The Barle Valley at Simonsbath

Simonsbath Barle at its finest on 1 March 2020. One of Exmoor’s iconic views.
The sun direction at that time of day and time of year is perfect to light the valley and the remaining shadow shape it. And that was today. At other times it’s a tough shot to make such is its position relative to the sun. The trick is to sit and wait, and hope you are blessed. You get just seconds of light to grab it, it’s but a burst. Be ready.

By Martin Gillman.

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.

Date for the Diary: Simonsbath Sawmill Open Day

National Mills Weekend 2016

Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th May 201

National Mills weekend is the annual festival of our milling heritage and this year both of Exmoor’s historic, water powered sawmills at Timberscombe and the National Park Authority owned mill at Simonsbath – will be open to the public on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May 2016 ,

Graham Wills who will be opening the Simonsbath sawmill says: “Small estate sawmills which were once common are now rare and Exmoor is very fortunate in having two, restored sawmills both of which will be open over the weekend, and are just 14 miles apart – being able to visit both on either the Saturday or Sunday would be a great day out.”

Simonbath sawmill will be open on both days from 10am – 4pm and there are refreshments available in the village.

Simonsbath Sawmill is an historic, water-powered sawmill and estate workshops lying in a beautiful riverside location in the heart of Exmoor National Park.  It was built for John Knight (1767 – 1850) who bought much of central Exmoor in the early years of the 19th century, and was refurbished for Viscount Ebrington in 1898. It was bought by Exmoor National Park Authority in 1996 and restored with Heritage Lottery Funding.  It is a nationally significant building – one of very few estate sawmills with evidence of systems of power and contemporary saw benches. The sawmill is no longer in regular operational use but is maintained in working condition and is used for demonstration purposes and as the venue for educational events and activities.  It is cared for by a small team of volunteers who help with maintenance, lead tours and are researching the history of the mill.  Further information:  www.simonsbathsawmill.org.uk

Cowbridge sawmill at Timberscombe will be open from 11am – 4.30pm on 14 & 15 May each day.

 

 

Simonsbath Festival starts tomorrow

Simonsbath Festival 2015 starts on Bank Holiday Monday May 4 at 2.30pm with traditional May Day celebrations for all the family on Exford Village Green.  There will be magical tales about the Exmoor Forest from popular local storyteller Frances Harrison, followed by maypole dancing to live music from Howard Harrison on guitar and Ben van Weede on fiddle.  Tea and refreshments will be available.

In the next six weeks the tiny village of Simonsbath, and its magical moorland setting, will be buzzing with an exciting mix of events, from classical, jazz, opera and world music concerts to poetry readings, talks, walks, workshops and much more.

The festival’s opening concert brings the warm Mediterranean sounds of Greek music to Simonsbath with a performance by the outstanding George Kypreos Band at St Luke’s Church on Saturday May 9 at 7.30pm.

And on Wednesday May 13 at 7.30pm Birdie Johnson comes to St Luke’s to talk about the book she has just edited by her mother Buster Johnson (with foreword by grandson Boris).  Birdie’s talk will include highlights from Alas Poor Johnny, her mother’s colourful and entertaining memoir of life on an Exmoor farm in the 1950s, and she will explain how, after all these years, it has finally come to be published.

Throughout the festival period Boevey’s Tea Rooms will host an exhibition of art by local artists featuring mainly Exmoor themed work including paintings in oil, watercolour and pastel as well as printmaking and photography.

Simonsbath Festival runs from May 4 to June 19.  For information or to request a full-colour printed festival programme phone Victoria Thomas on 01643 8313434, email simonsbathfestival@mail.com or visit the website www.simonsbathfestival.co.uk.  To book tickets phone Marian Lloyd on 01643 831451.

And here is an overview of events:

Performers and Speakers

Birdie Johnson  Wednesday May 13 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s

Birdie Johnson, Buster Johnson’s daughter, talks about Alas Poor Johnny, her mother’s highly entertaining memoir of life on an Exmoor farm in the 1950s, and how, after all these years, it has finally come to be published.   Read more….

Geoff Nichols  Good Vibes  Friday May 22 – 8.30pm,  Exmoor Forest Inn

Geoff Nichols returns to the Exmoor Forest Inn with his Swing jazz band Good Vibes. Having led the legendary Avon Cities jazz band for many years, trumpet and vibes star Geoff Nichols turns to the Swing music of the 1930s and 40s to present his Good Vibes band for the discerning jazz fan.   Read more…..

The George Kypreos Band   Saturday May 9 – 7.30pm,  St Luke’s  

Simonsbath Festival opens with the sunlight and warmth of the Mediterranean evoked by the sound of Greek music from the George Kypreos Band. The band is led by the virtuoso bouzouki and distinctively soulful voice of George Kypreos, accompanied by Greek female vocals, and driven by the strong rhythmic grooves of gypsy guitar, Syrian darbouka and a rocking English back-line.    Read more….

Kausary  Saturday May 30 – 4:00pm and 7.30pm, St Luke’s

The Peruvian band Kausary’s workshop at 4pm will take participants on a journey through Andean culture to experience the vitality of the music and dance of Latin America. The emphasis is is on hands-on experience, with the opportunity to play some of the instruments, including panpipes, guitar and charango, so that participants can discover their own Andean spirit!

Then at 7.30pm the six-piece band  plays a rich repertoire of traditional Andean and contemporary Latin sounds, playing with unequalled depth of emotion in styles typical of the Andean highlands, coastal lowlands, Amazon basin and forest, and Cuba.   Read more….

Le Jazz  Saturday June 6 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s

The highly entertaining and dazzlingly dexterous musicians who form Le Jazz show their mastery and enjoyment in a variety of musical styles, performing a richly diverse programme of music from Faure to Django Reinhart, with Gershwin and Jewish Klezma music along the way.    Read more….

Michael Bochmann and David Watkins  Saturday May 23 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s

Sacred and Profane – music for violin and harp.

World class violinist Michael Bochmann and harpist David Watkins perform an irresistible programme of music from the sublime to the more down to earth, including works by Bach, Vivaldi, Saint-Saens, Paganini, Mozart and Massenet, and much-loved traditional pieces to herald the arrival of summer. Read more….

Njabulo Madlala  Saturday May 16 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s 

South African baritone and 2010 Kathleen Ferrier Award-winning Njabulo Madlala brings a voice of rare distinction and beauty to the Simonsbath Festival and demonstrates the quality and range of his musicianship in a dazzlingly diverse programme featuring Schubert lieder, African-American spirituals, French art songs, English ballads and traditional South African folk songs.      Read more….

Pop-Up Opera  Saturday June 13 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s

The Italian Girl in Algiers

Playboy Mustafa is bored with his wife Elvira; what he really wants is an Italian girl. Coincidentally, an Italian girl Isabella arrives, in search of her sweetheart Lindoro, a young Italian man recently captured on the high seas by Mustafa’s pirates and now in his service.    Read more…. 

Rob Wilson-North  Wednesday June 3 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s 

Rob Wilson-North, Conservation Manager for the Exmoor National Park, explains how current research is revealing more about the enterprising Georgian industrialist John Knight’s vision for Exmoor and his plans for a great mansion at the heart of his estate in Simonsbath with pleasure grounds after the picturesque style.      Read more….

Dr Sue Baker  Wednesday May 27 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s 

Author of ‘Survival of the Fittest – a Natural History of the Exmoor Pony’ and past chair of the Exmoor Pony Society, Dr Sue Baker assesses the future of the Exmoor Pony.    Read more….

Tom and Barbara Brown   Wednesday June 10 – 7.30pm, Exmoor Forest Inn

Moor Songs

The Exmoor Forest Inn hosts an open session of Exmoor music and song led by popular folk and traditional entertainers Tom and Barbara Brown. Singers, musicians and audience are all welcome.     Read more…..

Tracey Elliot-Reep  Wednesday May 20 – 7.30pm, St Luke’s 

Adventures on horseback

Tracey gives an inspirational and entertaining presentation about her amazing horse riding adventures in distant lands, illustrated with stunning photography and film.   Read more….

Date for the Diary: National Mills Weekend 10/11 May 2014

NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

 

National Mills Weekend – this weekend

Saturday 10 May and Sunday 11 May 2014

Until the advent of the steam engine, wind and watermills provided the only source of power for many different processes – from making flour, paper, and cloth to hammering metal and extracting oils.   Some of these mills have been restored to working order, some are derelict, some still working commercially.  National Mills Weekend is the annual festival of our milling heritage and affords a great opportunity to explore mills, many of which are not usually open to the public.  At least a dozen Devon watermills will be open during the weekend.  A similar number, plus two windmills, will be open in Somerset.

For further information see www.nationalmillsweekend.co.uk which list all the mills open by County.

Both of Exmoor’s restored water-powered sawmills – at Simonsbath and Timberscombe – will be specially open over the weekend

Simonsbath Sawmill

Simonsbath Sawmill is an historic, water-powered sawmill and estate workshops lying in a beautiful riverside location in the heart of Exmoor National Park.  It was built for John Knight (1767 – 1850) who bought much of central Exmoor in the early years of the 19th century, and was refurbished for Viscount Ebrington in 1898. It was bought by Exmoor National Park Authority in 1996 and restored over 2002/03 – with Heritage Lottery Funding.  It is a nationally significant building – one of very few estate sawmills with evidence of systems of power and contemporary sawbenches. The sawmill is no longer in regular operational use but is maintained in working condition and is used for demonstration purposes and as the venue for educational events and activities.  It is cared for by a small team of volunteers who help with maintenance, lead tours and are researching the history of the mill.  Further information:  www.simonsbathsawmill.org.uk

There will be live music at the mill on Sunday 11 May in the afternoon..

Just4Jazz

Just4Jazz are a four piece band of alto saxophone, electric keyboard, electric bass and drums.  They play an eclectic range of ‘lazy’ music with a jazz bias.  Numbers range from classic pieces from the 1930s/40s such as ‘Summertime’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’ to film scores and pop from the 60s through to present day.   Their music is strong on melody but is intended to be gentle on the ear and easy listening.

Cowbridge Sawmill

Cowbridge Sawmill is situated in the village of Timberscombe, set in the midst of the beautiful Exmoor countryside. The first Mill on this site dates from at least the 14th Century when it produced flour for the local people.  In 1904 the Mill was converted to a sawmill which continued to serve the local community.  By the end of the 20th century the Mill was in urgent need of renovation.  This renovation has been driven by the vision and determination of  Mr Owen Rush, who together with his wife Angela purchased the Mill in a derelict state in 1995. The old mill has been reroofed and the floors rebuilt, while the dilapidated workshop and forge have been demolished and replaced by an attractive two storey building of local stone with a slate roof.  As well as enhancing the appearance of the Mill, the  new building contains a forge, workshop and museum providing an interesting attraction for the village of Timberscombe and the Exmoor region.

The most ambitious aspect of the project has been hidden from the view of passers-by. This is the restoration of the 14 ft. water wheel which used water from the Mill Leat to power the Mill for over 700 years. The wheel is now turning again with the aim of producing Hydro Electric Power. The project is one of 5 schemes currently being developed by the Exmoor Renewable Energy Group to provide sustainable energy for local use.    Further information: http://www.timberscombeinfo.com/