Letter from Exmoor: Out with #Hibernot, in with glorious spring!

 

By Neil Osmond from Experience Exmoor

(first published on the Experience Exmoor website on 26 March 2014)

As we leave the wild and wet winter behind, I would like to share some recent events and news with you.

 

SAFARI SCENES

November was actually pretty nice and for the first time we had many safaris in what is normally a quieter month. The red deer were still active with the action of the rut and huge flocks of starlings were evident high up on the moor. One day, when I was out with a young couple on holiday, I managed to capture some fantastic wildlife video images which my wife Christel put into a short film.

 

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Red deer stag during the rut

I also hooked up with my friend Ken Blakey, award-winning filmmaker and owner of Lee House in Lynton. We went out and about one clear day and Ken produced another wonderful video to capture the essence of our Exmoor safaris.

ADAPTING TO THE WEATHER

The winter proved violent and dangerous, with a huge impact on people’s daily lives, but while out on Exmoor I sort of enjoyed nature’s power and how, regardless of what is thrown at the wildlife, they just carry on.

Right now some early spring Exmoor Pony foals are appearing and their coats have already adapted to the fresh winds high up on the moor!

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First Exmoor Pony Foal we’ve seen this spring

HIBERNOT

The Discovery 4 is just an outstanding vehicle and this winter we were backing the Land Rover catch phrase #Hibernot. Social media helped us here when one of my photos of a Highland cow got re-tweeted by the Land Rover PR team to over 79,000 followers!

The 4×4 we use provides height, great comfort and superb visibility for all on board. It wasn’t me who won the big £108 Euromillions Lottery, but if I had done I would just get an extra Discovery!

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Highland cow used in LandRover’s #Hibernot campaign on Twitter

GLORIOUS SPRING

The gorse bushes are in full yellow bloom, lambs and foals are entering our world and the clocks are about to change, giving us longer days and extra opportunities to discover more and enjoy this special area. So… out with #hibernot, bring on a glorious spring!

EXCITING NEWS

Early in the year we got contacted by one of the best local professional surfers, Lyndon Wake. As of this year we are planning an exciting partnership to provide sea, surf and land experiences in North Devon and Exmoor. We will also be working with the fantastic Sea Safari team in Ilfracombe to provide a combination of land and sea discovery adventures!

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Exploring Exmoor’s coast from a different angle

UNUSUAL NEWS

Last year I took out two delightful ladies from the USA who had come over to the UK on the Queen Mary and were staying at The Old Rectory Hotel in Martinhoe. We got along really well and kept in touch through social media. They said before they left that if they won the lottery they would come back to Exmoor and buy me!! Well, a few months ago, believe it or not, they actually won and guess what? They are coming back to Exmoor in August and have booked up 2 safari days with me. We will also try to see the Dark Sky of Exmoor and dance with the stars. I cannot wait to see them again.

NEW AND OPEN FOR BUSINESS

The new National Park Pavilion in Lynmouth will no doubt attract many visitors. The centre is a great point of information , offering interactive displays and even a theatre room. Visitors to the centre are also able to book their Exmoor safari with us with one of the helpful staff members at the Pavilion. The Coach House at Kentisbury Grange has a brand new kitchen in full view of the restaurant and we are looking forward to working closely with the team there. The new Moorish Farm Shop and Café has just opened on the western edge of Exmoor and is already proving a hit with locals thanks to excellent produce and service.

Celebrating Christel's birthday at The Coach House a few weeks ago

Celebrating Christel’s birthday at The Coach House a few weeks ago

NESTING NEWS

It’s so exciting to keep learning every day. Did you know, for instance, that the guillemot sea bird doesn’t actually build a nest for its eggs? It uses Exmoor’s cliff ledges to roll the eggs onto. The angle of the ledge as well the pear-shape of the egg holds them there. How amazing is that?

 

Exmoor cliff edge providing great nesting opportunities for guillemots

Exmoor cliff edge providing great nesting opportunities for guillemots

 

I wish you all a truly glorious spring and hope to take you out on a journey across Exmoor sometime!

Neil

 

Note from Exmoor4all:
Experience Exmoor are one of our valued Exmoor Club partners – members save 10% on their bookings. See our Exmoor Club website for details.

Letter from Exmoor: On safari into a secret world

4 stallions

Hi, my name is Christel. If you go out on safari with us it is highly likely that you will not see me as it is Neil, my husband who is our safari guide & driver. I do the office work and spend more time than I would like behind the computer. Sometimes though I get the chance to go out with Neil on our own private safari and I love those occasions!

Today we packed our picnic basket with a thermos of coffee and biscuits and headed out inland onto the moor, to do a recce on an off-road track for which we recently got access rights on limited times throughout the year.

As soon as I opened the gate onto the track, I saw a small group of Exmoor Pony Stallions gazing at us in their curious and friendly way. They were surrounded by cotton grass as far as the eye could reach, as well as a variety of birds and butterflies, like buzzards, swallows, skylarks and meadow pipit. The bumpy track winds its way down to a magical remote valley by the river Barle. On the descent we spotted a group of red deer higher up. They stared at us for a while before one by one they started to jump over a fence to get out of sight.

Once we were by the river, we nestled down on our picnic rug among the high moorgrass next to the beautiful river with crystal clear water. We drank our coffee and took in the stunning scenery in this secluded spot.  Between the rocks and wind-sculpted trees on the opposite hillside, some black cattle were grazing and not taking much notice of us. Soon we were back on our feet to go and explore the riverside. The sound of cascading water running down from various streams to join the river was amazing – wild but so peaceful at the same time! Birds and insects were everywhere and we could both sit there all day to just discover and look at everything that is going on. An old (closed) footbridge over the river adds to the scenery. Closed mine shafts on the hillside give a sense of mystery and make you wonder where the tunnels go to & what happened here in the past. Beautiful wild trumpet-shaped flowers of mimulus were waving in the breeze, rooted among the rocks in the middle of the Barle. As I was standing there next to the footbridge admiring it all, suddenly a bright blue bird flew right passed me, flying fast just above the middle of the river for as far as I could see. I nearly yelled out loud: ‘WAW a Kingfisher!!!’  Even though, unfortunately, I didn’t get it on camera and only saw its back – striking blue – I was thrilled, as I had never seen one before!

All too soon it was time to head home. I have decided I am going to book a safari on Exmoor with my husband more often!

 

Posted on www.experienceexmoor.co.uk on 25 June 2013

Guest Blog: Experience Exmoor

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Simply the best!

Created: 15/01/2013 – 01:20 pm

We are over the moon! Our beloved Exmoor National Park has just been voted the most favourite national park in the UK. Over a period of five months BBC viewers had the opportunity to vote online for one of the 15 contenders. Although it is one of the smallest areas, Exmoor received a staggering 36% of the votes, making it tower head and shoulders above the others.

What a delightful outcome!

The fifteen members of the National Parks family each stand out in their own way. We are lucky to have so many beautiful areas of protected countryside in Britain, and to choose one as the favourite is not an easy task. That is why receiving the first place feels pretty amazing.

Of course we are hoping that the result will create more Exmoor awareness and bring extra tourists to this part of the UK. But, thinking business aside, we are simply happy with the recognition because the Exmoor National Park is truly one of the most magical and inspiring places we know. On our safari trips we often have guests who cannot believe that they travelled far and away to so-called dream destinations, while all the while they were not aware of the mind-blowing landscapes and scenery, the wonderful wildlife and the fascinating evidence of the past that awaited them here, almost on their doorstep.

Exmoor – it’s simply the best!

A few links:

The results of the online vote: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01ljl4r

UK national parks official website: http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk

Pictures of Exmoor on our FB page: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/ExperienceExmoor

Official Visit Exmoor tourist information: http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/

More inspiring Exmoor pictures, news and information: https://exmoor4all.com/

 

Experience Exmoor offer exhilarating outdoor activities in North Devon and Exmoor National Park.  You can find out more about them at http://www.exmoorexperience.co.uk.