic to see so many people enjoying being outdoors and although the weather wasn’t perfect it didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s fun.

“We’d like to thank the volunteers that helped us set up and run the event, we couldn’t do it without them and if anyone would like to help us with the upcoming Big Adventures please get in touch.”

More Big Adventures

The next event in this series is the Big Woodland Adventure at Nutcombe Bottom just outside Dunster (TA24 6TA) on Wednesday 1 June from 10am-4pm. With family games and activities lasting all day, there will be plenty to enjoy for all ages. Car parking and toilet facilities are available on site – there’s no need to book and no charge, but donations to CareMoor for Exmoor will be welcome.

Camp out in one of the most amazing locations on Exmoor at The Big Adventure Family Camp Out @ Horner from Saturday 18 June to Sunday 19 June. Booking is essential – the site opens from 4pm and there will be a chance to set camp and cook your dinner with activities starting from 6pm including story-telling, bat walks and astronomy with the Dulverton Stargazers. Tents should be taken down by 11am the next day.

Space is limited for this special event which is ideal for first time campers with support on hand for help with tasks like putting up tents, so early booking is recommended via the National Park Centre at Dulverton on 01398 323841.

Discover Porlock Marsh 

On Friday 3 June there’s a Discover Porlock Marsh Walk – join a Heritage Walk Leader to learn about the history and formation of the Porlock bay landscape. The walk leaves the Porlock Visitor Centre at 10.30am (ends approx.1pm) and booking is essential, call the Porlock Visitor Centre on 01643 863150. Dogs are welcome and there is no charge – donations requested.

There are hundreds more events on the Exmoor National Park website – for more information visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or call in at one of the National Park Centres at Dunster, Dulverton and in the Lynmouth Pavilion.

Haddon Hill Big Adventure: photo by Dan James/ENPA

Haddon Hill Big Adventure: photo by Dan James/ENPA

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

International bogs celebrated on Exmoor

NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

July 2015 sees the unique role of bogs celebrated globally and Exmoor National Park is marking the occasion with a special boggy event.

The UK has 20% of the world’s blanket bog with Exmoor fortunate to have some of this rare and fascinating habitat.  This landscape is often considered to be the UK’s equivalent of Brazil’s exotic rainforest; it is a huge store of carbon dioxide and home to numerous endangered species and even a carnivorous plant, the sundew.
International celebrations occur as far afield as Estonia, Ireland and America. Exmoor will be at the heart of this year’s celebrations with its unique Bogtastic event on Wednesday 29July, 10am – 4pm, based in and around Simonsbath. This  ‘drop in’ is event will feature the Bogstacle course, stream dipping, bog safaris, the opportunity to visit one of the South West’s last remaining operational water powered sawmills and lots more all-weather and undercover activities. There is something for everyone with toilets, food and free entry.
“Exmoor’s bogs give us so much to celebrate – from wonderful habitat and carbon storage to the water that ultimately ends up in our taps. Bogtastic is a great opportunity stop and think about the significance of bogs for all of us!” –  said Morag Angus, project manager, Exmoor Mires Project
Patrick Watts-Mabbott, Exmoor National Park volunteer and outreach officer commented: “Bogtastic will have something for everyone, from live bats to boggy walks. Entry is free and there is a travel bursary for community groups.’

For further information on Bogtastic please contact 01598 752509 or visit http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/ or the face book pagewww.tinyurl.com/Bogtastic15<http://www.tinyurl.com/Bogtastic15>.  #Bogtastic15. Bogtastic is financially supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, South West Water and Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund through the Heart of Exmoor Scheme.

Media Release: Exmoor Food Fest celebrates local food & venues during February 2015

 

cropped-taste-of-exmoor-2

Exmoor.– The first Exmoor Food Fest will come to Exmoor in February 2015, celebrating everything Exmoor has to offer.
For a whole month, outstanding restaurants across the region will be offering 2 courses for £10.00 and 3 courses for £15.00 to give locals and visitors alike the opportunity to sample dishes prepared with excellent local produce.

Customers will be able to pick up vouchers for the Exmoor Food Fest “Tenner Deal” at participating restaurants or download them online. As an extra incentive to visit as many of the restaurants as possible, customers will receive a passport which will be stamped every time they order an “Exmoor Food Fest Deal”. Once the passport is full it will be entered into a draw for a Taste of Exmoor hamper.

The Exmoor Food Fest will be launched on 28 January 2015 at The Combe, a training restaurant based at the Skills and Enterprise Centre in the grounds of West Somerset College Minehead. Local chefs Mark Dodson (Masons Arms Knowstone), Thomas Carr (The Olive Room, Ilfracombe), Andrew Dixon (The Cafe Porlock Weir) and former student Richard Boggie (now Chef de Partie at Bath Priory) will be cooking a five-course-menu with the hospitality students for invited guests.

The grand finale of the Exmoor Food Fest is taking place at Minehead Harbour on 28 February in conjunction with the first Family Angling Day. Street Food Traders will give the harbour a village feel, inviting people to stroll around the harbour, watch the anglers and taste delicious food. A local produce and craft fair will take place at The Beach Hotel in Minehead where chefs like Mark Dodson will do cooking demonstrations throughout the day. Other venues along the seafront will also join in the celebration. Street artists and entertainment complete the recipe for a great family day out.

Andrew Dixon, owner and Chef at The Café at Porlock Weir, came up with the idea of the Exmoor Food Fest to promote the many outstanding food venues across the region.
“Exmoor has so much to offer, but February tends to be a very quiet time for us. The ‘Tenner Deal’ is an excellent opportunity for us to showcase what we can do while making it affordable for our customers,” explained Andrew.

Kentisbury Grange is one of the Devon-based venues taking part in the Exmoor Food Fest, where renowned Chef Michael Caines MBE has recently become involved.
“We are delighted to join this promotion of local food and Exmoor as a region,” commented Peter Farquhar, General Manager. “Michael’s involvement is very exciting as it will enable us to move to a whole new level in all aspects of our hospitality offering.’

The Exmoor Food Fest is organised and run by Exmoor4all, an internet platform based on sharing photos and stories of Exmoor with people all over the world as well as providing a network for local businesses. Andrew Dixon, who now is also a tutor at The Combe, and Werner Hartholt, the Combe’s Chef Lecturer, are co-organisers and technical consultants for the Exmoor Food Fest.

A total of 15 restaurants will take part in the first Exmoor Food Fest. A list is available on www.exmoorfoodfest.com, complete with contact details and days when the special Exmoor Food Fest deal is available.

1