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




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

Date for the Diary: LIBERATOR – Dance Performances in and around Porlock Vale


201 Stacked Wonky Poster

In collaboration with The Crown Estate, National Trust Holnicote Estate and Porlock Manor Estate, Stacked Wonky Dance has created five site specific dance encounters for five different sites in and around Porlock Vale.  The seed idea links to the crash of a Liberator, an American bomber, on Porlock Marsh in 1942 when 11 people lost their lives and one person, a staff sergeant, survived.

Performances will take place in a variety of spaces – glade, field, barn, hilltop and marsh – and will be seen at different times of day.  You can watch just one or all five as they unfold over the summer, culminating in a finale on Porlock Marsh on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 September.

As part of a small group, you’ll go on a walking journey, perhaps in daylight, perhaps at night, as the action plays out around you.  You’ll encounter a tilted, sometimes extraordinary world in which the unexpected often happens as movement, sound, shadow, weather and audience combine.  Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to do anything, certainly not dance (!), just follow the performance as it plays out.


Two years ago, Sarah Shorten, Artistic Director of Stacked Wonky Dance moved to Bossington with her husband and young family.  During this time, Sarah inevitably turned her attention to the world just outside her back garden.  She was drawn to Porlock Marsh, which is how the idea for Liberator was born. After talking to local historians and residents, she gradually realised the crash’s recurring themes of loss, sacrifice, survival and childhood excitement about the war might be captured in a series of performances that return all fragments of the story to the Marsh.

202 Duncan Hume Wingspan by Rod HigginsonSarah has joined forces with Duncan Hume, an ex-Royal Ballet professional dancer living in Luxborough, and four children aged 5 to 8 from Timberscombe School.  All will perform in Liberator.  The project also involves a wide and eclectic team of local collaborators – including designers, costume makers, photographers, sound artists, National Trust rangers, foresters, tenants and technicians – without whom Liberator would not be possible.

Through Liberator, Sarah wants to show audiences what’s possible when dance heads away from the stage.  In addition, she is keen to continue to engage with those in local community for whom the Liberator crash and its legacy remain strong.

The Crash

Liberator has received invaluable support from Dennis Corner, a local historian and author of “Porlock in Those Days”, from which the following is taken:

“A long-range bomber, transport and reconnaissance aircraft, a Consolidated B-24 D Liberator with four 1,200 hp radial engines, a wingspan of 110 feet, a length of 67 feet 2 inches, a maximum speed of 300 mph at 30,000 feet and a range of 2,100 miles crashed on the marsh on 29th October 1942. It carried a crew of twelve and had ten .50 machine guns.

This particular plane, which was helping RAF Coastal Command, took off from Holmsley, South Hampshire at 7.20 am on 29th October to fly on anti-submarine patrol in the Bay of Biscay. When it was returning at about 3.30 pm it was seen by two boys, Alan Perkins and Brian Richards, to hit a point near the top of Bossington Hill and swing round. Pieces fell off: a wheel and part of the undercarriage landed at the bottom of Sparkhayes Lane, and the rest of the plane crashed on to the marsh. The weather was dreadful: it was a very wet day with low cloud all around.

Only one man, S/Sgt H.B. Thorpe, was still alive. Very little of the plane was seen by local people as its remains were salvaged within a few days.

A simple monument on Porlock Marsh was erected by members of the Porlock Branch of the British Legion, made from materials available at the time.”

Porlock Marsh


Liberator has also received support from A Vision for Porlock Marsh, a project led by Porlock Parish Council, working with the local community, landowners and agencies, to help raise of awareness of Porlock Marsh and enhance its role as an asset for the local community, businesses and visitors, including encouraging events and activities inspired by the Marsh.

“A dynamic, constantly changing landscape of salt marsh, brackish water, grassy paths, crumbling stone walls and muddy ditches, tucked behind a massive sweeping shingle ridge.

Dead, stark trees, redundant fences, buried signs, freshly deposited shingle are clues to the rapidly changing state of Porlock Marsh, and for some enforce the sense of danger. For many local people the Marsh evokes happy memories – the Marsh before the breach; a time of picnics, play and haymaking. A landscape loved by generations.”

Stacked Wonky

Stacked Wonky is a contemporary dance company which has, for the last ten years, built its reputation on a desire to make work in unusual places for an audience unfamiliar with dance.

“Anarchic and exuberant, the movement she creates is beautiful” say Time Out

The company specialises in creating site-specific dance performances, many of which are performed in unique outdoor spaces and landscapes.

Sarah Shorten, Artistic Director, has created work for a diverse set of spaces including Trafalgar Square, The Museum of Childhood in collaboration with the V&A Museum, and Tinside Lido in Plymouth.  Her work has been supported by various organisations such as Arts Council England, Greenwich & Docklands International Festival and Dance South West.


Episode 1: GLADE

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 July @ 4 pm
Nutcombe Bottom, Dunster

More info…

Episode 2: FIELD

Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 August @ 2 pm
West Luccombe Farm, West Luccombe

More info…

Episode 3: BARN

Thursday 20, Friday 21 and Saturday 22 August
@ 8.30 pm / 9 pm / 9.30 pm

SECRET LOCATION on the Holnicote Estate

More Info…

Episode 4: HILL

Sunday 6 September @ 11 am or 2 pm
Bossington Hill, near Minehead

More info…

Episode 5: MARSH

Friday 18 and Saturday 19 September @ 6 pm
Porlock Marsh, Porlock

More info…

For more info, please go to www.stackedwonky.com
Photos: Rod Higginson