The Minehead Sailor’s Hobby Horse

At 6am on May Day, the drums can be heard across Minehead…  The Sailor’s Hobby Horse will dance around town for three days .

Here is the official story:

It is an old May Day custom from The Quay, Minehead, which has continued for hundreds of years. The custom is so old that there is no accurate record of its commencement. In fact, the origin is lost in the mists of time.

The Sailor’s Hobby Horse comes out on the eve of May Day, and for the first three days of the month dances and frolics freely around the streets.

The Horse’s frame is made from withy sticks lashed together with tarred cord into the shape of a boat with a dome shaped head and a tin painted face. A mast is made fast to the head, and spliced to the after end is a length of rope with a cow’s tail made fast. The whole frame, head and rope tail is covered with brightly coloured ribbons, and attached and draped to the ground from the frame are sacks brightly painted with different coloured rings. This is the so-called “Horse”.

The “Horse” weighs about one-hundred weight. It is carried by one man dances to the sound of melodions and drums, and if folks fail to give the “Horse” a coin, the “Horse” aims it tail at them.

The Sailor’s Horse is accompanied by a drum which has dates back to the 17th century. It is legend that the original intention of the “Horse” was to scare away Danes and other invaders from the coast.

It is an important custom that the “horse” proceeds from The Quay over the hill through Old Minehead Town, knows as Higher Town, to arrive at White Cross at 6am on May 1st.

It has been known for one of the Bratton Maids to be crowned Queen of the May at this time; and it is legend that on that day and at that time a Dane was killed there.  Also on this day it is a custom for the ‘Horse to proceed to Dunster Castle’.

On the third night there is a booting at Cher Steep, on the outskirts of Minehead, when victims are caught in the street and are booted ten times by the heavy fore bow of the “horse” while  being held by the arms and legs by two members of the crew. There is then a further penalty for the victim to dance with the “Horse” while avoiding being lashed by its tail.

The booting is then repeated in Wellington Square, in the centre of town. and it is here that the old “horse” take his final bow of the festive season and after a light refreshment returns to his stable at The Quay until the following May Day Eve.

By invitation the “Horse” and its attendants have appeared twice at The Royal Albert Hall, London, The Commonwealth Institute London, The Universities of London and Exeter, two of the World Trade Fairs, at Brussels in Belgium and Olympia in London, the television programme “Pebble Mill at One” from Birmingham and The Assembly Rooms, Derby. The spectacle has been filmed for television and other purposes on numerous occasions.

THose connected with the “Horse” give their services freely. Money collected and donations received are disbursed to Minehead Mencap and the Minehead branch of the RNLI.

You can follow the Minehead Hobby Horse on Facebook.  Here are some photos from the Official Minehead Sailor’s Hobby Horse FB page:

 

7 Chefs for 7 Courses: Taste Exmoor Dinner at The Beach Hotel

Join us on 2 February 2018 for an amazing Tasting Dinner at The Beach Hotel in Minehead to celebrate the first weekend of the 4th Exmoor Food Fest!

Amuse bouche by The Beach Hotel apprentices 

Starter by Steven Hadley 

Goats cheese mousse, caramelised walnuts, beetroots, apple & Thyme bread

Vegetable course by  Kate Gardiner

Crostini of grilled polenta, porcini Mushrooms & Taleggio

Meat course by Sam Salway

Duo of Exmoor lamb, noisette, served pink (sous vide), braised shoulder, red cabbage puree, roasted celeriac and parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli, baked potato cake.

Fish course by Werner Hartholt

Soy marinated seabass with crispy lobster.

Dessert course by Andrew Richards

Chocolate and hazelnut parfait, hazelnut crumble, chocolate soil, coffee mouse and milk sorbet.

Petit Fours by Connor Bazley. Beach Hotel Apprentice.

£45.00 per person

Book 4 tickets or more:
£42.00 per person

BUY NOW

THE OLD SHIP AGROUND ‘BE PROUD OF MINEHEAD’ PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION

The Old Ship Aground is delighted to announce the launch of – The Old Ship Aground ‘Be Proud of Minehead’ photographic campaign.  A year long celebration of how lucky we all are to Live, Work and Play in this beautiful area.

We are inviting photographic entries that will proudly show case what we all enjoy and why we should all be proud of living in this friendly, vibrant, supportive community located beside the sea.

There are three different categories Under 16, Camera phone fun shots and an Open category.

With Cash Prizes totaling £1000 available to win. The photographs will be displayed on the dedicated Facebook page & on our website gallery pages inviting community engagement.

An exhibition of the short listed and winning pictures is planned for later in the year.

Full Terms & conditions of entry are available on The Old Ship Aground ‘Be Proud of Minehead’ Photographic competition tab on our Website  www.theoldshipaground.com and you can view the dedicated  Face Book Page  at https://www.facebook.com/BeProudOfMineheadPhotographyCompetition/

Julian Abraham owner of The Old Ship Aground at Minehead Harbour said it’s all about the community standing tall, and what a great community we have, pulling together and saying look this is Minehead.   I am delighted to do my bit and help show case this terrific town. With a competition to create a visual platform where everyone can share the pictures of what makes them proud, a true celebration of  Minehead its history  and surroundings.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Julian Abraham at 01643 703516 or email at julian@theoldshipaground.com

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

Calling all runners: Westcountry Ultra Hilly 50 miler – Saturday 21st May 2016

Ok, so you like hills? Well here’s a race that will take you to the top of some of the highest ones Somerset has to offer. On a clear day the views from the tops will draw an audible gasp from any of you who are known to gasp audibly at incredible views. There are very runnable sections too, but you’re never too far from the next climb/descent. What’s more, this route will take you through a multitude of breathtaking scenes; some of Britain’s highest coastal cliffs, lush ancient woodland, sweeping moorland, paths alongside fast flowing rocky rivers – Exmoor has all of this, plus villages and small towns that redefine quaintness.

Starting off at West Somerset Community College in Minehead, where a glorious banquet hall (or as close as you get to one in an ultra race) awaits you upon your return you will head to the beginning of the South West Coast Path, which is symbolised with a large metal hand holding a map. From here (unless it is an extremely foggy day) you will see the enigmatic North Hill towering above the town. You’ll be heading straight to the top, where you’ll traverse along to Bossington Hill, from which the views alone will be enough to take your mind off the steepness of the descent. Then you’ll head down an enchanting woodland path to Bossington car park; if you’re lucky there may be some wild garlic still to snack on along the way.

You will make your way gradually along the coast all the way to Lynmouth, historic scene of a disastrous flood in 1952 (don’t worry, it hasn’t repeated itself since, even during the ferocious storms of 2014), which is a kind of half way point, although it’s actually a little before half way. On the way here your eyes will get a four course meal of wonderful natural surroundings – occasionally you will run through coastal forest, but will often be able to see the sea off to your right. Along this stretch are some of the most runnable sections of the route, but there is plenty of up and down. You may find yourself wanting to stop often to take photographs, as the views along here you may see on a number of postcards in local shops.

After leaving Lynmouth you will head alongside the river Lyn for a while (keep your eyes peeled for Dippers and other wildlife) before heading up into the moors, following the Coleridge Way – this is a route devised to follow in the footsteps of famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who is said to have composed his best known works during walks at different places along the route. There have been no ‘beast’ sightings in recent years, but the wild atmosphere of this place will make you realise how it captured the imagination back in the 80s. Heading across vast hills to County Gate and onwards, where you will be surrounded on all sides by Exmoor at its most captivating, you will be preparing to drop down to almost sea level before a massive climb back up through ancient woodland. Depending on when in the day you arrive here you can keep your eyes and ears open for an array of wildlife – the woods at Webber’s Post and Horner, due to the age of the trees, attract Redstarts, Wood Warblers, Pied Flycatchers and a host of the usual woodland birds.

At the top of the climb is Dunkery Beacon, which rises to 519 metres above sea level; hardly a mountain, but it still offers incredible panoramic views on a clear day. The cairn at the top may be a good place to pause, take in your surroundings and gear yourself up to make the most of some downhill miles. The descent back into Minehead is long, but at this point you will know you are on the home stretch and that there is a feast awaiting you at the finish. You can sit and eat, and share anecdotes with your fellow finishers as they arrive.

ROUTE MAPS AND ROUTE NOTES WILL BE SENT OUT TO EACH PARTICIPANT UPON ENTRY, BUT THESE CAN BE REQUESTED BY ANYONE WISHING TO ENTER – PLEASE E-MAIL albionrunning@hotmail.com TO ASK FOR THESE

For further information and to sign up for the run, please go to http://www.albionrunning.org/#!hilly50/c8ht 

Where to stay in Minehead: Woodcombe Lodges & Cottages

Woodcombe Lodges & Cottages is a small four star family owned group of six Lodges and two cottages sleeping from 2 up to 10 in 3 acres of gardens with extensive views from  the sea to the slopes of Exmoor.

We are set on a quiet country lane on the boundary of the Exmoor National Park and yet are only a 20 minutes’ walk to the pubs, shops and restaurants of Minehead with its seafront and beach beyond.

The Lodges are all south facing with verandas enjoying the sweeping views over the slopes of Exmoor with glimpses down to the sea. The Lodges and cottages are extremely cosy with space heating throughout and have fully fitted kitchens, dining and sitting areas, televisions and Dvd players. Wifi is available free of charge and in the Lodges but not the cottages.

There are children’s swings, a putting green and a games room onsite with laundry facilities and extensive visitor information. There are a range of walks from the site available for visitors for all abilities.

There are countless things to do around the area for walkers, cyclists, fishermen, golfers, birdwatchers, train enthusiasts and the glory of the Exmoor National Park and the North Devon coast to enjoy. Dunster with its castle are within 4 miles and the Exmoor Owl sanctuary, the West Somerset Steam railway, a day visit to Butlins and the beach are all closer.

We allow one dog per Lodge is most Lodges with two in our largest Lodge which sleeps up to ten. We have three Lodges specially prepared for wheelchair users with two enjoying the benefits of full size shower wet rooms with shower wheelchairs available.

We offer full week lettings from the May bank holiday to the end of September (Saturday changeover), and then short breaks can be taken preferably based on a three day weekend or four day mid-week break between October and the end of May except over Christmas and New year when we offer five night or seven night breaks.

Prices range from £190 in our one bedroom cottage for a short break to £1650 for a full week in our largest Lodge in peak season. We supply linen but not towels or tea towels that can be hired if necessary and have cots and high chairs available free of charge.

This is a family site so we do not normally accept single sex parties or parties where there is not an adult over 25 present without prior arrangement.

Web page www.woodcombelodges.co.uk

Email info@woodcombelodges.co.uk

Telephone 01643 702789