County Gate

Media Centre

For further information and images please contact: 
 
Jane Adkins at A Head for PR

Tel: 01935 813 114

Email: jane@aheadforpr.co.uk

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Celebrate National Parks Week with Exmoor, one of Britain’s oldest National Parks!

As National Parks Week begins (28 July 2014) Exmoor celebrates with some facts about one of Britain’s oldest and some would say “best loved” National Parks.

Here are 10 facts that make Exmoor unique!

Did you know - Exmoor has a very remote shoreline?

The Exmoor shoreline is the most remote in England. Because of the height and steepness of the cliffs, there is no landward access to the six mile stretches of shoreline from Combe Martin to Heddon's Mouth and Countisbury to Glenthorne and there are few places where you could land even a small boat. It is estimated that if you were to wait for tides low enough to walk between access points it would take five years to walk the 34 mile length of shore. Even then some serious rock climbing would be involved.

Did you know - Exmoor has an exceptionally wooded coastline?

Exmoor has the most extensive broadleaved coastal woods in Britain. Woods stretch along ten miles of cliff from Countisbury to Porlock. Parts are ancient sessile oak woodland and are amongst the most natural woodland in England. Elsewhere strong salt-laden winds prevent the development of coastal woods except around sheltered inlets. On Exmoor the coastline is sheltered from the prevailing south westerly winds by the high cliffs and the Foreland shelters the eastern part of the coast from most strong winds sweeping up the channel. On the gentler parts of the cliffs trees sweep right down onto the beach.

Did you know - Exmoor has the highest sea cliffs on the British Mainland?

Exmoor has the highest coastline on the British mainland. It reaches a height of 314 metres (1350ft) at Culbone Hill. However, here the crest of the coastal ridge of hills is more than a mile from the sea. If a cliff is defined as having a slope greater than 60 degrees, the highest cliff on mainland Britain is on Great Hangman near Combe Martin. The coastal hill is 318 metres (1043 ft) high with a cliff face of 250 metres (800ft).

Did you know - Exmoor has the highest and lowest tides in Europe?

The Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range in the world after the Bay of Fundy in Canada, where the difference between high and low tide ranges up to 50ft. Locally the difference varies considerably with the phases of the moon, weather and along the coast, with the range generally increasing eastwards as far as Hinkley Point, where the highest recorded ranges have been up to 45ft. Mean spring tides on the Exmoor coast range from 8.4 metres at Combe Martin to 8.7 metres at Lynmouth, 8.0 metres at Glenthorne, 9.3 metres at Porlock Weir and 9.6 metres at Minehead. The highest tides are greater than these means, especially if backed by strong winds and the extra height of the highest tides increases roughly in proportion with the range so that the highest tides can reach well over 10 metres, especially in the east.

Did you know - Exmoor has plants that grow nowhere else?

Exmoor has species of plants that are found nowhere else. These include at least two species of whitebeam tree: Sorbus subcuneata and Sorbus 'Taxon D'. Taxon D is named after the area around Desolate where it is found. Other whitebeams endemic (belonging to and found nowhere else) to the West Country have subspecies endemic to Exmoor. They are Sorbus devoniensis, Sorbus vexans and Sorbus porrigentiformis. Also found on Exmoor are Sorbus anglica and Sorbus rupicola, which are more widely distributed but nationally rare. A lichen, Opegrapha fumosa, is also thought to be endemic. Exmoor is the only national location for the lichens Biatoridium delitescens, Rinodina fimbriata and Rinodina flavosoralifera, the latter having been found only on one individual tree.

Did you know - Britain's longest path starts at Exmoor?

The South West Coast Path, which starts along the Exmoor coast, is the longest National Trail in England and Wales. The route includes a number of options and changes are being made continually but at present the distance from start at Minehead to finish at Poole is about 613 miles. It takes roughly 40 days to walk the entire route. The Exmoor section was opened in 1978 and includes the highest and remotest parts of the path. It takes two or three days on average days to walk and includes ascents totalling more than the height of Ben Nevis. 

Did you know Exmoor has a rare butterfly?

Exmoor is the national stronghold of the heath fritillary butterfly, one of the rarest of the butterflies breeding in Britain. They were once called 'woodman's followers' because they appeared in coppiced woodland soon after the trees were cut. There is little coppicing nowadays but Exmoor has many areas where there is a 'soft' edge to woodland, particularly where the woodland gradually changes to heathland, where there are scattered trees and shrubs similar to coppice conditions. The butterflies move to other areas as conditions change, making their conservation difficult.

Did you know - Exmoor ponies are our oldest breed of horse?

Exmoor ponies are the closest breed to the original wild horses which roamed Britain and the rest of the northern hemisphere in prehistoric times. Some say they are not a breed but a race of wild horse. There are only a few hundred on Exmoor and worldwide they are rarer than the giant panda.  This year the Exmoor Pony Festival takes place from 9 – 17 August and looks set to be better than ever with safaris, pony shows, rides, walks and special herd open days – with something on each day it’s the ideal way to discover the unique Exmoor Pony breed and those famous free-running herds in their native landscape, Exmoor National Park.

The Festival is timed to coincide with the Exmoor Pony Society’s annual Breed Show on Wednesday 13 August at the Exford Show, which this year has HOYS qualifiers (Horse of the Year Show) and features a Moorland Herds Exhibition Area. More details: http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/must-see-and-do/events/exmoor-pony-festival

Did you know Exmoor's rocks are moving north?

Most of Exmoor's rocks were in the southern hemisphere when they were formed, about 350 million years ago. Continental drift has caused them to gradually move thousands of miles to the north since then. In another 100 million years Exmoor will be north of the Arctic Circle. Parts of the surface of Exmoor are amongst the oldest landscapes in the world. The surface of the Chains and the Vale of Porlock are thought to be at least 200 million years old - older than most continents and far older than most of the world's great mountain ranges.

Did you know there are high waterfalls on the sea cliffs?

Hollow Brook at Martinhoe is arguably the highest waterfall in the West Country and amongst the highest in Britain, depending on the definition of a waterfall. It drops 200 metres to the sea in a series of cascades over a horizontal distance of 400 metres and includes two nearly vertical leaps of 50 metres each. Coastal waterfalls are common on the North Devon and Exmoor coasts but rare elsewhere in Europe apart from in the fjords of Norway.

Did you know - Exmoor has high altitude beech trees?

Beech trees grow at greater altitudes on Exmoor than anywhere else in Britain. The country's highest beech wood is at Birch Cleave at Simonsbath, with trees growing up to 350 metres (1200 ft) above sea level. In hedgebanks they grow up to 490 metres (1500ft) above sea level. It seems to have been on the edge of Exmoor in prehistoric times and continuously since the Romans arrived but was mostly introduced in the 19th century. Anyway, this lowland tree seems particularly suited to the relatively mild climate of upland Exmoor.

For further press information or hi res images, contact Jane Adkins, A Head for PR, T/: 01935 813114 or E/: jane@aheadforpr.co.uk www.aheadforpr.co.uk   

For further information about the ETP, contact Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park Authority; DTJames@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk   T: / 01398 323 665 or Robert Downes, Tourism Officer, West Somerset Council (rdownes@westsomerset.gov.uk   / 01984 635 249). www.visit-exmoor.co.uk

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Visit Exmoor this Summer and enjoy a mix of Festivals, Fairs and Fun

Visitors to Exmoor this summer can look forward to a host of events encompassing all kinds of festivals, fairs and fun together with a mix of entertaining and quirky days out that are totally unique to the area.  www.visit-exmoor.co.uk

Where else can you spend a day exploring and celebrating bogs and wetlands? Head for Simonsbath and Blackpitts on 17 August and enjoy  Bogtastic offering a range of all-weather activities including a bog safari, stream dipping, dam building, bioblitz, undercover exhibitions including historic artefacts, sawmill tours and guided walks; games and stalls selling crafts and local produce.

To get the summer off to a great start, visitors should head for Minehead. Heralding the start of Minehead’s annual Harbour Festival will be a very special visitor in the form of Tall Ship, Irene of Bridgwater, which will be sailing in to town on 11 July to celebrate the unveiling of seven Minehead Heritage plaques on its harbour wall together with a dedicated book that will tell the story of Minehead’s maritime history. More activities to follow at this year’s Harbour Festival on 12 July including pirate treasure trails, the RNLI Open Day and a colourful market - a great celebration of everything Minehead has to offer as both a seaside resort and gateway to Exmoor National Park.

Castle Hill, on the North Devon border, has a number of different cultural events going on to keep music mad visitors entertained, with the brand new Somersault Festival from 17 – 21 July offering a five day summer camp of music, adventure and outdoor living with Jack Johnson and Ben Howard headlining, weekend tickets are £129.50. www.somersaultfestival.com  Later on in the summer, 7 August, Castle Hill is putting on an outdoor theatre production called The Pantaloons present the History of Britain - Theatre tickets available from The Plough Arts Centre Tel: 01805 624624. And for fans of classic cars, there is the unmissable Castle Hill Car Festival. This is a fabulous family weekend featuring classic cars, supercars, the Track Sprint Challenge, arena events, food and drink pavilion and the amazing Abarth Stunt Plane.  For more info about Castle Hill events check out: www.castlehilldevon.co.uk/what-s-on

For children of all ages, a spot of Roald Dahl always hits the spot and at Lynmouth on 29 July there will be a chance to enjoy an open air theatre performance of George’s Marvellous Medicine while indulging in a fish and chip supper, a delicious picnic or just some delicious ice cream in the sunshine. http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/must-see-and-do/events/georges-marvellous-medicine

Entertaining the children in the summer holidays can prove very expensive, but there are plenty of free events on Exmoor.  On 31 July visitors can head to Heddon’s Mouth to help celebrate National Parks Week and 60 years of Exmoor’s status as a National Park. There will be family games and events lasting all day. Tel 01398 323841 or visit: www.exmoornationalpark.gov.uk

There is another free day out for families who visit Minehead Summer Festival on 13 August when there will be a fantastic display by the Red Arrows and the chance to ride in a simulator to experience what it’s like to fly the skies. There will also be a street market featuring local arts, crafts and food producers. More details: www.minehead.co.uk

And there is a free day of Big Adventures at North Hill on 23 August where there will be games and activities as well as guided walks with local experts. Further details: Tel 01398 323841 and visit: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.

There are some who say summer isn’t summer without a traditional Country Fair and Dunster Country Fair certainly has all the right ingredients.  Held on 30 July on the picturesque setting of Dunster Castle Lawns, it delivers everything a country fair should with dog shows, equestrian events,  clay pigeon shooting, an archery display and of course a funfair and plenty of food and liquid refreshment on offer, with luncheon in the marquee always proving very popular. www.dunstercountryfair.co.uk. If livestock and agricultural pursuits float your boat then there is also the Dunster Show on 15 August.  The show provides a unique opportunity to see the best of Somerset farming and livestock. It also has some of the best entertainment in West Somerset and is a fun filled day out for all the family. www.thedunstershow.co.uk

Just as Exmoor has a reputation for delivering fabulous events based on traditional country values, it is also known for the animals and wild life that have been part of the landscape for centuries. This year the Exmoor Pony Festival takes place from 9 – 17 August and looks set to be better than ever with safaris, pony shows, rides, walks and special herd open days – with something on each day it’s the ideal way to discover the unique Exmoor Pony breed and those famous free-running herds in their native landscape, Exmoor National Park.

The Festival is timed to coincide with the Exmoor Pony Society’s annual Breed Show on Wednesday 13 August at the Exford Show, which this year has HOYS qualifiers (Horse of the Year Show) and features a Moorland Herds Exhibition Area. More details: http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/must-see-and-do/events/exmoor-pony-festival

For those who prefer their summers to be filled with the sound of music, the Watchet Live Music Festival from 22 – 24 August is West Somerset's largest outdoor performing art and music festival.  For more details visit:  www.watchetfestival.co.uk .  Visitors not quite up to four days of music can try a mini music festival and visit the intriguingly named Rock the Ghosties Festival on 9 August offering free camping and tickets at just £15 (under 11s free). It will take place at The Poltimore Arms (Yarde Down) near Brayford and features the “The Kast off Kinks” for those seeking a Waterloo Sunset.

The above is not an exhaustive list of events; check the Visit Exmoor website for more information: www.visit-exmoor.co.uk

For further press information or hi res images, contact Jane Adkins, A Head for PR, T/: 01935 813114 or E/: jane@aheadforpr.co.uk www.aheadforpr.co.uk 

For further information about the ETP, contact Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park Authority; DTJames@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk  T: / 01398 323 665 or Robert Downes, Tourism Officer, West Somerset Council (rdownes@westsomerset.gov.uk  / 01984 635 249). www.visit-exmoor.co.uk

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Exmoor Businesses rewarded for Tourism Commitment

An award-winning start to 2014

Despite the appalling weather, many Exmoor businesses have got off to a great start in 2014, receiving well-deserved accolades and awards that reflect their commitment to quality in local tourism.

Some awards were judged by experts such as the recent South West Tourism Awards, where both attractions and accommodation providers beat stiff regional competition to emerge as winners. Nearly 350 entries were considered, with all entrants undergoing a rigorous short-listing process and many were visited by a team ofmystery shoppers.

The fascinating Coleridge Cottage in Nether Stowey, owned by the National Trust,won SWTA Best Small Visitor Attractionand the small and delightful Old Rectory Hotel,close to the coast on Exmoor, won Best Small Hotel.

The South West Coast Path, which begins in Minehead and runs through West Somerset and North Devon (and down through Cornwall to Dorset) won an SWTA award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism and Countryside Mobility, with two sites on Exmoor, won Bronze for accessible tourism.

The Calvert Trust, with the “It’s what you can do that counts” philosophy won two Golds for both their tourism experience and their accessibility and were crowned Winner of Winners at the recent SWTA ceremony held in Plymouth, having inspired the judging panel with their achievements, vision and inspiration.

Trip Advisor Travellers Choice 2014 accolades are gathered from outstanding customer feedback and include accommodation from all over Exmoor. Spears Cross in Dunster, Dunkery Beacon Hotel, Shelley’s in Lynmouthand the Old Rectory Hotel in Martinhoe all scooped well-deserved awards.

The West Somerset Railway was proud to receive the 'Best Overall Theming' award for Day Out With Thomas™ events held at Minehead Station in July 2013. The West Somerset Railway hosts its Day Out With Thomas™ eventseach year with the dates for 2014 being 5th, 6th, 12th & 13th July.

The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust was awarded a Heritage Railway Association (HRA) Award for its outstanding achievement in railway preservation. Judges presented the award "In recognition of it taking a major step forward in its mission to recreate a piece of North Devon transport heritage in its original form with the restoration of three original carriages.”

Exmoor has always been proud of its green credentials and delighted that Wimbleball Lake has been re-awarded the Green Tourism Business Scheme’s Gold Award. The Green Tourism Business Scheme is the national sustainable tourism certification scheme and businesses are assessed against a rigorous set of criteria covering energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity and more.

And, having been one of the first National Parks in the country to gain the prestigious European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in 2007, Exmoor National Park has recently heard that their application to renew the charter for a further 5 years (2013-2018) has been successful. As a result Exmoor continues to be internationally recognised as an excellent example of sustainable tourism, taking into account the special environment of the area and the needs of residents, visitors and businesses.


Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park commented: “We were commended for our good, creative sustainable tourism work, notably the walking initiatives, and the innovative Dark Skies Reserve programme. Also our positive relationships with local businesses.” He added “We are delighted that all the hard work from our local award-winning businesses has been recognised. Their contribution helps to ensure that the area continues to offer provide high standards and encourage visitors to this beautiful part of the world.”   

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West Somerset and Exmoor open for Business

Half term Family Fun: Steam Trains, Fossil Hunting, Ponies and Snowdrops

Despite a wet and windy January West Somerset and Exmoor are definitely open for business and looking forward to welcoming families for some half term spring fun.

A trip on the West Somerset Railway is always something to look forward to and this February families can enjoy the journey for half the price, saving 50% on each pre-booked Adult, Senior and Child Day Rover Ticket.  Visitors booking in advance will receive 50% off Day Rover tickets for all RED Timetable days on this heritage steam railway which runs from Minehead on the coast to Bishops Lydeard near Taunton. Pre-book online at www.westsomersetrailway.vticket.co.uk or 01643 704996.

Winter and spring are the best times to discover fossils on West Somerset’s Jurassic and Triassic coasts. From Blue Anchor Bay to Kilve, St Audries Bay to Quantoxhead and Watchet, reptile remains, ammonites, belemnites and unusual shells are regularly and thrillingly uncovered, particularly after a winter storm. More info from www.ukfossils.co.uk/somerset.htm.

Children are always thrilled by Exmoor’s moorland ponies. This strong & hardy rare breed has been a familiar sight up on the heather moorlands of Exmoor for as long as anyone can remember and it’s quite a thrill to catch sight of them. Or animal lovers can meet them up close and personal at the Exmoor Pony Centre (www.moorlandmousietrust.org.uk) which is open 10am – 4pm Sunday –Friday’s in February (Free entry).

The abundance of snowdrops which light up a sheltered corner of Exmoor each year are a very welcome sight. They are a great excuse for families to get their wellies on and enjoy the 30 – 40 minute scenic and well signed walk from the West Somerset village of Wheddon Cross down to the snowdrop loop in the Avill Valley. Alternatively pick up a Park & Ride bus from the village which runs regularly throughout the day between 1 – 23 February. Cake and hot chocolate in the village afterwards are a must. www.wheddoncross.org.uk/snowdropvalley.htm

West Somerset’s coastal town of Minehead is holding a Winter Festival (18 – 22 Feb) which includes an ice rink, puppet show, cricket, football, dance and gymnastics activities as well as Skatepark fun and bouldering, perfect half-term fun whatever the weather.

For lots more things to see and do and places to stay see www.Visit-exmoor.co.uk

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Exmoor Snowdrops bring Promise of Spring

Saturday 1 Feb – Sunday 2 March 2014

The magnificent abundance of snowdrops which light up a sheltered corner of Exmoor each year are a very welcome sight. These delicate white flowers bring with them the promise of spring as they display their blooms in the fresh February air. Rumoured to have been brought over to Exmoor by Benedictine Monks from nearby Dunster, this floral extravaganza attracts visitors from all over the country.

Get your wellies on and enjoy the 30 – 40 minute scenic and well signed walk from the West Somerset village of Wheddon Cross down to the snowdrop loop in the Avill Valley. Alternatively pick up a Park & Ride bus from the village which runs regularly throughout the day between 1 – 23 February. This year the buses are being run by local Minehead company AtWest. On Mondays the company are able to transport wheelchairs and small mobility scooters down into the valley.

Event organiser Nic Wigley explains, “We are running these buses as a trial this year and, because seats need to be removed to fit the wheelchair in, we are asking visitors with wheelchairs to book a time slot. Anyone with mobility challenges who is not able to visit on a Monday can also visit during the last week when the buses are not running. They can request a Vehicle Mobility Pass which will allow them to drive down into the valley in their own vehicle. We are keen to make the valley accessible to all.”

Once again the West Somerset Railway (www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk) will be running its popular combined steam train and coach connection to see the spring flowers. Leaving from Bishops Lydeard Station to Dunster by steam train, passengers will hop on board a coach for a picturesque Exmoor journey to Snowdrop Valley.

Welcome hot drinks are available in the village at Snowdrop Café in Moorland Hall, which will be manned by local volunteers, and the village Inn and tearooms will also offer light refreshments.

More details at www.wheddoncross.org.uk and information of things to see and do and accommodation in Exmoor, Quantocks and the West Somerset Coast area can be found at www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

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Exmoor Video Competition names Winners

Summing up Exmoor in 60 seconds

‘Authentic, creative and original’ was the brief for Exmoor’s first video competition this summer. The remit was for film makers to show what Exmoor really meant to them in one minute or less and the entrants certainly rose to the challenge. 

The sweeping panoramic views of  the stunning Exmoor landscape on Ken Blakey’s ‘ Exmoor Dream’ was inspirational, as was Chris Jelley’s ‘Combe by Day, Stars by Night’ a charming look at  Exmoor through the eyes of an eight year old boy. Both videos were equally deserving of the top spot, and therefore the judges decided to split the £500 prize money and award the filmmakers £250 each. Runner-up video was ‘Reuben and Ollie’s Exmoor’ which was made by a couple of young lads on a shoe string and shows their love of mountain biking on the Exmoor hills whatever the weather. They received a voucher for a trip on the West Somerset Railway. All three videos can be seen on the Visit Exmoor website at www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/video_comp

Ken Blakey from Lee House B&B in Lynton (www.leehouse-lynton.co.uk) fell in love with Exmoor and moved down from London with his wife 5 years ago. “How do you sum up an area like Exmoor in less than sixty seconds? Well, you can’t, but you can get a glimpse of the stunning scenery and the wide range of activities that go on here. The second shot of the Exmoor Dream video shows dawn breaking over Porlock Bay (I got up at 5.30am for that one) and I’d love to think this video will help inspire people to come and experience what Exmoor has to offer.”

Poet and storyteller Chris Jelley  (www.poetrypin.info) made a film which really captures Exmoor from a child’s perspective; running through the woods, discovering insects, swinging from trees, swimming in the river and picnics on the beach, as well as a late night treat to see the amazing Exmoor stars with a telescope. 

Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manger at Exmoor National Park says,” We worked with the Exmoor Tourism Partnership on this project to promote people’s personal views of the best bits of Exmoor and to help raise the profile of the area.  We were delighted with the response and are hoping to use the videos in the new Exmoor National Park centre at the Lynmouth Pavilion too.” 

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Christmas on Exmoor 2013

Dunster by Candlelight (6 - 7 December 2013) takes on a medieval theme this year and there are lots of new events planned to celebrate the history and heritage of one of the best preserved medieval villages in Britain.  

There will be fire sword duelling and battle re-enactment from Bowlore, a medieval archery and sword group, a birds of prey display from falconry specialists Raptorcare Falconry, music from medieval and Tudor musicians Calibans Dream, and Tri-Corn Shonkey will be entertaining the crowds with their rambunctious historical musical dramas. The annual Lantern Lighting Procession weaves through the cobbled streets to mark the beginning of the festival on Friday evening with local children, musicians and stilt-walkers in fantastic costumes hanging out the lanterns. During both evenings the village will be full of the sounds of brass Bands, Carol Singers, Morris Dancers, Samba Musicians, Hand Bell Ringers, a large Fairground Organ and Choirs in the Parish Church.

The atmosphere is both traditional and exciting and it’s a magical event for all ages. Entrance is free, although visitors will need to pay for the Park & Ride buses operating from local towns and villages as there is no parking (or cars) in Dunster during the event. West Somerset Railway also runs steam trains to and from the event. For more details go to www.dunsterbycandlelight.co.uk

The West Somerset Railway – England’s longest heritage railway – celebrates Christmas with a whole stocking full of traditional events this festive season. December Carol Trains, Dunster Express, Sherry & Mince Pie journeys and Santa Specials all fill the timetable this December. Transporting over 5 million passengers since the line re-opened in 1976, the West Somerset Railway is a true country branch line of the old Great Western Railway and provides a nostalgic ride back in time through the wintery West Somerset and Quantocks countryside. For full details of dates/times and prices for the West Somerset Railway please visit www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk  Don’t forget to book early. Many Christmas events sell out quickly.

Further along the coast the traditional Exmoor village of Porlock is holding its very first Porlock Santa Festival this year. To be launched during late night Christmas shopping weekend 30 November/1 December and continuing through the month, Santa’s will be dotted throughout the village and prizes will be awarded for finding the Santas! And on Saturday 14th December all the shops stay open late and Porlock will be full of carol singers, bands and street entertainers. Porlock Visitor Centre will have live music & mulled cider made from their ancient cider press and Dovery Museum will offer traditional Christmas fare. For more information visit www.porlock.co.uk

The ever-popular Santa Specials are a real draw for visitors to the narrow gauge Lynton & Barnstaple Railway at Woody Bay Station on 14-15 and 20-24 December. A charming two-mile round trip across Exmoor by steam train and a present from Santa is a delightful experience. Grab mince pies and hot chocolate at the Station Tea Rooms to warm up chilly fingers and toes. To book phone 01598 763683 or visit the Railway's website, www.lynton-rail.co.uk.

Over the moors Dulverton by Starlight is on 8 December. Every year this pretty town puts on its Christmas best and for one Sunday all of the shops are open for people to do some local Christmas shopping.  Festivities take place all afternoon with a grand finale firework display from the top of the church tower to end the day. For more information visit www.Dulvertonbystarlight.co.uk

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First Ada Lovelace Day in Porlock 12 October

Ada Lovelace Day is being celebrated in Porlock for the very first time this year, nearly 200 years after the birth of the woman once called 'the enchantress of numbers'. Commemorated worldwide, this annual event in mid-October aims to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Ada Lovelace was the only legitimate daughter of the romantic poet Lord George Gordon Byron and the product of his very short-lived marriage to Anne Milbanke. The subsequent separation of her parents was very bitter. Ada’s mother, keen to protect her daughter against the ‘madness’ and ‘insanity’ of her father encouraged an interest in maths and logic which seemed to work. Ada Lovelace, known as Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, went on to study mathematics at the University of London and worked closely with Charles Babbage to mechanise the production of mathematical tables.  Her achievements are even more exceptional given the attitudes of Victorian Britain towards the intellectual pursuits of women.

It’s something of an oversight considering Ada lived just two miles away in Ashley Combe for many years of her life,” admits Denise Sage of the Porlock Tourist Information Centre. “But we are happily putting this right. Ada Lovelace, working with British mathematician Charles Babbage, is believed to be the world’s first computer programmer which makes her achievements highly significant in the modern era, and we are delighted to be celebrating in Porlock this year.”

To commemorate the day, Porlock will be holding a “Cream Tea with Inspirational Women” at 3.00pm on 12 October in the Village Hall. The impressive line up of participants includes Dame Margaret Drabble world renown author, Dr Rosalind Hinton, Dr Anna Scott (engineering research fellow at Southampton University), Dr Murrell (director at The National Computer Museum at Bletchley Park) and Alex Lovell (BBC Points West presenter) Tickets for Cream Tea with Inspirational Women cost £10 & students are free but must all have a ticket.

In the morning of 12 October a computer course “Web Warfare for Women” teaches women how to stay safe and protect themselves from cyber bullying & identity theft. Tickets for the morning event are very limited and cost £5.00

All tickets & further information from

Porlock Visitor Centre 01643 863150 or email visit@porlock.co.uk

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On Track for Christmas

Festive events on the West Somerset Railway

Evoking echoes of time gone by the West Somerset Railway – England’s longest heritage railway – celebrates Christmas with a whole stocking full of traditional events this festive season.

Hauled by heritage steam locomotives there is seasonal cheer a-plenty on the December Carol Trains, especially when these great machines puff and hiss nostalgically in the dark frosty evenings. Carollers climb aboard to enjoy the journey and get off at brightly decorated stations along the way to sing, accompanied by local brass bands. An on-board buffet car provides light refreshments to loosen up the vocal chords. Carol Trains run from both Bishops Lydeard and Minehead on 9, 10, 11 December and cost £10 per adult and £7.50 per child (under 5’s free) which also includes a free Carol Songbook.


Those that don’t fancy singing can sit back with a sherry and mince pie and enjoy the historic steam locomotives, coaches and wagons along the forty mile scenic round trip. The gently rolling Quantock hills and distant views of Exmoor, unspoilt villages and farms nestling in frosty lanes, the cliffs and chilly coast of the Bristol Channel and Dunster's imposing Castle are all waiting to be discovered from the comfort of your warm seat. The Sherry & Mince Pie Train round trip takes about an hour and a half. Services run on 30 November and 1 December and costs £12.50 which includes mince pie and sherry (or soft drink alternative).

No cars are allowed in the village during the Dunster by Candlelight weekend so arriving by Steam Train is not only exciting but convenient too. The remarkably preserved medieval village of Dunster in West Somerset  turns off its lights every year during the first weekend of December to celebrate the start of the festive season, this year the 6th and 7th of December 2013. (www.dunsterbycandlelight.co.uk) . The West Somerset Rail way journey starts from Bishops Lydeard near Taunton and passengers can either alight at Dunster, where there is a 20 minute walk into the village, or carry on to Minehead and catch the shuttle bus to the centre of Dunster. During the evening street entertainers throng the cobbled paths, shops are open for Christmas gift-buying and a range of restaurants and street stalls offer deliciously tempting foods. It is a magical event for all ages.  A return ticket costs £19.50 per adult and £9.75 per child (under 5’s free). On the 17.30 departure on both evenings there is the option of Fish & Chips with a glass of wine (fruit juice alternative available).

Christmas would not be Christmas without a visit to see Santa and families can enjoy a festive train ride as Santa comes through the train to greet the children and give them a seasonal gift. Alternatively, hop aboard the Santa Special running between Bishops Lydeard and Crowcombe Heathfield or Minehead to Blue Anchor where excited passengers can enjoy a short steam train ride before visiting Santa in his grotto. Trains run on various dates in December. Costs £12.50 per adult /£10.20 Child (Age 1- 15) and £3.00 Child (under 1 year).

Transporting over 5 million passengers since the line re-opened in 1976, the West Somerset Railway is a true country branch line of the old Great Western Railway and provides a nostalgic ride back in time through the lovely West Somerset and Quantocks countryside and a fascinating study of the industrial heritage that the line preserves. For places to stay nearby check out www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

For full details of dates/times and prices for the West Somerset Railway please visit www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk Don’t forget to book early. Many of these Christmas events sell out quickly. 

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Minehead Summer Air Festival: Wednesday 14 August

Free fun day out for all the family

The beautiful natural amphitheatre formed by Minehead Bay in West Somerset makes a stunning backdrop for the annual Summer Air Festival; a much anticipated celebration of all things aeronautical and a fun day out for all the family.

The Red Arrows demonstrate the power and beauty of their amazing aircraft in a skilful and exhilarating aerial display and will be followed by the nostalgic Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with its Hurricane and Spitfire evoking the spirit of the 1940s. The RAF Tutor display team and the SAR Sea King will also take to the skies. The flying programme will finish with a precision parachute display performed by the ever popular Red Devils.

Minehead, a traditional seaside town ideal for a family holiday, will be buzzing with street entertainers and arts & crafts and food stalls will line the streets. The West Somerset Railway (www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk) is a true country branch line of the Great Western Railway and will be running an enhanced service on the day so that visitors can arrive by steam train. Passengers will enjoy the historic steam locomotives, coaches and wagons and the ten unique stations linked by a twenty mile scenic journey through the rolling Quantock Hills with the promise of Exmoor visible in the distance.

For visitors who would like to explore more of the area – Minehead is the gateway to Exmoor, the start of the South West Coast Path and close to the Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty –  www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk (or the new mobile website m.visit-exmoor.co.uk) offers hundreds of suggestions of things to see and do, and places to eat and stay.  

Win

Visitors to the area will also have the opportunity to win £500 by entering the Exmoor Video Competition. Entrants should create an authentic, original and creative video – lasting 1 minute or less – showing what it is that they really love about Exmoor. (The aerial spectacle will offer a great visual experience.)  Easy to enter (the few simple rules are posted on the www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk site) videos entered will be put on display on You Tube under #ExmoorVideoComp.

Ends.

Information correct at date of release 22 July 2013. Images courtesy of Exmoor Tourism Partnership @Visit-Exmoor

For further press information please contact: Jennette Baxter, Starfish PR starfish@baxter1.clara.net or Robert Downes Tourism Officer West Somerset Council on 01984 635 249 rdownes@westsomerset.gov.uk on behalf of the Exmoor Tourism Partnership 

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Exmoor Nightlife

Evenings with the stars, the bats and the deer

The nightlife on Exmoor is buzzing and this summer visitors are invited too.

The shy Red Deer of Exmoor come out to play at dusk. They are the UK’s largest land mammal and a magnificent sight in their natural habitat. ‘Deer Searches’ will be departing from either Simonsbath or Anstey every Tuesday 7:30pm – 9:30pm between 23 July and 20 August (£3 per adult: children under 16 free).The game of hide and seek will meander along for around 3 miles so walking boots rather than high heels are advised.  Call 07772 989737 for more details.

Come the evening the elusive Nightjar, which is virtually impossible to spot during the day, emerges to pick up a partner. Join an Exmoor National Park Ranger on a ‘Nightjar Walk’ (8:30 – 10:30pm 4, 11, 18 July £3 per adult, children free) to seek out these long-winged, short-legged birds and hear their distinctive ‘churring’ mating call. Meet Nutcombe Bottom nr Dunster. Call 01398 323841 for more information.

Bat detectors make spotting these nocturnal creatures much easier (and more fun) as they fly in and around their night-time party place of choice at Tarr Steps. Exmoor National Park Rangers will explain all about the fascinating world of bats during this evening of discovery (13 August 8:00 – 9:30pm, free, just turn up). Call 01398 322282 for more information.

See the full moon rising like a huge disco ball above the Brendon Hills and the sea (or feel your way up Dunkery in thick fog, seeing nothing but swirling mist and listening to the many strange, wild Exmoor night sounds). Whatever the weather, an Exmoor National Park Ranger will be the guide to walk Dunkery by Moonlight on Wednesday 21 Aug (8:30 – 10:30p: free). Meet at Webbers Post or call 07772 989934 for more information.

(If the stars don’t come out that night amateur astronomers can hire high performance telescopes from Exmoor National Park Centres in Lynmouth, Dunster and Dulverton for just £25 (plus returnable deposit) per night.)  

A dazzling display of falconry and Mist, star of Chanel 5’s ‘Sheepdog Tails’ will put on an early evening show for all the family against the magnificent backdrop of the National Trust’s Dunster Castle every Tuesday (23 Jul - 27 Aug 5 – 7pm : family Ticket £10). This is pure family entertainment in the castle parkland. More Information from Visitor Services on 01643 821 314.

And finally look out for the traditional sight of West Somerset Morris men who will liven up any party night. They’ll be entertaining their way around the area in July and August for free (but grateful for donations – its thirsty work!) www.westsomersetmorrismen.co.uk

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News from Exmoor National Park 

The 2013 Exmoor Pony Festival will take place Saturday 24 August – Sunday 1 September at Exmoor National Park, the home of the famous Exmoor Pony. A week full of special events and activities will celebrate and rediscover the unique pony breed, and the dedicated people who take care of the free-roaming moorland herds. The festival is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Heart of Exmoor scheme.

Jason Ball, Heart of Exmoor scheme manager announced: “There’s fun to be had with safaris, rides and family-friendly days, and some serious events with an exhibition of prize-winning ponies from different moorland herds, also an astounding demonstration of horsemanship skills and a dedicated behaviour workshop. I believe the Exmoor Pony Festival will make a lasting impression and is bound to change people’s views of these unique ponies.”

“Exmoor ponies deserve a festival – this ancient rare breed is renowned for its intelligence and an ability to withstand the harsh conditions of the Exmoor uplands, and it is the closest relative of the Northwest European prehistoric horse.”

There is something happening every day - the 2013 Exmoor Pony Festival events will include an art exhibition, a fun day, a pleasure ride, photo safaris, walks, and a Pony Liberty and Agility demonstration with the twice-world-champion Exmoor Pony stallion Hawkwell Versuvius. For those keen to develop their own skills in this area, book your place on a dedicated behaviour and handling workshop, led by Dawn Westcott. For those with a keen interest in the breed, come to the ‘meet the herds’ event to find out more about the local breeding bloodlines, and how to buy and care for an Exmoor Pony.

Joining the Heart of Exmoor scheme in organising the festival are the Exmoor Pony Society, the Moorland Mousie Trust, the Exmoor Pony Club and the Exmoor National Park Authority, as well as numerous volunteers, and the managers of Exmoor’s moorland herds. Behind the picturesque scenes of Exmoor Ponies on moorland is an army of farmers, volunteers, inspectors and rangers who all work to secure the future of the free-roaming Exmoor Pony.

For more details please visit http://exmoorponyfestival.org.uk or call 01398 323841 or find the festival on Facebook. (Please note: several events require you to book in advance.)

Event details

Sat 24 Aug, Exmoor Pony Safaris. Booking essential - only 5 places per tour. Safari with Experience Exmoor on a wonderful trip to seek out, admire and take beautiful photographs of the world famous free-roaming Exmoor Ponies. Driving as close as we can in our Land Rover Discovery, we will also get out of the vehicle as much as possible. Please bring your camera, suitable clothing according to weather and firm footwear. Beverages on board, but feel free to bring your own too. We can provide some binoculars. Starts from Lynmouth National Park Centre. Book now: 01271 889316 or 07854 666 800 email: info@experienceexmoor.co.uk special offer £10 per person!

Sun 25 Aug, 3pm- 5pm, Exmoor Pony Club Liberty & Agility Demonstration. Booking essential. Exmoor Pony stallion Hawkwell Versuvius 'Bear' and Dawn Westcott (twice International Horse Agility World Champions) show how to establish connection and trust between horse and handler so the horse can work loose, navigating obstacles and understanding what's being asked of him. Venue indoors, not weather-dependent. Viewing area, toilet facilities, coffee/tea, etc, on site. Plenty of parking. Location: Holtball Exmoor Pony Stud, Holt Ball Farm, Luccombe, Minehead TA24 8SZ. FREE (donations welcome) but places are limited and advance booking is essential. No entries at the gate. Please contact Dawn Westcott on 01643 862785 / marketing@equinetourism.co.uk to secure your place. (See exmoorponyclub.co.uk for more info.)

Monday 26 Aug - Saturday 31 Aug, Art Exhibition. Guildhall Heritage and Arts Centre. Open 10am – 4pm. A combination of works by modern artists and treasured pieces collected by Exmoor Pony enthusiasts will be on display. Admission is FREE (donations welcome).  Location: behind the National Park Centre just off Fore Street, Dulverton, TA22 9EX. Web: dulvertonheritagecentre.org.uk

Mon 26 Aug, Hawkridge Revel and Gymkhana. A village event held every August Bank Holiday Monday. There are Exmoor Ponies competing in the show. Look out for Jacky Ablett and Gill Langdon at the 'Friends of Exmoor Ponies' display. A few of their Exmoor Ponies will be the show, and if you are keen to buy a pony, ask about the moorland herds. Contact the show secretary for details on 01398 341520.

Tues 27 Aug, 2pm-4pm, Meet the Herds at Cutcombe Market. This year's Festival provides a unique opportunity to see ponies from the moorland herds on display. Learn about the heritage of each herd, and meet the people who take care of them. An ideal event for discovering how to buy and care for an Exmoor Pony. Location: Cutcombe Market, Wheddon Cross, TA24 7DT. FREE (donations welcome). Enquiries 0845 607 5350.

Tues 27 Aug, Exmoor Pony Safaris. Booking essential - only 5 places per tour. Safari with Experience Exmoor on a wonderful trip to seek out, admire and take beautiful photographs of the world famous free-roaming Exmoor Ponies. Driving as close as we can in our Land Rover Discovery, we will also get out of the vehicle as much as possible. Please bring your camera, suitable clothing according to weather and firm footwear. Beverages on board, but feel free to bring your own too. We can provide some binoculars. Starts from Lynmouth National Park Centre. Book now: 01271 889316 or 07854 666 800 email: info@experienceexmoor.co.uk special offer £10 per person!

Wed 28 Aug, 2pm start, Accessible Exmoor Pony Walk. Come and join Linzi Green - Exmoor Pony Officer - for a short walk and talk about the National Park Authority owned herd of Exmoor ponies on Haddon Hill. Location: Haddon Hill car park, just off the B3190. FREE (donations welcome). All-terrain wheelchairs can be booked in advance – please call 01392 459222. General enquiries 01398 323841.

Thurs 29 Aug, 1pm-4pm, Cream Teas and Crafts at the Exmoor Pony Centre. Children’s activities, cakes and refreshments. Craft activities with a ‘Perfect Ponies’ theme. Meet the staff and ponies. Pony rides and pony grooming. Location: the Exmoor Pony Centre, near Dulverton, TA22 9QE. Admission is free. There is a small charge for activities. Contact the centre on 01398 323093 or info@exmoorponycentre.org.uk for details.

Fri 30 Aug, 2pm-6pm, Liberty Training & Behaviour Workshop. Booking essential. Explore how to train your horses and ponies to work at liberty, with twice International Horse Agility world champion & Reiki Master, Dawn Westcott, at Holt Ball Farm, home of the Holtball Exmoor Pony Stud & Exmoor Pony Club. Looking at behavioural considerations, the language of Equus and the groundwork and warm up exercises that lead to being able to turn loose. Venue indoors, so not weather-dependent. Light refreshments provided and toilet facilities on site. Plenty of parking.  Location: Holt Ball Farm, Luccombe, Minehead TA24 8SZ. Special 'half price' Exmoor Pony Festival rate of £25 per person. Places limited so please book early. Contact Dawn Westcott on 01643 862785 / marketing@equinetourism.co.uk to secure your place, and get details about what to wear, insurance, etc. (Visit exmoorponyclub.co.uk for more info.)

Sat 31 Aug, 10am-4pm, North Hill Big Adventure, Minehead. Family games and events lasting all day. Meet an Exmoor Pony and watch the local moorland herd. See the wartime heritage of North Hill brought to life with vintage vehicles and living history displays. Please wear outdoor clothing and suitable footwear. Car park and toilet facilities available on site. FREE (donations welcome). Accessible; Dogs welcome; Trampers available. General enquiries 01398 323841.

Sat 31 Aug, 11am start, Exmoor Pony Fun Day. All are welcome for a day of fun activities. Come along and see how versatile these ponies are as they undertake an obstacle course, the cider trot, the Gatherer's challenge, fancy dress and pony races. There will also be a fun dog show. Location: Mounsey Hill Gate, in a lovely field next to the Winsford Hill moors. Approach along the B3223, turn at the sign for the Exmoor Pony Centre, and you will see the field. FREE (donations welcome). Enquiries 0845 607 5350.

Sat 31 Aug, 7pm, Quiz Night at the Green Room! Join us at the Green Room, a lovingly restored building at the Exmoor Pony Centre. Free entry (donations welcome). Enquiries 0845 607 5350. Map/directions from exmoorponycentre.org.uk or call 01398 323093.

Sun 1 Sept, 11am start, Exmoor Pony Pleasure Ride.  Booking essential. Bring your trusty steed - no, you don’t have to ride an Exmoor! Walkers also welcome. Be ready for any weather. Starting from Mounsey Hill Gate near Winsford Hill. Approach along the B3223, turn at the sign for the Exmoor Pony Centre, and you will soon see the field. FREE (donations welcome). Please call 0845 607 5350 to book a place.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Updates on http://exmoorponyfestival.org.uk  (no www.) facebook.com/ExmoorPonyFestival and Twitter: @heartofexmoor Hashtag: #exmoorponyfest

 

Adventurous families wanted for Exmoor Discovery Week

Local families are invited to an exciting week of outdoor fun and exploration on Exmoor this August.

Exmoor Discovery Week is four days of environmental adventures, conservation challenges and moorland expeditions. The course is organised and led by local nature experts from the Field Studies Council at Nettlecombe Court, the Heart of Exmoor project and Exmoor National Park.

Families will take part in a series of adventures, including exploring ancient trees, barefoot bog walking, bracken bashing and butterfly surveys. Activities are designed around achieving the John Muir Discovery Award, an environmental award focusing on discovering, exploring and conserving wild places.

Lucy Hellier from Nettlecombe Court says: “Exmoor Discovery Week is always a great few days and an absolute bargain at £25 per family, thanks to support from the Heart of Exmoor project. If your family loves getting muddy and enjoying the great outdoors then this week is definitely for you”.

Exmoor Discovery Week runs from Monday 12th to Thursday 15th August at various locations around Exmoor. It is suitable for children 7 and over, who must be accompanied by an adult. For more information or to book please contact Lucy Hellier on 01984 640320 or email lucy.nc@field-studies-council.org. Only 25 places are available, so anyone interested should book now to avoid disappointment.

ENDS

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Parracombe Farmer Becomes a Director of Exmoor Magazine

Exmoor Magazine is delighted to announce that its lynchpin administrator, Sue South, from Parracombe, North Devon, has become a director of Hoar Oak Publishing, the independent publishers of the magazine.

Sue will be familiar to regular subscribers to the magazine as the voice at the end of the phone and she is well known to many on Exmoor, especially among the farming fraternity; she and her husband Grantley have a pedigree herd of Beef Shorthorn cattle and Exmoor Horn sheep at their home, Wheatly Farm, near Parracombe.

Sue was born and brought up in Porlock and has spent most of her life living on the Moor. Director Elaine Pearce (who ran the magazine with her husband Brian Pearce before his untimely death in 2010), said: “Heather Holt has asked to stand down as a director as she has a mountain of other commitments at present and the magazine is a labour of love for us all! We are so grateful to her for helping us through the challenge of continuing the magazine through Brian’s illness and into a new era of growth as we emerged from that tough time. Heather has now become our Honorary Director. Managing Director and Editor Naomi Cudmore and I decided that the obvious person to offer Heather’s share to was Sue.

Naomi added: “Sue keeps the operation running smoothly from every conceivable administrative angle and we really wanted to stick to our tight ship. She has helped us at every turn through the busy and rewarding process of developing the magazine’s content, distribution and online presence over the last few years. It makes us smile us when we get calls from people asking to be ‘put through to a member of our editorial team’ or ‘the subscriptions department’ because we are, quite literally, an operation based across three ‘kitchen tables’ – with Sue and Elaine in North Devon with myself in West Somerset. This is the way we like it as it enables us to remain locally-focused, responsive and personal. To have Sue join us as a shareholder and part of our directorship is a very exciting step. I am delighted that she said yes!”

Sue said: “Like Naomi and Elaine I am fascinated by everything that goes to make up moorland life so this opportunity to become even more involved with the Exmoor Magazine is wonderful.”

Exmoor Magazine covers greater Exmoor and the Quantocks. It is available in a network of 140+ local shops, as well as Co-op, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer and direct by subscription (just £16.50 for 1 year). Established in 1996, the magazine remains proudly independent, being locally owned and run. Its growing team of knowledgeable writers and photographers from Devon and Somerset share a common love of the area.

 www.exmoormagazine.co.uk or by phone: 0845 224 1203.

- ends -

Editorial enquiries: please email naomi@lighthousecommunications.co.uk or call Naomi on 01984 641359 More about the team here: www.exmoormagazine.co.uk/about-us
Exmoor The Country Magazine

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Ex- BBC weather man launches Porlock Weather Station

The Exmoor village of Porlock has long claimed that it has a very distinctive micro-climate and that regional weather reports are at odds with the actual weather in the village itself. With money donated from an anonymous benefactor Porlock has invested in its own Weather Station which will be launched this month by ex-BBC weather man Richard Angwin.

A long-time fan of Porlock Richard, who is now based in Doha and works for Aljazeera TV, volunteered to launch the weather station and give a talk whilst on a visit back to the UK. The launch and talk, entitled “A Wandering Weatherman from Porlock to the Persian Gulf”, will take place on Monday 17 June at 7:30pm at Porlock Village Hall.

The new Porlock weather station will offer visitors an accurate version of the weather in the village via a computer link up to the website www.Porlock.co.uk  “Porlock lies in a topographically disturbed area with huge variances between sea level and the hills within a very small area,” explains  Councillor Dave Britnell who has been recording the daily weather in Porlock for over 10 years as an ‘informed amateur’. “The nearest weather station to Porlock lies up on the moors and gives a very different reading to what we experience living here. It tends to be warmer and drier in Porlock, as we are sheltered from the winds that are drawn up the hills and onto the exposed moors. Proximity to the coast also affects our temperatures favourably”

Porlock’s unusually temperate climate was recognised by the Royal Botanic Gardens during WW2 when many of their most prized and exotic plants were temporarily shipped from Kew to Porlock for protection against enemy bombs.

The Weather Station is part of an ongoing drive to promote Porlock to tourists and to improve the economy for local businesses. The village recently launched the Porlock Vale App, featuring a series of themed trails, guides and information that will give visitors additional options for things to do and the opportunity to learn more about the unique and distinctive local area.

Denise Sage Manager of the Porlock Visitor Centre since 1999 commented “It is hoped that the free download will help visitors and local residents get the most enjoyment from the area. The six trails encourage visitors to explore the four corners of Porlock Vale. The app provides a new opportunity for Porlock Vale businesses to promote their destination, goods and services and reach new mobile technology markets.” Denise recently received the High Sheriff of Somerset Award, given in recognition of exceptional or outstanding contributions to local life.  The app can be downloaded at any business displaying the QR code.

Ends 10 June.

Further information from Jennette Baxter pr@baxter1.clara.net on behalf of the Exmoor Tourism Partnership or Denise Sage 01643 863150.

Editors notes:

Tickets for “A Wandering Weatherman from Porlock to the Persian Gulf”talk and launch of the Weather Station are available at Porlock Visitor Centre (01643 863150) at £5 including refreshments.

Richard Angwin was the winner of the “Porlock’s TV Personality of the Year” award for four consecutive years for his subtle promotion of Porlock on TV, & has remained a very popular person here. Many local residents watch him on Aljazeera TV every day. More information about Richard Angwin at www.richardangwin.com

The Porlock Visitor Centre is very grateful to West Somerset Council for their help in obtaining the LARC funding for the App and to Alistair Campbell who undertook the mammoth task of collecting and collating the information and to TownGuideApps who have created an outstanding product.


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Two new TV Ads and a Video Competition boost Exmoor Tourism


Two new TV adverts extolling the virtues of Exmoor National Park, The Quantock Hills and the West Somerset Coast air this May to a targeted audience of 3 million plus viewers. Commissioned by the Exmoor Tourism Partnership with funding from the Exmoor National Park Authority’s Partnership Fund and produced by Skylark media, the ads aim to raise awareness of the area’s spectacular natural beauty and what visitors can do to make the most of their time here.

“We’ve produced two ads to appeal to slightly different markets,” says Exmoor National Park Authority’s Dan James who sits on the ETP Marketing Committee. “The excellent production team, who have previously worked with the BBC, shot some amazing aerial footage which really displays the wonderful diversity of our landscape to its full advantage. We wanted to highlight Exmoor and the surrounding area as a quality UK holiday destination and hope that this will impress audiences who may not have considered visiting the area before.

The first advert begins with a breathtaking birds eye view sweeping up Hoar Oak Water at Watersmeet and goes on to show Exmoor ponies above Porlock, the National Trust Village of Selworthy, the dramatic coast at Heddons Mouth and Dunkery Beacon, Exmoor’s highest point. The second advert is more activity-focussed, portraying the many outdoor opportunities that the area has to offer such as sailing, high ropes, mountain biking and riding in addition to aerial views of the coastline. 

The footage will also be used for a brand new immersive 10minute audio visual experience which will be a key feature within the new Lynmouth Pavilion National Park Centre opening later this year. 

Inspired by the great footage on the new ads, the Exmoor Tourism Partnership are also launching a new Exmoor Video Competition this month. Entrants are being asked to create an authentic, original and creative video – lasting 1 minute or less – showing what it is that they really love about Exmoor.

Anything that is engaging and captures the spirit of Exmoor will stand a chance of winning.  Waves breaking on the sands at a secret beach on the coast, kite-flying on the Quantock Hills, a local farmer who produces delicious local produce, goat antics in Valley of Rocks; there is plenty of scope for the imagination.  Easy to enter (the few simple rules are posted on the www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk site) all videos entered will be put on display on You Tube under #ExmoorVideoComp. The Lucky winner will receive £500 and the runner-up will receive £50 West Somerset Railway vouchers.  The winner (s) will be announced in October 2013. The winning entries will also be displayed in National Park Centres and on a variety of key Exmoor websites.

- Ends-

Notes to Editors

The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association, West Somerset Council, North Devon + and Somerset County Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

View the two ads here: www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/tv_advert  

More details on the Exmoor Video Competition here www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/video_comp  

More information on Skylark Media at www.skylarkmediagroup.co.uk 

More details on the new Lynmouth Pavilion National Park Centre at http://tinyurl.com/chwhtvl

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 Exmoor Endurance Ride introduces new Para-class

Golden Horseshoe 12th to 14th May 2013

Famous in the equestrian world as the toughest and oldest Endurance event in the UK’s competitive long-distance riding calendar, Exmoor’s Golden Horseshoe Ride has raised eyebrows by introducing a new Para Invitation class this year.

Inspired by the London 2012 Paralympics, Endurance GB, the governing body for the sport of Endurance Riding in Great Britain, launched Para Endurance last year with a class open to riders who were already endurance members. The Golden Horseshoe has gone one step further by inviting Para-riders with no experience of Endurance to compete in the new 15 mile class. 

Chairman of the Organising Committee Barbara Wigley admits some were surprised by this inclusion “The Golden Horseshoe is well-known as one of the toughest endurance events, so to introduce a novice Para-invitation class to this particular event is a challenge, but we are determined to cater to all abilities.  We really want to encourage people who may not otherwise think that they could compete in this discipline.”*

Each Para-entrant will have an experienced endurance rider as an escort who will be on hand to assist with any additional requirements the riders might have. Several riders, with a range of different needs, are already signed up but there are two more spaces that the organisers are keen to fill.

The British Horse Society ran its first Golden Horseshoe Ride on Exmoor in 1965. It was sponsored by the Sunday Telegraph and the 50 mile route was linear and unmarked!  Over the intervening 48 years the event grew and moved location each year until 1974 when it returned to Exmoor permanently and now covers a 100 miles. “If you think of the sport as the horse equivalent of marathon running, and the Golden Horseshoe as the equivalent of fell running, it gives an idea of what is involved. Training & practice at home and understanding between horse and rider are the key to success,” says Barbara.

The organisers are keen to get more people involved at all levels. In addition to the Para Invitation Class and the famous Golden Horseshoe Ride itself, there are 8 classes in all. Other new challenges this year include the ‘Exmoor Extra’ – a 3 day x 25 miles event for experienced endurance riders and a new 1 day x 25 miles Exmoor Novice event for new Endurance riders.

The Golden Horseshoe brings hundreds of riders, back-up crew and family and friends into Exmoor at this time of year. Spectators can also enjoy the event by driving to view points on the route. Maps of the route can be obtained from the venue at Exford Show Field, with the best viewing points marked.

For more information on The Golden Horseshoe Ride or for entry into the Para Invitation Class contact Barbara Wigley on 01643 841183  email barbaraann.wigley@btinternet.com

Or visit www.goldenhorseshoe-ride.co.uk

 Editors Notes:

Endurance riding is an equestrian sport based on controlled long-distance races.  The Golden Horseshoe is a ‘Graded ride’ which means that horse & rider are aiming for an optimum speed and awards will depend on the speed achieved and the recovery of the horse at the end: the ‘final vetting’. During the ride the horse is stopped and vetted periodically to ensure that the animal is in good health. The welfare of the horse is top priority.

*Entrants don’t need to be talented dressage riders, a ‘nerves of steel’ show jumper or an eventer and neither do they need a specialist horse. Riders just need to be able to spend the time ensuring their horse is fit and prepared and teaching him to go over all types of terrain. There are many levels of endurance that one can compete at, from 20 mile novice rides at a steady pace, up to 100 miles in a day, racing over a marked course.

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New Walks Unveiled for 

North Devon & Exmoor Walking Festival 27 Apr – 6 May

 ‘Victorian Explorers & Entrepreneurs’ and ‘Bossington Butterflies’ are just two of the brand new walks walking on Gallax Hill, Dunsterfeatured in the 13th North Devon & Exmoor Walking Festival taking place 27 April - 6 May this year. This popular festival, which began in 2000, offers walkers of all levels the opportunity to explore the beautiful countryside in & around Exmoor, West Somerset & North Devon in the company of local and knowledgeable guides.

 “Almost half of the walks are new this year,” comments Walking Festival organiser Bryan Cath. “There’s so much to see in the area, it is great to be able to introduce visitors – and local people – to places they may not have come across before. We are extremely lucky to have some excellent informative and enthusiastic guides who are delighted to share their local knowledge with our walkers too. ”

There are over 40 guided walks to choose from, and each walk is described by length, pace, time and difficulty so there really is something for all ages and abilities. The walks are based around four main centres for ease of travel and accommodation for visitors. Starting in the Ilfracombe area, the festival moves on to Lynton, then Porlock and finally to Dunster. Each area is holding a ‘Welcome Evening' this year; a simple get-together in a local pub to meet the guides and fellow walkers.

Walks in and around Ilfracombe include an evening  stroll around Old Ilfracombe guided by the Town Crier and taking in Damien Hirst’s controversial new statue Verity, as well as longer rambles over the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Braunton Burrows, and an atmospheric Smugglers Haunts saunter around Mortehoe.

Based in the picturesque towns of Lynton & Lynmouth, festival goers can find out how Victorian Explorers and Entrepreneurs helped to shape the rocky coastline, and discover the rare and beautiful wild flowers of the East Lyn Valley, just two of the new walks in the area. Literary lovers will appreciate the chance to explore Lorna Doone country and see where R D Blackmore gained inspiration for his romantic novel.

Porlock is the next stop where highlights include a strenuous hike up Dunkery Beacon – Exmoor’s highest point – to appreciate some of the best views in the South West, and a gentle Bossington Butterfly Trail to spot early species such as Orange Tips, Small Coppers and Green Hairstreaks.

Finally the medieval town of Dunster plays host to the festival for the last three days over the May Day Bank holiday, where there is a choice of 11 fascinating and informative town and country rambles. Those walkers considering attempting some of the areas long distance walks in the future will also appreciate The Macmillan Way West Sampler (6.5 miles) and the Abridged Coleridge Way Walk (8.5 miles) as a taster of what to expect along the way.

The walking festival is a fantastic way to discover the true Exmoor,” said Robert Downes, Tourism Officer at West Somerset Council. “There is no dabbling at the edges, or just seeing honeypot tourist sites. This festival will allow visitors to immerse themselves in stunning scenery, discover places most tourists never see, and enjoy breathtaking views, wildlife and tranquillity that is unlike anywhere else in Britain. At the end of the walking day visitors can put their feet up and enjoy top quality accommodation, cosy pubs and the fantastic local food, beers and ciders that the  area is renowned for.”

For more information on all the walks, and to order a brochure visit www.exmoorwalkingfestival.co.uk. For places to stay in and around Exmoor see www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

Media enquiries from: Jennette Baxter pr@baxter1.clara.net on behalf of the Exmoor Tourism Partnership

About Exmoor Tourism Partnership
The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) is a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.exmoortourismpartnership.co.uk

www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk   m.visit-exmoor.co.uk   @visitexmoor       www.Facebook.com/VisitExmoor

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EXMOOR ON COUNTRYFILE

 
Julia Bradbury on ExmoorStories from Exmoor National Park will feature on the BBC’s Countryfile programme this coming weekend (Sunday 20 January) following the team’s recent visit to the area.

In the programme, presenter Julia Bradbury discovers Alfred Vowles, a renowned Exmoor photographer of the 1900s. At that time, when photographs were still a novelty, Alfred Vowles was as close as you could get to a one man photo booth. Julia learns how this extraordinary man cycled over hill and dale, leaving a legacy of pictures which document times past, and rural life on Exmoor.

Holding his camera and tripod in one hand, and steering his six speed bicycle with the other, Alfred or ‘AV’ as he was known, was a familiar figure on the moors. 

Alfred’s talent was not only to get ‘action shots’, but speedily produce postcards of an event.  His darkroom was often a stable or chicken shed, and later his caravan, where he lived and worked. Julia meets amateur photographer Ray Turner, who still develops his own black and white film. With the help of Minehead Harriers trail hunt, they try and recreate an AV picture from the past.

Julia also retraces the steps of another of AV’s iconic photos at Tarr Steps, filmed before the recent floods which washed away part of the clapper bridge.

The Countryfile crew was also on the trail of the Doones. The famous Victorian novel Lorna Doone became a best seller and made Exmoor famous. Tourists flocked to follow in the footsteps of the lovelorn couple; and explore the stronghold of the Doones. But where does fiction end and fact begin?

The author R.D. Blackmore wove the landscape, places and local names into his plot. Even today’s maps mark an area near Badgworthy as Doone Valley or Doone Country.

Matt Baker starts off in the Valley of the Rocks, in search of Mother Meldrum. Then, with the help of Jenny Gibson from the Exmoor Society and the Revd Colin Burke from St Mary’s Oare, he tries to solve the mystery of what’s real, and what’s make-believe.

Matt then takes a bumpy ride with Rob Wilson-North (Conservation Manager at Exmoor National Park) to one of the remotest parts of Exmoor to explore the secrets of a deserted medieval village.

Another film shows Somerset Wildlife Trust trying to find new homes for barn owls with a project to get a barn owl box, 335 of them, in every parish in Somerset. Julia Bradbury joins children from Cutcombe and Timberscombe who get first hand experience when Breeze the barn owl comes to school. 

Expert Chris Sperring, from the Hawk and Owl Trust, explores nearby farmland to see whether it has the potential to host a new des res barn owl box and Jonathan Webber is on hand to show him round the family farm with a view to placing a box there.

The Countryfile film crew also visited Dulverton Middle school where they made a film about the Exmoor Curriculum which was due to be shown this weekend. However, a researcher from the BBC has since advised: “We have made a lovely film about the Exmoor Curriculum, however the programme is so packed this week, rather than shorten items, we have held the Dulverton school one over for broadcast at a later date.”

When the new date is announced, the National Park Authority will post the information on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

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Snowdrop Valley, Exmoor: 2 – 24 February 2013
Accessible for all this year

An impressive carpet of white snowdrops which push their dainty heads through the cold earth in a sheltered corner of the Avill Valley in Exmoor will be accessible to people with limited mobility for the first time. Once a secret only known to locals, this floral extravaganza now attracts visitors from all over the UK. The availability of 'Tramper' all-terrain mobility scooters will now open up the main footpath for those who have difficulty walking.  

Staff from Countryside Mobility South West www.countrysidemobility.org will run 2 'guided' trips per day. The route is bumpy and steep in places but 'Tramper Training' will be provided before each trip. Trips will run at 11.00 and 13.30 on the 5th, 12 & 19th February from the Exmoor village of Wheddon Cross. For more information and to book a place visitors should contact 01392 459222 or emailinfo@countrysidemobility.org  Early booking is essential.

Walkers should allow at least 1 ½ hours and wear waterproof footwear for the specially marked scenic walking route from Wheddon Cross. Park and Ride buses also depart regularly from Wheddon Cross car park in the centre of the village. “We hope that we offer something for everyone” explains scheme co-ordinator Nic Wigley. “Everyone gets to walk among the snowdrops, but there is the option of either the bus or the footpath to get down to the valley and back. We are delighted that we are able to offer the Tramper scooters for the first time this year too.”

The West Somerset Railway (www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk) will be operating a combined steam train and coach connection to see the spring flowers again this year. Leave from Bishops Lydeard Station to Dunster by steam train and take a coach for an Exmoor journey to Snowdrop Valley. Once there one can either take the optional bus tour or enjoy a fresh walk through the Valley.

Refreshments are available in the village at Snowdrop Café in Moorland Hall, which will be manned by local volunteers and charities, and there is an Inn and tearooms in the village too. A new line of souvenir merchandise is being designed locally by Exmoor artist and pyrographer Janina Tonks (www.vividdove.com) and will be available to buy in the village.

More details at www.wheddoncross.org.uk and information of things to see and do and accommodation in Exmoor, Quantocks and the West Somerset Coast area can be found at www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

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Further details and images from: Jennette Baxter pr@baxter1.clara.net 07738 643211 on behalf of the Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) , a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

Information correct at time of issue: 3 January 2013.


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Exmoor at your Fingertips

Visit Exmoor unveils the South west’s first destination mobile website 

Visitors to Exmoor can now get information about the area on the move with the development of the first dedicated destination mobile website (m.visit-exmoor.co.uk) in the South West.

Containing  all of the essential visitor information featured on its main website, www.visit-exmoor.co.uk, the new mobile website is one of only a handful in the UK and puts Exmoor at the forefront of innovative technological developments in promoting destinations.

With web access from smart mobile devices liable to overtake desktop computers in the next few years, we needed to look at our offering from a customer perspective,” says Cllr David Sanders, responsible for tourism at West Somerset Council. “Mobile websites respond more quickly and have shorter, more concise content, and therefore improve the experience visitors have when researching their trips.”

The new mobile website has been designed to be touch screen friendly. Faster download speeds, a tabbed layout and tailored navigational links, make it much easier and more intuitive to use on smart phones and tablets, particularly when on the move.

With smart phones on the increase, this new site will make Exmoor more available to a much wider audience. 78% of UK mobile web users use their phones for general information searches, while 49% use them to shop online. [Source: InMobi, February 2012]. Two billion people worldwide have a mobile device so the new website will ensure that Visit Exmoor is  now more accessible to both a domestic & growing international market.  

As an added benefit, Visit Exmoor businesses are more likely to be found by local mobile users thanks to the way mobile search includes the website in local search results, maps and other localised applications. With 50% of local searches being done on a mobile device, this represents a huge marketplace.

Although more succinct than the traditional website Visit Exmoor’s mobile site will showcase a broad range of local tourist businesses. Visitors can look up where to stay and eat, see what’s on and where to visit and which activities to take part in as well as take advantage of the latest special offers.

Cllr Sanders concludes; “Other destinations have developed traditional websites with the intention of making them easier to use on mobile devices, but it is very difficult to develop one website that works across different devices. A dedicated mobile site provides visitors with fast, uncomplicated and easy to access information, while providing an unprecedented opportunity to connect with target audiences in new ways, wherever they may be. Ultimately this development demonstrates that Exmoor is a destination that is keeping pace with current trends, and is really serious about attracting visitors to this beautiful part of the world.”  

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 For further press information and images please contact: Jennette Baxter, Starfish PR starfish@baxter1.clara.net or Robert Downes Tourism Officer
West Somerset Council on 01984 635 249
rdownes@westsomerset.gov.uk

 Notes to editors:

Visit Exmoor is run by The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP), a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association, West Somerset Council,  Somerset County Council and North Devon +. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.exmoortourismpartnership.co.uk www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk @visitexmoor www.Facebook.com/VisitExmoor

The Visit Exmoor mobile website project was funded by : Local Action for Rural Communities along with financial support from West Somerset Council, Exmoor National Park and the Exmoor Tourist Association.

Visit our website at www.visit-exmoor.co.uk and follow on Twitter @visitexmoor


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Candlelight, Starlight & Steam Trains

Christmas 2012 on Exmoor

Exmoor’s natural beauty is truly impressive during the winter. Steely cold days are perfect for winter walks on the moors where you may come across red deer or Exmoor ponies, or stroll along the coast where December seas dash against rocky headlands. And clear bright nights highlight an amazing array of stars blazing in the dark skies above. (Exmoor National Park was designated the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe last year). There’s plenty going on in Exmoor’s towns & villages too.

Dulverton by Starlight

Christmas lights will be twinkling on 2nd December when the pretty Exmoor town of Dulverton is decked out in its Christmas finery. Traditional festivities take place all afternoon with a grand finale firework display from the top of the church tower to end the day. All of the shops and restaurants will be open for local Christmas shopping; there will be folk singers, hand bell ringers, Punch & Judy, story tellers, brass band and carols round the tree. A live nativity play will take place at various points around the town. For more details see www.dulvertonbystarlight.co.uk

Dunster by Candlelight 7, 8 December

Across the moors to Dunster where - as darkness falls - colourful Stilt-walkers lead a lantern lighting procession as it wends through the medieval village to the castle to mark the beginning of the annual Dunster by Candlelight Festival. On both 7 and 8th December all the street lights are turned off as carol Singers, Morris Dancers, a large Fairground Organ and Choirs will set the streets alive with the sound of music during this much-loved celebration.  Dunster’s shops and restaurants open late into the evening and street stalls offer warming refreshments. Entrance is free, although visitors will need to pay for the Park & Ride buses operating from local towns and villages as there is no parking (or cars) in Dunster during the event. West Somerset Railway also runs steam trains to and from the event. For more details go to www.dunsterbycandlelight.co.uk

A Steaming Somerset Christmas

West Somerset Railway will be running a series of Santa heritage steam train rides through the glorious Somerset countryside this December. Great for kids of all ages the rides include a present for the children and a glass of sherry and a mince pie for the adults. Prices from £10.20 per child and £12.30 per adult.

If passengers prefer to sing whilst they are steaming, West Somerset Railway feature Carol Trains on 1, 10, 11, 12 Dec. Singers hop on and off the steam train to sing carols at each station accompanied by the local brass band.  The Carol Trains are hauled by heritage steam locomotives to recreate the era of Christmas gone by and travel between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard. (£10 per adult and £7.50 per child) For more details visit www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk 

Meanwhile at the festively decorated Victorian station at Woody Bay, children can meet Santa and enjoy a ride on the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, one of the worlds most famous and picturesque narrow gauge railways. (Wrap up warm as the station is 1000ft above sea level). For more details visit www.lynton-rail.co.uk  

Visitors heading over to North Devon’s ‘Little Switzerland’ will see Father Christmas arrive by comet to switch on the Christmas lights in Lynton & Lynmouth on 26 November, and the shops will stay open late for gift shopping. And on 1 December late night shopping, carols and a Christmas market help to welcome in the festive season in the charming Somerset village of Porlock.

Christmas in the seaside town of Minehead starts on Friday 30 November when the festive lights are switched on, the High Street is cordoned off and stalls from the Farmers' Market will be joined by Exmoor Producers, Morris men, carolling & live music as well as Santa’s grotto and a snow machine for the children. 

For more details on all the events as well as places to stay and eat around the area, go to www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk  

- Ends-

Further details and images from: Jennette Baxter pr@baxter1.clara.net

Notes to Editors

  • The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) is a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk
  • For more details about Porlock contact the Porlock Visitor Centre on 01643 863150
  • For more details on Lynton & Lynmouth call the Tourism Centre on 0845 4583775
  • For more details on Minehead’s Christmas Celebrations call  01643 705075 

Information correct at time of issue: September 2012.

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Press Release 20 August 2012

First ever Exmoor Pony Festival 27 August – 2 September 2012

A celebration of the ancient natural pony takes place for the first time this summer in various venues in and around Exmoor.

Activities include Exmoor Pony Photo Safaris with Experience Exmoor, a pleasure ride with the Exmoor Pony Society, a Horse Agility demonstration with world champion Exmoor Pony stallion Hawkwell  Versuvius, an afternoon on a traditional moorland farm with Victoria and Chris Eveleigh (the author and illustrator of the Katy’s Ponies Books) and their herd of Exmoor Ponies. Dr Sue Baker, who appeared on BBC Autumnwatch last year as an Exmoor Pony expert, will give an illustrated talk ‘On the Trail of Exmoor Ponies’ that tells the story of the breed.

The festival has been established by moorland breeders and dedicated volunteers helped by Heritage Lottery Funding from the Heart of Exmoor scheme.

Jason Ball, Heart of Exmoor Scheme Manager, said: “Exmoor National Park is renowned for the Exmoor Pony herds roaming freely on moorland, and they are very special ponies – a rare and ancient breed. The Exmoor Pony Festival gives you the chance to see the beautiful ponies in their native landscape and meet some of the people who look after the moorland herds.

Events are happening all over Exmoor National Park from high moors to coastal cliffs – places such as West Ilkerton Farm at Barbrook near Lynton, Lynmouth, Hawkridge, Dulverton, Wheddon Cross, and Luccombe near Minehead. Find event details online and please call the organisers of each event directly to book your place or ask directions.

For more details about the Exmoor Pony Festival please call 01398 323841 or visit the “What’s On” page at the festival blog: exmoorponyfestival.wordpress.com http://exmoorponyfestival.wordpress.com/whats-on).

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Minehead Summer Festival

Free Fun in the air and on the ground 

It’s all eyes skywards for a real aeronautical treat at the Minehead Summer Festival taking off on Wednesday 15 August.

A thunderous Hunter Fast Jet Display kicks off proceedings, followed by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight – the RAF's tribute to the brave aviators of WWII flying a Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster. The legendary RAF Tucano Display team proudly show off their new 2012 patriotic colour scheme and the breathtaking Breitling Wing Walkers will have spectators gasping in amazement as will the close formation aerobatic RV8tors. The very popular Red Devils Parachute Display Team will be ‘dropping in’ and the Sea King crew will be landing on the seafront so people can look around the helicopter and chat to the crew.

Minehead itself will be buzzing with street entertainers, including magicians, musicians, unicyclists and Morris men. Arts & crafts and food stalls will line the streets. West Somerset Railway will be running an enhanced service on the day so that visitors can arrive by steam train too.

In the current economic climate it is hard to find an event of this nature which is free to attend,” commented Tourism Officer Robert Downes. “We are sure it will be a big draw for the town.”

Visitors unfamiliar with Minehead will be able to pre-plan their visit and navigate around the town with the brand new free and interactive Minehead Town Guide App launched this month to coincide with the summer season.

As well as helping visitors to discover the shops, cafes and attractions of this popular seaside town, the app features fun heritage trails that highlight some of the town’s historical points of interest that may otherwise be missed. The famous Minehead ghost story of Mother Leaky a malevolent spirit who, it is said, whistles down the wind to bring shipping tragedies is hauntingly retold, and brings to life the atmospheric and picturesque old town and harbour.

Developed by West Somerset Council in conjunction with local businesses, the free app can be downloaded onto Apple or Google Android operated smartphones or tablets. “We have developed the app to help encourage visitors to really get to know Minehead, and give them the confidence to explore our town,” says Cllr David Sanders Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration & Tourism.

- ends - 

For more details on the Minehead Summer Festival please contact Minehead Information Centre 01643 702624.

For more details on the Minehead Town Guide App please contact Robert Downes 01984 635 249 rdownes@westsomerset.gov.uk.

Media information & images from Jennette Baxter pr@baxter1.clara.net on behalf of the Exmoor Tourism Partnership.

Notes to Editors

  • The Minehead Summer Festival is organised by Butlins Minehead and the Minehead Events Group.
  • To find the new Minehead Town Guide App, type ‘Minehead’ into the search box of either the Apple App Store or Google’s Play Store, and follow the instructions to download. 
  • The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) is a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

Information correct at date of release 07/08/2012.



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QUANTITATIVE EASING FOR THE EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK!

Exmoor is fighting back to beat the recession with its own form of quantitative easing by introducing a free currency to help visitors get added value and make massive savings during their stay on Exmoor over the next three months.

Being launched in the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth, the new Exmoor Guinea will be available to download from today at www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/guinea (Wednesday 1 August) or can be collected from various local tourism businesses, visitor centres and National Park Centres in and around the National Park from that date.  

Visitors to the area will be able to recognise participating businesses from Exmoor Guinea window posters and redeem their Guineas in a variety of ways depending on the offers available at the tourism businesses. This can be anything from a free bottle of wine when ordering a two course meal for two at some restaurants, 20% 0ff an hours ride a cross the moors (worth £5 per rider), a guinea off an award winning Devon cream tea (worth £1.05 per person) to 10% - 15% off the price of local accommodation through to two for the price of one entry at Dunster Castle and the Exmoor Owl & Hawk Centre?  It has been calculated that by using the Exmoor Guineas on their stay, visitors could save anything up to £50 or more on a weekend break.

Ian Rigby, Chairman of the Lyn Economic & Tourism Alliance and Member of the Exmoor National Park Authority, says "We realise that times are tough for many of our visitors so the Exmoor Guinea will provide an extra welcome treat and some real savings during their visit to the area.

Exmoor is a fantastic place to visit at any time of year and we hope that this new initiative will encourage people to come and enjoy our amazing countryside and local produce."

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Family Days Out  

Summer Holiday events in & around Exmoor

Two Free Exmoor National Park Big Adventure Days

There will be plenty of family sports, games and events to enjoy during the 'Exmoor Olympics Day' on Friday 3 August. Held at the stunning Valley of the Rocks near Lynton & Lynmouth, on the craggy North Devon coast, Exmoor National Park Rangers will be organising a day full of fun activities.

And amazing WW2 vintage vehicles and living history displays will make the past come to life at the North Hill Big Adventure Day in Minehead on Saturday 18 August with family games and events lasting all day.

Both events – run by Exmoor National Park - are FREE. Adults must accompany children on activities. Contact Dulverton National Park Centre on 01398 323841 or visit www.ExmoorNationalPark.co.uk for more details.

 

Heddon Valley & Arlington Fun Days Out with the National Trust Rangers

Join the National Trust Rangers for nature and wildlife themed activities and walks every Thursday during the school holidays in the beautiful Heddon Valley in Exmoor North Devon. (26 July – 30 August 11am – 3pm: no booking necessary. £1 per child donation for materials). Parents can join in or relax with a cool drink at nearby Hunters Inn. Contact: 01598 763402 or visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk for more details.

 

And on Fridays throughout August the National Trust Rangers will be at Arlington Court, where kids can learn more about the wildlife that lives there, plus pick up some skills for surviving in the great outdoors. Parents can enjoy exploring the house and gardens in a more leisurely fashion (10 - 31 August 11am – 3pm at Arlington Court– normal admission charges apply). For more details visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/arlington-court

 

The Steam Fayre and Vintage Rally, 4-5 August

Now in its 25th year, this Vintage Rally is always very popular. The fields of Norton Fitzwarren, near Minehead in Somerset will echo to the sound of mighty steam engines, tractors and road rollers, elegant vintage cars and motorcycles, superb fire engines, buses, commercial and military vehicles in a glittering display of some of the country's finest vintage transport. (£8.00 Adults / £2 Children / Free under 5’s). Stalls, refreshments and children’s entertainment make it a great day out for all the family.  More details from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk 

 

Minehead Air Show, Somerset 15 August, Free

All eyes will be looking skywards for the breathtaking Minehead Summer Festival. There will be astounding aeronautical displays including the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the RAF Tucano Display, the Breitling Wing Walkers and the RV8tors. The popular Red Devils Parachute Team will be ‘dropping in’ too! This fantastic FREE day out for all the family will also include a street market featuring local arts, crafts and food producers and outdoor entertainers, a marching band and the traditional Morris Men. Flight simulators will be available for those who would like to try their hand at flying without leaving the ground! More details from www.Visit-exmoor.co.uk

 

Dunster Show 17 Aug

Celebrating the traditional agricultural heritage of West Somerset and set against the dramatic backdrop of medieval Dunster Castle, the Dunster Show is a great day out for all the family. Including sheep & cattle classes, horse shows and falconry displays, as well as music, food and craft stalls, there is even a circus show offering free entertainments for all ages. Adults £10 and kids £5 and Free Parking. For more details www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

 

Exmoor Pony Centre, Free

You can of course see Exmoor Ponies wild on the moors if you are lucky and great viewing spots include Winsford Hill, Landacre Bridge and Porlock Hill (see details of these picnic sites at www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk/picnics ) but at the Exmoor Pony Centre (www.exmoorponycentre.org.uk 01398 323093) visitors can get right up close to these beautiful creatures. The Exmoor Pony Centre is open to drop-in visitors every day from 10am until 5pm and entrance is free. Visitors will get a chance to meet the ponies and find out some more about the history and life of the moor bred ponies. There is also a small shop. Should visitors wish to ride, the Exmoor Taster sessions (costs from £27.50) do need to be booked in advance. More details and events at www.moorlandmousietrust.org.uk

 

Watchet Live Music Festival 24 – 26 August

Watchet Live is a family-friendly weekend of music on the beautiful West Somerset Coast village of Watchet. There will be more than 50 live acts over the weekend including The Real Thing, The Blockheads and – of course - The Wurzels. A family ticket (2 adults and 2 kids) including a camping pitch for 2 nights costs £125. For more details www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

 

Ends.

For further press information or images please contact:

Jennette Baxter / pr@baxter1.clara.net / @visitexmoor / Exmoor Tourism Partnership

Notes to Editors:
About Exmoor Tourism Partnership
The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) is a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit
www.exmoortourismpartnership.co.uk

All information correct at date of issue 25 June 2012.

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Walks of Witness in Lynmouth commemorate 60 years since the flood

After recording the wettest April for more than 100 years, the South West has been removed from ‘drought alert’ status. More than 7.7 inches of rain fell during the month which is however nothing compared to the 9 inches of rain that fell on Exmoor in just 24 hours preceding the devastating Lynmouth flood of August 1952.

It’s been sixty years since the worst post-war flood the UK has ever seen ravaged the pretty coastal village of Lynmouth, North Devon. The tragedy cost the village dearly and 34 lives were lost as well as all the boats in the harbour, the harbour itself and almost half the buildings.

Whether the terrible storm and continual torrential rains were caused by natural or more suspicious man-made efforts – yes we have our own conspiracy theories here on Exmoor – the village has commemorated the tragedy every 15 August for the past 60 years.

In 2002 at the 50 year memorial service, Town Councillor Suzette Hibbert remembers, “A huge marquee was erected and we had the most wonderful congregation peppered with Bishops, the Lord Lieutenant and even the High Commissioner of Jamaica who was invited because after the flood bananas and sugar were sent from Jamaica to help the community!

Lynmouth has moved forwards and now replaces the sombre memorial tone with a Walk of Witness, a Songs of Praise service and a week-long flower festival.

 

The flower festival in St John the Baptist Church, Lynmouth begins on 11 August. On the 15 August  two  ‘Walks of Witness’ will follow the course of  both the East and West Lyn Rivers down to Lynmouth led by National Trust Rangers Julian Gurney and Daniel Ford and accompanied by Reverend Philip Ringer and the Right Reverend Alan Winstanley. There will be an open air Songs of Praise service on the Manor Green where members of the Lynmouth community who survived will be reading the lessons and taking a major part in the service. Everyone is welcome to attend.

 

Suzette adds “The service of praise commemorates the flood by reading all the names of those who died but with the music and the flowers we cannot help but move on.”

 

Opposite Lynmouth Harbour is the Flood Memorial Hall. This permanent free exhibition includes a scale model of the village pre-flood and many personal accounts and photos.

More details: Suzette Hibbert 01598 753587 suzettehibbert@yahoo.co.uk

 

Ends.

Media information & images from Jennette Baxter pr@baxter1.clara.net  on behalf of the Exmoor Tourism Partnership.

 

About Exmoor Tourism Partnership
The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) is a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit
www.exmoortourismpartnership.co.uk

www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk       @visitexmoor       www.Facebook.com/VisitExmoor


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The Hunting of the Earl of Rone

Visit Exmoor & Combe Martin 1 – 4 June

A unique, colourful, centuries-old festival The Hunting of the Earl of Rone is re-enacted in the North Devon coastal village of Combe Martin every year, with villagers and local residents taking part in this off-beat spectacle. Usually celebrated over the Spring Bank Holiday, this year the festival has been moved to 1 – 4 June to coincide with the Queens Diamond Jubilee weekend and visitors are welcome. 

Interpretations as to the history of the festival differ, but The Hunting of the Earl of Rone is believed to be based on the manhunt for an Irish Earl fleeing imprisonment from across the water sometime in 1607. When his ship was wrecked off the Combe Martin coast, the Earl hid out in the woods for days before being finally captured. Later additions (or even the merging of other legends) of a Hobby Horse and Fool meant that the drama became a fully-fledged celebration leading to its ban (for licentious and drunken behaviour) in 1837.

Revived in 1974 this 4 day festival has been steadily increasing in popularity. Beginning on Friday 1 June an evening parade of ‘grenadiers’, drummers, dancers, musicians, hobby horse, fool and of course the Earl winds its way through the village. Saturday is junior’s day led by children from the local school. The hunting continues on Sunday afternoon, and culminates on Monday evening when the Earl of Rone is finally captured and paraded backwards through the village at sunset to be thrown into the sea. 

Situated on the western edge of Exmoor, and at the heart of North Devon’s beautiful coastline, Combe Martin is surrounded by spectacular scenery. The two headlands of Great and Little Hangman are a breathtaking backdrop to the village, the small sandy beach and the pretty sheltered harbour below. There are hours of care free holiday fun to be had here either  rock pooling, kayaking or fishing in the bay, walking part of the south west coast path, or rock climbing and coasteering some of the high cliffs in the area.

Just beyond the village, Exmoor National Park is waiting to be explored.  Walking, Cycling, mountain-biking, horse riding and much more is all readily available. On Exmoor visitors can still catch a glimpse of wild red deer and see the famous Exmoor ponies, try fresh local produce in one of the numerous pubs, inns and restaurants and, at night, be amazed by dark skies full of stars as befits the UK’s first and only Dark Sky Reserve.  For more information on the Earl of Rone visit www.earl-of-rone.org

For more information on Combe Martin, Exmoor and local accommodation

go to www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

Ends.

For further press information or images please contact:

Jennette Baxter / pr@baxter1.clara.net / @visitexmoor / Exmoor Tourism Partnership

Notes to Editors:
About Exmoor Tourism Partnership
The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) is a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.exmoortourismpartnership.co.uk



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New Electric Bicycle Hire Scheme Launches Across Exmoor and the Quantocks

Press Release:
For immediate release

A new electric bicycle hire scheme across Exmoor and the Quantocks is being launched on Friday 20 April at 11.00am at Tarr Steps, near Dulverton, Exmoor. Getting up the stunningly beautiful Exmoor hills is now as easy as if you were an Olympic athlete.

The electric bicycles, or e-bikes as they are commonly known, are available to hire from the White Horse Inn, Exford; the Tarr Farm Inn, Dulverton; the Staghunters Inn, Brendon; the Yarn Market Hotel, Dunster; and Exmoor Mountain Bike Hire at Wimbleball Lake and Brushford. The project, supported by Exmoor National Park and the Quantocks AONB, is looking for one more hire agent in the Quantocks.

In addition, a network of around twenty pubs, cafes and restaurants across the region have signed up as charging points, where customers will be able to recharge their batteries in more ways than one.

Hilary Lester of Tarr Farm Inn said, ?E-bikes help you take on hills with ease, and since they are as silent as ordinary bikes hirers can get really close to the amazing wildlife of Exmoor. A fully charged battery will go for around twenty miles and by using the charging points visitors can make their journeys of discovery and exploration as long or as short as they wish.?

The e-bikes are Wisper 705SEs which are renowned for their hill-climbing prowess and which have been provided by Reaction Electric of Taunton.

More information is available at www.exmoorunplugged.co.uk.

ENDS

Photo opportunity:

Members of the press are invited to come and have a go on an e-bike and meet hiring agents on Friday 20th April at 11am at Tarr Steps, near Dulverton , Exmoor TA22 9QA. http://www.tarrfarm.co.uk/how-to-find-us

There will be an opportunity to interview Hilary Lester, of Tarr Farm Inn and Alex Gower of Exmoor Mountain Bike Hire.

For more information please call Juliet Moulton on 07896 746887

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10th Annual Porlock Arts Festival 13 – 16 September 2012

It’s a big year for the Porlock Arts Festival which celebrates its 10th anniversary this September.  Guests already booked to appear include international bestselling novelist and playwright Kate Mosse and award-winning theatre, film and television actress Dame Diana Rigg.

Set in the charming Somerset village of Porlock, surrounded by the Exmoor hills and overlooking the sea towards Wales, few festivals can boast such a picturesque location.

 “We are celebrating ten years of poetry, prose, drama and song, and the beautiful landscape that inspires us all,” commented Arts Festival Patron and Sponsor Dame Margaret Drabble. “Porlock is the best place in Britain for a festival. It's a great meeting place for local authors, readers, and writers from all over the country.”

The Festival will open on Thursday 13 September with "Greg Chapman's Condensed History of Britain". Greg presented his previous one man show "Small Town to Big Apple" at the Festival two years ago and was so good that they have invited him back.

On Friday night Dame Diana Rigg will be talking about her hilarious compilation of the meanest and funniest theatre reviews ever; ’No Turn Unstoned’, along with an entertaining look at actors, playwrights and the theatre through history. And on Saturday evening Kate Mosse discusses her many best-selling books, particularly her most recent hauntingly beautiful novel, ‘The Winter Ghosts’.

The festival will also include Local Authors’ Day, Art Exhibitions, The Poetry Picnic, Singing Workshop, Tea Dance, Open Studios and Competitions.

 Booking information and latest news at www.porlockfestival.org

 For details on places to stay in and around Porlock and Exmoor, as well as things to see and do whilst in the area, visit www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

Media information & images from Jennette Baxter pr@baxter1.clara.net  07738 643211 on behalf of the Exmoor Tourism Partnership.

About Exmoor Tourism Partnership
The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) is a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.exmoortourismpartnership.co.uk

wwww.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk       @visitexmoor       www.Facebook.com/VisitExmoor

  

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Exmoor Exchange

Free networking event for all tourism providers from Greater Exmoor

Calling all tourism businesses in the Greater Exmoor Area!  Head down to the new home of the Exmoor Exchange event, Minehead EYE,  on Thursday 8th March 11-2.30pm for the annual free networking and leaflet exchange event run by the Exmoor Tourist Association.  

‘We’ve got over 55 stalls booked so it’s our biggest Exchange event yet! It’s a great chance to network and talk through all the issues affecting your business with other tourism providers’ advises organiser, Rachel Kelly (secretary@exmoor.com). ‘Why not sample the new menu at the Minehead EYE cafe; discuss the hot topics affecting tourism in our area with friends and business acquaintances over lunch, before going round the stalls?’

Minehead Eye director, Naomi Griffith adds, “We find Exmoor Exchange a great networking event to spread the word about what’s happening on Exmoor and are looking forward to letting people know more about Minehead Eye. It’s wonderful to see so many familiar faces and catch up on all the news!”

Exhibitors include Porlock Tourist Association, West Somerset Railway and South West Lakes, Francis Clark Accountants and Brean Park, Hamper suppliers and Reaction Electric bikes, Exmoor Zoo and Noah’s Ark Farm, Lynton and Barnstaple Railway and Tropiquaria, Exmoor National Park and National Trust, Crown Estate and North Devon Theatres and so much more!

Making the Links are also presenting a seminar ‘Developing Digital Marketing’ inside the nearby WSR Cafe from 1 to 4pm (Cost: £20). Please book with Jenny Carey-Wood on 01984 629059  on 01984 629059  jenny@makingthelinks.co.uk.

The Exmoor 2012 print brochure will also be available for collection from the Exmoor Tourism Partnership stall and invitations have gone to all Local Tourist Information Centres, so businesses can arrange privately to drop their own promotional material with the TIC representatives.

Contact Rachel Kelly of Exmoor Tourist Association for information on the other stalls booked on 01984 633 782 or email secretary@exmoor.com. Parking available at WSR pay and display car park. 

- ENDS

Rachel Kelly    01984 633 782  Secretary@exmoor.com  29th Feb 2012

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North Devon & Exmoor Walking Festival 27 April – 6 May 2012

The twelfth North Devon and Exmoor walking festival strides out from Combe Martin on the first of more than 30 guided walks; all designed to showcase the very best walking available in this beautiful area.

This year the festival has been organised into four different locations, with 2 – 3 days of walks in and around Ilfracombe, Lynton and Lynmouth, Porlock and Dunster. Highlighting the huge diversity of countryside in this corner of the southwest, it also allows visitors to select accommodation closest to the walks, and to move with the festival.    

Beginning in the Ilfracombe area walks include the coastal hills of Great and Little Hangman and the rocky, smugglers coast of Mortehoe as well as the fascinating Braunton Burrows biosphere. Moving along the coast to the pretty towns of Lynton and Lynmouth the walks feature Watersmeet, Woody Bay, the breathtaking Valley of the Rocks and the atmospheric Lorna Doone country. Hopping across the border into Somerset, the charming village of Porlock plays host to three days of fascinating outings including a walk up Dunkery Beacon; Exmoor’s highest point. The festival finishes in the medieval town of Dunster, covering the eastern side of Exmoor and the gentle foothills of the Quantocks.

The festival also covers much of the Exmoor National Park with Park, Crown Estate and National Trust Rangers guiding several of the walks. The walks range from a short half-day up to a full day’s hike, so there is something for most abilities. Several walks include food along the way, lunch at a delightful pub or a cream tea at a farm or guest house.

Prices range from £6 up to £13 for breakfast and a walk. Most of the outings are family friendly and well behaved dogs are welcome on many of the walks.

New Walks for 2012

  • The Bat Discovery walk (5 May 7pm) at Wimbleball Lake is bound to be a winner. This includes a BBQ supper and talk with a South West Lakes Conservation Officer before going with torches alongside the lake to see the bats.
  • A steam train ride from Dunster to Washford (5 May 10am) on the West Somerset Railway means that walkers can enjoy a fascinating linear 7.5 mile walk back.
  • The breakfast walk (6 May 10am) led by the Crown Estate Ranger starts with a large, traditional farmhouse breakfast which can then be walked off on a 7.5 mile walk through the Crown Estate.
  • For the more intrepid there is an 11 mile hike taking in the River Barle valley and the start of the River Exe (29 Apr 1030am). ­
  • Discover the advantages of Pacer Poles, specially designed from first principles to apply biomechanics to whole body movement. These poles are different from the usual walking poles and are worth investigating (29 Apr 1030 am).

Outings for non-walkers

Organised by the Exmoor Society and led by the National Trust Ranger, this outing starts at Hunters Inn and goes alongside the Heddon River to Heddons Mouth using their Tramper all-terrain single-seater vehicles. This is a free outing (3 May 10.30am) but needs to be booked early to ensure availability.

Those who want to give their legs a rest may like to try horse riding over Exmoor. There is a 1 hour ride on offer from Outovercott Stables near Lynton (29 April 11.00am). Riders will get a 20% discount if they have a copy of the festival brochure.

How to Book

To find out more and to book visit www.exmoorwalkingfestival.co.uk. A festival brochure is available by emailing bryan@activeexmoor.co.uk or call 01271 883131.

For accommodation suggestions try www.visit-Exmoor.co.uk or for a free copy of the 2012 Exmoor Guide call Porlock Tourist Information Centre on 01643 702624;

Festival Holidays walking the Exmoor section of the South West Coast Path from Minehead to Combe Martin can be booked direct with the Yarn Market Hotel, Dunster by calling 01643 821425.

The North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival is supported by the South West Coast Path National Trail, Farm and Cottage Holidays, Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund and The Heart of Exmoor Project. It is organised by West Country Walks with help from the Exmoor Tourist Association.

- Ends -

For press enquiries, images and facility visits please contact:

Jennette Baxter pr@baxter1.clara.net 07738 643211 on behalf of the Exmoor Tourism Partnership

About Exmoor Tourism Partnership
The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) is a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.exmoortourismpartnership.co.uk 

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February Half Term: Dragons, Dark Skies and Pirates

 

For places to stay while you enjoy the activities below see our Accommodation pages 

To find out what's on throughout the year see our Events pages 

The quest for the Dragon’s lair sees a treasure trail through the grounds of the National Trust’s Dunster Castle in Somerset between11 – 19 Feb 2012. The trail starts from the 17th century stables and will allow visitors to enjoy breathtaking views over the sea to towards Wales, as well as overlooking the beautiful medieval village of Dunster and up to Exmoor National Park. Dragon prizes go to all participants that complete the trail (£2 per trail plus normal garden admission: £4.70 per adult and £2.20 per child).

The Culbone Inn  is offering a family Dark Skies Safari during the February half term week. Available every evening, would-be astronomers will be picked up at the Inn – the highest on Exmoor – by a knowledgeable guide and taken to the best places to see the clearest skies that night (Exmoor National Park was recently awarded Dark Sky Reserve accreditation, the first place in Europe to receive this award). The trip costs £70 (2 adults and 2 children under 13years) and will last 2 ½ hours.  24 hours before the tour, guests will have their tour confirmed based on the weather forecast. Tours need to be booked in advance but there is no payment up front. Delicious dinners available too. www.TheCulbone.com  01643 862259.

The Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton, Somerset represents the flying arm of the Royal Navy. With four exhibition halls, over ninety aircraft and 30 thousand artefacts the Museum is the world's second largest naval aviation Museum. This half term the pirates are coming. Every day from 13 - 17 Feb there will be some fearsome family activities, including drawing pirate maps, making eye patches, learning to speak like a pirate and other scurvy going-ons.  The Royal Marines will open their climbing wall for the public to have a go, and  representatives from the Royal Navy’s 815 Squadron who will give a talk on the problem of modern day piracy. Normal admission prices apply (adults £13, children 5 – 16 years £9: family ticket £38). Visit www.fleetairarm.com or call 01935 840565 for more details.

North Devon Hawk Walks are offering a one hour introduction to falconry on Exmoor this February.  This practical, hands-on introduction to falconry is great for all ages and children,  in particular, get a great deal out of it. Costs £10 per person. For more details visit  www.NorthDevonHawkWalks.co.uk or call 01598n740114.

Children can get outdoors and active at Hestercombe Gardens, near Taunton in Somerset this half term. Kids aged 8 – 16 can take part in a whole host of activities including mountain biking over the Quantocks, rafting, den building, bush craft, team games and survival skill on the Outdoor Adventure Days (£23 per day) . For more information visit www.hestercombe.com  or call  01823 410236.

Not so much an event but certainly somewhere to take the kids is Dunster Estate’s tall trees trail, where there is a lovely easy going route (suitable for buggies and wheelchairs) amongst the tallest trees in England, as well as other way-marked trails for the more adventurous family. Located at the northern tip of Exmoor National Park and close to the medieval town of Dunster, the trails are all Free to use (Just £1 car park charge for up to 2 hrs, £2 all day). www.DunsterEstate.co.uk

For places to stay while you enjoy the activities below see our Accommodation pages http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/where-to-stay
 
To find out what's on throughout the year see our Events pages http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/must-see-and-do/events

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Spring on the Moors


For a copy of the Press Release please click here

More information and images from:

Jennette Baxter Starfish PR starfish@baxter1.clara.net

The daffodils are out, the sheep are lambing and the ponies are foaling. There’s plenty going on in and around Exmoor at this time of the year.

Olympic Torch Relay Route

On what must be one of the most beautiful sections of the Olympic Torch Route, the historic flame will travel through the Exmoor area on 21 May 2012. Heading up from the traditional seaside towns of Ilfracombe and Combe Martin, the relay route passes through the scenic, almost alpine, villages of Lynton and Lynmouth in North Devon and the high heather moorlands of Exmoor National Park before crossing into Somerset via the charming village of Porlock. Meandering through family-friendly Minehead, the flaming torch will go on to the medieval town of Dunster and carry on out past the peaceful natural beauty of the Quantocks to Taunton. Locals and visitors alike will be lining the streets, lanes, hills and moors to witness this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Another once-in-a-lifetime event is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the British throne.  The spring bank holiday has been moved to Monday 4 June and there will be an extra day off on Tues 5 June, giving an extended weekend and a great opportunity for a celebration.  

On the West Somerset coast, Porlock is hosting a Golden Jubilee 1950’s style street party with traditional games & entertainment on June 3 and a music festival on the 4th. Following a Diamond Jubilee Celebration Family Picnic Watchet will be lighting its official Jubilee Beacon at 2200 on June 4th. And Minehead is planning a whole weekend of events for their Diamond Jubilee Festival.

Combe Martin’s unique annual festival, the Hunting of the Earl of Rone has been moved to 1 – 4 June to coincide with the Jubilee weekend. Villagers start hunting the ‘Earl’ on Friday evening and then daily until Monday when he is captured in Lady's Wood at the top of the village and escorted down and thrown into the sea. The origins of this colourful festival are open to speculation but it is a real village celebration and visitors are very welcome to join in the fun.

The 6th Dulverton Folk Festival will be running an extended special over the Jubilee weekend 1 – 5 June 2012. This is an impressive free music and dance festival set in the very pretty town of Dulverton; gateway to Exmoor National Park. A basic campsite is provided by the local school playing field at the cost of £5 per adult per night and £1 per child per night.

Spring Festivals

West Somerset Railway’s Spring Gala on 17 & 18 and 22 – 25 March 2012 is a celebration of travel in a bygone era.  Great for railway enthusiasts and those who appreciate the drama of the steam train, the weekend events offer turntable demonstrations and shunts and the opportunity to ride behind many of the visiting and home fleet locomotives.  An hourly train shuttle between Minehead and the historic town of Dunster combines the chance to see some of Somerset’s glorious countryside with a visit to this remarkably preserved historic village. (A one day family rover tickets costs from £66.60). During 23–25 March, there will also be a literary gathering of leading book publishers and authors at Minehead Station. Displays, sales and book signings will celebrate the railway genre.

The very popular North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival will take place from 27th April to 6th May this year. There is always a great selection of guided walks led by local rangers and enthusiasts who are happy to impart their vast knowledge of the history, geography and folk lore of the area. New this spring, the organisers have included some extra outdoor interests such as horse riding and viewing bats to the walks. For the less mobile, there will be the chance to take a Tramper ride around the Heddon Valley, and some walks will have  breakfast and  lunch included to add extra power to the legs. Keep an eye on www.exmoorwalkingfestival.co.uk  for the latest updates.

Great Things to Do on Exmoor this Spring

Whilst Exmoor might not be known for its raucous nightlife, there is still plenty to see when the sun goes down. Wimbleball Lake has been nominated as the first Dark Sky Discovery Site on Exmoor and is a fantastic location for stargazing across Exmoor’s dark skies, especially at this time of year. Far from any light pollution, the South West Lakes Trust will be hosting a Star Camp on the nights of 23rd and 24th March 2012 and there will be lots of other starry activities held throughout the year.

Medieval Dunster Castle has a long tradition of Archery and visitors can try their hand at the ‘Have-a-Go’ Archery days happening during the Easter weekend. Costing £3 for 6 arrows, the local archery club will help to hone skills – or at least demonstrate how to hold a bow correctly! The 151st annual Grand Western Archery Championship is held in the parkland at Dunster Castle, and this year this takes place 10th – 17th June 2012.

Bang up-to-date, Coasteering is the latest adrenaline-fuelled sport to reach Exmoor and the scenic and rocky coastline around North Devon is the perfect place to grab some of the action. Exmoor Adventures coasteering guides are qualified NARS Beach Lifeguards with extensive knowledge and experience of the locations used. They will take private groups (£35pp including all the gear for groups of 8) for an exhilarating day to remember.

The new Quantock Cycling Hub at Mill Meadows (established in partnership with AONB) sits on the Taunton Deane Cycle Trail, and offers secure cycle storage, cycle hire, cycle wash down point, information centre with trail guides, cycle cam hire, and guided rides. Uplift transport to/from the hills and local train station makes car free holidays a simple reality.

Interesting Places to Visit

Woody Bay Station hosts a weekend of family fun and home made cakes this Easter (6 – 9 April). Originally opened in 1898 and closed in 1935, this picturesque narrow gauge track currently runs for two miles through the lovely North Devon countryside, and has big plans to rebuild the legendary Lynton to Barnstaple Railway. A family ticket costs £18.

The small but fascinating Porlock Weir Marine Aquarium re-opens on 6 April, offering visitors the chance to spend an hour getting up close and personal with the diverse creatures that populate the local waters. Knowledgeable guides make the whole experience interesting and – uniquely - they also release all the inhabitants back into the sea at the end of the season and collect new ones each year. (Adults £3 Children over 5 £2, under 5’s free).

Porlock’s Open Gardens event on 19 & 20 May 2012 is the chance to discover some charming horticultural secrets. There are over 20 gardens to explore, including some which have never been open to the public before. Art exhibitions, cream teas, plants and book stalls will link the gardens (tickets costs £5 per person). Gardens are also the focus of the picturesque village of Stogumber in the Quantocks, during the weekend of 16 – 17 June. Around 15 gardens ranging from small cottage plots to large country acres open their gates to visitors (£6 per adult, children under 14 free).

For more information on events, places to stay, see, eat & drink see www.visit-Exmoor.co.uk

For a free visitor guide (Exmoor, the Coast and Quantock Hills) call 01643 702624.

Ends January 2012.


For further press information or images please contact:

Jennette Baxter 07738 643211 /Exmoor Tourism Partnership / pr@baxter1.clara.net

Stacey Beaumont / West Somerset Council/ 01984 635285/sbeaumont@westsomerset.gov.uk

Notes to Editors:
About Exmoor Tourism Partnership
The Exmoor Tourism Partnership (ETP) is a not-for-profit organisation comprising Exmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor Tourist Association and West Somerset Council. The partnership works to promote Exmoor National Park, the West Somerset coast and Quantock Hills AONB. To find out more about the ETP visit www.exmoortourismpartnership.co.uk

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New 2012 Exmoor Brochure

For a copy of the Press Release please click here.

More information and images from:

Jennette Baxter Starfish PR starfish@baxter1.clara.net

There are few places so easily accessible where one can escape the conflicts and pressures of modern life, but in this peaceful corner of the southwest the elusive dream can become a reality.

The new 2012 Exmoor, Coast & Quantock Hills brochure (order or download from www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk) manages to squeeze a whole lot of useful information and evocative imagery into its glossy pages this year. The brochure promotes the area as a high quality visitor destination and it makes for an inspiring read.

Highlighting the area’s natural treasures, from the National Park to the Quantock Hills AONB and the stunning West Somerset coastline, the brochure offers plenty of ideas on how best to appreciate them. And not only during the day. Exmoor National Park was recently awarded Europe’s first 'International Dark Skies Reserve’ status meaning that the area is ‘possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment’.

Exmoor is great to visit any time of the year, and each season has its own appeal. Bursting into spring, Exmoor’s Snowdrop Valley, once a secret only known to locals now attracts visitors from all over the UK. The North Devon & Exmoor Walking Festival takes place 27 April until 6 May with a great selection of walks for all levels. The summer and autumn are filled with local fairs and carnivals and winter, with Dunster by Candlelight and Dulverton by Starlight during the first weekend in December, is quite magical. Holidaymakers wishing to plan their trip can refer to the events and festivals listings detailed in the brochure.

A unique Exmoor event will be happening this year on 21 May 2012 when the Olympic Torch Relay Route passes through Ilfracombe, Combe Martin, Lynton, Lynmouth, Porlock, Minehead, Dunster, Carhampton, Washford, Williton and Crowcombe.

Adrenalin junkies will love the Active Exmoor section which has details on mountain bike challenges, trail running, climbing and watersports as well as the relatively new adventures of geocaching and coasteering. Walking, horseriding and fishing opportunities abound in this area too.

Our local food producers are passionate about their produce, and the lively farmers markets and tempting farm shops showcase the best local food and drink. The Exmoor Food Festival at the beginning of October brings together all that is fresh and tasty in the area.

There are plenty of tips and advice on things to do and places to explore that are fun and free and where visitors will be able to discover the rich history of the countryside.

Exmoor 2012 is a not-for-profit publication backed by the Exmoor Tourism Partnership, which comprises Exmoor National Park Authority, West Somerset Council and the Exmoor Tourist Association, and is part of the marketing plan to promote and enhance the area’s tourism industry.

Ends 16 December 2011.

Further details and images from: Jennette Baxter, Starfish PR, starfish@baxter1.clara.net 07738 643211

Or

Stacey Beaumont Media, PR & Communications, West Somerset Council

sbeaumont@westsomerset.gov.uk  01984 635285

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