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 

Exmoor Food Fest launches at The Castle in Taunton

Award winning chefs from the region are joining The Castle’s head chef on 28 January in Taunton to prepare a mouthwatering Taste of Exmoor menu.  Tickets are limited, so early booking is very advisable:

Canapés & Fizz
Hospitality Students
(The Combe, West Somerset College, Minehead)

Starter
Olivier Certain (Clavelshay Barn, North Petherton)

Slow Roasted Belly of Little Oak Farm Pork, Black Pudding & Quail Scotch Egg, Apple and Cider

Fish Course
Mark Dodson (Mason Arms, Knowstone)

Pan Fried Scallop with a Thai Style Salad, Rice Wine Dressing

Main Course
The Castle Hotel, Taunton

Roast Exmoor Venison Loin, Faggot, Red Cabbage,
Jerusalem Artichoke and Wild Mushrooms

 Dessert
Paul & Donna Berry (The Swan, Bampton)

Lemon Cheesecake with Exmoor Wolf Gin, Tonic and Thyme Sorbet

Petit Fours and Breads
The Castle Hotel

Four course dinner:  £75.00 per person
(including a glass of fizz & 2 glasses of wine)

BOOK NOW

Award winning Exmoor-based chefs are joining The Castle’s head chef Liam Finnegan to cook up a Taste of Exmoor menu as the launch of the 2016 Exmoor Food Fest which takes place all over Exmoor in February.

The menu showcases the best the region has to offer. It is a celebration of local produce and local talent.

Elke Winzer, who is organising the Exmoor Food Fest as part of Exmoor4all, is delighted that so many outstanding chefs are bringing the best of Exmoor to Taunton.

“The launch at the renown Castle in Taunton brings some of the amazing Exmoor chefs together who all take part in the Exmoor Food Fest which takes place all over Exmoor in February.  It is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the high standard of Exmoor restaurants some of which are hidden gems,” explained Elke.

Liam Finnegan commented: “We are excited to host the launch of the Exmoor Food Fest. It is a great opportunity for us chefs to work together and create a stunning menu.”

Award winning chefs Mark Dodson, Paul and Donna Berry and Olivier Certain  are joined by the hospitality students of the West Somerset College training restaurant The Combe in Minehead. The students will prepare the selection of canapés which will open then night’s food celebration with a glass of fizz.

The Chefs:

Mark Dodson

Mark and his wife Sarah took over the The Mason Arms in Knowstone in June 2005. In July 2006, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star which they still hold. Since then, Mark and his team have gone from strength to strength, receiving many awards and accolades, including Michelin Pub of the Year 2010.

Prior to moving to Exmoor, Mark spent twelve years as Head Chef of Michel Roux’s Waterside Inn in Bray.

Paul and Donna Berry

There aren’t many awards Paul and Donna haven’t won for their historic pub “The Swan” in Bampton.  Best Trencherman’s Pub of the Year 2016, Visit Devon Pub of the Year Gold Award, and AA Gold Star Award are amongst the most recent accolades, recognising Paul’s and Donna’s passion for food and the use of local, seasonal produce.

Liam Finnegan

Liam Finnegan, who has been head chef at The Castle Hotel in Taunton for three years, grew up in Carlingford, Co Louth in Ireland from where he still sources their famous oysters. However, whenever possible, he uses local suppliers.

Liam’s career path took him through some fantastic restaurants such as The George Hotel on the Isle of White, The Bath Priory and Gidleigh Park where he worked for Micheal Cains, and The Nuremore Hotel (Ray McArdle). When asked about awards Liam counters that a full restaurant and happy customers are more important. “Of course accolades are brilliant, but anything we get, we receive and share as a team.”

Olivier Certain

Marseille-born Olivier moved to Somerset in 1998 following his Michelin star training in La Bonne Etape Chateau Arnoux and Les Roches in Le Lavandou.  In 2006 he joined Woods in Dulverton as head chef where he achieved 2 rosettes and the accolade of Somerset Dining Pub of the Year 2008, 2010 and 2011. In 2009 in reached the finals of the South West Chef of the Year competition.

Olivier now heads the kitchen at Clavelshay Barn in North Petherton.

The Students

The Year 13 hospitality students from train at West Somerset College, Minehead under Chef Lecturers Paul Ruttledge (a former British Master Chef) and Werner Hartholt.

Local business donates scholarship for West Somerset College’s hospitality student

Rosemary Overall and Tony O'Shaughnassy from The Culbone.  Photo by Steve Quantick

Rosemary Overall and Tony O’Shaughnassy from The Culbone.
Photo by Steve Quantick

Last week, West Somerset College’s hospitality student Rosemary Overall was presented with the inaugural The Culbone Scholarship for Hospitality Student of the Year.

Rosemary, who is in her last year at The Combe training restaurant in Minehead, was chosen for her commitment and keen interest, both in the kitchen and front of house.
A few months ago, Tony O’Shaughnassy, the owner of The Culbone on Porlock Hill, had contacted the The Combe to find a way to support outstanding students in the hospitality sector, to help develop young people in an industry which is so vital to Exmoor.  Finally, the idea for the scholarship was born, a suitable student found and the scholarship’s finer details developed.
“We think that the College’s hospitality course is outstanding. The food prepared by the students is amazing.  We see The Culbone as at the heart of the community, and helping young people excel is very close to our heart,” explained Tony. “Rosemary is a very worthy recipient of our scholarship, and we look forward to catching up with Rosemary in London in September.”
Tony presented Rosemary with a certificate in The Combe in the presence of Paul Gibbs, Acting Faculty Leader, and Werner Hartholt, Chef Lecturer.  The scholarship will take her to the London School for Wine and Spirits in September to do a two-week WSET Level 3 course.  It also covers travel, accommodation, pocket money and dinner with Somerset Life’s Food Editor, Susan Clark, in one of London’s top restaurants.

Paul Gibbs commented: “We are very grateful to The Culbone for their generous support for Rosemary.  Rosemary has impressed us with her dedication and hard work, both in the kitchen and front of house. This course will be of great benefit to her future career.”
The Combe students will join The Culbone team for a special event later this year.

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Werner Hartholz (Chef Lecturer), Paul Gibbs (Acting Faculty Leader), Rosemary Overall, Tony O’Shaughnassy (The Culbone)