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ISSUE No. 76 Autumn 2016 £3.20



down memory lane

Chi Running Watchet’s Pierhead Painter Dorn Therapy Cider Making in North Devon Exmoor’s Medieval Bridges Holidays Past Project Ilfracombe Harbour


Cover Girl: Springer Alice! Abbie Westcott & Miller Surfboards From the Wild Earth: Artist Jonathan Walker Sir Ranulph Fiennes on his Global Reach Challenge

Hoar Oak Publishing Ltd

9 771369 522007

inspiring tales The West Country is Stags Country PORLOCK Sampford Peverell

8 Acres

An immaculate 5 bedroom detached Lorem ipsum dolor sit, consectetur Edwardian character residence in a adipisicing elit, sed eiusmod private and secluded location on the tempor incididunt ut et dolore sed edge of Porlock village with lovely sed magna aliqua. Ut enim minim gardens and a detached cottage. An veniam incididunt ut et dolore sed. elevated position with far reaching Lorem ipsum dolor sit, consectetur views across the Bristol Channel. adipisicing elit, sed eiusmod tempor EPC Band F. incididunt ut et dolore sed sed Web find: 50386 magna aliqua.. Web Find: 12345 Guide Price: £875,000

Guide £1,750,000

Dulverton Office 01398 Tiverton Office 01884323174 256331


8 Acres


8 Acres

A rare opportunity to buy a delightful detached former Mill set in a quiet Lorem ipsum location dolor sit, in consectetur elit, sed temporand incididunt and private the heartadipisicing of Dulverton witheiusmod both garden parking. Sitting room, snug/study, kitchen/breakfast room, utility ut et dolore sed sed magna aliqua. Ut enim minim veniam incididunt ut etroom, dolore 5/6 cloakroom, garden, elit. double sed.bedrooms, Lorem ipsumbathroom, dolor sit, consectetur adipisicing Web garage. Find: 12345 EPC Band E. Web find: 79781

A semi-detached 4 bedroom cottage with five mile country views situated Lorem ipsum dolor sit, consectetur adipisicingcottage, elit, sed eiusmod tempor location, incididunt in a delightful thriving village. Character central village kitchen, utility, 2 reception rooms, 4 bedrooms (1 enincididunt suite), 2utbathrooms, ut et dolore sed sed magna aliqua. Ut enim minim veniam et dolore garden. EPC Band find: 80605 sed. Lorem ipsum dolorE.sit,Web consectetur adipisicing elit. Web Find: 12345

LUXBOROUGH Sampford Peverell

RURAL DULVERTON Sampford Peverell

Guide £1,750,000 Guide Price: £650,000

Tiverton Office 01884 256331 Dulverton Office 01398 323174

8 Acres

Detached character house enjoying a delightful rural position with Lorem ipsum dolor sit, adipisicing elit, sed and eiusmod tempor beautiful gardens, a consectetur pretty former linhay, garage parking. 2 incididunt reception rooms, kitchen, utility room, hall/study, 3 bedrooms (1 en-suite), ut et dolore sed sed magna aliqua. Ut enim minim veniam incididunt ut etfamily dolore bathroom, cloakroom, gardens, linhay, garage.elit. Web Find: 12345 sed. Lorem ipsum dolor sit, consectetur adipisicing EPC Band F. Web find: 79902 Guide £1,750,000 Guide Price: £385,000

Tiverton Office 01884 256331 Dulverton Office 01398 323174

Cornwall | Devon | Somerset | Dorset | London

Guide £1,750,000 Guide Price: £240,000

Tiverton Office 01884 256331 Dulverton Office 01398 323174

8 Acres

An elegant, south facing stone barn conversion in a quiet rural hamlet Lorem ipsum dolorrural sit, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed eiusmod tempor incididunt with outstanding views, large attached barn, close proximity to the popular Exmoor town of Dulverton. Farmhouse kitchen, utility,ut2etreception ut et dolore sed sed magna aliqua. Ut enim minim veniam incididunt dolore rooms, conservatory, bedrooms (1adipisicing en-suite), elit. bathroom, cloakroom, sed. Lorem ipsum dolor 3sit, consectetur Web Find: 12345 courtyard, garden and attached barn. EPC Band E. Web find: 81558 Guide £1,750,000 Guide Price: £570,000

Tiverton Office 01884 256331 Dulverton Office 01398 323174

Hillside Staunton Lane Minehead- £475,000 Occupying a stunning rural setting on the edge of the town - an individual four bedroom detached cottage style residence enjoying sweeping views to woodland, open fields and the Bristol Channel, along with near direct access to some of the very best moorland and woodland countryside of Hopcott, Periton and Grabbist. The property is situated approximately one mile from shops and other facilities at Alcombe and approximately two miles from Minehead town centre. EPC- D.

Pippin Bossington Lane Porlock - £649,950 Occupying a fine position in this much favoured residential area on the edge of the village of Porlock and enjoying outstanding views from the rear over open fields towards Lynch Combe and Selworthy Woods - an individual four bedroom detached chalet bungalow residence standing in large level gardens. EPC - F.

Minehead Office

Williton Office

London Office

8 The Parade • Minehead Somerset • TA24 5UF T 01643 706666 E

9 Fore Street • Williton Somerset • TA4 4PX T 01984 632167 E

Cashel house 15 Thayer Street London W1U 3JT

in association with


SOLD Guide £895,000 Buyers from Mid Devon SIMILAR REQUIRED




Guide £650,000

Guide £450,000

Guide £850,000

Buyers from West Yorkshire

Buyers from Worcestershire

Buyers from London




Dulverton Office 01398 324818 • Minehead Office 01643 700210 • Barnstaple/Lynton Office 01271 347861 •

Fine & Country Local expertise, National presence, International audience

SOLD Guide £1,600,000 Buyers from West Sussex SIMILAR REQUIRED




Guide £725,000

Guide £495,000

Guide £550,000

Buyers from Warwickshire

Buyers from Gloucestershire

Buyers from Somerset




Ilfracombe Office 01271 863091 • South Molton Office 01769 575797

55 Exmoor Magazine is independently owned and run on Exmoor by Naomi Marley, Elaine Pearce and Sue South. We are not part of a chain and we are sold through around 140 local shops, along with Co-ops, Waitrose and M&S. The magazine is also available direct. To enquire please call 0845 224 1203* or go to Published by: Hoar Oak Publishing Ltd. Exmoor Magazine, PO Box 281, Parracombe, Devon EX31 4WW T. 0845 224 1203 Website: Facebook: Twitter: Subscriptions & Office: Sue South Editor & Designer: Naomi Marley Editorial Director: Elaine Pearce Assistant Editor: Katy Charge Associate Editor: John Dunscombe Colour Management & Associate Designer: Colin Matthews Website: Mike Bishop & Naomi Marley Advertising Sales: Grant Harrison and Susie Walker (Zara Media) T: 01392 201227; email: Printing: Warner Midlands PLC, Bourne IMPORTANT NOTICE We do our best to ensure that all advertisements and articles appear correctly. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by this publication. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher or editor.


Autumn 2016




FARMING Abbie Westcott

28 34 37

Copyright Š Hoar Oak Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without written permission. * Calls cost 5p per call plus 5p per minute after 60s, plus your network access charge.

PRIVACY POLICY We do not share or sell names, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses under any circumstances.

Cover: See pages 9 and 111-112.

6 Exmoor Autumn 2016




Cindy Cowling

TASTE OF EXMOOR North Devon's Cider Tradition Melanie Terrell

TOAST OF EXMOOR Secret Orchard Adrian Tierney Jones

RECIPES From Clavelshay Barn Olivier Certain

41 43

LUNCH Charlie Friday's Elaine Pearce

DOWN MEMORY LANE Holidays Past Louise Reynolds


PROFILE SPECIAL Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Global Reach Challenge


WALKING 'Because it's there' Sue Viccars scales the

Quantock heights

Tony James





Jane A. Mares


PROFILE Ellie Miller

62 64 67

Mel Roach

ACTIVE EXMOOR Chi Running Malcolm Rigby

WELLBEING Dorn Method Jane Alexander

COUNTRY MATTERS The Water Vole Trevor Beer



UNCLE WILLOW Ilfracombe Harbour Endymion Beer


COASTAL HISTORY Tragic Loss of Life Off Watchet & Watchet's Pierhead Painter


PROPERTY Buying Extra Land

79 81 87 90 93



Equine News


LAWHORSE Horse Insurance: Jill Headford


Victoria Eveleigh


Compiled by Katy Charge


IN THE STABLEYARD Celia Braund AUTUMN DIARY FINAL PAWS Entertaining Alice Mary Bromiley


Maurice Chidgey

Bridget Froud


LANDSCAPES Exmoor's Medieval Bridges Mary Siraut

GARDENS Green Inspiration Rosemary FitzGerald

GARDEN NOTES Spring Colour Sheila Dearing

ARTS From the Wild Earth: Jonathan Walker Mel Roach

Exmoor Autumn 2016 7



Editor's Letter

elcome to the autumn issue. It's been a frenetic few months, in more ways than one, and I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking how lucky we are to have the very best medicine freely available on our doorstep to soothe tired brains and inspire new plans, not to mention local creations of all kinds to nourish body and soul. As usual I've been treasuring my frequent walks with Hurley and a few outdoor weekends with friends too. The summer brought some very special moments; a huge brown hare spied on Worthy Lane during the diversions near Withypool, a tawny owl which sat for several long, breath-held minutes on a telegraph post outside our front door one evening, camping at Mortehoe with friends and dogs and a picnic at Cleeve Abbey for a friend's birthday – complete with a tour which really brought the site alive for us – these have been among my favourites.

In the precious weeks before the frosty fingers of winter approach, I hope that you might be inspired by this issue to discover Exmoor's medieval bridges, reread 'Kubla Khan' or go walking on the Quantocks (perhaps both at the same time!), reminisce about holidays past and dig out old photos, plant bulbs, visit one of the many open studios and exhibitions taking place right across the area this autumn, and support and champion local businesses in every way possible. Of course, we number among those businesses, and myself, Sue and Elaine would like to thank all of our readers, advertisers and stockists for your fantastic support over the years as we approach our 20th birthday in 2017. Arriving at autumn 2016 means I've been editing the magazine for exactly six years – although it feels like I began only yesterday. I still get phone-calls which begin, "Are you the new editor?" This makes me feel closer to Hilary, who I still miss daily, and is also an amusing reminder that in many ways time moves more slowly here. I wouldn't want that to change. Please continue to tell your friends about us and spread the word! Happy reading and best wishes,

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Marine Safaris Accredited Thousands of visitors come to North Devon every year to experience the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Many take the opportunity to engage with the amazing array of marine life that can be seen both from the coastline and from on board local vessels. North Devon skippers have long shown a keen interest in protecting the marine life which sustains their livelihoods. In recognition of this, an accreditation scheme has been devised through collaboration between Lundy Island and North Devon Biosphere Reserve. The scheme has been funded by local councillors and the North Devon Coast AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) which is funded by DEFRA. Beccy, the warden on Lundy, says, “I really wanted to thank local boat operators for their ongoing support of Lundy and its Marine Protected Area, and so the idea of a local accreditation scheme was created. The scheme has been developed with Kate and Andy at North Devon Biosphere to spread it across the North Devon coast.” At the end of January, 15 local operators undertook training with Colin Speedie of the national WiSe (Wildlife Safe) accreditation scheme, along with additional training on the wildlife of the North Devon coast with Beccy and Kate. These operators are now proud to display both the local scheme badge alongside the national WiSe one. Stuart Carpenter runs the Hampshire Rose lifeboat trips in Ilfracombe and skippers for Andrew Bengey (Lundy Diving) on Obsession II. He says, “The crew and skipper of the Hampshire Rose are proud to be part of this scheme and to be able to work in partnership with Lundy and North Devon Biosphere. The scheme allows us to show that operators in North Devon are looking after our marine wildlife and, as more join the scheme, we will see an improvement to wildlife safaris as a whole.” In addition to the training, a leaflet has been developed to support the scheme. This includes a wildlife guide to the marine species of the North Devon coastline and will be available from all local tourist information centres and skippers. Kate Hind, from North Devon Biosphere, says, "We now have a Marine Conservation Zone extending from Foreland Point to Bideford, in addition to Lundy. Collectively these give a great opportunity to show an economic benefit to the tourism industry, as well as protecting our extraordinary marine wildlife." Terry Green, SDF Chairman, says, “The North Devon Coast AONB is pleased to have been able to support this project through the Sustainable Development Fund. The project has the twin virtues of enabling more people to gain a first-hand appreciation of the natural environment of the North Devon coast, while minimising disturbance to the creatures that inhabit it, all of which contributes towards the sustainability which the Fund aims to promote.” You’ll be able to spot those who are involved in the scheme through the accreditation badge that will be prominently displayed on their vessels, information boards, websites, etc., so please support them as much as you can and help spread the word. There are still opportunities for other skippers to get involved, so please contact Beccy by emailing for further information. Pictured: Stuart Carpenter and Andrew Bengey.




Somerset Wildlife Trust West Somerset Group

Bee and Honey Show

Somerset Wildlife Trust has nine established Local Area Groups run by their own volunteer committees. Each group, and its wonderful, often long-standing, members deliver an integral part of the Trust’s work across the county and play a large part in engaging with communities and supporting a wider understanding of local wildlife and the challenges facing habitats. The Local Area Groups represent the Trust at many events across the county and also hold a broad programme of wildlife and fundraising events, together with walks and talks in their local communities, all of which are open to both members and non-members of the Trust.

Tucked away on Exmoor and its fringes are colonies of honeybees managed by the Exmoor Beekeepers, one of the 12 local divisions of the Somerset Beekeepers Association, set up in 1906. The Exmoor Bee and Honey Show, at Dunster Tithe Barn on 1 October, offers a great chance to meet local beekeepers and sample and purchase local honeys and other hive products. Honey, beeswax candles, polishes, cosmetics and soaps containing honey and/or beeswax will be on sale, and there will be a range of other stalls and a raffle. Activities for children will include bee-themed face-painting, colouring and candle-making.

Chicken of the woods (by Steve Waterhouse) and common sunstar (by Nigel Phillips).

Beekeepers' products are judged in the morning, then the doors open at 12.30pm and the public are welcomed in, free of charge, to look at the show exhibits, visit the stalls and learn a little about bees and beekeeping. Can you spot the queen bee in the observation hive? Light lunches and a licensed bar will be available and no beekeeping event is complete without delicious home-made cake.

After a three-year hiatus, West Somerset Area Group is re-forming. The new chairwoman Sally Saunders explains why it’s important that the group comes together again: “West Somerset is an incredibly diverse and interesting area for wildlife and habitats. It has the Quantock Hills, Exmoor and, of course, the coastline running from Porlock to Stolford, which includes rich habitats where we can learn so much about the fascinating array of plants, insects, animals and birds that live there, and better understand the ecological status quo that is required to keep those populations healthy. It’s vital that, as a group, we are able to support the Trust in sharing the wildlife delights of the area with local residents and thereby help ensure these precious places are protected in the future. We hope people will find some time to get involved, even in really small ways.” The group is planning an exciting programme of events for 2017 which will be publicised in due course, but, in the meantime, in September, author and wildlife expert Nigel Phillips will lead a coastal walk and exploration, starting at Dunster Beach, and during October half term the group will be joining up with Exmoor National Park Authority who are staging an Exmoor Big Adventure, as part of which families can come and join the group for a fungi walk and talk in the afternoon.

Clare Densley, manager of the apiary at Buckfast Abbey, shows visiting Exmoor beekeepers how bees fill empty frames with wax.

The West Somerset Area Group is currently looking for committee members, keen volunteers and any members of the general public who would like to help support its work in a variety of ways, as well as inviting people to share wisdom and experience in a less formal capacity. For more information and to find out how to get involved, contact Ruth Hunt at or call 01984 641954.

Alice in Clumberland Alice, the star of this issue's cover, is far too gorgeous to appear just the once. So, for her full story, turn to pages 111-112, where Mary Bromiley tells us how one springer changed the life of photographer Heidrun Humphries.

Photo by Heidrun Humphries


The Exmoor Beekeepers run training courses for beginners and members help mentor and support new beekeepers. There are summer practical meetings at the apiary and winter evening meetings (usually in a local hostelry!) to keep everyone up to date on how best to look after our precious and vulnerable honeybee colonies. Visit the website for more information about Exmoor beekeeping and the Bee and Honey Show on 1 October: exmoor.html. There is also a Facebook group: exmoorbeekeepers.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 9



Decade for Leigh Trust Henry Leigh’s legacy dates right back to 1876, when he donated land to build a school in Withypool. He could not, of course, have foreseen its evolving fortunes – including its transformation into an activity centre before its eventual closure in 2004 – but, even after sale, the school was put to good use. In 2006, using the proceeds from the sale, Tim Davey set up a trust for local children and young people, helped by Gina Rawle and trustees David Bawden, Mike Bickersteth, John Edwards, Mike Ellicott, Louise Flagg and Rosie Strickland. Now celebrating its tenth year, the Henry Leigh Withypool Educational Trust continues to offer grants to promote the education of young people in the local area.

Trustee David Bawden explains how the Trust works: "As well as pupils from Exford School (past or present), young people under 25 living in the parishes of Withypool and Hawkridge, Exford, Exmoor (Simonsbath) and Winsford are eligible to apply to the Trust. There are three funding rounds each year. The application process is really simple – just a short form to complete, and grants are not based on the financial status of the person applying." The trustees are keen to welcome new applicants. For more information about the Trust, who and what is eligible and how to apply, visit: or contact the Trust’s secretary, Lyn Fisher, on 01643 831321.

Since the Trust began, nearly 300 grants have been awarded for educational purposes, and have included help for school trips, computers, driving lessons and tests, trailer tests, music lessons, sports and activity training, books and other equipment for college and university courses. Exford First School has also been given grants by the Trust to help pay for IT resources, and for equipment for the outdoor activity area. Two of the current trustees attended Withypool School in the 1960s, including Rosie Strickland, who says, “We hope Henry Leigh would have been pleased that the school could continue to benefit local children even after it closed. Although the grants are quite modest, we know they’ve been able to make a real difference.”


Swimming Pool News More than £146,000 is to go towards plans to enhance South Molton Swimming Pool. At a North Devon Council Executive meeting in June, members agreed to release the S106* funds for the project. Executive member responsible for health and wellbeing, Councillor Brian Moores, says, "Investment in this facility is very much needed. Therefore, the release of these funds will make a huge difference and enable this vital work to take place. Modernising the changing rooms, replacing doors and putting in new flooring, ceiling and tiles are all part of the works – and although there is likely to be some disruption, we hope users, old and new, will be fully supportive of the project." South Molton ward member, Councillor David Worden, says, "As well as a refurbishment of the pool area, the foyer and the reception area will also be reorganised as part of the project, along with some structural works to the building. This will ensure the pool will be fit for purpose, benefiting everyone who chooses to swim here, for many years to come."

Above: The school and a picture of Susan Clatworthy (left) and Rosie Clatworthy (now Strickland) (right). Below: Withypool School, late 1960s, with headmistress Mrs Hinde. (All courtesy Rosie Strickland.)

The S106 money will be allocated to the South Molton Swimming Pool Trust, which owns and operates the pool. The Trust will also be putting more than £5,500 towards the project, with work likely to start in two stages during the autumn to minimise disruption to the users of the pool. POSTSCRIPT There are exciting plans afoot to try to bring a new pool to Minehead. We are keeping a very close eye on this and will bring readers news as soon as we have something definite to tell you. Keep watching our Facebook page: *S106 money is paid to the council by developers, as part of the conditions of planning applications. This money can only be used for things such as education, local community and public open space projects. In this instance, the S106 money has come from Elan Homes for its development near Nadder Lane.

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Set in 90 acres of beautiful countryside on the edge of Exmoor, West Buckland provides a stimulating, caring and happy environment where children develop their individual strengths, self-esteem, confidence and abilities.


Our next Open Day is Saturday 1st October 9.30am

Saturday 1st October

Contact us to arrange a visit or taster day:

Please contact us to reserve your place

Tel: 01598 760629 Email:

West Buckland Preparatory School, Barnstaple, Devon, EX32 0SX

1O am arrival Co-educational day & boarding: ages 13–18 telephone: O1823 3282O4 A Woodard School

Reg Charity No 306710

Exmoor Autumn 2016 11

Courtesy English Heritage



"Ridiculously Rare" Medieval Floor If you haven't been to Cleeve Abbey, near Washford, to see what's been hiding under the temporary white marquee in the grounds for so long, you really should make the trip. Visitors have just a couple of months left to go and view one of the most spectacular medieval tiled floors in Europe before the site closes for the winter. The floor, which was first laid in about 1270, features hundreds of expensive encaustic tiles featuring elaborate heraldic designs – many of which relate to local families. It was forgotten after the monks upgraded to a better dining room in the 1600s and lay buried for centuries. Although discovered again by chance in 1876, it was reburied for protection and only excavated again in the 1950s. At that point, conservators tried to find a way to protect the tiles yet allow public access. Some of the tiles were lifted and laid in concrete, causing damage, and, later, a cycle began of covering the floor in the winter and exposing it every summer, but in the 1990s it was found that the changes in temperature and humidity were wreaking havoc on the tiles. Today an area 12 by 5 metres survives and, at last, the floor has the solution it deserves – and this despite the fact that at one stage experts feared the only solution would be to cover it up once more. Instead, a barn-like timber building, designed entirely with its important conservation role in mind, yet beautiful in itself, has been lovingly installed over the entire expanse of the floor, with seating and viewing platforms, natural light and timber louvres to control ventilation. Jeremy Ashbee, head curator at English Heritage, which cares for the Cistercian monastery, is relieved. "If you have a treasure like this, it would be a tragedy to hide it from view. Monitoring will continue, but we believe this will preserve the tiles well, indefinitely. They are a ridiculously rare and good survival. There’s nothing else like this expanse of such high-quality tiles in its original position surviving from the thirteenth century in England, and very little comparable anywhere in Europe. This floor is truly a medieval work of art of international importance.” Cleeve Abbey is open daily until 31 October. TA23 0PS. Tel. 01984 640377.

Wiveliscombe at War In 2014 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded Wiveliscombe Civic Society £10,000 to work with the children of the town on a two-year project to discover the memories and heritage of the local people whose families lived through the First World War. The children have researched the war’s history, visited the Heritage Centre and the churchyard and spoken to residents of the local care home to inspire their work on a mosaic memorial, sited in Jubilee Gardens in the heart of the town. After the unveiling on 24 September (10.30am to 12.30pm), the memorial will be a focus for commemorative events for years to come, and it is hoped that locals and visitors alike will also enjoy the booklet that will accompany it. Children from the local primary school wrote poems and prose and drew pictures to show what the conflict meant to them, and the booklet is full of their work, alongside photos of the tiles they worked on for the memorial. Visit wiveliscombeinthegreatwar. and www.facebook. com/wiveliscombeinthegreatwar.

Crowcombe Park Memorial Unveiling in September to Honour Nine Lost Airmen In September 1945 a Handley Page Halifax of RAF 517 Squadron on a meteorological mission crashed into Crowcombe Park, killing all nine airmen on board (of an average age of 24). On 6 September 2016, a memorial located close to the actual crash site will be unveiled by Air Vice-Marshal Richard Knighton, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, and Professor Dame Julia Slingo of the Meteorological Office. The memorial, which has been erected in the Park by kind permission of Anthony Trollope-Bellew, is being donated by the LG Groves Prize Award. Louis Grimble Groves was one of the airmen who lost their lives that fateful day, and his parents established the LG Groves Prize in his

12 Exmoor Autumn 2016

memory. Every year for the last 70 years, it has been awarded for the best RAF innovations affecting air safety, and for the best Met Office innovations in weather forecasting affecting air safety. “Although the crash was a great tragedy, it has saved many more lives than were lost as a result of the innovations enabled by the awards programme over the last 70 years,” says Anthony Groves, President of the LG Groves Prize Awards. At precisely 12 noon on 6 September there will be a low-level fly-past over Crowcombe Park on the approximate route that the original Halifax took and the RAF will provide an Honour Guard salute.

The fly-past will be led by an RAF Hercules C-130 aircraft followed by an RAF Dakota, the plane that played such a vital role in the Second World War. All 250 previous winners of the LG Groves Awards have been invited to the event, as well as relatives of all nine of the aircrew. Any members of the local community who wish to attend are also very welcome, although they are asked to email in advance: A number of local schools are being involved so that they can share in marking an important part of local history. This will be an impressive event for the Quantocks and the family hopes that everybody will be involved in some way.




EHFN's 1st Sponsors Exmoor Hill Farming Network (EHFN) is delighted to have secured two key sponsors – Natwest and Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auctions Ltd. Left to right: Gethin Rees EFLA, Katherine Peter Huntley of Exmoor Farmers says Williams EHFN Network Officer, Dave Knight that they are delighted to be involved EHFN Chairman and Peter Huntley EFLA. and to be able to help with sponsorship, as the Network has a key role to play in the rural life of Exmoor. Dave Knight, Chairman of EHFN, says, "Exmoor Farmers have been a tremendous help from the very start of the network. We are overwhelmed by their generous sponsorship and that of Natwest and we look forward to working in conjunction with them and thank them for their support." Sam Curtis, Director of Business Banking at Natwest, says, "We’re delighted to sponsor Exmoor Hill Farming Network, and look forward to working with them to help and support the local farming community." The ‘go-to hub’ for supporting the farming community on Exmoor, EHFN prides itself on being led by, and working for, farmers. It is open to all, arranges a range of activities, support and training, brings farmers together to learn from each other and experts, and offers a range of support and advice, as well as a link to wider industry partners. EHFN is open to all on the moor, offers free membership and has a busy diary of forthcoming events. Katherine Williams, the Network Officer, says, “The training sessions we also organise are well supported, and bringing them to Exmoor helps more people participate and spend less time away from their farms. The kind sponsorship from Exmoor Farmers Livestock Auctions Ltd and Natwest will support our funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund and Exmoor National Park Authority to further our work and activities over the coming months." To find out more, as a farmer or a business keen to get involved, please contact Katherine Williams. Further limited sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact: 01643 841455/07970 795808 or

Nick's YFC Devon Revolution

Nick Creasy, county organiser of the Devon Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs, has completed the ultimate endurance challenge to raise funds for the new Devon YFC rural hub, finishing a 250-mile triathlon in just under 48 hours.

The charity event, the 'Devon Revolution', began on Friday 15 July at 12.30pm at Axmouth harbour, from where Nick swam five miles to Branscombe, then cycled 215 miles along the south coast to Yelverton. From here, he followed the county border to the North Devon coast, before heading east across Exmoor to finish the leg at Hemyock. He then started his 30-mile road run across the Blackdowns, finishing on Sunday 17 July, just before 12.30pm. Chris Manley, Chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers, joined Nick on part of the run. Chris says: “We’re so proud of Nick’s achievements. The Hub will become the main office for young farmers across Devon, enabling the charity to develop its services to young people. Members past and present, and the general public, have dug deep and shown their support.” As well as being the central hub for the Devon YFC, the new building in Cheriton Bishop will provide offices for other groups, including the Farming Community Network, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute and the British Wool Marketing Board. The fundraising page has reached over £7,500, where donations on and offline are still being received. To sponsor Nick for his efforts and to help with the Devon YFC rural hub, visit:

14 Exmoor Autumn 2016

19240 Shrouds A ceremony at 7.30am on Friday 1 July saw the emotional unveiling of artist Rob Heard's 19240 Shrouds of the Somme project. Soldiers surrounding the shrouds blew whistles in turn before Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Devon blew the final First World War original whistle to open the exhibition. More than 30,000 people visited in the first few days, with some people queuing patiently to go in. Serving soldiers, ex-servicemen and women, families, friends and members of the public paid emotional tribute to those who fell. The 19240 Shrouds of the Somme commemorated all 19,240 Allied soldiers who fell on the first day of the battle which began on 1 July 1916, including more than 394 soldiers from The Devonshire Regiment. The individually hand-stitched shrouded figures representing every soldier were laid out in Exeter’s Northernhay Gardens. The names of the fallen have been marked by the artist Rob Heard who has seven volumes of the War Graves Commission’s lists of those who died. As each shroud was completed, he read the soldier’s name out loud and symbolically crossed them off the list. Group Captain Robin Chambers, representing the Armed Forces charity SSAFA, who will benefit from the project, says, “The exhibition captured the brutality and emotional impact of service life and, as an all-volunteer charity, we were honoured to be asked to supervise the exhibition and assist the public." The team behind the project have also seen this as an opportunity to create a lasting legacy commemorating those who fell and are asking for the public to visit the project website – – and upload photos, stories, memories and any further information on individuals to build up a commemorative picture.

Experience The Tantivy Traditional Shop, Café and Deli

• Exceptional new library and sixth form boarding facilities • Academic success • Bursaries and scholarships available • Extensive bus routes across Devon

Activity & Open Day Saturday 1st October 9.30am Sixth Form Open Evening Wednesday 12th October 6.00pm

Forward Thinking

Reg Charity No 306710

West Buckland is a friendly, successful school with an impressive record of academic achievement and some exceptional new facilities. Contact us to arrange a visit and discover what makes West Buckland unique and so exciting.

Tel: 01598 760281 Email: Barnstaple • Devon • EX32 0SX Boarding and Day

Boys & Girls 3-18

Nursery, Prep, Senior, Sixth Form

Exmoor Autumn 2016 15



Somerset Art Weeks Over 30 artists and makers working in and around Greater Exmoor will be taking part in the Somerset Open Studios event, which runs from 17 September to 2 October. Whether you just want to browse or are seeking a special artwork for your home, it’s a great opportunity to view both established names as well as new and emerging artists in their working environment, seeing how they work, their inspiration and creative processes. Disciplines range from the visual arts, sculpture and metalwork to textiles, ceramics, jewellery and mixed media, plus much more. Meet the artists face-to-face, chat, browse, buy or even place a personal commission for a special piece.

Woollen Woods Once again the woodlands of Arlington Court in North Devon will be bedecked with woolly creations as the Woollen Woods display returns this autumn, from 27 August until 30 October.

'Shelter' by Lucy Large

In the heart of Exmoor National Park at Lanacre Barn Gallery, near Withypool, Jo Minoprio will be exhibiting a new series of paintings inspired by the region’s huge skies and her beloved Exmoor beech; alongside this will be an exciting selection of large photographic tree portraits. Also showing pieces from a range of disciplines will be Pauline Clyde at Exford; she captures trees, flowers, still-life and landscapes in oils acrylics, watercolours and drawings. Winner of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition, Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize in 2015, Leo Davey works in watercolour and oil from his studio on the edge of Exmoor at Minehead. He’s best known for his landscapes, which can be bold or very detailed. Working nearby in Blue Anchor is Peggy Lock, who uses linocuts, painting, textiles, felting and knitting to explore the patterns and shapes in her immediate environment. Artists working in other disciplines include Lucy Large at Roadwater, who creates intricate sculptures, taking inspiration from the natural world such as birds, and jewellery maker Emma Lumley. Her elegant silver and gold designs will be on display at Washford, where she will be sharing the venue with artist Jane Hood and fashion and textile designer Ione Harris.

Jumping Jack by Shan Miller

Go to, where an interactive map will help you find the studios nearest to you, or call Somerset Art Works on 01458 253800 for a free guide to the artists, venues and affiliated events, including workshops and demonstrations. The guides are also available from Somerset libraries, galleries, public art spaces, cafés, TICs and other outlets across the county.

North Devon Art Trek

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This year's North Devon Art Trek runs from 10 to 25 September. There are over 40 artists taking part, welcoming members of the public into their studios, holding workshops and talks, or exhibiting at venues across North Devon. When local authority funding ran out in 2014, the North Devon Arts Society stepped in to keep NDArt Trek going, and in 2016 it celebrates its 13th consecutive year. NDArt Trek presents a fantastic opportunity to explore the artistic talent North Devon has to offer. Meet the

Building on the success of the Woollen Woods in Bloom in partnership with Voluntary Arts in 2015, a woolly display will be returning to the woods at Arlington Court. From May to August last year over 1,000 knitted, felted or crocheted items were placed in a woodland glade, and visitors could explore the area with a trail challenging them to find specific creations. Natalie Savage, Visitor Services Manager for the National Trust at Arlington Court says, "All the creations from last year have been gently washed and stored over the winter, ready to begin the display in 2016. However, with this year’s exhibition taking place over September and October, we're giving the woods an autumnal twist with acorns, fungi and dahlias." Later in the autumn a special woollen Halloween trail will be put out for half term (22-30 October). Witches, ghosts, pumpkins and cobwebs will be hidden in the woods for families to find. As the leaves begin to drop from the trees, the woollen creations will become more visible, giving the trees some colour. W: arlington-court. T: 01271 850296. artists and talk with them about their inspirations, challenges and methods, get creative at the various workshops or fall in love with that unique work of art which you simply cannot live without. Keep up to date with the latest NDArt Trek news by joining the Facebook group groups/389808051198757. Or follow NDArtT on Twitter: Find out more at and


Devon Open Studios

entry fee to DOS, with the overall winner receiving £150 for materials. In 2016, this is artist printmaker Luna North. Working from her studio at the foot of Exmoor she makes original, hand-pressed linocut and vinyl prints which are exhibited in galleries in the South West and sold internationally. Her work is informed by a fascination with the natural world, the space, freedom, wildness and deep breadth of the British landscape. Drawn to the feelings of the wind, sun, the scent of the flora and the instinctive untamed lives of the native animals and birds, she weaves the rhythm of the weather, animal life and nature’s

Devon Open Studios is an exceptional chance for the public to enjoy art at its origin. A cornucopia of art will be on offer across Devon from 10 to 25 September this year, when resident artists and artisans open their studios to sell their individual artworks to the public.

song into the patterns, detail and colour of her prints and drawings. Her working process involves the tradition and craft of designing, cutting and hand printing lino and the skill of illustrating with a fresh and contemporary line. Luna will be showing during DOS at her studio at Station Bungalow, Molland, EX36 3NW. The Devon Open Studios guide is available to download from the website: www.devonartistnetwork. It will also be available in Devon libraries, TICs and arts and community venues across the county from August.

Blue Skies

This year Devon Artist Network (DAN), which organises the Open Studios event, has launched a new annual prize worth £400 in honour of a dear colleague and DAN founder, Joanna Radford, who passed away recently. The Joanna Radford Award will give five winning artists the full

All Aboard!

Two Moors Festival

All Aboard! is an exciting family sculpture trail in and around Tiverton which was launched at Tiverton Museum in July and runs until the end of October. Follow the trail map and find 21 sculptures in the shape of the Tivvy Bumper steam engine. Maps are available from Tiverton Museum, Jo Amor on Bampton Street, Tiverton Library, the Grand Western Canal Visitor Centre, Exe Valley Leisure Centre, Bampton Heritage Centre and Coldharbour Mill.

The annual Two Moors Festival takes concerts at international level to remote places on Exmoor and Dartmoor, and it’s not unusual to find esteemed artists such as Viktoria Mullova and Imogen Cooper giving a performance and being recorded by the BBC for a Radio 3 live broadcast. This year’s programme lives up to the outstanding reputation of the event, which brings in many visitors from beyond the area and much-needed income for local businesses in the shoulder months.

Pippa Griffith, Museum Director, says, "It has been a huge community project with 29 local businesses sponsoring the trail, 18 local artists and 13 local schools involved in designing and painting the sculptures. Many hundreds of volunteer hours were spent getting the trail ready." Below: Pupils from Bampton Primary School had all submitted ideas for one of the designs, and these were combined into a design celebrating Bampton.

The world’s favourite trumpet player, Alison Balsom, visits Dulverton, as does the great jazz singer, Jacqui Dankworth, in a commemorative Shakespeare programme. Another feast for the ears will be the piano recital to be given by Austrian pianist, Christoph Berner, whose programme focuses on the Romantic composers of the nineteenth century. Dunster hosts a Gregorian Chant workshop day (open to enthusiasts of all levels of ability) and, for those who love interesting food, why not brave the Jam Roly Poly and blancmange that goes hand in hand with a concert of ballads and Mendelssohn songs? There is a rush nowadays to find the best places to stay as people combine a cultural holiday with striding across the beautiful landscape. Warm and comfy clothes are the order of the day and no one minds if keen concertgoers turn up swathed in woollies, scarves and walking shoes. It couldn’t be better clothing, in fact, since many of the wonderful historic church venues are far from warm. The Festival is much better nowadays at providing parking instructions and practical information, such as where the loos are, although many a pub has proved to be helpful in this direction providing you have a drink at the bar – or, even better, they offer a chance to tuck into prize-winning fish and chips and other delights! This year's Two Moors Festival takes place from 22 to 29 October. Find out more at Exmoor Autumn 2016 17


Bicentenary of 'Kubla Khan'

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree… When Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem 'Kubla Khan' between 1797 and 1799, he lived in Nether Stowey by the side of the Quantocks and walked to Exmoor and back along hill, coastal and moorland paths. One night, in a farmhouse above Culbone, he took laudanum to ease a 'mild dysentery' and wrote his evocation of Xanadu. Coleridge always believed this poem was unfinished because of an interruption by a person from Porlock and the consequent memory-loss of many more vivid lines. It was not published until 1816 and then as a filler after 'Christabel'. It still makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end as it evokes a Xanadu which resembles the magical countryside around Culbone more than the steppes of Mongolia or the wilds of Scandinavia. The whole is infused with a strange and mesmeric power. Some have suggested that Butlin's in Minehead and Hinkley Point near Combwich are our contemporary 'sunny domes with caves of ice', but Coleridge was creating his own imagined world of extremes, all pervaded by his urgent quest

for beauty within a vision of a better world. The visionary sees the future – and maybe the opium in the laudanum had something to do with it too! For he on honey dew had fed And drunk the milk of Paradise. The Friends of Coleridge are delighted to be celebrating the bicentenary of the first publication of this wonderfully popular Coleridge poem. Their website – – carries the whole programme of the year’s events, including a national and international poetry competition for adults and young people, a national contemporary art exhibition and a Somerset tour to Nether Stowey, Taunton and Bath managed by Somerset Art Works (SAW). Somerset Film have made a film of the poem and there have been schools’ workshops and resources through the InspirED programme coordinated by SAW and Somerset Film. An illustrated booklet of the poem has been written by Chair of The Friends of Coleridge, Justin Shepherd. A series of guided walks began earlier in the summer and there are two remaining. Taking part in each walk are poets and commentators on the life and works of Coleridge and their implications

for our society today, with plenty of opportunities for all walkers to create and share their own ideas and words. The three-and-a-half-hour walk on Saturday 15 October, from Nether Stowey to Dowsborough Hill Fort and back, begins at the Village Clock tower at 11am and heads up Castle Hill and then along the Coleridge Way. The walk takes in John Walford’s Gibbet, which was in full view of John’s mother’s cottage down in the combe, and the miners’ counting house where Coleridge and Wordsworth met and went their separate ways, Wordsworth to Alfoxden and Coleridge back to Stowey. Saturday 12 November sees the final walk for the bicentenary – a four-hour circular taking in Holford, Alfoxden, Dorothy’s Bridge and Woodsend. Meet at Holford Green car park at 11am. There will be a break for lunch at The Plough, Holford. Myself, Terence Sackett and Sandra Sidaway will lead this walk, with readings from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, William Holland’s diary and my own contemporary journal and poems. For more information go to the website:

The Coleridge Restaurant Open Wednesday to Saturday evening and Sunday Brunch

Tel: 01643 841241 TA24 8RH

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Photo of Coleridge Cottage by Dave Wood

WORDS by Ian Enters, The Friends of Coleridge

Gracious Retirement Living

Nestled in 13 acres of tailored parkland, Nynehead Court is at the hub of a registered Care Centre. It offers a wide spectrum of care to a discerning number of retirees requiring differing levels of care and support, with: • Residential, respite and short stay accommodation, including a newly available refurbished room • Specialist dementia care at The Mulberry Wing • Close Care Housing at The Mews, with adaptable levels of care and support available at the winner of ‘The Most Outstanding Extra Care Housing Design in the UK’ 2015, where a property is now available for resale This wide spectrum of superior facilities ensures that differing and changing needs can always be met without the need for a further move. A full and varied programme of activities and events is included within the fees, as are transport, therapies, wine and aperitifs, and transport with escorts to appointments. An exciting new sculpture park has opened in the grounds and will continue to expand in the future.

Nynehead Court, Nynehead, Wellington, TA21 0BW

Tel: 01823 662481 | email: |

Art and Craft workshops will continue throughout the Autumn. Nynehead Court hosts a variety of events in its grounds and Orangery during the year. Visit the Nynehead Court Facebook page for details of the programme.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 19



A Jersey for Ilfracombe Ilfracombe's Tea and Togs Art and Craft Café has been sponsored by the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon to design a fishing jersey or 'gansey' for the town. Ern Ley in a one-off jersey, Ilfracombe. Textile artist and proprietor of Tea and Togs, Alison Nicholson, says, "I now have five ladies signed up to design and knit our jersey for Ilfracombe. We all started under the watchful eye of Josie Simms from Appledore, who has been knitting them for as long as she can remember." Not only knitting ganseys, but also doing everything she can to promote the craft. Josie teamed up with author John Witlock on the publication of a booklet about the Appledore jersey entitled Prangs, Tacks and Frocks, where we learn that: It is widely believed that the knitting of Guernseys began in the Channel Islands but it is very difficult to prove that it began in any other coastal area... Nationally the garments themselves were not unique to any one region but the patterns on them were. The Appledore jersey, unlike the Guernseys and Ganseys of other major maritime counties in England and Scotland, was plain except for a heavy moss stitch across the shoulder. This was of functional use, of course, and for comfort when a man was carrying a mast and yard with its sail bent, a coil and two oars down over the beach. Ilfracombe has been found never to have had its own design, although some of the seamen did wear a cream jersey. Alison says, "We have decided that the design should incorporate key features of Ilfracombe such as the hills, cable (to signify ropes) and, possibly, a lantern." You can follow the project at: If you are interested in this area of our coastal history, you might like to read Fishing for History: North Devon Fishermen, their jerseys, their wives and their lives, a booklet which has been funded by the Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and edited by Karen Farrington, as part of the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon’s Fishing for History Project. It's an exploration of the history and significance of North Devon fishermen’s jerseys or frocks. It is available priced £5.99 from the museum shop, where you can also buy knitting packs (including jerseys and mittens) and the Prangs, Tacks and Frocks booklet, which includes the pattern. A pack of fishing songs has also been put together for local schools. Below: Appledore frocks in the making (Beaford Old Archive image © Beaford Arts) and wearing.

Boat Museum Opening The new Watchet Visitor Centre and repaired Boat Museum opened its doors to the public on 21 July. Open seven days a week, from 10am-5pm, the project is the first major capital build by community-led social enterprise Onion Collective CIC and represents one of a series of regeneration projects planned for the town. The building includes Town Council offices, and the main Visitor Centre area is flexible space, so it can be used as Town Council chambers when needed, as well as a space for community events, meetings and talks. Taxi company Cliff’s Cabs has its office based in the building and the Centre also includes retail space selling gifts and Watchet-branded items. Onion Collective Director Rachel Kelly says: “This project is very close to our hearts, it represents the beginning of a clear strategy to build on the enormous potential that Watchet has as a visitor destination. We aim to show visitors that they can spend the whole day exploring Watchet, and use it as a base to explore other local attractions in the area. It has been an exciting (and often challenging!) two years, and we are absolutely thrilled to be able to open the doors, talk to visitors and celebrate all the wonderful things Watchet has to offer.” Designed by architects Louise Crossman and Invisible Studio, the remit for the building was to provide a contemporary space that was sensitively attached to the old Boat Museum, which is still run by the Friends of the Flatner Association. The Museum building was originally designed by Brunel and started life as a goods shed, as the (then) terminus for the Bristol and Exeter Railway. The project has been funded by EDF’s Community Impact Mitigation Fund and the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, with a contribution to the build costs from Watchet Town Council for their new office space. Pictured: Onion Collective's Georgie Grant, Rachel Kelly, Jess Prendergast and Naomi Griffith (by Terry Walker).

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Traditional English Tea Rooms and Gardens Dogs Welcome

21 Fore Street, Dulverton, Somerset, TA22 9EX 01398 323 697

Rare Breed Middle White Pork Farmed on Exmoor a quality farm to fork product. Supplying the public, hotels, restaurants & caterers • Tel 01643 841160 Clear and effective legal advice to support you and your family.

Looking after your family, business and financial affairs whether in good times or more difficult times can throw up all sorts of challenges. Maitland Walker’s experienced lawyers can help you understand your options and give you realistic and practical legal advice. We draw on many years’ experience of working with farming families, and we offer free initial consultations and flexible appointments to suit you. Contact our specialists at:

22 The Parks 17 The Crescent Minehead Taunton Somerset Somerset TA24 8BT TA1 4EB t 01643 707777 t 01823 745 777 e

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FORESTRY & Woodland

Grown in Britain – on Exmoor! Exmoor boasts a rich woodland and forestry heritage. We have some of the most important native woodland in the country, ideal conditions for growing timber of the finest quality and value, and people with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage the resource to the highest standards. These virtues have long been recognised, but as we continue to try to promote the special qualities of Exmoor’s woodlands and the positive benefits of managing woodland and producing timber, one continuing challenge is finding the best ways to capitalise on this inherent quality, heritage and knowledge. “Quality will find its own market,” we are often told. This is perfectly true and people working with wood and timber have always taken great pride in working to the highest standards and trading on this. However, the global nature of the industry and strong competition from around the world or from mass-produced and synthetic products means that we need to actively and enthusiastically promote the benefits of home-grown timber more than ever to the public and consumers. Grown in Britain (GiB) came from the recommendations of the Independent Forestry Panel (which was established following the attempted sell-off of the Forestry Commission) which, in 2012, urged the government, woodland owners and businesses to work together to unlock the potential from British timber in their supply chains. Grown in Britain is a positive movement designed to help create a sustainable wood culture that connects people, businesses and organisations to our woods and forests and the important environment they provide for people, wildlife and the economy. With the backing of government, industry and many other organisations, including National Parks England, GiB was able to bring together a broad diversity of forest, woodland, societal, manufacturing and end-user interests to create a sustainable future for our woods and forests. The Grown in Britain brand identifies wood that has been grown in Britain and assured through a licensing scheme. It is a mark that shows where that timber has come from and provides assurance that it doesn’t just come from Britain but that the forests and woods are managed to the government’s UK Forestry and public procurement standards.

they have received since floating the idea of 'Grown in Britain on Exmoor.' Graeme McVittie, a conservation officer for ENPA, says, "We now have an active group of woodland owner members signed up, who between them manage 2,500ha of woodland – which is more than 25% of all the woodland in the National Park, with many more in the pipeline to join them. There is also strong interest from the many woodfuel and timber enterprises on and around Exmoor who see clear benefits in emphasising the provenance and quality of their products." The requirements for joining the local group, just as the national scheme, are that members need to be able to demonstrate sustainability, provenance and legality in the management of the woodlands and the sale of timber and products. Sustainability is demonstrated through a woodland management plan approved by the Forestry Commission. Provenance is demonstrated simply by proving geographical location within the scheme area; the Exmoor scheme covers an area beyond the National Park boundary to reflect the fact that woodlands and businesses inside and outside the park are dependent on one another. Legality is proven by showing the timber has been felled in compliance with Felling or Plant Health Regulations. Exmoor National Park Authority operates as a Group Manager and helps ensure members remain compliant with the requirements of the scheme. Graeme explains, "We do this because we believe that managed woodlands provide a greater range of social and environmental services than neglected woodlands, which in turn help to conserve the special landscape qualities of the National Park. "We hope the logo and the values of the scheme will become widely recognised and will, in due course, help to influence buying decisions. Seasoned hardwood logs, for example, marketed with the GiB on Exmoor logo will be understood to be a quality local product, helping to sustain the woods and the economy of Exmoor, or GiB-milled timber products will be sought after as beautiful, durable and high-quality sustainable products supporting the management of local woods." Look out for the Grown in Britain on Exmoor logo so that you can be sure you will be supporting local woods and businesses!

This is a difficult concept to attempt to improve on, but on Exmoor it was felt that we could go a step further! For all the admirable reasons stated above, it was felt that a brand that identified wood and wood products from Exmoor’s woodlands, and which recognised the high standards of management, would be of enormous benefit – and so the first GiB group scheme in the country was formed. 'Grown in Britain on Exmoor' seems to have had immediate resonance with woodland owners, processors and suppliers on Exmoor. The development of a local scheme to reinforce the benefits of a stronger woodland enterprise culture was a natural progression, and the members of the woodland team at Exmoor National Park Authority have been delighted with the support

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Left to right: Sir Harry Studholme, Forestry Commission Chairman; William Theed, Theed Forestry Estate; Adrian Theed, Theed Forestry Estate; Graeme McVittie MICFor, Exmoor National Park Conservation Officer Woodlands; Richard Milton, Exmoor Woodfuel Ltd; Andrew Harvey, Grown in Britain, Director; James Mason, ENPA Projects Officer (Steve Guscott/ENPA).

Senior School (11 - 18) Boarding and Day

Prep School (2½ - 11) Day

Open morning at 9.45am

Open afternoon at 1.30pm

Open Day Saturday 17 September

Giving pupils a love of learning and skills for life Please ring to reserve your place on 01884 252543 (Senior School) 01884 252393 (Prep School) or to arrange an individual visit


Beef, Pork & Lamb direct from the farm. Beef boxes, Half lamb, Half pig or mixed boxes in a range of sizes. Individual cuts available phone to discuss. Order by phone, website or from Farthings Farm Shop Local delivery & national mail order

We take pride in our stock that is raised and loved at Kendle Farm. Please take time to create divine dishes.

Pauline, Rob, Tim & Nicky Kendle Farm, Exmoor National Park

Dulverton, Exmoor National Park

01643 851 298 01398 323 878 E m a i l : s a l e s @ ke n d l e f a r m . c o . u k

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Abbie Westcott WORDS by Cindy Cowling PHOTOS ON THE FARM by Andrew Hobbs Cindy Cowling goes to talk with 21-year-old Abbie Westcott at her home at the foot of the Mineral Line, Chidgley, where she lives with her parents Julian and April Westcott who run a deer/livestock farm. Abbie and her sister Robyn had the sort of childhood many dream of: plenty of space, stunning countryside, ponies of their own to ride and helping their parents on the farm rearing red deer, cattle, sheep and owning their own herd of Exmoor ponies. Abbie latterly attended Wellington School where she was a keen sportswoman and especially enjoyed swimming. But things were about to change... Exmoor Autumn 2016 25



bbie begins, "It was in Year 11 just before my GCSEs when I fell ill. I had been out for the day to a local show and when I came home my legs really hurt. I went to bed hoping I would be better the next day, but unfortunately things were about to get a lot worse." Abbie’s condition became so serious she was unable to walk or eat and, at times, she struggled to keep water down. Abbie tells me, "I was admitted to hospital and initially they diagnosed ME and CFS before specialists decided it wasn’t those things, though they weren’t sure what it was. My condition caused extreme pain which, in turn, caused shaking and incoherent speech."

The next 12 months saw Abbie’s life change from a girl who played sport to a girl who was wheelchair-bound. "Several doctors, consultations, tests and examinations later I was diagnosed as having Lyme disease, which can be caused by a bite or contact with a tick. But by the time they diagnose the disease it is usually too late as it has manifested itself within the body." Abbie had various drugs and treatments to help but some had the reverse effect. She says, "A leading homeopath, Kim Coleman, whom my sister Robyn stayed with whilst working in Canada, made up a tablet for me, which helps a lot. "I received amazing support from Wellington School. They offered to put in wheelchair ramps and moved all my lessons from upstairs to down. They even offered to put in a lift if needed. But in the end I was too sick to attend school. My family, including my sister Robyn, were also incredibly supportive, helping me through my really low points." Abbie decided she wanted to do something for herself, which would give her a focus and so she purchased two young calves. "I bought two calves, Moomin and Limmie – a Limousin x British Friesian – and a Charolais x British Friesian, to hand rear. Some days all I could do was to sit with them and on the days when I couldn’t get out of bed, my family looked after them for me. "The symptoms and effects of Lyme disease vary from person to person and some people thought I just didn’t want to work or was lazy, which wasn’t true." Gradually, as the calves grew, so did Abbie’s strength. "I later bought my first show calf (Fire Cracker) and showed her at the South West Winter Fair at Sedgemoor Market where she gained third prize." With success under her belt, this whetted Abbie’s appetite for more. "I saw a beautiful cow, a British Blonde [this is the British version of the Blonde d'Aquitaine], at the show and wanted to buy one similar. So I purchased my first Blonde from farmer David Knight in Bristol. I also visited another farm in Worcester which has pedigree Blondes, so I could assess the cattle’s temperament and suitability. I picked out a couple of animals and, when they came up for sale, I bought them with the money I had saved from the sale of my earlier cattle." I asked Abbie why she liked the Blonde breed in particular. "I wanted to do my own cattle and apart from being a very attractive colour, Blondes have a good temperament, best ‘grading’ shape, calve and fatten easily and are cheaper than Limousin cattle. Plus they are just lovely cattle for me to handle and show." Just recently Abbie took her ‘Exmoor Blondes’ to the Devon County Show and won Champion Female and took the Reserve Breed Champion 2016! But she hasn't got time to rest on her laurels as her next plan is already being hatched: "I'm hoping to breed a homozygous polled Blonde bull to produce polled (cattle which won’t grow horns) animals which will save time and labour." Abbie also helps the Wooletts at Gupworthy with preparing their cattle for shows and showing. She says, "I still don’t know how well I am going to be, which means that having a ‘proper’ job is very difficult. I'm extremely grateful to the Woolett family who are incredibly understanding of my illness."

Top: 'Feeding time you say?' Above: Abbie with her boyfriend Edward Down who, she says, "has probably been the most supportive of everyone - through meeting him when I was first very ill to when I was attacked. Ed helps with everything... with the deer and cows whenever and wherever, and especially when I'm too sick to do it myself." In the back of the Land Rover is beloved Tootie, who Abbie raised by hand after she lost her mum. Sadly Tootie died on New Year's Day 2016, just a few months after this photo was taken. She is also pictured with Abbie on the previous page and opposite.

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There was a period when Abbie was unable to speak and so she began doing more photography. "I would take pictures when and where I could, as sitting still was about all I was able to do at times. From this flourished another business and Abbie is now the official photographer for the Exmoor Pony Festival and she also has her own website ( Day-to-day life now finds Abbie helping with her parents' herd of red deer which run in the valley below the farmhouse in summer and find shelter in the farm’s barns during colder months. Abbie says, "They calve around 29 May and finish by the end of June. My father introduced the deer here 30 years ago and we've bred them specifically and, crucially, for a good temperament and size and shape." At the beginning of September the antlers are removed from the large stags and prickets. The hard antlers are used for the stick market, dog chews or Chinese medicine, as well as furniture making. With the rut finished by the end of October, calves are weaned and come into the barns around the end of

Here: Abbie feeding the deer with Ebbie centre stage, making himself heard! Above right: Big Ears is the only recorded pure red deer hind in the world to grow an antler and breed! Right: Abbie with Booties – her first calf to be born on the farm, with sadly-missed Tootie keeping a close eye on her movements, as ever. December. "Deer can cope with rain and they can cope with cold but not the two together," explains Abbie. "We provide plenty of shelter and cover (bracken, fallen trees and nettles) in the fields. The hinds usually come in around January time. They eat silage and the youngstock have their diet supplemented with concentrates to help support their growth. In the spring they are turned out and they spend the summer at pasture and are really very little work." Many of the Westcotts' deer are sold as breeding animals to parks and such places. But some also go wholesale to an abattoir. Their meat is high in omega 3 and very low in cholesterol, so excellent ‘brain food’. The taste of farmed venison is also very different from the ‘gamey’ flavour of wild deer. I remember being told that a ram can be the most dangerous animal on a farm, so I asked the Abbie if deer are dangerous? "Our herd of red deer are the only ones in the country where you can walk in amongst them and they remain calm. When we select breeding females, we will never keep them if they kick, climb on other deer, look to jump out, or stick out their tongue and make a noise (a form of threat). When my father first handled the deer, he had 8ft-high wooden plywood handling pens, and they wore hard hats and leather suits over clothing for protection. Now the deer come to call and walk into the pen which is made up of conventional yard gates, with a smaller holding pen that we ‘invite’ them into, when we need to give treatments such as worm drenches. Deer are very intelligent creatures and they have a number of sounds or calls that they teach their young, such as, ‘Lie down’, ‘Come here’, ‘Danger', or ‘Run', and so on." But then Abbie recalls an incident when, having sold a young pricket for meat, they bought him back as a fully grown stag and de-antlered him. "He was beautiful," Abbie says, "but it was a massive mistake. I had been in to check the deer and everything was fine. I was walking back and then suddenly from nowhere he attacked. He was so fast and powerful, Robyn somehow got me out of the field whilst Dad kept him at bay with a tractor. The attack only took a few seconds but I was hospitalised with my injuries. If he’d had antlers, I probably wouldn’t be here today." This seems hard to imagine as Big Ears, a gorgeous hind, stands with me in the field, leaning in and craning her head, so I can gently rub her attentive ears that crown her elegant, elongated head. Being amongst such tame deer is an unforgettable experience. I would like to thank Abbie, a brave young lady, and wish her every success with her Blonde cattle, and all the very best for her future.

Above: Abbie with Doncombe Josephine. She won Champion Female and Reserve Champion of Breed (British Blondes) at Devon County Show, 2016.

Above: Junior Heifer Doncombe Lily-Rose at The Royal Bath & West Show, 2016. She won Reserve Champion Female and Reserve Champion of Breed (British Blondes). Abbie says, "The Champion of Breed went on to be Reserve Interbreed of the show, so to lose to her is an honour. We are just elated! (Show photos courtesy Jaysphotos.)

Exmoor Autumn 2016 27



he 1979 booklet, The Changing Face of Devon, showed that more than 6,000 acres of orchards had been lost since 1905. The loss of commercial orchards continues, but in parts of Devon, thanks to efforts by Orchards Live, Orchard Link, Common Ground and others, traditional farm orchards (mainly cider orchards) are being saved and replanted. These orchards are of tall, well-spaced trees, grazed beneath by sheep or cattle, with wonderfully-named varieties, such as Slack-Ma-Girdle, Fair Maid of Devon, Cider Lady’s Finger, Cat’s Head and Devonshire Nine Square.

28 Exmoor Autumn 2016

North Devon's Cider Tradition WORDS by Melanie Terrell, Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon BEAFORD ARCHIVE PHOTOS by James Ravilious Until about 100 years ago almost every farm in North Devon, no matter how small, would include its own orchard and make its own cider. The consumption of cider amongst the rural labouring population was great, and cider making contributed a substantial part of the farmer’s livelihood. Labourers’ wages were also part paid in cider, and although the proportion varied, it could constitute anything up to a fifth of their total income. Everyone would hope for a good apple harvest in October, and all the farm employees would take part in the cider making.

As the season doth advance Your apples for to gather, I bid you catch the chance To pick them in fine weather. O the jovial days when the apple trees do bear, We'll drink and be merry all the gladsome year. When to a pummy ground You squeeze out all the juice, Sir, Then fill a cask well bound And set it by for use, Sir, Oh, let the cider flow In ploughing and in sowing – The healthiest drink I know, In reaping and in mowing. O the jovial days … Anon., Tiverton*

The origin of cider has never been traced with certainty, but when the Romans invaded England (55BC-AD43), native Britons in Kent were found to be making cider from the local crab apples. The first documentary evidence of English cider making dates from 1205, during the reign of King John, although the Devonshire Domesday contains no reference to orchards. Following the Norman Conquest, improved varieties of apples were introduced from France, which included the Costard. Orchards were developed within the grounds of monasteries and new varieties were raised by cross-pollination. By the thirteenth century, the Costard variety was being grown in many parts of England and sellers of this apple were known as ‘costardmongers’, hence the word 'costermonger'. At this time cider became valued

as a safer drink than water and became used as a means of paying farm workers. By the time of the English Civil War, cider making was flourishing, with Devonshire orchards growing in number and producing fine crops. The great days of English cider making came after the middle of the seventeenth century. Apples and presses appear frequently in inventories at this time and a renewed interest in science produced a stream of books and pamphlets on fruit culture and cider making, the most famous of which was John Evelyn’s essay, 'Pomona', published in 1664. It was also at this time that Worlidge invented the prototype of the modern apple mill. The eighteenth century saw extensive plantings of apple trees, and cider production was substantial. In 1724 the apple crop in Devon was the greatest in living memory. There were key developments in technology such as in-bottle fermentation, and cider was even taken to the new colonies. As farming turned increasingly to corn, the distillation of grain and the popularity of drinking cheap gin reduced the demand for cider. Among the 'better classes', wine came into fashion, and cider, bought by the middlemen and adulterated for the towns, fell into disrepute. In 1763 Lord Bute’s government imposed a tax of four shillings per hogshead on cider (about 25%) to finance the Seven Years War. This caused enormous protests in Devon and a committee was appointed ‘to superintend the application for the repeal of the duty’. The tax was

repealed in 1766. All pubs sold rough, locally-made cider and cider houses were common – in ‘unsquired’ parishes there could be many! The Industrial Revolution led to a migration away from rural areas to the growing towns and cities and agriculture entered a period of depression. But in the late 1890s a few individuals in the cider-making areas, concerned that the art might be lost forever, took up the cause. In Parliament, Radcliffe-Cooke gave the subject much publicity and became known as the 'Member for Cider’. While a challenging economic climate has resulted in rather flat sales for many alcohol sectors in the UK today, new research from Mintel reveals that there is one sector which has put some fizz into the consumer marketplace and is ripe for further development – cider! Some 60% of adults now drink it today! A good deal of cider was and still is made by small farm producers throughout the West Country, using more or less traditional methods, and this amount is steadily increasing. Cider history in Devon Farm cider was made each autumn from fruit grown in the farm’s own orchard, to be drunk by the farm labour force during the following year, especially in the busy times of haymaking and harvest. Cider was not normally a cash crop, although farmers used to sell cider to local pubs, and cider merchants bought more for sale in the towns, and to ward off scurvy in sailors.

Facing page: 'Men using apple crusher, Hacknell, Burrington, December 1975'. This page, from top: 'Ronnie Huxtable picking apples, Venn, Harracott'; two photographs captioned as 'Filling sacks with apples, Westpark Farm, Iddesleigh, November 1986'; 'Pressing cider, Spittle, Chulmleigh, October 1987'. All by James Ravilious © Beaford Arts, digitally scanned from a Beaford Archive negative.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 29

Taste of Exmoor In A View of Devonshire in 1630: With a Pedigree of Most of its Gentry (published 1845), Thomas Westcote described cider as, “A drink both pleasant and healthy, much desired of seamen for long southern voyages as more fit to make beverage than beer, and much cheaper to be had than wine.” John Evelyn, writing in the late-seventeenth century, had agreed: “Generally all strong and pleasant cider excites and cleanses the stomach, strengthens digestion, and infallibly frees the kidneys and bladder from breeding gravel and stone. Labouring people where it is drank affirm that they are more strengthened for hard work by such cider than by the very best beer.” Cider's popularity with sailors may be accounted for by its ‘antiscorbutic’ properties. Dr Huxton, who had considerable experience of scurvy in Plymouth in the early-eighteenth century, spoke very highly of the use of apples and of cider in the treatment of the condition and stated that he had seen many severe cases entirely cured by the use of these alone. He also added that several captains of ships carried cider with them even to the East Indies. Cider was supplied to ships in Bristol harbour and was regularly shipped by sea from Devon to London, often to be adulterated and sold as imported wine. At one time it was popularly believed that cider caused madness, a belief which probably derived from the outbreak of 'Devonshire Colic' in the mid-eighteenth century, as illustrated by a Devon farm labourers' song:

Hard cider as much as you please, Loose your teeth and bow your knees Sow your gut and make you wheeze Turn your words to stings of bees Thin your blood and kill your fleas Hard cider as much as you please. The 'Devonshire Colic' was, in fact, caused by drinking cider made in lead presses. “There is no more wholesome drink than pure cider and from its composition it is eminently adapted to the other food of [the] Devonshire Labourer,” was Dr Christian Budd’s proclaimed belief after studying the subject in the late-nineteenth century. Cider drinking was widely supposed to promote longevity, as this chorus from a Devonshire cider-drinking song shows: I were brought up on cider And I be a hundred and two But still that be nuthin' when you come to think Me father and mother be still in the pink And they were brought up on cider Of the rare old Tavistock brew And me Granfer drinks quarts For he's one of the sports That were brought up on cider too. The wholesomeness of cider, which is mainly due to the malic acid contained in apples, was a major factor in its revival in popularity at the beginning of the twentieth century. This was summarised in a paper by Mr Radcliffe Cook that was widely circulated at the time. He wrote: "Regular drinkers

Top: Bill Hammond making cider, Rashleigh Mill, Chulmleigh, October 1988. Centre and bottom: Albert and John Eastman making farm cider, Hacknell, Burrington, December 1975. All by James Ravilious © Beaford Arts, digitally scanned from a Beaford Archive negative.

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Taste of Exmoor of cider are practically exempt from many distressing maladies. They are not subject to gravel or stone. They enjoy immunity from disorders of a choleric nature. Many continental doctors are now prescribing cider for gout and rheumatism." Apples used in cider making Cider is seldom made from one sort of apple only. Usually it is a blend of several, showing the great importance in determining the flavour of the cider produced.

Lead apple tree tags, late 1800s/early 1900s. (Courtesy Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon.)

In his 1676 ‘Treatise of Cider’, J. Worlidge wrote: “There is no fruit growing in England more useful or profitable than the Apple: whereof there are many sorts. Observe that Cyder Fruit may be divided into three Classes. First, such as are for making early Cyder, or for present Drinking, as the Codling and Summer Fruits, etc. Secondly, such that are for making the best, rich, oyly, ipicy, poignant, and high relished Cyder, and also long keeping and lasting, such as the Redstreak, Bromsberry Crab etc. Thirdly, such that are useful Fruit for the Table, yet making a very pleasant and acceptable Cyder, and such are the Pippins and Pearmains etc. Generally all hard Apples and Wildings, having a lively, pert, poignant, brisk juice (so that they come not too near the degree of stark Crabs) make excellent Cyder.”

Scrumpy Scrumpy was cider originally made in the West Country, and was traditionally a rough, cloudy and unsophisticated cider. Originally made from windfalls (scrumps), it tended to be stronger in alcohol and more tannic than most ciders. Scrumpy can be dry or sweet, and is usually still rather than carbonated. Due to its traditional methods of production, it is usually very pulpy, and often cloudy in appearance. It is produced by pulping and pressing apples, and then sealing the fermenting juice for a few months in a vessel with a special lid to regulate the pressure. There are many doubtful stories of cider makers throwing legs of beef or other meat into the cider vats to give strength to the brew, and it was said that if a rat, or a cat, or indeed the farmer himself, happened to fall into the vat of fermenting liquor nothing would be left of him except, in the farmer's case, his buttons. Today the term ‘scrumpy’ is used to distinguish traditional, locally-made ciders from mass-produced, branded ciders. It can mean the finest cider, made from selected apples, slowly fermented and matured for longer than ordinary ciders. Payment in Cider Normally every countryside labourer was given a daily allowance of cider. This was accepted as being part of his weekly wage, often called ‘truck’. The daily ration was about half a gallon (2-3 litres), served out from the big barrels in the farm cider house into individual small wooden bottles, made in the same way as casks, known as firkins in the West Country. Each labourer also had a drinking

cup, holding less than a quarter of a pint (0.1 litre), made from a cow’s horn. Men were rated by the amount they consumed; one comment was that a twogallon-a-day man was worth the extra he drank! Despite often doing a very strenuous day’s work, the quantities of drink some of these men consumed were prodigious by today’s standards. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, a campaign to stop payment in the form of alcohol brought about the addition of a clause to the Truck Act of 1887 prohibiting this wage. An interesting addition to the Wage Bill for 27 May 1897 at the Barnstaple pottery, C.H. Brannam, is “Cider 4 shillings” (20p); entered against the Clay Pits Wages this must have represented a sizeable amount of cider in those days – if the two workers there drank the lot, we can only assume that clay-digging was thirsty work. Rural life changed profoundly between 1880 and 1914. In some counties Temperance Societies were actively campaigning against the supplying of beer and cider. A mass meeting of farmers in 1901 appealed to the Home Secretary against the application of the Truck Acts in relation to supplying cider to farm workers. There had been a number of convictions for the giving of cider as part payment of wages. The appeal had little effect, however, and from this period, the custom of a daily cider allowance died out, finally becoming illegal in 1917. Harvest jugs As a reward for the hard work of their labourers, the farmers would lay on a harvest supper – with plenty of the farm’s own cider on the menu. It was important to have good cider, as this attracted the best

harvest workers. North Devon potters developed special decorated pots, including harvest jugs and puzzle jugs, to aid the celebrations. The technique of incised slipware decoration is known

Harvest jug, c.1760, in the Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon archive.

Nick Juniper of Bideford Pottery decorating a harvest jug using the sgraffito technique. as sgraffito, from the Italian for ‘scratched’, decoration. The dried, reddish-coloured body is coated with a pale-coloured slip, and rhymes and illustrations are scratched through to reveal the darker clay underneath. Come fill me Full and Drinkie A bout and Never Leave till all is out And if that will not make you merry fill me again and sing down Derry 1766

Exmoor Autumn 2016 31

Left to right: Loading apples for crushing, pressing and filling the casks – all at Hancocks, c.1970s. As earthenware remains porous after firing, it is then covered with a transparent glaze or a glaze stained with metal oxides. Today Harry Juniper and his son Nick continue the North Devon tradition of harvest wares at the Bideford Pottery. Harry, who has been a potter for almost 70 years, is now based in Butcher’s Row, whilst Nick, who joined the family business in 2002, works from the Ropewalk Gallery in the town of Bideford. Their work is highly sought after and both potters are especially noted for their elaborately sgraffito decorated harvest jugs, many of which are made for commission and sell all over the world. Customs & Beliefs A good apple crop was considered to be of great importance and orchard wassailing became one of the most important events of the year in cider counties. The word wassail is derived from “waes hael”, an Anglo Saxon custom, in which local people, animals and crops were wished good health for the coming year. This took place on 6 January, Twelfth Night or 17 January – Old Twelthie Night – before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1752. The actual form of the ceremony varied, but usually involved drinking the health of trees in the orchards to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the

32 Exmoor Autumn 2016

autumn and making a loud noise to chase away the evil spirits, often by firing shotguns into the trees. Cider was also poured over the tree roots before the ceremony was repeated at the next tree. In a Devonshire version, written down in 1876, it was the custom to hoist a small boy into the tree to perch on a branch. He was ‘Tom Tit’ and had to cry ‘Tit, Tit, more to eat’, upon which cider-soaked toast and pieces of cheese were handed up to him. Rhymes sung at wassailing varied too. This is a Devon rhyme from the nineteenth century: Apple-tree, apple-tree, Bear good fruit, Or down with your top And up with your root. Whilst the ceremony of wassailing the apple trees has now almost died out, it still survives in a few villages such as Carhampton in West Somerset and with some cider producers, such as Ostlers Cider Mill in North Devon. In the Taw Valley around Eggesford and Burrington the Frankun or Franklin days (19, 20 and 21 May) were once regarded as a vital period for the apple crop. According to one version of events found in Fraser’s Magazine in the early 1870s, a brewer named Franklin found that cider was 'running his ale very hard' and vowed his soul to the Devil on condition that the latter would

send three frosts in May annually, and thus cut off the apple blossom. North Devon Ciders There are many small-scale cider producers in North Devon. Two of the most well-established on the outskirts of Exmoor are Hancocks Devon Cider and Ostlers Cider Mill. Originally started by John Hancock in Victorian times, Hancocks has now been based at Clapworthy Mill for over 50 years. Currently run by Helen Hancock and her father Norman, the family has been making cider in traditional ways, to family recipes and using skills handed down over five generations. At times, Hancocks Devon Cider has been a serious player in the cider industry, at one time pressing for Whiteways Cider. All the apples used come from Devon, most from local farmers, with the mill pressing about 5,000 gallons a year, roughly 35 tons of apples. Their sweet, medium and dry brews were joined in 2008 by Molton Sunshine and Molton Nectar – ciders made from apples within a three-mile radius of Clapworthy Mill. The family is certainly very proud to be maintaining the art of traditional Devon cider making and this was recognised in 2009 when its dry cider won a silver medal at the Taste of The West event.

Ostlers Cider Mill is family run, and is one of only a few traditional cider orchards left in Devon that grows and hand picks its own apples on site in order to make cider and vinegar – the result of an accident when a lid came off one of the tanks. Peter Hartnoll bought the land in Goodleigh in 1990, planting four acres with half standard cider apple trees – growing Michelins, Browns and Debretts, which are a good combination of apple types to make cider. In 2009 his daughter Rebekah Paterson and her two children joined him. Ostlers is one of the few orchards where the whole process is done naturally. It takes one year to make cider, and then a further three years to make the vinegar; it is a process of continual tasting and blending, and checking on the fermentation. In 2015 Ostlers was awarded the Green Apple Award trophy for Environmental Best Practice. Today it has a very busy online presence with a large website, and eBay and Amazon shops. It has also moved into the wholesale market and distributes throughout the UK.

Footnote (see page 28*) “The Apple Tree”, extract of a song taken from A book of the West; being an introduction to Devon and Cornwall by S. Baring-Gould, 1899.


place to hang out Discovering beautiful locations to create lifelong memories. Because favourite holidays start with the perfect cottage.

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ecret Orchard is an apt name for the two ciders produced by old friends Joe Heley and Todd Studley (left and right respectively in photo opposite) in a former stable at Nettlecombe Court, near Monksilver. This gorgeous bucolic spot is well hidden and takes the breath away on first sighting; it’s the sort of spot you imagine discovering quite by chance and then never finding again.


Secret Orchard

This photo courtesy Andrew Hobbs

Adrian Tierney Jones visits Secret Orchard two years on from Exmoor Magazine's first visit, back in autumn 2014, to see how things have gone for Joe and Todd's young venture...

The Court sits proud and ancient in the combe with its old church alongside, while sturdy and venerable oaks stand sentinel-like across the parkland. As I arrive, Joe emerges through an imposing gatehouse, through which I follow him into a courtyard. Then it’s to the stable where the apples he and Todd pick meet their destiny during the cider-making season from September to November. We talk cider for a bit and then he asks "Would you like to see the secret orchard?" So I follow him to an old kitchen garden, just around the corner, which reputedly goes back to the sixteenth century (Nettlecombe Court has its roots in the eleventh century, so I’m in the midst of a lot of history). Here, and in an adjoining orchard (also well-hidden from view), there are at least 120 apple trees producing the luscious fruits that make Secret Orchard ciders so delicious. As if to underscore the rurality of the scene, a couple of geese waddle away when we go through the gate, while a proud rooster crows as if morning had just broken. His brood of hens cluck about us, nonplussed by our entrance. "We get our apples from the two orchards here," says Dunster-born Joe, "but also advertise in the West Somerset Free Press for apples and pay

34 Exmoor Autumn 2016

people back in cider. We have some good varieties here, including Crimson King, Red Streak and Kingston Black." The result of these endeavours can be enjoyed in Secret Orchard’s 2015 vintages, Dry and Sweet. Both of them gleam with a golden sheen when poured into the glass and possess a gentle carbonation. The Dry has plenty of apple and cinnamon on the nose, with a hint of caramel and further apple on the palate. The finish is appetisingly dry. The nose of the Sweet has a hint of apple crumble with cinnamon, plus a farmyard-like earthiness. It’s not overly sweet on the palate, has hints of caramel and Demerara sugar, with a juicy dry finish that also features a gossamer-like note of lingering sweetness. These are fine and elegant ciders, which at 6.5% are a far cry from the boozy rough and tumble often found in West Country farmhouse ciders. Joe and Todd have come a long way in a short time. They only started making cider in 2013 and although it is not full-time work for either of them, Joe says, he would love it to go that way. For the moment though, he works four days as a gardener and then spends Friday and Saturday on cider business, while Todd teaches in a catering college in Cornwall, though he always comes back when it’s time to make cider. "I'd never considered making cider before," says the softlyspoken Joe, who has an air of surfer dude about him, "but during the cider boom when Magners became popular I began to get into bottled cider. At the time I was working with a tree surgeon and we were in an orchard of this old boy who said that the apples were his retirement. That was when plans started to form in my head.

"I then met Tommy, whose family owns the Nettlecombe estate, at a dinner party and I told him about my dream of making cider. He said that he had an orchard and invited me to have a look. He gave us a chance and we are trying to make something of it." There are no shortcuts to making Secret Orchard’s cider. It is 100% apple juice with fermentation being kicked off by wild yeast. Each variety of apples is pressed separately and then fermented, with juices tasted separately; blending then takes place until the duo are happy with the finished product. There are no wooden barrels at the moment though Joe says, "That is not to say they won’t be used in the future". Both the ciders are available in bottles (the labels, designed by Carl Lewis, are gorgeous art-nouveau style, inspired by Czech Art Nouveau pioneer Alphonse Mucha) as well as bag-in-box. Watchet’s award-winning cider pub Pebbles Tavern also has Secret Orchard’s ciders on draught. At the time of taking on Secret Orchard, Pebbles’ Ben Allen (above, centre) was quoted as saying: "It’s a delicious cider with great local provenance. I know that Joe and Todd work really hard to maintain quality and consistency, and I’m pleased to be able to support small-batch cider makers like these guys."

Given that the name Nettlecombe refers to the surfeit of nettles in the area, it comes as no surprise that a nettle cider is planned; they are also mulling over making a wheat beer cider. However, one thing is certain, Secret Orchard will not be going down the sweet fruitflavoured route, which seems so popular with big cider makers at the moment. After all, if you look at their website you will see the two friends’ mission statement: ‘create the most remarkable and complex ciders through the simplest means possible’. I think they’re well on their way to succeeding.

CAMRA Somerset Branch Cider Pub of the Year 2014, 2015 & 2016! Find us on facebook, twitter & tripadvisor

24 Market Street, Watchet, TA23 0AN

tel. 01984 634737

Traditional home-cooked meals with ‘weekly specials’, vegetarian and light snacks. Sunday & Wednesday Carvery lunch and evening meal times.

This old coaching inn is situated at Wheddon Cross, the highest village on Exmoor. We pride ourselves on our high standards of service and accommodation which is full of olde world charm and friendly hospitality.

Comprehensive wine list.

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01643 841222

STOP PRESS! After this article had been compiled, Joe and Todd were delighted to tell us that Secret Orchard had won a Silver Medal in the Dry Cider category at The British Cider Championships – the biggest cider competition in Europe – which took place at The Royal Bath & West Show in June.

As for the future, as well as attempting to become full-time cider makers, there are plans to branch out in the kinds of ciders made.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 35

THE COACH HOUSE ADVERTORIAL AUTUMMN 3.pdf 1 21/06/2016 16:49:34





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Family parties


Experience a real taste of the country Clavelshay Barn Restaurant offers unspoilt idyllic surroundings and serving quality local produce. The restaurant is within easy reach of Taunton, Bridgwater and the M5, set in a converted barn on a working dairy farm, nestled in its own secluded valley. See details of our ongoing food and craft workshops on our website

Wheelchair access Clavelshay • North Petherton TA6 6PJ Contact Sue Milverton Tel. 01278 662629 e-mail

36 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Kentisbury Grange, Kentisbury, Barnstaple, North Devon EX31 4NL | 01271 882 295


From Clavelshay Barn WITH CHEF Olivier Certain

Chicken Liver Parfait


Preparation time: 30 minutes (and the livers need to soak overnight) Cooking time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours

Perfect for a party (20 portions)

1kg chicken livers 1kg melted butter 2 whole eggs 1 extra egg yolk pinch salt Port & Madeira reduction (half a bottle of each, with sweated shallots, thyme and a bay leaf added, then reduced by a third) seasoning and pink salt METHOD Soak the chicken livers overnight. The next day, drain the livers and sprinkle them with pink salt. Melt the butter gently. Liquidise the chicken livers with the melted butter. Add the reduction and keep mixing. Add eggs, extra yolk and seasoning. Strain and pour into terrine moulds. Cook in a bain marie at 110°C for 45 minutes or until the probed temperature is over 68°C. Cool in the fridge for at least 24 hours (freeze what you don't need).

Serves 4-6

FOR THE SOUP 50ml extra virgin olive oil 4 garlic cloves 2 onions 6 tomatoes, chopped 1 litre passata 1 leek (white) 2 carrots zest of 2 oranges, 2 lemons and 2 limes 4 star anise 1 lemongrass stalk fresh ginger (small amount) bouquet garni pinch of saffron pastis (optional) 500g fish carcasses (such as mullet, gurnard, etc.) whiting, etc. 2 litres of cold water 200ml white wine FISH TO GARNISH 1 piece of scorpion fish or red gurnard 1 piece of monkfish 1 piece of bream or John Dory 1 piece of red snapper 1 piece of red mullet Tiny pieces of crab (optional)

METHOD Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the garlic and onions over a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the fish carcasses, cook for 5 minutes, add the pastis and reduce. Add the tomatoes, white wine and reduce more. Add the passata, saffron and water and cook on a high heat for 10 minutes. Skim off the scum, blitz the soup, season and pass through a sieve. Take the pieces of fish (listed under to garnish) one by one in the order as listed in the ingredients (as some cook more quickly than others) and poach them in turn in a little of the fish soup. We serve this dish with croutes, rouille, grated Gruyère cheese and saffron potatoes but it goes equally well with crusty bread!

Exmoor Autumn 2016 37


Chocolate Delice

Perfect for a party (12 portions) Preparation time: 40 minutes 280ml milk 650ml double cream 4 eggs 680g dark chocolate 1tbsp Nutella 3tbsp praline paste

Crispy Confit of Creedy Carver Duck with Braised Puy Lentils and Pancetta Serves 4

Confit duck is a classic dish from South West France. The legs are marinated in salt with spices which will change their flavour and texture. They are then cooked slowly in duck fat or goose fat. We use free range ducks from Creedy Carver in Devon. Preparation time: 40 minutes (and the legs need to marinate overnight) Cooking time: 3 hours FOR THE Confit Duck Legs 4 duck legs 30g Cornish sea salt 4 garlic cloves 4 bay leaves 1kg duck fat, melted 2 sprigs thyme 2 sprigs rosemary 10 peppercorns 2 star anise 2 juniper berries FOR THE LENTILS 3tbsp olive oil 2 onions or shallots (chopped) 1 large carrot (diced) 100g pancetta (sliced into lardons) 1 celery stalk (diced) 250g Puy lentils, soaked overnight and rinsed 1 sprig thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf, tied together with string 150ml brown chicken stock 10ml sherry vinegar salt and pepper

38 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Method To cure the duck legs, lay them out on a tray, flesh side up, and sprinkle the salt over them, add all the spices then cover in clingfilm and refrigerate overnight. The next day, rinse the marinade off and dry the legs. To confit the duck legs: preheat the oven to 160°C, put the legs into a large pan and cover them with melted duck fat, bringing them just to simmering point. Put them uncovered in the oven for 2.5 hours, until the legs are tender. Then leave them to cool in the fat. You can keep them in fat in the fridge until they are needed (and they will be better preserved this way). Next, prepare the Puy lentils. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the shallots, carrot, pancetta and celery and cook, stirring for about 3.5 minutes until the vegetables are softer. Add the drained lentils, stir to coat them in oil and then add the herbs. Add a splash of sherry vinegar and reduce – add the hot stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the lentils are tender. To finish the duck legs, take them out of the duck fat, put them skin side down in a non-stick pan, and crisp and colour them for about 5 minutes. Place a duck leg on a warmed portion of lentils for each person, and serve with a Madeira or Port sauce.

METHOD Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream just to the boil. Slowly pour onto the eggs, whisking all the time. Add the chocolate, praline paste and Nutella and stir until smooth. Leave to set in the fridge overnight (and you can freeze what you don't use).

Damson Vodka

Try this for a change instead of sloe gin – delicious ! 1 litre of vodka 1kg damsons, washed 500g sugar METHOD Prick each damson several times with a pin and transfer to a large kilner jar. Add the sugar and pour in the vodka. Seal and leave in a cool place, away from direct sunlight. Every week or so, turn the jar upside down and back again. After 6 months, strain the liquid through several layers of muslin, then bottle and seal tightly.

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On display we have a range of pine & oak furniture, kitchen wares, gifts of all types & Gardman garden must haves, logs, briquettes, coal, kindling and a range of slate. Qualified engineers to advise & assist on Purchase & Installation. Opening times: Mon-Fri 9.00am-5.00pm, Saturday 10.00am-4.00pm, Sunday & Bank Holidays-Closed.

Lucy Lou's Welcome to my shop where I stock a variety of Gifts, Kitchen Ware, Country Clothing, Footware and Hardware. Please feel free to 'pop in' and browse Stockist of: Heyland & Whittle, Steiff, Gisela Graham, Dartington Crystal, Bronte and many more.

Fourwinds, Shillingford, Nr Bampton, Tiverton, Devon EX16 9AU Tel: 01398 332015 • Fax: 01398 332177 Email: •

1 Brook Street, Bampton, Devon Telephone: 01398 332831


Unit 1, Fourwinds, Shillingford, Bampton, Devon Telephone: 01398 331104 Fax: 01398 332177 Email:

ALL WORK FULLY GUARANTEED Extensions • Renovations • Barn Conversions Plumbing/Heating and Electrical Installations Oil and Gas Servicing


Black Venus Inn

Liz, Marc and family welcome you to the Black Venus Inn, situated in the beautiful village of Challacombe, on Exmoor. Historic 16th century beamed Inn Excellent home made food using local produce Food served seven days a week throughout the year Beer garden and large car park Open all day during school holidays Challacombe, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 4TT

So much more than just Cheese! 79 South Street, South Molton, North Devon, EX36 4AG

t: 01769 572664 e:

Tel 01598 763251

Charlie Friday’s 'BEST CAFE IN NORTH DEVON' 2015

Open 7 days a week from 10am For our latest great reviews and updates check out our Facebook and Instagram. Find us down Church Steps in lovely Lynton, where we have great music playing, direct-trade coffee flowing, fabulous food & treats for all the family! We love dogs and little people!

The Blue Ball Inn The Blue Ball Inn is a Cask Marque, truly dog friendly, 14th century, traditional Inn, which is located in the heart of the Walking and Hiking capital of the UK. The Inn has 16 en-suite bedrooms and a fine and growing reputation for providing real ale, fine wines and excellent food served all day. Located on Countisbury Hill close to the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth and the Doone Valley the Inn has ample parking for both guests and visitiors. Opening Hours: 11:00am to 11:00pm 07854 434 853

Miller's at the Anchor For over 200 years the Anchor has served Porlock Weir's 15th century harbour for sailors, walkers and huntsmen alike. Where Exmoor meets the sea, Porlock Weir is an idyllic working harbour with stunning coastal views. Martin Miller together with his daughter Tanya have created a hunting lodge by the sea. This 14-bedroom hotel is crammed with Martin's antiques and curiosities. The Anchor has all the hallmarks of his unique style. Roaring log fires, candlelit sensuality, books by the thousand and bowls of fruit and sweets, all washed down with a Millers award winning Gin and tonic. Our Harbourview restaurant over looking the harbour serves the highest quality food with truly local produce. whilst the Pizzaria serves home made sour dough Pizzas.

The Blue Ball Inn, Countisbury, Lynmouth, Devon EX35 6NE 01598 741263

40 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Porlock Weir, Near Minehead, Somerset TA24 8PB T. 01643 862753


o find Charlie Friday’s Coffee Shop, just look out for a dog owner being taken, at speed, towards Church Steps, Lynton, whereby the dog will then duck into a quirky café where he knows he will be fed treats and be fussed over by the staff. The welcome is warm, be it for two legs or four. A small, unobtrusive play area scattered with tiny chairs and beanbags, invites small children to play with the coffee shop's soft toys or colouring books and crayons. A mum herself to seven-year-old Poppy, who enjoys talking (when allowed) to the customers, owner Anna is very well aware of children’s needs. If adults want to play, there is a guitar for any budding musicians, or plenty of ‘doodle books’, knitting needles and wool so that a square can be knitted whilst visiting walkers discuss their walk or plan their next route. The quirkiness of the décor is immediately apparent. I thought it looked a little French with its happy mismatch of colourwashed wooden chairs and tables, then, as I looked around and noticed the colourful, sometimes sparkling collages made from sea shells and feathers and various other materials that tied in beautifully with the colour scheme, ‘hippy’ came to mind. I later learned that these were created by Exeter artist, Sonia Kemp. Even the name is intriguing: ‘Charlie’ being a previous owner’s camper van and ‘Friday’ her dog.


Charlie Friday's WORDS by Elaine Pearce PHOTOS by Graham Young

Young, bubbly Anna Wellings came originally from Surrey. She and her family were frequent visitors to the café when it belonged to Jackie Traufter. Anna was then invited to work for Jackie and, after a very enjoyable year, it seemed a natural progression that when Jackie returned to her home in Jersey, 26-year-old Anna (after much persuasion and encouragement from her family) should buy the business; and so it was, on Valentine’s Day 2015, that Charlie Friday’s reopened under new ownership. The atmosphere is buzzing, be it from excited holidaymakers or the locals catching up on local news, with staff and customers mingling happily. Charlie Friday’s was recently named ‘Best Café in North Devon’ by the North Devon Journal, having been entered for the competition by a member of staff. They were shortlisted to the top three by public vote. Then came an agonising four months during which the judge or judges could visit at any time. Of course, neither Anna nor her staff knew who they were, so every customer could be a potential judge – they revealed themselves at the end of their visit! When that eventually happened, Anna, for some reason, found herself saying, "Thank goodness for that: now I can stop being nice to everybody!" Fortunately the judge found the remark highly amusing and, of course, Anna is delightful to everyone! The awards ceremony was held at The Barnstaple Hotel where she and her team – Rowan, Holly and Kat – had a very enjoyable meal. Anna does all the baking herself and Kat is known for her celebration cakes, one of which is always on display. The curries and soups are also made by Anna, with not a ready-made sauce (or ready-made anything for that matter) in sight, as all is cooked with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. The bread, soups and curries are gluten free, as are some of the cakes. I could easily have been tempted by the sweet potato and spinach curry or the mushroom and garlic soup.

As it happened, I enjoyed a light and tasty gluten-free crunchy apple and cinnamon slice. What a change for us gluten-free folk who often have to endure the endless choice of (commonly heavy) chocolate brownies. With it I had a spiced chai flavoured with cinnamon and made with soya milk. Had I been a coffee buff the choice was endless, as was the list of herbal teas. Amongst the bottled cold drinks was dandelion and burdock, cola, ginger beer or a selection of drinks from Bottlegreen. The cream teas are fun too, with an innovative choice of a Super Chocolate Cream Tea. This is a choc-chip scone with clotted cream and Nutella and has proved to be very popular with adults and children alike! Children can have whatever they fancy but in smaller portions. Generally people very much like putting their own Waffle Stacks together, be it savoury or sweet; and if the tooth is sweet then an Italian desert called Affogato should be the right fix as it contains two scoops of ice-cream and two shots of coffee with squirty cream on the top! Locals and holidaymakers get equal attention. The best compliment Anna can have is local support and this, she tells me, is massive: "Lynton is a very special place and the café demonstrates what a wonderful community we have." Charlie Friday's is open 10am-5pm (later hours in the summer on Fridays and Saturdays); tel: 07544 123324.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 41

great escapes


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work & play

01598 763230 HEDDON VALLEY • EXMOOR • DEVON • EX31 4PY


Gorgeous cottages and contemporary apartments in stunning locations throughout North Devon and Exmoor.

01271 813777 42 Exmoor Autumn 2016





Holidays Past

LOUISE REYNOLDS, HERITAGE OFFICER for the LYNMOUTH PAVILION PROJECT relays some of the memories which have been shared with the team for the Holidays Past project...


he idea for a Holidays Past project, as part of the wider, three-year Lynmouth Pavilion Project, was first inspired by a chance conversation with a local B&B owner. They told us they had a couple staying with them for their 61st annual visit, who had returned to Lynton for their anniversary every single year since their honeymoon. Myself and the other members of the the project team then started to ask more visitors about their previous holidays on Exmoor, and repeatedly heard the same story: “We’ve been coming for years!”

The Lynmouth Pavilion Project has been running activities out and about around Exmoor over the last three years. Earlier this year we began asking more visitors to write down their favourite memories of holidaying on Exmoor, and we asked them other questions too, trying to find out their favourite spots to visit and any changes they’ve seen. One man told us he’s been visiting the same campsite for the same week for 35 years, and he was 35 years old! What was lovely was that other people on the campsite also visited for the same week, year after year, and so over the years a whole holiday community seems to have developed.

Spurred on by our discussions with people and their enthusiasm for sharing their holiday memories, project assistant Abbie Thorne and I put together special 'Holidays Past' packs for accommodation providers to use with their repeat guests. Invitations were sent out to hoteliers and B&B owners and, as Abbie says, “We were genuinely surprised by the response! In the first few days alone we had requests for 10 packs, and in total we’ve distributed 29, spread right across Exmoor from Combe Martin to Porlock, Exford, Challacombe, Dulverton and Minehead! We’ve had a further three completed by individuals who wanted to tell us a bit more about their own personal relationship with Exmoor, and so many photos of happy holidays have been donated to the project. It’s been quite moving.” Top: A Vowles postcard of polo ponies being exercised during holiday season on Minehead Beach, c.1930s (shared with the project by Eric Rowland).

Right, top: Countisbury Hill, some time after 1886, when Tors Hotel opened (shared with the project by Rebecca Jackson).

Right, centre: Caravan site at Valley of Rocks, date unknown (shared with the project by John and Jean).

Right: Watersmeet, date unknown (shared with the project by Rebecca Jackson).

Exmoor Autumn 2016 43

Down Memory Lane

Left to right: Lynmouth seafront, c.1880 (shared with the project by Norma Ley); Lynmouth before the sea wall and pile driving as construction begins (both courtesy Paul Sheppard). Typical stories relayed to us showed how, in many cases, not much seems to have changed over the years. One lady told us, “My mother and I would go to Lynmouth beach, go on the swings, buy an ice-cream cornet and, of course, go on the cliff railway. We also used to have a game of putting.” Many people listed similar pursuits to those enjoyed by visitors today, with Tarr Steps, the Doone Valley, Robber's Bridge, Dunster Castle, Horner, Watersmeet, Valley of Rocks, Lynmouth and the cliff railway all being mentioned a great deal down through the years, right up to the present day. But some things do seem to have changed. One couple we spoke to have spent the last 30 years visiting Exmoor every six months. They told us, “We notice that the grass is taking over from the bracken.” [See pages 23-26 of previous issue.] Another visitor, Jane, told us, “My grandparents, Mr and Mrs Slader, lived in Tors Road, Lynmouth, and all the family used to come and stay during the summer holidays. My father and brother were very keen fishermen so used to spend their days fishing – salmon were often plentiful in the river, unlike today.” Maddy Taylor told us that, in the early 1970s, “We loved our walks to Culbone to see the tiny church... we [made] our own drinks in a small wooden hut by the stream where mugs were supplied, as well as tea and coffee. Water was collected from the stream and boiled on an old stove. We left money in the ‘honesty box’ and washed our mugs in the stream, ready for the next visitors to use.” Diana told us about staying near Porlock: “A real treat was a boat trip with one of the two Mr Lees, who always seemed to wear the same blue Guernsey jumpers year after year. They had the two boats,

44 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Mistletoe and Lillian, one went to Hurlstone Point and one to Smugglers Cottage down the coast. I think it cost half a crown.” Looking for deer has always been a popular activity for visitors it seems. One couple who first visited in 1985 and come regularly, recalled watching 35 hinds come down through the purple heather at Chetsford. Jane from Barnstaple used to visit her Auntie Mollie at the farm at Sixacre, Lynton and her Uncle Henry always had a pair of binoculars with him. Jane said that on going up onto the moor for a picnic, “We would try to be the first to spot a deer.” Deer stalking and safaris have always been popular. Maddy said, “In 2006 we took my granddaughter Chloe on a safari, where we saw several deer and the Exmoor ponies and went to the tiny Nutscale Reservoir tucked into a small valley high on Exmoor. Chloe enjoyed it so much she wanted to do it all over again the next evening! Another time we took an afternoon safari with wildlife photographer Johnny Kingdom. We had met him several times and enjoyed his TV programmes. It was quite an experience! And we drove over parts of Exmoor we had never seen before. He is so interesting and such a character!” Diana told us, "My own memories of Exmoor go back to 1950 when I was about three. My parents... and sometimes my aunt and uncles... had been coming down to stay at Lucott Farm, above Porlock, since before the Second World War. The first time they arrived they thought they were going to 'the back of beyond', the road up Ley Hill wasn’t even made up at that point and I think they were taken up there by pony and trap. They were all keen on

riding and used to love the freedom of riding across the moors on the ponies from the farm. They would also come down from London whenever they could during the war and my mother always said it was like paradise with cream and eggs, and brown trout from the stream for breakfast… Both my parents used to tell me funny stories about staying there… one morning, as my parents rode down to Porlock they encountered [the farmhand] lying in the ditch. Having had too much cider the night before, he had fallen off his pony which had made its own way home. I think that, at that time, the farm represented a way of life that had hardly changed for centuries." There have been repeated references to time standing still on Exmoor, allowing us to tiptoe back in time and peep at how the world used to be. For example, Diana remembered “discovering an old walled garden, completely overgrown out the back, which felt like something from The Secret Garden. The house seemed huge to a small child and there seemed to be large moths fluttering around at night.” Tom and Sonya honeymooned in the campsite at the Valley of Rocks in April 1960 and they recalled that the only other person there was the warden. To get to Lynton then was a real journey, something echoed in the memories of several other visitors. They were driven from their wedding reception (on 9 April 1960) to the train in Bristol. They took the train from there to Minehead and at Minehead they took a bus to Lynton. The whole journey took about six hours in those days. They returned there when their children were four and six, but Sonya’s mother would always stay at Sunny Lyn, run by Heather and George, as she loved it there.

Down Memory Lane

Left to right: The harbour arm well under way; the wall being built and harbour arm almost finished (all courtesy Paul Sheppard). Bottom right: Lynton decorated for the silver jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary, May 1935 (courtesy Shirley West). For many years the family visited for a week at Easter, and Tom and Sonya have been to Lynton for the same week nearly every year since they were married. Their favourite walk is over the Cleeves to Watersmeet and back and they’re still able to walk it, although it is getting more difficult. This seems to be a recurring theme, that grandparents discovered the area and then established links here on holiday year after year for the whole family. As Maddy told us, “Four generations of my family have spent holidays at Minehead and on Exmoor” and Maddy has been coming since the 1940s, brought by her mother as a baby, and now her grown-up children come with their children! Her aunt bought a chalet at Dunster Beach, often spending the entire summer there, passing the chalet on to her son whose family still come as often as they can. Maddy said, “We have visited other holiday destinations around the UK but were always drawn back to West Somerset and Exmoor. It really is quite a different world, unchanged by the modern world and quite unique. It is somewhere to relax, enjoy the tranquillity, the slower pace of life, the scenery and the wildlife.”

the top with a barrel of water for those who'd lost water from their radiator! Once up there we were on Exmoor... what a wonderful view and sheep were wandering over the road... I can recall that when Alan and I arrived at the top of Countisbury Hill and looked down on the villages it was like a breath of fresh air and peacefulness." Having discovered the area, Marjorie returned many times with her family. She told us, "Once our children were born we changed our car to a Ford Consul. It was a nice pale-green colour with a three-speed gear change on the steering column… we were to discover that due to the steep climb up Lynmouth Hill the petrol tilted to the back of the tank and I frequently had to jump out of the car to push it.” Many visitors recalled their long journeys to reach Exmoor. One person said, “From Oxford, our journey began at the village station at Shipton-Under-Wychwood when we caught a train to Oxford. We then caught a train to Taunton and then changed trains again for Minehead. I could remember every station on the

route and used to run up and down the corridor, counting them off. I knew we were nearly there when I could see Dunster Castle, looking like a magical fairytale castle on the hill.” Diana recalled, “Every summer we would rent Peep Out at the top of Hawkcombe… [we came] down on the train from Paddington and [were] met by a car from Pollards Garage at Minehead Station.” Many visitors came to the area and felt such an affinity that they eventually chose to move here. Maddy told us, “Another time we took a trip to Dunkery Beacon with Scarlet Coaches, ending up at the Horner Tea Gardens for a cream tea. I think this was when I first realised that this area was where I really belonged.” Maddy now lives very happily in Minehead. Riding has been an obvious draw throughout the years. Carole from Plymouth recalled, “I visited Exmoor as a child 40 years ago. My cousin and I were on a riding holiday and spent the week trekking all over Exmoor. I thought the scenery was stunning then and now,

Tom and Sonya’s grandchildren are now coming down with their partners. Up to 22 members of the family can travel down together to stay for the Easter week. In 2016 there were about 14 people in the family group and this was a low number! Marjorie, born in 1930, told us of her honeymoon to the North Devon coast in 1957. They started at Bridgwater and followed the coast road. “We took a couple of ‘goes’ to climb Porlock Hill and in those days an RAC Officer would be at

Exmoor Autumn 2016 45

Down Memory Lane

Clockwise from top left: Looking across Porlock Bay towards Hurlstone Point, date unknown (shared by Judith Brewer); elephants on Minehead Beach (from a visiting circus perhaps?), 1930s (shared by Eric Rowland); The Mount, Dulverton, from a Vowles postcard (shared by Mrs Dredge); ice-creams by the Rhenish Tower, Lynmouth, 1930s (shared by Tom Alridge); preparing for Dunster Show, 1970s/'80s, with Roy Thorne on the left (shared by Abbie Thorne); Maddy Taylor and family on Minehead Beach, c.1950s (shared by Maddy Taylor).

having returned all these years later, it’s even more diverse and beautiful than I remember.” Hiking, walking and outdoor pursuits feature strongly too, as S.D. from North Wales told us: “Some 45 years ago I completed my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award on much-loved Exmoor – back again after too long away – Love it!” And several people told us of trying out new experiences as well, some more successful than others: “August 1991: At the end of the week we took a 'very scary' mountain bike ride from the top of North Hill in the pouring rain! We were driven up in the van, with the bikes, and shown the route down. Never Again!!” Diana’s words seem to really sum up people's feelings for Exmoor: “We all loved the wooded combes, the brown streams, the sheer luscious abundance of nature and were constantly in search of a view of a deer, but they were far scarcer

46 Exmoor Autumn 2016

then than now… When our holiday was over, on the drive towards Minehead, we would all look back for a last glimpse of our beloved moors and I would always have tears streaming down my face…. Even now... I still gasp in wonder as we get to Tivington Heights and the wonderful panorama of Dunkery and the moors opens up… we cannot think of anywhere else in the UK that has such a diversity of landscape.” Abbie and I have been delighted with the responses to the Holidays Past project – it's made a fabulous grande finale to the three-year Lynmouth Pavilion Project. We've had so much fun over the last three years, finding out about and interpreting hidden corners of Exmoor's heritage. I wish it could carry on, as some of the research has only uncovered the tip of the iceberg, especially with old photos and memory collection, but as much as possible at least is now available online for everyone to enjoy.

Abbie says, "We knew it was a tight community on Exmoor but we've been amazed to have discovered so many interlinking families tracing their history back for decades. The support from members of the community has made the project fly and we're really grateful for everyone's enthusiasm and help." The project, which received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Exmoor National Park, has delivered hundreds of events and activities across Exmoor, displayed over 60 exhibitions and generated new material, including about 20 pieces of film, to interpret Exmoor's heritage for locals and visitors to enjoy into the future. Search online for Lynmouth Pavilion Project and, particularly, on Facebook and Exmoor National Park Authority's website ( and flickr page ( exmoornp), where there is an album of photographs from the project.

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t an age when a lot of chaps would regard lunch in a garden centre and watching 'Countdown' as a pretty taxing day, a tall man of 72 can occasionally be seen running through the mists of Dunkery Beacon intent on proving that if you’re bloody-minded enough, nothing is impossible. Firmly established as the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes has made Exmoor his home, bolt-hole and expedition headquarters for over three decades and fiercely guards his privacy in this beautiful and largely secret place. I wouldn’t dare to tell you where it is and the media are never allowed to photograph the house.


Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Global Reach Challenge

INTERVIEW by Tony James

48 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Sir Ranulph – aka Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd baronet of Banbury, or Ran to his friends – is a contradictory character only England could produce: a charming, relaxed and courteous man who has made a profession out of subjecting himself to ordeals beyond normal human imagination. Think polar explorer who hacked off the fingers of his left hand with a fretsaw after developing frostbite and who suffers excruciating pain in cold weather. Think mountaineer with a dread of heights, vertigo and serious breathing problems over 16,000 feet. Think athlete running six back-to-back marathons after two heart attacks, major bypass surgery and cancer. Seven years past pensionable age, Ran is now wielding his ice pick to embark on a gruelling adventure in which he hopes to scale four mammoth peaks in ten months to become the first person to cross both polar ice caps and climb the highest mountains on every continent.

Profile Special The Global Reach Challenge is an extension of what he calls “The Big One” – reaching the North and South Poles in 1982 and becoming the first pensioner to conquer Everest, which he did at his third attempt in 2009. The new challenge will see him tackle Denali, the highest peak in North America, after attempting Mount Carstensz in New Guinea, Mount Vinson in Antarctica and Aconcagua in Argentina. Ran has already had a brush with Denali – in May he was forced by a back injury to give up when halfway up the mountain. “I’m determined to give it another go,” he says. The Global Reach Challenge stems from a conversation Ran overheard when he was marathon-running in Morocco. Rivals were planning to extend “The Big One” to include a mountain on every continent. “The goalposts have been moved. If I had known that when I had climbed Everest, I would have continued on to the other five. Now I’ve got to go ahead and finish the job. Luckily I have Everest and Kilimanjaro under my belt and Mount Elbrus, the highest in Europe, which I climbed in June.” Ran will be accompanied by long-term expedition partner Dr Mike Stroud on the latest climbs, sponsored by Yorkshire businessman Paul Sykes. A lifetime of exploration began in 1967 after eight years in the Royal Scots Greys and the Special Air Service. Since then he has led more than 30 expeditions and raised over £18 million for charity. Ran remembers with a smile how his epic charity-raising began. “Back in the midseventies, Prince Charles had been our patron for some time and, as I briefed him

on one trip, he asked who we were raising money for. “When I said ‘Nobody, sir, that’s not part of breaking world records', he replied, 'Oh dear, I can’t carry on being a patron if you don’t!' Not surprisingly, from then on we’ve always worked for charity...” The motivation for the latest adventure is fundraising for the Marie Curie cancer charity, in memory of his first wife Ginny, who died of stomach cancer in 2004. “I feel compelled to keep setting myself these challenges to raise money to help Marie Curie nurses care for people with terminal illness and their families. They were wonderful to Ginny and I will never forget that.” It was Ginny, whom he married in 1970, who brought Ran to Exmoor. He recalls: “We were living in a Hammersmith semi and were desperate to have a place in the country. We made a strict rule that whatever we bought, we couldn’t see anything man-made from any direction, hear any road noise, and have nothing non-military flying overhead. “And it had to be within two hours of London. It took us three years to realise that this was simply not possible! Not surprisingly, the circles extended from London until they reached the Quantocks, but still nothing was quite right.

Above and opposite inset: Denali expedition, May 2016 (courtesy Marie Curie). Previous page, main image: North face of the Eiger, 2007. was no one there so we went in. Apparently it had been bought by an RSPCA inspector as a surprise for his wife, and she hated it.” This was hardly surprising. There was no electricity, no proper water supply nor telephone connection. The roof leaked and the floors were rotten. “But Ginny just knew it was the place for us. She never had any second thoughts.” Today the place is a working 200-acre farm with Aberdeen Angus cattle and black Welsh mountain sheep and Ran shares this very special place with his second wife, Louise, whom he married in 2005, and their daughter Elizabeth.

Exmoor has become the training ground for numerous expeditions and the place where he selects potential team members. “You can go for 15 miles across the moor without seeing anyone or anything; it’s the ideal place to put people through their paces.” Despite recurring health problems over the past 20 years, Ran likes to run for at least an hour a day. “Of course, it’s getting harder,” he admits. “But so long as I remember to take my pills I won’t be calling it a day just yet...” Donations can be made at: and Sir Ranulph's website is

“Eventually we ended up in Dulverton, went the wrong way up a bridlepath and came upon a house which wasn’t actually for sale. Ginny immediately said: 'That’s the one' – and it was.” The neglected moorland house had been empty for three years and was infested with rats and mice. “There

Exmoor Autumn 2016 49


‘Because it’s there…’ Sue Viccars scales the Quantock heights PHOTOS by Ian Brown, James Osmond & the writer


’ve always been intrigued by those walkers whose main preoccupation in life is all to do with ‘getting to the top’ of whatever hill they have in their sights. I am perfectly happy to scale the heights when appropriate, but also content to potter around at a lower level. A bunch of Scottish hillwalkers (with whom I regularly ‘scale heights’ in the Highlands) visited me last year and spent

50 Exmoor Autumn 2016

their time rushing to the top of every hillock or tor and taking photos of themselves! They were so used to Munro bagging and the like in their home country that the idea of wandering round moorland without a peak to aim for was totally alien to them – but they loved every minute of it once they got used to the idea. An interesting one… So, I thought that for this issue of Exmoor Magazine I would

do a spot of ‘peak bagging’ for a change and visit the two highest points on the Quantock ridge. And a fantastic route it is too. It took me a couple of goes: I realised (too late, despite studying the OS map in detail and looking at the local topography ‘in the flesh’) that some of the available (yet unbelievably steep) footpaths leading to the trig point on Wills Neck – the high point – are only

doable on all fours, and not ideal for inclusion in a recommended route! Coincidentally, around the time I was working on the route, a press release pinged into my inbox announcing that the trig pillar celebrated its 80th birthday in April this year. (I was strangely pleased to discover that we share the same birth date – when it comes to day and month only!). Starting in April 1936,


5 7









around 6,500 trig pillars were built as a ‘state of the art network to re-map Britain’, using the mathematical process known as triangulation. I also learned that (alongside Munro and Corbett baggers in the Scottish mountain world) there are trigbaggers out there busy ticking off the 6,000+ still standing today (… But back to the Quantocks!

There are two options on offer here: the shorter route visits the two highest points on the ridge, Wills Neck (384m) and Lydeard Hill (364m) (red route on the map); the longer option takes in Cothelstone Hill (332m) as well, and passes historic Cothelstone Manor and church (blue route). Both options involve a steep descent and ascent of the Quantock ridge.

© Crown copyright 2016 Ordnance Survey. Media 017/15

FACTFILE Map OS Explorer OL9 Exmoor, OS Landranger 181 Minehead & Brendon Hills Start Lydeard Hill car park ST181338 (free) Distance 6¼ miles (10km); longer option 9¼ miles (14.9km) Time 3 hours; 5 hours Terrain Bridleways, often rough underfoot; field paths; moorland tracks; steep descent/ascent on both options Toilets None on route Refreshments The Rising Sun, West Bagborough:; The Blue Ball Inn, Triscombe: PHOTOS From left, along the bottom: Seven Sisters, Cothelstone Hill (by James Osmond); calf in the woods (by Ian Brown); Triscombe (by Ian Brown); the entrance to Cothelstone Manor (by the writer). Main image: Cothelstone Hill (by James Osmond).

Exmoor Autumn 2016 51


THE ROUTE 1 Pass through the gate at the back of the car park onto Lydeard Hill. At the first fork, bear right; after a few paces fork right again on a less clearly defined path, heading towards low-growing gorse. At the next fork keep left and cross the hilltop. In descent join a wide grassy path, heading towards a path junction and gate/stile in a beech hedgebank. Cross the stile. 2 Immediately turn left down a well-used bridlepath, in places muddy and rough, descending steadily; the tower of St Pancras Church comes into view right. Pass through a gate to reach the lane by The Rising Sun Inn in West Bagborough (Bageberge in Domesday Book AD1086). 3 Turn right, soon descending, then turn right at the lychgate; the surfaced path leads uphill towards the church, with fourteenth-century origins. At the church gate turn left on a level path that leads to a metal gate. Pass through, then follow the right hedge. At field end pass through an open gateway to the right of a barn, then bear half right through another hedge gap. Cut across the lower end of the next field, aiming for a gap in the hedge (Rock Farm seen ahead). Climb gently towards a hedge gap in the top right corner of the field. Cross the narrow top of the next field and pass through a metal gate. Follow the track (hedge on left). Where the hedge ends keep ahead, dropping through another metal gate; bear half right up the field, aiming for a kissing gate by a wall end at Rock Farm, onto a lane. 4 Turn right uphill; the lane deteriorates to a track and steepens. A gate leads into woodland; keep left, uphill, at a fork. The pretty path soon

52 Exmoor Autumn 2016

levels along the bottom edge of the wood. On meeting a forestry track, keep straight on to reach a lane. Follow the lane ahead, soon descending to a junction. Turn left to find The Blue Ball Inn, dating from the eighteenth century; opposite the pub turn right on a lane. 5 At the first bend (thatched barn left) turn right up a rough track, soon passing through a gate onto NT Great and Marrow Hills, Triscombe. Ignore a footpath bearing off left and follow the bridlepath steadily uphill; at the next junction take the left path, still ascending, through increasingly open ground, to pass huge beech trees. At the next fork (the left branch passes through the hedgebank) follow the main track right to wind uphill across open access land with increasingly good views (look back down Triscombe Combe and across the vale towards the Brendon Hills). Where the track forks again keep left, ascending towards a gate under beech trees on the ridgetop. 6 Just before reaching the gate turn right on a broad grassy path; views ahead to Triscombe Quarry. The path leads to a stile onto The Drove, a lovely broad beech-lined track on the ridgetop. Cross over and turn right to pass through a gate. Walk along The Drove – particularly beautiful in autumn and spring – to pass a parking area at the ancient Triscombe Stone (right) and cross a rough lane. Just before the next big gate, bear right on a narrow path under an oak tree to cross a stile onto open ground. Follow the path on (there are many paths on Wills Neck!), generally ascending, to reach the trig point on Wills Neck, with stunning views.

7 Continue in the same direction (ignore a path going off 90 degrees left from the summit), dropping gently, passing left of a pond under beech trees. Continue, just left of the ridge: Lydeard Hill comes into view ahead.

downhill, crossing various forestry tracks. Keep descending in pretty much a straight line, ignoring mountain bike obstacles. Eventually the path bears sharp right then left, dropping to the road at a 90-degree bend via a gate.

On meeting Point 2 (bridleway to West Bagborough) cross the beech hedgebank onto Lydeard Hill and take the middle of three paths; at an obvious fork keep left across the hilltop en route to the car park.

Keep straight ahead, soon passing beautiful Cothelstone Manor, the oldest part of which dates from the late-twelfth century; the original sixteenth-century gatehouse still stands.

LONGER OPTION A Leave the car park via the approach lane; immediately pick up a parellel bridlepath under beautiful beech trees. Rejoin the lane and continue downhill to a T-junction at Birches Corner.

D Just past the archway turn right through a kissing gate into a field. Follow the right edge, parallel to the driveway. Pass through a metal gate in the next fence; follow a rough track to the left of the manor house. Pass a footpath sign (to the church) and continue on a narrow path through a garden, past a residential building, to find the gate into the churchyard of St Thomas of Canterbury.

B Turn left, signed Bridgwater/ Enmore. After c.20m look for a partially concealed bridleway sign and turn right; at the path junction, keep straight ahead on a rough bridlepath signed ‘The Rack’. At a fence, where the bridleway bears away right, bear half left through a kissing gate (footpath) and ascend steeply through sycamore and oak onto open ground. Reach a fenced tumulus on Cothelstone Hill, and pass to its left. Turn left on a broad grassy way and ascend to the high point (a rocky outcrop). Bear half right on a broad path that passes to the right of a fenced enclosure, dropping gently towards woodland. Keep left at a fork to reach the boundary fence, and enclosures, by woodland. C Pass through an unsigned kissing gate. Turn right on a path which instantly splits; head away from the fence and within a few metres pick up a yellow arrow on a post, pointing right downhill through the trees. The path descends steadily; on meeting another path bear left,

Just before the gate turn left through a small gate on a footpath into a huge level field (Cothelstone Park). Head for the right end of a line of spaced poplars by a lake. Drop to cross a stile/gate then continue uphill, bearing very slightly left, levelling off past a line of big oaks to a stile by a metal gate. Cross a strip of woodland to meet a lane. Cross over to footpath sign. Bear half right across the field: note the big walled garden to the right (Terhill). In the far corner cross a stile; the path meets the lane on a bend. Keep ahead, climbing gently, to pass Pilgrim’s Cottages. E A few steps on turn left at a Quantock Greenway sign along a level track with glorious views. At the lane, turn right uphill into West Bagborough. At the T-junction turn left, soon passing The Rising Sun Inn at Point 3 on the map.

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Exmoor Autumn 2016 53

Murder Mystery Dinner at Bickleigh Castle

Dates: Friday 21st October 2017 & Saturday 19th November 2017 If you are a fan of Downton Abbey then there is an exclusive night of murder and mystery happening at Bickleigh Castle in Devon. Lord and Lady Downton invite you to join them for dinner with the family. Their trusty Butler, Larson, will ensure your every whim is catered for but watch your manners and pay attention to the other guests, as one of them has a secret they would rather you didn’t know. How far will the family go to save their reputation?

The Murder Mystery Evening includes: Welcome cocktail on arrival • 3 course meal • Professional Live murder mystery entertainment. Bickleigh Castle is the ideal place to relax and unwind. Nestled on a secluded private estate surrounded by beautiful countryside and the winding river Exe.

Tickets £42 per person - Spaces are limited To book please call 01884 855363 or email Accommodation may be available, please call for further information.

Fremington Manor Barnstaple EX31 2NX

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Kenwith Castle Bideford EX39 5BE

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Within our portfolio of residential care and nursing homes across the south of England, you will find two of our beautiful Care South Country House care nestled in the north Devon countryside. In a haven of serenity and good living, we provide compassionate care, fine dining and comfortable accommodation at a realistic cost.


To request a brochure, arrange a visit or find out more, contact

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54 Exmoor Autumn 201

Little Bob in Autumn


irst, the lulling patter of arriving rain, spaced, slow drops tapping on leaf and branch; then the aroma of earth – dry from long, sunny hours – absorbing moisture and exhaling a summer's worth of sweetness, a scent wholesome This is the third and final instalment as that of oven-hot loaves, haybarns, ripe cornfields. From under the roof of in Jane's reflections and observations appleboughs the garden winds away, gaining remoteness like the sea seen from of Little Bob and his family through the year. onshore, lost in misty brightness. I am thinking of the word 'petrichor' invented The first two instalments – 'A Winter's Tale' by two Australians for the fragrant breath of soil released from drought, and so and 'Spring into Summer' – appeared in miss Little Bob's arrival. He is soaked, not from the rain (I've known him appear issues 65, winter 2013 and 67, summer 2014 bone-dry after a cloudburst) but from a vigorous bath. He washes regularly (displayed by Bob below!). and often, from quick dips to sousings that leave him, as now, spiky with wet, Both are available on our website showing his grey underdown. With his plumage plastered he shrinks to a if you missed them. skinny little scrap, a spindle-legged minikin, so that I hide a smile. It is not just feather-fluff that bolsters his size, but his ebullient, mettlesome nature.

WORDS & PHOTOS by Jane A. Mares

Under the leaf canopy he shakes himself, a blurr of motion, preens energetically, shakes again, hurrying the drying process. He cannot abide being dishevelled. It is a mark of trust that he will perch so close while busily grooming, head turned away, eyes half-shut, beak burrowing through his tail coverts, mantle, down his breast. I take the film canister from my pocket that I use for his titbits, but he shows no interest. With his family grown, in this kindly month of September, he finds plenty of natural fare. Our relationship began with an offering of food, but has developed beyond that basic need. What draws him now to my vicinity? Is it habit, curiosity? As a matter of survival he keeps a constant eye on all comings and goings, births and deaths. But he can, and does, watch me from a distance, inconspicuously. It has always been his choice when to make contact. Indeed, over time he has worked out various ways of presenting himself to my attention. There is the loud approach – his usually silent flight made audible by 'burring' his wings. The first time he tried this I looked up and around, seeking the cause of the sound. Having learnt the signal, I was soon trained to have my hand out, ready for him to land, fill his beak and go – speed being important when he had a hungry brood to satisfy. Another ploy was to perch right overhead and sing one strident phrase. If I showed no reaction he would utter it again, a brief, ear-piercing line of notes. Then he might lose patience and either hunt elsewhere or resort to the hummingbird tactic – hovering in the air on a level with my nose. An action impossible to overlook even for an obtuse human.

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Outside the breeding season, robins lead solitary lives. Unlike the pair of collared doves that in spring lean flank to flank in the pear tree and spend hours canoodling, preening each other's faces, touching beak to beak, I have never observed a robin show physical affection for its mate. It seems an eminently practical partnership, even to the early gifts of food delivered to the hen bird. Perhaps their attitude is influenced by the long periods spent as potential competitors, even antagonists, a role resumed in autumn, after the family has been raised. Missus Bob left some weeks ago, returning to her independent life, either in her old holding or farther afield. Surprisingly, Ariel, one of Little Bob's first brood, still inhabits his territory. I remember noticing her even when she was a fledgling, a solemn, self-contained youngster, crouching under the shady leaves of the courgettes at noon, exploring the bean-row at evening, tugging enquiringly at new-formed beans to determine whether, like bugs, they were detachable, perhaps edible. As the sun wanders lower, hoverflies leave the Michaelmas daises to bask high in the nasturtium flowers that have housed themselves along the top of the hedge. How swiftly they ebb, the leisurely hours of September. Overlooked plums shrivel into prunes. The roses are no more; although hips, ripening on the spray, daily make a bolder statement: roses of the future. Little Bob shows a weakness for the deep red, oily berries of honeysuckle, bolting three, four or five at a sitting. His diet changes not only with the season, but the time of day. I have seen him take moths aplenty, but never a butterfly. His speed and sight are startling, he can snatch a gnat from the air as it dithers passed his perch, or flash away to pluck a tiny mawlcrawl from a brassica, yards down the garden. Caterpillars are a favourite item. Even one as long as he is tall will be shaken until it hangs limp, tenderised, flaccid enough to swallow.

Previous page: Little Bob among the brassicas; autumn in the churchyard at Old Cleeve; Little Bob in Jane's garden, on a temporary perch. Left: Autumn woods at Webber's Post – robin country. Above, clockwise from top left: After a vigorous bath; Ariel on the French climbers; dewy caterpillar; elderberries; yew berries; white plume moth.

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The first week in October, and still the courgettes flower, cucumbers lengthen, the squashes swell until they need couches to support them. Among yellowing leaves the pears hang gravid, lowering the boughs of the old conference. A tree rarely without visitors, for just as it welcomed pollinators to its blossom, now it invites the hungry to enjoy its fruit, and so the flowers are fertilised, the seed spread abroad. An arrangement nature often employs – generosity that is self-rewarding. What better system than to help others at the same time as benefiting oneself? I now recognise when Little Bob is about to regurgitate a pip. He will not accept food but sits nearby looking 'broody' until abruptly his beak gapes wide and out pops whatever needs ejecting. Gradually, we are deciphering each other's signs and signals. When I stretch out my hand, Little Bob will fly up to it vertically from the ground. I had not considered this an act of faith until Ariel ignored the gesture unless she was above me, and could look down and see food on my palm. The way he approaches me depends on his sense of ease, the safety of his surroundings. Sometimes it is undercover, by stages, from perch to perch. Like a squirrel, he makes instinctive judgements as to what will accommodate his size (even his slight body requires space between leaves) and bear his weight. The perfect arrival is when he drops straight down to me from his songpost high on the telephone pole, legs dangling, feet together. His weight is negligible, hardly sensed, but I feel the tender soles of his cool, twig-thin toes coming to rest ultra-lightly on my hand. The chance of physical contact with a wild creature is a rare privilege. It opens the eyes and softens the heart. We have grown remote from the natural world, and callous in our dealings with it. A hand held out, a bird alighting, changes the sense of alienation to one of alliance. Cock blackbird hies between the Cotoneaster and Pyracantha and, in the warmth of noon, full of berries, is moved to utter a few quiet, dreamy bars. I can whistle a line or two back to him, but though I listen and listen, Little Bob's music is beyond imitation.

His territory shrank with his mate's departure, and for weeks he has been assiduously defining his boundaries with song. No other tune so blends with the mood of autumn, of mellow days and sharp nights, the rime on the blackberry, the wasp in the windfall. Down they come, bright leaves and drab, flurries in the air, rustlings underfoot. Little Bob regains a keen appetite for Cheddar, and also a renewed interest in my activities. When I sweep the path he dodges hither and yon, despatching tiny organisms that the broom uncovers. I harvest a last cob of sweetcorn from the maize rows, listening to the traffic of foreign thrushes overhead, hungry flocks seeking the berry-bearing holly and rowan, sloe, hawthorn and yew. The days shorten. The sunflowers stand bare of seed, harbouring only earwigs and granfer-griggles. A north wind polishes the stars and lowers the temperature. The great tit who had been discreetly roosting among the tattered leaves of the runnerbean vines seeks warmer quarters under the porch slates. When I chop and stack logs, Little Bob is there, among the bark chips, inspecting the corners of the woodstore for spiders. I notice he is standing on one leg, left foot tucked into his feathers. Not a break, a strain perhaps, only a minor injury. But that evening, listening to him sing, poised between the luminous sky and darkening earth, I am reluctant to go indoors until he ceases. It is not for me he sings, but he is aware of my attentive, uplifted face. One by one the neighbouring birds fall silent. An early star, a clear sky, a bite to the air. In the thin sweetness, the poignant tartness of robin's phrases, I hear not only the duality of the season, leaning now towards winter, but a reflection of the dauntless spirit of wild creatures, an evocation of life itself, precious, precarious... From top, left to right: Sunflower seed feast; few flower stems will support him, except briefly – even the spires of foxgloves bow (pictured in July) and tilt earthwards; spider's web in a witchy tree; small tortoiseshell caterpillars; rosehips; Little Bob on a Dunster plum log – what a match for his red breast.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 57


n last season's issue, I ventured to Saunton to visit artisan gilder Danni Bradford who had just gilded the world's first 24-karat gold surfboard. The 'Aureus' surfboard was designed and fashioned by Danni's partner and bespoke surfboard-shaper Ellie Miller. I took the opportunity to meet with Ellie at the same time, expanding my (previously non-existent) knowledge of board design and the surf and to find out what's next for Europe's only professional female surfboard-shaper.

'Made in a small workshop, by one pair of hands' says Ellie's website www.millersurfboards. and the workshop is certainly gem-sized. Both Ellie and Danni toil creatively in the little space which is an assortment of surfboard blanks, power and hand tools, gilding implements, dust, metal and energy. It was almost inevitable the Aureus surfboard would be birthed here. When I first perused the gallery of custom-made boards on Ellie's site I remember thinking, “I didn't know surfboards could look so sexy.” I marvelled at the lustrous, glassed finishes rendered to an exquisite standard, coupled with pristine contours. Even a surfing know-nothing such as myself could see there was something special in these keenly sculpted lines – I wanted one, just to hang on the wall, because I've certainly never made it past kneeling stage out on the surf.


Ellie Miller WORDS by Mel Roach

Ellie's boards are about far more than appearance, however – as a capable and passionate surfer for around ten years, Ellie is well qualified to know what needs to go into a design to produce a board perfectly tailored to each individual and their surfing style. “The first thing I have to consider is the customer's ability,” Ellie tells me. “My boards aren't really suitable for absolute beginners – novices should start with a foam-topped board to avoid injury. When they can stand up and catch a green wave (an unbroken wave) then they are ready for a proper board. I have to ask myself, 'Who's going to be riding it? What is their style? What kind of waves is it to be built for?' I have to think about what I want the board to achieve – is it about tight turns and speed, or is it about cruising or noseriding?" For the unacquainted, 'noseriding' is an advanced technique in which the board is manoeuvred from the front, it is apparently tricky to master, but is said to give one the feeling of seamlessly skating upon the water's surface. I learned from Ellie that different beaches suit different boards, which made perfect sense; waves break differently depending on the topography of the coastline and continental shelf. The many possible combinations of techniques, individual styles and waves require

58 Exmoor Autumn 2016

different aerodynamic considerations. “Surfers are obsessed with boards!” Ellie tells me. “There are many experiences they can achieve with different boards on various waves, so they change boards a lot.” Advanced surfers tend to build up a collection of boards, known in surf-speak as a 'quiver'. For Ellie, the considerable expense of procuring new boards for herself and the difficulty in finding the 'right' board instigated her first attempts at board shaping. Ellie, who once had a job shaping prosthetic hands and feet, was entirely self-taught using internet resources and a generous amount of trial and error. Becoming a professional craftswoman surfboard-shaper wasn't the initial plan – after her first few boards, friends and subsequently friends-of-friends began lining up to order one of her thoughtful creations. Ellie has now gained a reputation in the surfing community for bespoke craftsmanship and the highest standards – a testament to her feverish enthusiasm for the surf, where she can still be found “whenever conditions allow”. It is always inspiring to hear these stories; of a passion turned into a meaningful and viable enterprise, without agenda, organically grown, almost 'accidental', but ultimately fulfilling and successful. Ellie still operates her business very much on a 'word-of-mouth' basis. Of course it helps being based in Saunton – "the longboarding capital of Britain" according to Ellie – but she is making boards for people all over Europe these days and has recently launched a bespoke board repair service. Surfing was recorded as early as AD500 in Polynesia and Captain Cook's crew on the Discovery were said to be the first Westerners to witness surfing off the shores of Hawaii, but it is really since the 1930s that board design has evolved and new materials such as balsa, then fibreglass, have reduced board weights and allowed for more flexible aerodynamic shaping. Some of Ellie's boards are inspired by 1960s70s classic designs such as the 'Simmons' – named after Bob Simmons, the influential post-war board designer, who has been described as 'the primary architect of the modern surfboard'. Ellie also cites Facing page: The Aureus and a portrait of Ellie; Mini Simmons with green resin tint. Here, from top and left to right: Local surfer Skelly at Combesgate on a 5ft 8in twin-fin; Mini Simmons three-colour resin tinted board; balsa stringer and tinted circle patch on a traditional longboard; a 6ft Bonzer; Ellie, with a board she built for herself, which is a 9ft 4in 'slider', a traditional longboard with ghost bands on the nose made with Volan fibreglass. Exmoor Autumn 2016 59

California's Gene Cooper and Tyler Hatzikian as inspirational and innovative craftsmen whom she admires. The Aureus is the first in Ellie's LUX range of surfboards. A classic, single-fin, shortboard design, the Aureus has been gilded with 24-karat gold leaf and is thought to be the only one of its kind. The Aureus project, Ellie explains, was an investigation into the marriage of art and functionality and an exploration of board-design heritage rather than a quest to produce a crazily expensive board. It is fully functional, but is also most decidedly an artwork. The reaction from the surfing community has been a little mixed, though Ellie was unsurprised by this: “We knew we'd get some flak for it, but the local North Devon surfing community have been really supportive." At the time of my visit Ellie and Danni had just held the official launch of the Aureus in the White Moose Gallery in Barnstaple and were in talks to lease it for exhibition in London and elsewhere. What I didn't realise, was that the board was in the very next room; I had assumed it was still on display in Barnstaple. I felt just a little bit excited when Ellie brought the Aureus into the living room – the triple-gilt board glinted diffusely, as real gold does, in the watery afternoon sun. The first thing I was struck by was the presence of it; it transmitted a tangible energy and then there was the incredible textural effect of gold leaf on fibreglass, almost like a velveting – it is a truly beautiful thing. Ellie offered it to me to hold so I could feel the weight, but I was a bit worried to – what if I ding it on the edge of the coffee table? Then I recalled this board is designed to withstand the full force of macking waves (surf-speak for 'really big waves') and wondered who might one day own it and whether they would be brave enough to let it see some wave action. I hoped so, the board seemed to want it, radiating a great sense of purpose, as well as a sense of occasion. I left Saunton, past the Museum of British Surfing, amid early spring holidaymakers and wondered why, as a lifelong local to the West Country's great beaches, I had never got the surfing bug. I hope I am not too old for it; I think I may have to learn, just so I can get good enough to justify buying one of Ellie's boards. and

From top and left to right: Ellie in the workshop; Mini Simmons in cherry red; 8ft hot-generation-inspired Vee Bottom; 6ft Po' Boy; patchwork fabric inlay on a 6ft 2in fish.

60 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Welcome to a different world

Clovelly is a unique village once owned by the Queen of England. The cobbled, traffic-free, high street of this famous fishing village tumbles its way down past flower-strewn cottages to the ancient working harbour. Donkeys and sledges are the only form of transport. The modest entry charge covers the A/V film of its history, two museums, Clovelly Court Gardens and a contribution to the preservation of this special private estate. Upcoming events

(standard admission charges apply)

• New Individual Savings Accounts • Unit trusts & OEICS • Savings Accounts • Investment Trusts

• Investment Bonds • School Fees planning • Income Bonds • Regular reviews & updates

Lynton: 01598 753777 Barnstaple: 01271 321444 Taunton: 01823 423800 Minehead: 01643 702700

Apple Day, Friday 28 October Herring Festival, Sunday 20 November For more information visit Clovelly Visitor Centre, nr. Bideford EX39 5TA T. 01237 431781 E.


TAKE A MAGICAL CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY Whether you’re escaping with loved ones or wanting to enjoy an intimate family Christmas break away from the hustle and bustle of a busy life, make sure that the people close to you have a magical Christmas by choosing to spend Christmas on Lundy. Flying by Helicopter from Hartland point near Bideford, you’ll take in an exhilarating six minute flight to experience one of Lundy’s twenty three individual beautiful properties from a thirteenth century Castle to a Lighthouse and from a fisherman’s chalet to a Old School House. Explore the wild winter wildlife or take a bracing walk to see the stunning coastal landscapes, then warm your feet by the crackling open fire and sip traditional mulled wine in the Marisco Tavern.

Tel: 01271 863636

Enjoy in the festivities on Christmas day, indulging in a five-course Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. The menu, like everything else on the island has a special Lundy flavour. Lundy – The perfect destination for a unique Christmas break!

Exmoor Autumn 2016 61

out to run and we expect it to know what to do. “Running is a sport and technique is important. Thinking about how you’re holding your body and how you’re moving is important. If you think about any sport, running is the only one where you’re expected to just go out and do it without any training.” Hannah has been running for 25 years, but suffered from recurring injuries, mainly knees and Achilles, until she discovered chi running. “I had knee problems, and within two or three years my Achilles started to play up and that just got worse and worse over the years. My training was very stop-start; I’d train, get injured, take a break, then come back; I could never really get a flow going.


Chi Running Malcolm Rigby dons his trainers for a course in chi running, a method that aims to make jogging more efficient, more injury free and more fun.


verybody knows how to run. In one sense it is of course ludicrous that a man in his fifties should be taking lessons in how to run. But to keep on running is dependent on remaining injury free and that, say the experts, is reliant on a good technique. Chi running is so called because it is based on the movement principles of tai chi, but you don’t have to know about

62 Exmoor Autumn 2016

the Chinese martial art or, indeed, believe in chi as the energy force that unites mind, body and spirit; because actually most of it is just about common sense. People have also suggested that it is not about learning how to run but remembering how you used to run as a child – all carefree, with your body leaning forward – and letting that, rather than your legs, do all the work. Qualified chi running trainer Hannah Kirkman says, “There is this argument that we are born to run, it's just a natural mode, but if you think about the lifestyles we lead, we don’t live in a natural way, we spend hours sitting in a chair in a fixed position and hunched forward over our laptop, and then we take that body

“There was an article about chi running in Runners World in about 2006, when Danny Dreyer (the founder) first came over to the UK from the US. In 2010 I started working with his book and trying it out for myself. About nine months later I went to work with an instructor, but at that time there was nobody teaching in the South West so I had to go up to London to do a workshop. I stuck with it and it made such a difference to me in my own running! I saw there was an opportunity for me to help other people, including those who had also had to give up because of injuries." Hannah went off to train in 2012, at which time you had to go to Berlin for the course, so she was with students from all over Europe. "Now you can train here," says Hannah. "We’ve got an MD UK who runs regular instructor courses, building up the community of instructors.”

Chi Running According to Hannah the key principles are: the movement from the centre, moving from the inside out and creating strong postural alignment whilst keeping the moving parts nice and relaxed. “The other principle is that of cooperating with forces, looking at how you can engage gravity and the force of the oncoming road to actually help you move rather than your legs having to do all the work in pushing and pulling you forward. “The idea is first of all to focus on your alignment and relaxation; alignment gives a stable support structure, while staying relaxed means you’re not creating tension in your muscles when you’re moving. Tension puts you at more risk of injuries and can mean that you overwork the muscles, so another key principle is the idea of working from the centre, so you’re using your core muscles more, rather than overworking the smaller muscles. For example, if you’re over-striding, pushing off with your forefoot, then you’re engaging the smaller muscles in your lower leg, ankles and feet to push your whole body weight forward and that’s where you can get overuse injuries.” Most of the course is gym based, with small groups performing exercises that help put these principles into action. But Hannah also takes her students outside to video them running (which is less excruciating than you might think!), and then analyses the footage in detail. On closer examination of my technique Hannah said my calves were working too hard but, most significantly, I was running a little bit on my toes. I needed to get the whole foot down – “Imagine there’s a

button on your heel that needs to touch the ground each time you land.” My left arm was also going a little high and my feet were just a bit splayed. When it comes to implementing changes, Hannah’s advice is that you don’t do a clean sweep but make the alterations piecemeal so that it doesn't feel unnatural. Another aspect of chi running is measuring the amount of footfall in your jogging technique. Hannah explains: “Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute, generally between 170 and 180 steps is the optimum range, counting both legs. That’s what you’re aiming for. If your cadence is much lower than that figure it’s a sign that you’re spending longer on your legs because your legs are moving slower, and it can be a sign that you are over-striding. If you’re going over that cadence range it means that your legs are moving really quickly, you’re not giving your legs a chance to kick out behind you.” Some runners use a metronome in order to control their cadence – running to a beat. Hannah measured my cadence as 185 footfalls per minute and suggested: “Think about relaxing the hips and legs from the pivot point downwards, while keeping the core engaged, allowing your stride to open up behind you.” I ask her if age is an issue? “I get people in their sixties, some of them really very good; someone of 65 came to one of my workshops and he does sub three-and-ahalf hour marathons. He managed to get a personal best implementing chi running into his technique. At absolutely any age you can learn something new.”

And beginners? “Give it a try, it might not be for everybody, but have a go at it and see how it fits with you. The benefits for me have gone way beyond my running, it really becomes a way of living as well as running; I would say everyone can benefit from it.” EDITOR'S NOTE As Malcolm (bottom left on this page) was going to be busy running, I went along to take photos. I also took the spare place on the course! School reports can haunt you forever (especially those 'un-PC' ones from the old days!). "Tries her best but is not a natural athlete," wrote Ms B. at Minehead Middle. Harsh but fair, yet Hannah is right: it's never too late. Like most on the course, I have injuryrelated issues with running – a previous ACL tear which rules out things like tennis and the tango (it's always good to have an excuse!) and makes cross-country running a bit dodgy. However, running on even ground is fine, although I admit I've long seen running as a means to an end rather than a joy in itself. Much to my amazement, chi running has begun, modestly but surely, to change all that. I now run regularly with my 'proper runner' friend, Mel, and, with a newlyfound cadence of 170 (target 180!), I no longer feel like I'm plodding along quite so heavily in her wake. Running hurts less, feels 'lighter' and is back on the menu. Thank you Hannah! Hannah runs courses in Bristol, Taunton and Exeter – she can be contacted on 07976 904033. She does custom sessions on request.

From left to right: The course begins in the gym and there's plenty of mirror work, before we move outside where Hannah films each student from in front, behind and the side, at speed and stopping (don't run into the camera!), for analysis.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 63

writer, so I was keen to experience Dorn – not just because it’s a therapy I haven’t tried but because I spend far too much of my time sitting at a desk and, although I do keep active, my neck and shoulders tend to pick up the strain. The first stage of the treatment consists of an analysis of my posture and how my spine is functioning. Phil asks me to stand, fully clothed but with bare feet, in front of him. "Bend forwards from the waist," he says and I obligingly drop forwards. "Okay, now come up slowly. Bend to the right." He’s watching, analysing and I become increasingly aware of my posture. "How do you feel on your feet?" he asks. "As if I’m rocking back on my heels," I say. He nods and explains that my entire body is out of balance. "But we can sort that," he says firmly.


Dorn Method WORDS by Jane Alexander PHOTOS by Rob Tibbles


e’re a nation in pain – back pain. According to statistics, nearly 50 percent of the UK population suffers from lower back pain and a colossal 31 million days of work are lost on a yearly basis due to back, neck and muscular problems. It’s something Phil Steward of the Hands On Clinic in Braunton believes is mainly avoidable, thanks to a simple yet effective system of back care, the Dorn Method. Developed by Dieter Dorn in the 1970s in the south of Germany, Dorn is fast becoming the most widelyused therapy for back pain in Germany – and now the UK is catching up too. Dieter Dorn was the owner of a sawmill in southern Germany. One day he hurt his back while lifting a heavy log

64 Exmoor Autumn 2016

and went to see a local healer who sorted him out with some swift, simple movements. Dorn was able to go straight back to work and was so impressed that he decided he wanted to learn this incredible means of healing for himself. Unfortunately, the healer died before being able to pass on all the techniques, but Dorn was clearly an intuitive healer who was able to take the principles and create his own system. "It’s so simple," says Phil, co-founder of Hands On. "It’s not just about fixing people, it’s about giving them tools to fix themselves, so they aren’t endlessly giving their money to therapists." Phil has trained in sports massage, healing massage, advanced manipulation and the Bowen Technique, to name but a few. He loves them all but says

he is finding the results he’s getting with gentle Dorn quite extraordinary. Unlike many treatments, you don’t need to look at a long-term commitment in time and money. Apparently Dieter Dorn wouldn’t treat people more than three times because he said that, if people didn’t get better, he would know that they weren’t doing the homework exercises he’d given them. "The great thing about Dorn is that it’s not just the therapist ‘doing things’ to the client; it’s a case of working together," says Phil. "It’s also selfregulating. If it hurts, the client stops moving, so you as a therapist also stop. The client is able to control it him or herself." I’ve tried literally hundreds of different treatments during my 30-year career as a health

It’s a curious treatment. I struggle to find comparisons but really there aren’t any. The underlying principles are the same as osteopathy or chiropractic – putting the spine back into alignment – but there are no crunches or cracks. It’s gentle, yet not soft. The whole session lasts for about an hour – with about 40 minutes of the Dorn protocol in which I variously lie on the couch, sit on the edge and stand leaning against the wall. Phil presses into my body as I go through various movements. When that is all done and dusted, I relax on the couch for a final 15 minutes of spinal massage which is not only delicious but will, Phil says, ‘set’ the adjustments. My session finishes with Phil running through a series of exercises for me to do at home. They’re very simple and a handy illustrated sheet is provided so I don’t forget what I'm doing.

After my session, I walked down the corridor and finished my session with an hour in the clinic’s floatation tank. Phil’s healing journey started when he broke his back when he was 18. "I was at university in Oxford and there was a treatment centre nearby with a float tank – one of the old pod ones. I went in it every other day and, suspended in zero gravity in water, my body could concentrate on healing. Up to 75 percent of the nervous system has to deal with keeping the body upright in gravity," he explains. Now he likes to combine bodywork with floating as he finds that the deep relaxation of floating provides a space for the body to take on board the changes made during treatment. Research flags up a whole raft of benefits to floating but, when it comes to backache, it’s superb – floating helps blood circulation and takes all stresses and strains off the muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. Above all I just love floating for the total freedom it gives mind and body. You simply shower and climb into the float chamber (no, it’s not remotely claustrophobic) and then lie back and let the 18 inches of highly salinated water hold you. At the end of my hour I always feel as if I’ve had a full night’s sleep combined with a couple of hours of deep meditation – it really is that fabulous. Phil said that I might ache a little after my treatment and he was right – my shoulders and hips did feel sore. But it only lasted a few days and, overall, I’m pretty impressed by how much easier and more comfortable my body feels.

I’m also finding myself far more aware of my posture – and trying to break my long stints at my desk with some gentle stretching and movement. Given Phil has such a battery of techniques in his skillset, I ask him when he uses Dorn in preference, say, to the Bowen Technique (another gentle, non-invasive therapy). "I tend to use Bowen for things like chronic fatigue, chronic infections and so on," he answers. "But Dorn is the one I turn to for back and neck problems, sciatica, that sort of thing. However, in practice I mix it up a bit – I use whatever the client needs." As the technique is so gentle there are not too many contraindications. Phil says he would be very careful with people with hip replacements and obviously in the first trimester of pregnancy but, otherwise, everyone could benefit.

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"I just wonder why everyone isn’t doing it," he says. "It’s non-invasive, it’s not scary; there are no cracks and crunches. Basically it’s about straightening everything up, ironing out all the kinks and creases." Overall I was impressed. I like the down-to-earth pragmatic approach of Dorn and I love that it is aiming to get people to take charge of their own bodies, of their own healing. Okay, so it’s not the most luxurious of treatments, and it’s not as pleasant and pleasurable as a good fullbody massage, but if you’re looking for an effective alternative to hardcore osteopathy or chiropractic, I’d suggest giving Dorn a try.

A session with Phil costs £45 for an hour at Hands On Clinic, 5 Cedar House, Caen St, Braunton, Devon, EX33 1AH. He also runs training courses with the Advanced Massage School:

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Over the hills and come to stay


The water vole, Arvicola terrestris WORDS by Trevor Beer PHOTO by Jack Clegg, Exmoor Photography


atty'. All of us who have grown up knowing Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame will know Ratty the Water Vole who loved messing about in boats. And if you haven't read the book, I urge you to do so, for it is a wonderful tale.

Water voles have poor sight but acute hearing. They do not hibernate. Though usually silent, they will utter a sharp 'crick-crick' if frightened, and should you be walking a reedy riverbank and hear a positive 'plop', then scan the area carefully as the sound may have been made by a diving water vole.

As to water voles, I have known them on Exmoor for many years and love them deeply as part of the waterways of the moor. It is Arvicola terrestris, a rat-sized vole about 20cm long with a somewhat shaggy coat of brown hair, though black-coated ones are found, usually in Scotland. Water voles may be distinguished from rats by their shorter tails, shorter ears and shorter muzzles. They are excellent swimmers and divers but bear in mind that rats can also swim well.

The diet is mainly grasses, voles feeding in a crouched attitude with the forepaws holding the vegetation into the mouth in a rather wasteful manner, so examine habitat for a carpet of discarded morsels.

Young water voles leave the nest when they are about half grown and look similar to field voles but have longer tails and hind feet. Look out for their short, chubby faces, small eyes and ears that just project above the fur. The front feet have four toes and the hind feet five, without webs. Their tails are well haired and can be 55-70% of the length of head and body. Pelage is brown above and paler brown or browny-grey below. A scent organ can be seen on each flank in the form of an oval area of naked skin, which presents in both sexes at about three weeks, usually most obvious in adult males. Albinism of the crown and tail tip is common. Look for water voles on well-vegetated riverbanks, lakes and reservoirs, drainage ditches and such. Latrines are situated at the edge of individual ranges. Males tend to hold to ranges for life, but females will shift ranges frequently; the male's range is normally about 130 metres, the female's about 80 metres.

They nest underground, making a closely woven ball of rushes, 20-25cm in diameter, which they line with the pith from shredded rushes. Gestation takes 20-22 days and there are usually 3-5 in a litter. The young are born naked with eyes closed, but they are fully furred in 5 days, open their eyes at 8 days and are weaned at 14 days. A second litter is often born about 3 weeks after the first. Young water voles must pass through one winter before they are able to breed. Water vole numbers declined in recent years due, in part, to mink predation, but I find they are regaining their numbers on Exmoor and elsewhere in the West Country. Maintaining and renewing habitat is vital to help this delightful creature. "There's cold chicken inside it," replied the Rat briefly; coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater." ... The contents of a picnic hamper, The Wind in the Willows... Trevor will answer your nature queries. Just drop him a line at Roselea, 38 Park Avenue, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 2ES.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 67

Family Page

Uncle Willow Explores Ilfracombe Harbour WORDS & ILLUSTRATION by Endymion Beer


s we headed off to Exmoor, autumn told upon the trees, the lovely colours an explosion upon the eye – Nature’s way of saying goodbye to summer as the water table slowly begins to drop, helping the trees make ready for a much quieter time. After ten miles or so, the air smelt and tasted different on my tongue as the hedgerows disappeared and we dropped down towards the sea. We parked near a building that looked like two sandcastles – the Landmark Theatre, built in 1997 and designed by Tim Ronalds Architects. We were in Ilfracombe! Woof! Were they showing 'Cats', I wondered. Alas not. Never mind. Perhaps I could have a gallop along the sand instead – double woof! A fishing village which grew popular as a seaside resort

68 Exmoor Autumn 2016

in the Victorian period, Ilfracombe retains much of its architecture and charm from that time and is now the leading holiday resort in North Devon – a lovely place to visit. Trotting beside my owner, we passed by some nice shops, galleries and plenty of places to eat and drink. Down by the harbour, several more gift shops, fish and chip shops, and the gentle hum of people enjoying themselves.

Did you know that 85% of the animal kingdom in the world are arthropods?! They have an external skeleton of hardened cuticle, divided into rings or segments, some of which may bear jointed limbs. If you look at how a crab is formed, this will give you a good idea. Millipedes, centipedes, crustaceans, spiders and mites are some of the creatures that belong to the arthropod family.

Along the beach I snuffled in the strandline to find the broken carapace of a small shore crab. A carapace is the upper section of the exoskeleton or shell. Those of you with pet tortoises will know the word carapace because it also relates to the shell of the tortoise, as well as to the shell of the turtle and some other arthropods.

I continued to inspect the strandline and discovered an interesting driftwood stick (which is no more because I chewed it), bladderwrack seaweed, cockle shells, winkle shells and a delightfulsmelling dead fish – some kind of dogfish. It had been there a bit too long and my owner wouldn’t let me bring it home to identify, or roll

on it – can’t think why. Next I found a mermaid’s purse. This is the egg case that holds the fertilised eggs of some fish such as chimaeras, skate and sharks. Chimaeras are deep-water fish, which generally live in the northern seas but there are three British species, with the rabbitfish being the commonest. I had heard of both catfish and dogfish, but never rabbitfish! Skates are ray fishes. The commonest, the common skate, has the shortest nose. The longest-nosed skate is a deep-water fish called the long-nose skate – nice and easy to remember. Sharks have very sharp teeth, sandpapery skin and unevenly forked tails. Small sharks are

known as dogfish, rock salmon or hounds. There are over 30 species of sharks found in British waters, at least 21 of which are resident all year round, while some species are vagrants and appear only infrequently. The basking shark, or sailfish, is the largest European shark and the second largest fish in the world. However, it feeds on plankton and is harmless, so no need to fear! Between here and Lundy you might see harbour porpoises and dolphins, perhaps more easily from the Oldenburg if you're heading to Lundy. However, harbour porpoises, one of six species of porpoise, will stay close to coastal areas, harbours

and estuaries, making them easily observable from shore. The porpoise is the smallest cetacean in European waters and it doesn't usually live more than a dozen years. There is also the European conger, which can grow up to three metres long and may occasionally be seen lying up in shallow waters near the shore. Wrasse, bass and pollack are also found in these parts, and fishermen frequently catch mackerel from Capstone Hill’s ‘Windy Corner’. In fact, the Oldenburg was at the far end of the harbour when we visited, dropping people back from a day trip to Lundy, and I could just about make out the majestic

figure of Verity silhouetted against the skyline. Verity is the 25-tonne bronze statue, over 20 metres tall (I don't think I'd keep up with her on a walk!), which is on long-term loan to North Devon Council from the world-renowned artist, Damien Hirst. A herring gull called in flight and two others joined in from the area of stashed lobsterpots on the other side of the harbour – a true seaside sound – while the RNLI men attended their vessel. Last time I saw them they were wearing ballet costumes to raise money. I don’t think I’d look right in a tutu and wellies but, strangely, they did!

The tide was ebbing but I didn't want to leave before having a paddle, with a feral pigeon trundling after me. "Brrrrr, your paws will be freezing," my owner said. I tried signalling with my ears, "If you buy some fish and chips I’ll even help you eat them," and pointed my nose at the shop, but it didn't work. I’ll try again later… This is Uncle Willow signing off. Woof! Suggested project: Write a short sea shanty or poem about the history of Ilfracombe and include the word 'woof!' at least once. Send it to the editor (details on p6). The best one will appear in the mag!

Exmoor Autumn 2016 69


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Tragic Loss of Life off Watchet WORDS by Maurice Chidgey


ome time ago a gentleman visiting Watchet came into the Market House Museum and presented a cutting from The Times dated Saturday 18 June 1859. He enquired if the museum could provide him with more details and the final outcome of the report he had brought in. This the museum was unable to do at the time and, being intrigued by the enquiry, I researched the matter and penned the following...

Very little has ever been known, spoken or written of locally about the tragic happening off Watchet on the summer’s day of Tuesday 14 June 1859, when an accident of an alarming nature occurred to a party of excursionists, causing the loss of six lives. Among the numerous pleasure trips announced for Whitsuntide was one by the screw steamer Neath Abbey, commanded by Captain Westlake, from Bristol to Watchet and Minehead on Monday, returning on the following day. The excursion proved to be an attractive one, and was joined by nearly 300 persons, among them being many natives of places adjacent to Watchet and Minehead. The steamer left Hotwells in Bristol at 5.30am on Monday and arrived at Watchet about four hours afterwards. During the passage notices were posted in conspicuous places on board the vessel, stating that she would leave Minehead on the return journey at noon and Watchet at 2pm on Tuesday, instead of at 1.30pm and 3.30pm respectively. The passengers for Watchet were landed in boats, the steamer remaining quite some distance from the shore. After everyone had been disembarked in safety, the Neath Abbey continued her voyage towards Minehead, where she landed

the remainder of her passengers and returned off Watchet to anchor for the night. On the following morning she again proceeded to Minehead, where she took in her passengers and returned to Watchet, arriving there at somewhere around 2pm. At this time a great number of passengers were on shore awaiting an opportunity to get on board, and the boats employed for the purpose of conveying them to the steamer were very crowded. Two or three trips had been made in safety, but, running out of time before the steamer's departure, the passengers crowded into the boats in still greater numbers. There were not enough boats to convey all of the people to the steamer within the time previously announced for sailing, and so two or three others were brought into service, among them a boat belonging to the smack Tom. This was under the charge of George Wedlake (a relative of the master of the Tom) and Alfred Short, both of Watchet, who were assisted in getting passengers on board by a master mariner named Allen. The place from which the boats started was a ledge of rocks to westward of the pier, and the boat of the Tom was quickly

filled by a number of passengers keen to get on board the steamer. It was said by some people that Wedlake held out his hands to prevent too many people getting into the boat, but that many of them were anxious to get away, and more were excited by drinking, and the boat soon became overcrowded. Others, meanwhile, claimed that those in charge of the boat endeavoured to obtain more passengers. It was reported that the boat, which was a little more than 11ft long and 4ft 8in wide, was crowded with 10 or 12, in addition to the pair of rowers. The boat was got off safely, but had not gone far before she struck upon a rock, although apparently she sustained no damage from this, as she continued towards the Neath Abbey which was

Top: The Bell Inn (right) and Market House (left) from a postcard around the beginning of the last century. Above: The smack Tom, to which the additional boat used to get passengers onto the Neath Abbey belonged. (Both courtesy the Market House Museum.)

Exmoor Autumn 2016 71

Coast anchored almost half a mile from the ledge, until she arrived about halfway between the shore and the steamer. The tide was coming in at the time, and there was a tolerably heavy ground swell, by no means sufficiently great to endanger the safety of even the smallest ship’s boat. The boat of the Tom was, however, so heavily laden that the water came within a foot of her gunwale and, at length, after she had shipped a considerable quantity over her bows, she was struck by a large wave, and all of her unfortunate occupants were thrown into the water. At about the same time another boat, which was closer to the steamer, was also in a dangerous state and sinking rapidly. However, Captain Westlake saw what was happening from the Neath Abbey and immediately sent a boat to her assistance, and all of the passengers were rescued. Not so, however, for the unfortunate occupiers of the boat of the Tom. Their perilous condition was also observed from the steamer – and from the shore – and Captain Allen and others immediately put off in a boat in which they had intended to convey a number of passengers to the steamer. After much effort, they succeeded in picking up eight of those who had been thrown into the water, but one of them, who was unconscious when taken into the boat, died a short time afterwards. This person was later identified as James Lewis. The Neath Abbey left Watchet at about 3pm, but returned to Watchet the next day and took on board the passengers who had been left behind the previous day and who had not returned home by rail, which many had. The bodies of those who drowned were brought ashore and attended to by Messrs J.H. Raynett and W.G. Gage, surgeons, and by Mr Wescombe, druggist. Six bodies were recovered, and it was believed that all those who had drowned were accounted for. The bodies were all placed in shells (containers used by undertakers to remove bodies) and conveyed to the Greyhound Inn (now used as offices by estate agents Wilkie May & Tuckwood at the bottom of Swain Street), where they were subsequently identified. The following is a list of those who were drowned whose bodies were recovered: James Lewis, market gardener, Bristol;

72 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Susan Lewis, wife of the above; George Mogg, of Bristol; Henry Larkham, jun., Wellington Street, Cathoy; Samuel Venn, jun., porter in the goods department of the Bristol station of the Great Western Railway; Sarah Seymour, a young woman employed at the establishment of Messrs Robinson, stationers, Redcliff Street, Bristol. With the exception of Sarah Seymour, all of these people were natives of Watchet or the parish of Quantoxhead, and had been visiting friends in the locality. Those rescued from the sinking boat were: George Larkham, sen., Jane Mogg, Edwin Edwards, Amos Greenslade, - Burton, George Wedlake and Alfred Short. An inquest into the circumstances connected with the disaster began on Thursday morning, 16 June 1859, at the Bell Inn, Watchet, whilst outside, a large number of people congregated in the streets. The inquest was conducted by Mr W.W. Munckton, the coroner for West Somerset. The following jury were sworn in: Messrs Charles Williams (foreman), John Thorn, William Chichester, Samuel Cox (founder in 1860 of the West Somerset Free Press), John Gliddon, Walter Lewis Copp, Richard Dale Case, Robert Bussell, Henry Guest, John Press, William Gimblett, Thomas Cridland and Samuel Dunn. After the jury had viewed the bodies, the coroner briefly detailed the circumstances connected with the accident and then began a lengthy period of evidence being heard. Giving evidence, George Larkham (whose son Henry was among those drowned) stated that on Tuesday the Neath Abbey returned to Watchet from Minehead at about 2pm. The packet anchored some distance from the pier and the tide was coming in at the time. “Five or six boats were employed to carry us to the steamer. I and my son, among others, got into one of the boats. I calculated there were 12 passengers and two boatmen in the boat. We were pushed off from the shore, but had not gone many yards before the boat struck on a rock. She was got off, however, and went towards the packet, but soon afterwards the boat was getting full of water. Soon the boat was swamped and we all went down with her. At this time we were about halfway between the shore and the packet.”

Mr Larkham added: “We paid threepence each for landing on Monday, and we expected to pay the same for going on board.” Edwin Edwards, of Bristol, a passenger on the excursion to Watchet, described the start of the return journey from Watchet on the Tuesday: “I and my cousin, Samuel Venn, now lying dead, got into a boat with 12 others, making 14 in all, including two seamen at the oars. After we had gone a little distance we found the boat ‘grate’ upon a rock. We went on, however, pretty well, although there was a heavy ground swell. When we were about halfway to the packet a young woman said there was water in the boat... just upon that the boat gave a bit of a lurch on the port side, and then another toward the starboard side, after which she went right away from under us and sank... I swam about halfway to the shore, when I was picked up.” William Allen, the master of the Ceres, of Watchet, said: “I assisted to place people into two of the boats on Tuesday last. Capt. George Wedlake and Alfred Short, of Watchet, took out a boatload of passengers. They had not taken a trip previously, but they got into a boat belonging to the smack Tom, Capt. Robert Wedlake master.” David McCalpin, Chief Boatman of the Coastguard, stationed at Watchet, said he had seen the boat belonging to the Tom. It was clinker-built and seaworthy. Eight grown persons were quite enough for her, and more could not be put into her without incurring great risk. Following more evidence, including that given by Peter Temby and Amos Greenslade, the coroner announced that it would be impossible to close the inquest that day so adjourned it until the following morning. The inquest resumed in the large room over the Market House (now the Holy Cross Chapel) the next morning, with many people present. After further evidence was heard, the coroner said that it had been proved that there were 13 persons in the boat from the Tom. He then addressed the jury and explained to them that if the loss of life which had occurred was the result of negligence on the part of the boatmen Wedlake and

Coast Short, they were guilty of manslaughter, but if they imagined it was an unforeseen occurrence after due precaution had been taken by the boatmen, the verdict would be accidental death. After about an hour’s deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against George Wedlake and Alfred Short and a coroner’s warrant was issued for their apprehension, although they were both immediately admitted to bail. At Somerset Assizes at Wells on 9 August 1859, Wedlake and Short were arraigned on the coroner’s inquisition, charged with the manslaughter of James Lewis, Susan Lewis, George Mogg, Henry Larkham, Samuel Venn and Sarah Seymour, at Watchet. In a summary of the list of cases, Mr Justice Crompton said that the manslaughter charge against Wedlake and Short was that they had not exercised proper caution and had taken too many persons on board their boat. In this case it appeared on the evidence of some of the witnesses that the defendants had done all they could to keep the people from rushing into their boat and there was no suggestion that the boat was not seaworthy. The Grand Jury would say whether, upon the whole, there was sufficient evidence to warrant the putting of those persons on trial on so serious a charge as that of manslaughter.

references to the Neath Abbey are scarce; we have found no pictures of her so far despite an extensive search, including with maritime museums at Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, as well as Neath Museum itself. So, if readers know of anything that we haven't included here, please do get in touch! Thank you to Ilfracombe Museum for trawling through their records and turning up these two extracts from the North Devon Journal... 6th May, 1847: ILFRACOMBE On Monday last the monotony of a long and gloomy winter was acceptably broken in upon by the arrival of the Neath Abbey archimedian screw steamer, with a pleasure party from Neath. The happy party landed about eight o’clock, and enjoyed themselves by donkey-riding and walking about the town and public promenades until four o’clock, when they embarked again for the return voyage; and the beautiful steamer glided through the water like a thing of life. It appears there will be three steamers plying between Swansea and Ilfracombe this summer, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and two fast sailing steamers from Bristol; so that the inhabitants are looking forward to a good season, in preparation for which they have been making a great outlay in building and fitting up lodging houses, laying in large stocks of goods, and providing greatly increased numbers of coaches, flies, horses, and donkeys, for pleasure parties. 11th August, 1853 The fine weather having set in, and not withstanding legislative restrictions, and consequent advancement of fare, the ‘Neath Abbey’ brought over from Neath, on Saturday, 115 members of the society of Odd Fellows, at a fare of three shillings each. They would appear to have hired the vessel at a certain sum, as it was resolved that, whatever surplus was obtained beyond it, should be given to the widows and orphans of their deceased members. They are described as a respectable and wellconducted company. The money market, is said, to have considerably benefited by their presence, especially from operations in fruit and locomotives. Fellows odd or even from that side of the water are very welcome to the public of Ilfracombe.

On the following day the Grand Jury found that there was insufficient evidence to put Wedlake and Short on trial for manslaughter. The defendants were accordingly acquitted. NOTE: In Victorian times at the start of Assizes after a Grand Jury had been sworn in they would vet the indictments and statements and hear evidence from the prosecutors and their witnesses, but not from defendants. They would then decide if there was sufficient evidence to hold a trial; if not, the case was dropped. The role of a Grand Jury was reduced in the late-nineteenth century, when pre-trial investigations by justices and the police weeded out weak cases before indictments were drawn up. The Grand Jury procedure was abolished in 1933. Sources: The Times, 18 June 1859 Bath Chronicle, 23 June and 11 August 1859 The British Library Board

Cutting from The Principality, Cardiff, 4 August 1848.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 73


Watchet's Pierhead Painter WORDS by Maurice Chidgey PAINTINGS by Thomas Chidgey, photographed by Andrew Hobbs


orn at Watchet in 1845, Captain Thomas Chidgey was one of a family long established in the coasting trade and went to sea at an early age, going on to become a master mariner. From boyhood he was gifted at drawing and sketching, recording with pencil or crayons the various ships that entered Watchet harbour. He went on to develop this ability into painting, and his greatest joy was to paint a ship at sea in full sail. Being completely self-taught, Thomas excelled at this and the more he painted the better the result. From time to time he included himself anonymously in some of his paintings. A former generation of Watchet folk have spoken of seeing him painting at his easel on a small piece of land at the bottom of Severn Terrace where he lived in his later years. His output was prolific and practically all of the ships of Watchet, as well as

74 Exmoor Autumn 2016

others, were portrayed on his canvasses. Thomas’ artistic ability to capture the various moods of the sea – his portrayal of waves being particularly outstanding – and to illustrate all the intricate and delicate rigging details and sail structure of the various different vessels was much admired by sea captains. They, as well as many members of their crews, all greatly admired his work and endeavoured to obtain a painting of their own particular ship to display above the fireplace at home, which is why some ships were painted more than once. Visiting sea captains, also hearing of his skill, would commission a painting of their vessels whilst in port unloading and reloading their cargoes, and Thomas’ paintings would be taken all around the coasts of the British Isles and further afield. He painted so many because he enjoyed it and took pride in his skill, but probably was never paid large

commissions, though now his sailing ship paintings are much sought after. Thomas Chidgey died in 1926, leaving behind a rich heritage in the form of a colourful record of coastal schooners, ketches, brigs and smacks in the last days of sail. He is now recognised as one of the foremost pierhead painters of his time, his marine paintings now being held in high regard. A number of them can be seen at Watchet Market House Museum. Market House Museum, Market St, Watchet TA23 0AN.

The Kelso in distress.

Above: Watchet harbour, 1856 (which was extended and enlarged by 1862). Left: Self portrait. Bottom, left: The fore-and-aft schooner Annie Christian was owned by Isaac Allen, of Watchet, from 1895-1912. She was the last ship on which Watchet’s famous sailor John Short ('Yankee Jack'), of shanty fame, served as mate. Bottom, centre: The new harbour, c.1905, rebuilt after the great storm of December 1900, showing the lifeboat on call. Below: In 1903 Watchet was granted a new lifeboat by the national lifeboat authority. She was named John Lingard Ross and was built at a shipyard in London. When ready a Watchet crew sailed her around the coast, and she was ceremoniously launched at Watchet on 3 August 1903 by Lady Acland-Hood. In 1904 she saved the schooner Annie Christian and her crew of four. (Paintings reproduced here by kind permission of the Market House Museum.)

In March 1879 the schooner Kelso sank in Watchet harbour. It was but a minor mishap and she was easily refloated; she then continued to sail until meeting her doom in January 1883. Capt. William Webber was master of the Kelso when she was lost, and some interesting stories are attached to her. Built by Douse, of Prince Edward Island, and launched in 1867, the Kelso had extremely fine lines, most appropriate for the rigours of the North Atlantic trade. Throughout her life she was noted for being maintained in absolutely first-class trim. She was a two-masted top-sail schooner and was listed by the commissioners of Watchet in 1869. When Capt. Webber became master in succession to Capt. Joseph Pittaway, the Kelso was trading mainly to Ireland, and on one such voyage Capt. Webber took his son, then eight years of age. At Waterford the lad was given a linnet in a cage. On Friday 26 January 1883, returning from Ireland in ballast and meeting heavy weather off Aberthaw, the Kelso was swamped. She capsized and was lost, and in the evening of that day the brig Pioneer sighted the half-submerged wreck; the Kelso’s name could be read on the stern. It is said that on the evening the Kelso foundered, Capt. Webber’s son was sitting by the fire in the living room in their little terraced cottage in Watchet while his mother was preparing a meal in the small kitchen. Suddenly the boy jumped up; he had distinctly seen his father at the window, complete with his seaman’s kit bag, and heard him tapping on the window. The boy ran to his mother, calling that dad was home. His mother had also heard the tapping and they both hurried to open the door. But of course there was no-one there. The other authenticated story is that the Kelso’s owners, John and William Besley, of Watchet, and of the great and well-known family of fishermen, were out with their nets just off Watchet when they got caught up in some wreckage. This proved to be part of a broken jib-boom, and it was found to carry the marks of a repair job recently done at Watchet. The Besleys’ instant recognition of this placed the fate of the Kelso beyond doubt. The crew lost in the Kelso comprised Capt. Webber (master), Robert Searle (mate), Albert Strickland (able seaman) and James Bale (boy). The Kelso was painted several times by Thomas Chidgey, who was undoubtedly drawn by her fine lines and the manner in which she was maintained. With regard to the loss of the vessel, no doubt there are some who will ponder over the little boy’s vision of his father at the cottage window at the time he was drowned. Perhaps they will recall strange parallels from their own experiences of the unexplained. “There are more things in heaven and earth... ”. Adapted by Maurice Chidgey from a piece originally printed in the West Somerset Free Press.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 75

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uyers often ask if there is any possibility of buying extra land when considering a potential purchase. This may be to extend the garden, increase acreage or to home a pony. Anyone wanting to buy extra land should bear in mind a few basic principles before approaching their new neighbour. LEGALITIES Exchange of land between neighbours is fairly common. Transfers are recorded by the Land Registry, who will redraw the boundaries. It is important to make sure it is recorded on the title deeds of both properties, otherwise a new neighbour could ask for their bit of land back. If you have a mortgage, when either selling or acquiring land, you need to consider notifying the mortgage company and any cost implications this may involve. AGREEING A PRICE More of a problem for the purchaser may be negotiating a price, particularly as a valuation is likely to be highly subjective. The way we suggest approaching this is by assessing how much added value it would attach to the property. Often it comes down to simple bargaining. The cost of extra land is unlikely to be fully reflected in the new market value of the property, but it’s all about 'what it’s worth to you' and whether you are happy to pay a premium. The worth to you, for example, might be higher if you have a family-sized house but only a small garden. Or, if a neighbouring farmer would be willing to sell a bigger amount, one acre or more puts you into 'equestrian property' territory, which may be worth a big premium when you come to sell. You should appoint an agent to advise and make an approach on your behalf. CHANGE OF USE Gardeners eyeing a neighbouring field should also consider planning implications. Buying agricultural land to increase your garden size involves Change of Use and will need planning permission. Unless Change of Use is obtained, you won't be able to use it as a garden. FUTURE DEVELOPMENT It's also worth checking whether the land is outside the development limits of the town/village, whether it's in a conservation area or the green belt or some other area of special interest – all factors which will affect how likely you would be to get Change of Use from agricultural land. Change of Use is similar to obtaining ordinary planning permission to develop the land and may involve similar investigations in terms of ecology, archeology, etc. Another consideration is whether the land might feasibly be built on one day – if so, would you either consider developing it yourself or is it 'worth it' to you to protect your immediate surroundings? TREES And, finally, have you noticed the trees? These may be in the garden of your new home, beyond the boundary or growing on the land that you would potentially like to purchase. Trees can affect the future enjoyment of your property and garden and, as such, it is worthwhile enquiring whether there are any TPOs (Tree Preservation Orders) on the property. A TPO is a statement by the council that the tree must remain unless there is justifiable reason for it to be removed. If it is dead or dangerous, you will need to wait for the council to issue a decision on any tree work application. If you don’t like a tree, you must not assume that you can just have it removed, and if the property you want to buy is in a conservation area you will need to apply to the council to have any work carried out on any trees on your property.

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E X M O O R C R O S S W O R D Autumn 2016 by Bryan Cath £20 will be paid for the first correct entry out of the hat on 15 October 2016. Send a photocopy if you would prefer not to cut your magazine up. Please post your answer to Crossword Competition, Exmoor Magazine, PO Box 281, Parracombe, Devon EX31 4WW. Alternatively, email it to The solution will be published in the next issue. Autumn 2016 solution from: Name: Address:

(Congratulations to our summer winner, Emma Smith from Cardiff).

Clues across 1. Does this water run through a distant pasture? (6) 4. The main issue at this time of year. (6) 9. A round hill maybe at Ferny. (4) 10. Does a raucous black bird like this bloomer? (4,6) 11. Justice in returning sex makes for evil spells. (6) 12. Told off for laying flooring. (8) 13. Lend an ice crush to this spring flower. (9) 15. Checks out the ex-servicemen. (4) 16. The medico agreed about the horse cart. (4) 17. Do people in this Quantocks valley brag about how good it is? (9) 21. In the main it will be able to, if together it helps sailors. (8) 22. Exmoor's shale rock is made up of these layers. (6) 24. Five French thwart this small flower. (10) 25. Sounds like someone who regrets finding this Rhine tributary! (4) 26. A catnap where you dream of seeing Miss Rantzen! (6) 27. Have you learnt about this horn? (6) Clues DOWN 1. An old cloth was kept in a record as it was delicate. (7) 2. Unwind to loosen. (5) 3. Cut out the hesitation in your work out. (7) 5. Was there once a river crossing in this village? (6) 6. Roots keep coming out of this small church on Exmoor. (5,4) 7. It sounds like the bakers pummelling dough are always wanting something! (7) 8. Full attention is needed when making a reduction. (13) 14. Are you going to be a square wobbling in this ballet position? (9) 16. Take a side as I shuffle through the flowers in the grass. (7) 18. One of the wild flowers in the twin towns. (4,3) 19. Make a mess of cutting meat. (7) 20. It hides before straying into the woods. (6) 23. Living in the sticks! (5)

Answers from summer 2016 crossword: Across: 1. Knuckleheads, 10. Cowslip, 11. Lattice, 12. Doone, 13. Entrance, 15. Fontanelle, 16. Neat, 18. Cast, 20. Atmosphere, 22. Toad-flax, 24. Niece, 26. Outdoor, 27. Raiment, 28. Prayway meads. Down: 2. New moon, 3. Cul de sac, 4. Lype, 5. Half Nelson, 6. Aster, 7. Science, 8. Acidification, 9. Resettlements, 14. Restharrow, 17. Open fire, 19. Start up, 21. Exe head, 23. Flora, 25. Bray.

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Exmoor's Medieval Bridges WORDS by Mary Siraut, County Editor, Victoria County History of Somerset PHOTOS by Julia Amies-Green


e often take bridges for granted until floods or accidents take them out of use, but they are among some of the most interesting buildings on Exmoor and well worth a second look. Bridges in the late Middle Ages were often the subject of charitable bequests and many great bridges had chapels on them, so important were they to traders and other travellers. Although Exmoor’s bridges are more modest, they form an important part of the environment. Several good-quality stone bridges survive from the late medieval period, including the Barle and Hele Bridges in Dulverton, Landacre Bridge in Hawkridge and two packhorse

bridges in Winsford. Clearly a large amount of trade was passing along Exmoor’s roads. Exmoor provided high roads between Devon and Somerset, between the moor and surrounding markets like Dulverton and Dunster, and between the coastal ports of Minehead, Porlock, Ilfracombe and Barnstaple, north and south, east and west for traders and drovers. One important route between Devon and Somerset through the forest crossed the Barle and a substantial bridge was built, which no doubt influenced the later siting of Simonsbath House. The increase in trade and livestock movement and the desire to travel not only in the favourable summer months

probably led to the replacement of fords by bridges on important routes. Fords are often dangerous or impassable after heavy rain. The Barle and Exe in spate are not easily forded and even clapper bridges like Tarr Steps can disappear under floodwater. Higher arched bridges enable rivers to be crossed safely except in the most severe floods and were used from the late Middle Ages until the nineteenth century, when wheeled traffic on Exmoor increased. Bridge maintenance was a heavy expense but those on major roads were maintained at the cost of an area or even the whole county. Damaging a bridge was a serious offence.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 81


Clockwise from above: The Barle Bridge in Dulverton; medieval packhorse bridge over the Winn Brook at Winsford; Simonsbath Bridge; Hele Bridge. Page 81: Landacre Bridge.

The bridges at Exford and Withypool gave access to and from the forest. At Winsford, where the north—south route alongside the Exe meets the old road over Winsford Hill to Tarr Steps, medieval packhorse bridges cross the Exe and the Winn. Dulverton’s medieval bridges were essential as the town stands between the Barle and the Exe and people needed to access its fairs in the fifteenth century. Of course ‘medieval' bridges have actually been rebuilt many times as flood damage is a regular problem, although the stones were often reused. Other bridges have had to be replaced by larger, flatter and wider structures to cope with ever-increasing traffic.

82 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Most of Exmoor’s bridges are on the Barle and the Exe. The first ancient bridge on the former is Simonsbath, where the road from Lynton, Combe Martin and Barnstaple across Exmoor into Somerset crosses the river. The bridge, named by the traveller and antiquary John Leland in 1540, is the earliest use of the name Simonsbath and was evidently an ancient and important crossing place. It was extensively rebuilt after its destruction in the 1952 flood. It has a triple-arch span.

bridge indicates the importance of the road at the time. The meadows by the road here were the meeting place of one of the spring forest courts during the Middle Ages, presumably because they were easily accessible from a large area of Exmoor. In 1634 the parishes of Hawkridge and Withypool were ordered to repair the bridge and there was further expenditure in 1681 when other parts of the county were required to contribute, indicating its continuing importance.

The next crossing was at Landacre where the road from Exford to North Molton crossed the river. Only a minor route today, the great five-arched medieval

Nothing survives of an early bridge at Withypool where the present ‘New Bridge’ was built in 1866 and restored in 1983; look for the date in pebbles.

Landscapes Clockwise from here: Withypool Bridge; Bury Bridge; the Exe Bridge at Exebridge; Gallox Bridge at Dunster; Tarr Steps; Marsh Bridge.

There are several fords and stepping stones along this stretch of the river, although they would not have been usable when the river was in spate. The next bridge is Tarr Steps. This medieval clapper bridge is the most famous bridge on Exmoor and one of the most well known in the West Country, having been a tourist attraction for at least 200 years and drawn and photographed more than any other feature on Exmoor. A scheduled ancient monument, it is very vulnerable to damage, lying only a few feet above normal river levels; it was washed away in floods in 1942, 1952, 1979 and 2008. It is built out of local grit

sandstone, the span slabs weighing up to two tons each. The ford alongside it is best avoided except by four-wheel drive. The Barle Bridge at Dulverton is an important medieval bridge, widened in 1819 by John Stone and restored in 1866 and 1952-3 after flood damage. It has a five-arch span with pointed cutwater buttresses between its four-centred arched openings. There are tablets on the parapets marking the works carried out in 1624 and 1819. The bridge remains the most important entrance to the town but is tricky for large vehicles to negotiate as several American soldiers discovered during the Second World War.

The Exe also has many bridges of medieval origin including at Exford, where the ford has long been replaced by a bridge and no trace of the original survives. Further southwest, at Lyncombe, a packhorse bridge formerly carried a trackway over Staddon Hill and may be an eighteenth-century rebuilding of an earlier bridge. It is a fine example of a single span, humpbacked Exmoor bridge. It does not seem to have been altered during the last 200 years, presumably because it's no longer on a through route. Winsford has many watercourses and many bridges. The Exe Bridge, an old stone-arched bridge at Winsford, was

Exmoor Autumn 2016 83

Landscapes destroyed in the 1952 flood but the medieval packhorse bridge over the Winn was restored. Winsford, of course, still has a ford in daily use through the Winn on the Withypool road (Ash Lane). At Edbrooke below Winsford, another ancient packhorse bridge formerly carried an old route from Dulverton to the Quarme valley across the Exe. The road was also used to drive stock to and from Winsford Hill through Edbrooke Hill Gate. Edbrooke Bridge was largely rebuilt in the eighteenth century. The new 1824 turnpike road from Minehead to Bampton necessitated the building of new bridges, notably at Bridgetown in Exton, which takes its name from the river crossings. These, in turn, were replaced by concrete bridges in 1926-7. Chilly Bridge dates from the seventeenth or eighteenth century and is a single arch, humpbacked bridge, but it may have replaced a medieval bridge on a road to Dulverton over Stockham Hill. Hele Bridge, west of Dulverton, was formerly a very important bridge carrying the old route from Bridgwater to Barnstaple. It is of medieval origin, repaired in 1628 and 1866, and widened on the south side in 1892 by G.B. Fisher for Somerset County Council. It has a

three-arch span and the north side with its pointed cutwaters gives a good indication of what the whole bridge looked like before the nineteenth century. Its parapet has recesses similar to those on medieval packhorse bridges. Although the present Exe Bridge at Exebridge is of eighteenth-century origin, there was a bridge here by 1327 not only carrying an important road but also marking the boundary of Devon and Somerset. The two counties regularly disputed responsibility for maintenance and repair. The village of Exebridge grew up around the bridge, providing blacksmiths, wheelwrights, shops, public houses and a post office to serve the needs of travellers. Unusually, the west side of the bridge is in Somerset and the east side is in Devon. Other small rivers around Exmoor have bridges of medieval origin. The Horner Water has two surviving packhorse bridges, reputedly medieval. The one at Horner is actually more likely to date from the seventeenth century, but the bridge at West Luccombe is probably of medieval origin and carried the old route over Dunkery down to Porlock. The Avill is crossed by many bridges; the most important ones were largely rebuilt by

the Rawle family of masons in the eighteenth century and some of their work can be seen in the old bridges preserved alongside the present ones at Frackford and Marsh. Frackford’s ford was replaced by a bridge by the beginning of the fourteenth century and that bridge in turn was replaced in 1768. The only ‘medieval’ bridge is Gallox Bridge, almost as famous as Tarr Steps and also a scheduled ancient monument and accompanied by a ford. However, the Gallox Bridge recorded in 1489 is a more substantial double-arched packhorse bridge. Gallox, now Park, Street was an important road in the Middle Ages, leading to Gallox Cross where roads to the coast road, Carhampton and Rodhuish villages, and Exmoor via Frackford, all met. There are many other bridges on Exmoor, which may replace medieval crossings, and on tiny streams crossed only by paths and green lanes; interesting small bridges are waiting to be discovered. Regular readers of Exmoor Magazine may also want to refer back to another piece which we have featured on bridges, written by Rob Wilson-North and published in our winter 2011 issue, pages 52-54. Packhorse bridge at West Luccombe.

The packhorse bridge at Horner, sometimes known as Hacketty Way Bridge, is a scheduled ancient monument.

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Frackford Bridge looking a bit sad.

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Green Inspiration

WORDS by Rosemary FitzGerald PHOTOS by Martyn Rix & the writer


The chapter heading for ‘The Soil’ quotes the poet Alexander Pope:

Sir Edward explains what plants from special habitats, for instance rocks or woodland, really need. He describes how the basics – water, light and nutrients – are utilised; how temperature affects growth; how plants reproduce. Any photographic illustrations are dim by modern standards, but it’s mostly illustrated with beautiful line drawings by Gwendy Caroe, and has charming quotations at the head of each chapter. It’s one of those books which change one’s life, often by clarifying unformulated knowledge – many gardeners must have moments of seeing something clearly explained which they know from their own experience without realising it?

These are the perfect key words for a fascinating garden hidden in the steep little valleys between Rose Ash and South Molton. Martyn Rix is an extremely distinguished botanist, currently editor of the superbly-illustrated Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, founded in 1787, which is still produced under the auspices of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. As well as holding this prestigious position, Martyn writes prolifically. Probably best known is his series of

early a century ago, in 1935, the great ecologist and botanist Sir Edward (E.J.) Salisbury published a book called The Living Garden. It’s about the science of gardens as living organisms rather than man-made artefacts, and, though serious, with no concessions to dumbing down, it is still enthralling and enlightening on a subject which we treat too casually as we reach for pest controls, lawn scarifiers, black plastic sheeting, chemical fertilisers, rooting powders and countless other gardening aids which we take for granted without knowing how they affect our garden world.

Where grows? Where grows it not? If vain our toil we ought to blame the culture not the soil…

garden books with Roger Phillips’ photographs. Bulbs (1989), Early Perennials (1991), Late Perennials (1991) and Shrubs (1994) are always the reference books closest to my desk, with the two Conservatory volumes (1997) next in line. These books are the most inspirational gardener’s companions imaginable, with the illustrations giving thumbnail essential information to enable growing as well as desiring the plants. Martyn was friends with another West Country hero, Kenneth Ashburner, plant collector and king of the birches (many still visible and available at Stone Lane Gardens, Chagford). After Mr Ashburner's death in 2010, Martyn edited his fine book,

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Clockwise from top left: Maple in the wood (Martyn Rix – MR); Betula utilis 'Grayswood Ghost' (MR); oriental poppies in the grass (MR); a bank of naturalised cyclamen (MR); magnolia beauty; Salvia darcyi (MR); Rhododendron loderi in the morning mist (MR). Page 93 smaller images, from left: From China, the biggest wild rose in the world; bright Cistus populifolius buds; mysterious parasitic purple toothwort; a picturesque stump garden; dog's-tooth-violets grace the wood. (All Rosemary Fitzgerald). The Genus Betula, so we round Exmoor can gather the best of information on these wonderful and varied trees which so suit our climate and soils. Martyn and his wife Alison (also a writer) have made many expeditions to observe and collect plants, travelling as far as China and Mexico, especially studying Turkey, where east meets west in world vegetation, becoming familiar with many habitats and the strategies needed for plant survival in extreme conditions. This enormous knowledge and experience, of how things grow as well as what they are, explains the exquisite oddity of their garden at Quince. I find it enthralling because it is full of really unusual species – plants rarely seen outside botanic gardens – looking utterly at home in North Devon. My own gardening principles are firmly based on ‘going with the flow’, growing plants in

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places where they want to be and can flourish in a reasonably self-sustaining way. Work in the wild, though infinitely more restricted than Martyn’s, gave me some feel for the individual habitats a garden offers, and how to make the best of that variation. Garden structure fitting the surroundings (with use of ‘borrowed landscape’ where possible) always feels important. So writing about this supreme example, where scientific ecology is used to create remarkable beauty, has been irresistible. However, I must apologise to keen garden-visiting readers, because access to Quince is as rare as the plants themselves. This is not from selfishness or aggressive privacy, but because the garden itself is one of the least compatible with modern Health & Safety concerns that I’ve ever known. The house is perched on the edge of a very steep bank, almost a cliff in places, over a deep, narrow valley. Contour

paths weave across this slope, but are not always easy to negotiate. The opposite side is wooded and equally steep, the skyline on a higher level than the house, with a stream rushing down from a spring above. The valley floor is damp, and several pools have been made by building small dams. Paths are all the things which ‘visitor safety’ does not allow – steep, slippery, pushed-into by tree roots. Branches catch one's hair and clothes. Of course, it all makes the experience magical, as treasures and surprises are revealed, but no feasible insurance would cover normal public access. The Rixes are extremely kind, so there is occasional access for local visitors and charities, and Martyn emphasised to me that he is always willing to answer questions about the garden, but this could never be in the ‘Yellow Book’. Both sides of the valley offer remarkable plantings.

Rare trees and shrubs are everywhere (this is mostly a garden of close focus and glimpses of detail, rather than wide vistas), but the grassy banks under the house show how bulbous plants, a particular interest of Martyn’s, can be used wonderfully, drift-planted in rarely-mown grass. Early snowdrops, the wild British daffodil, a few varieties of pale and graceful historic daffodils such as ‘White Lady’, the blue Anemone blanda, several Camassia species, the charming and uninvasive Allium paradoxum var. normale with sweet hanging bells, interspersed with primroses in many colour variations, cowslips and oxlips (and the natural hybrid which led to our modern bright polyanthus selections) – all these make spring months magical. Later, white and gold members of the daisy family, cranesbills in blues and mauves, and, most excitingly, species Dierama appear in

masses (these mostly the subtle-toned smaller flowers rather than the big pink ‘fishing rods’ of the nursery trade). At all times of year different wild cyclamen can be seen in flower and leaf, nestled round stones and trees. In the wood a wonderful variety of ferns, native and exotic, decorate clearings and hang over the stream, while in spring the slopes are spread with the pink flowers and beautifully spotted leaves of the self-seeding dog's-toothviolets (Erythronium). These can be seen individually, as an ordered collection, in the late Joan Loraine’s garden at Porlock (Exmoor 67, summer 2014), but here they look like wildflowers among native bluebells and wild garlic. Under the shelter of the tree canopy, on the mossy edges of the stream, grow rare Primula species from high mountain levels in China and the Himalayas. Down by a pond the humble native golden saxifrage Chrysosplenium alternifolium makes a bold splash of gold, an example of Martyn’s willingness to make beautiful use of native plants, and here in summer tower giant Cardiocrinum lilies. He has also created a splendid example of that most difficult type of gardening – making a ‘wildflower meadow’. This has taken years of dedicated effort, as it does! Flowery turfs were created through history by centuries of livestock grazing or by being cut for hay – thinking they will pop up from a seed packet is doomed to disappointment. Martyn did the full process – completely stripping the topsoil off an open area of the valley slope to remove any enriched soil, and the coarse grasses which this gives such an advantage to, and slowly planting the knapweeds and vetches and scabious which

we (and every bee and butterfly) so love. He also encouraged growth of the ‘good’ flowers by sowing Rhinanthus minor (yellow rattle) seed, as this plant is a hemiparasite, getting some of its nutrients by robbing them from grass roots, and so slowing down grass growth. During the painstaking process of flowery sward creation, unwelcome large weeds like docks, thistles or ragworts can always be removed individually, but grass is more difficult to control, and it will always out-compete flowering herbaceous plants. The wildflower bank is now a real feature of the garden. Situated furthest from the house, where part of the garden stretches up the valley, walking to it really gives the sensation, with colours, scents and insect sounds, of walking back into the rich fields of childhoods before the advent of intensive farming. The close focus of plantings in this site means that a mountain forest in Yunnan can change to an English pasture in a few strides – magic indeed! This garden is the creation of very special people who have applied their rare degree of knowledge to a corner of North Devon so that it supports a remarkably international mixture of plants in a way which makes them seem a completely natural community. It uses the shapes and features of the location to full advantage, never imposing artificial vistas, so in spite of the many rare and unfamiliar plants present, the vegetation always has a benign and somehow comfortingly familiar atmosphere, giving a real sense that we are at home among growing plants. Martyn can be contacted via Curtis’s Botanical Magazine or at

A Brace of Botanical Books by Rosemary FitzGerald

Two books, newly published, recently arrived on my desk simultaneously – the early memoirs of a respected natural history writer, and a handbook for managers of woodlands with special ‘lower plant’ interest. Initially I saw them as independent subjects, and started separate assessments, but my brain kept thinking in terms of connections and echoes. They may look an odd pair, but the essence of nature, and nature conservation, is the interconnectedness of living things, the literal meaning of biodiversity. Where the wild thyme blew, Peter Marren, 2016, hb, 399pp. B&w photos. £14.99. Order from or Peter Marren has written (beautifully) on subjects including rare wildflowers, fungi, butterflies and ancient woodlands. He’s had the honour of being the ‘biographer’ of the famous and treasured New Naturalist series, and regularly entertains readers of British Wildlife magazine with the iconoclastic thoughts of ‘Twitcher in the Swamp’. Venturing into autobiography is daring. The subject of self is always chancy, but this book really explains how a passion for nature, gained in childhood, can enrich and define a life. Where the wild thyme blew is not always an easy read. As in nature conservation itself, cold, wet and dreary days are as many as those of sunlit tripping among buttercups, but both are essential. Peter Marren’s years at boarding school are too honestly related and well described to be comfortable reading, and he is a loner, but he also recognised it was this experience that enabled him to develop inner resources that could focus intensely on nature. He is a talented writer, so his loves and interests can reach us, touch us and enlighten us through the written word. Lichens and Bryophytes of Atlantic Woodland in South West England, 2016, pb, 70pp. Colour photos. Free. Email: Head down and bum up in vegetation or peering at tadpoles; nature nerds seem comic. But it takes passion to be a successful nerd and Marren's memoirs allow us to understand the obsessive streak needed to study obscure organisms such as lichens. This well-produced and beautifully illustrated Plantlife publication is more than a work-practise advice manual, though it is eminently clear and approachable as such. It also summarises and explains the global importance (and rarity) of Atlantic Woodland (sometimes called ‘Atlantic rain-forest’) and the many threats it faces. Exmoor and the Quantocks form one of the few Important Plant Areas in southern Britain for this precious habitat, and members of our National Park staff are among the contributors. Do read this!

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fter the dreary days of winter, nothing gladdens the heart more than a colourful display of spring flowers. Autumn is the time to plant your annuals and biennials raised from seed, or bought ready to plant out, and, of course, bulbs. Traditional seasonal bedding plants such as Primula, forget-me-nots (Myosotis), Bellis, Muscari, wallflowers and tulips will always have a place in the garden as they provide the first colour and, importantly, forage for early flying insects.


Spring Colour WORDS by Sheila Dearing, Garden Technical Services Officer, RHS Rosemoor

At Rosemoor, we favour whites, pinks and blues for our bedding schemes but the variety of cultivars available means that you can have almost any colour combination you wish. Primula 'Crescendo White' forms the basis of the white component. We buy these plants as plugs and grow them on, as growth from seed tends to be erratic; we cannot give them the cool summer conditions needed for germination. Bellis and tulips provide the pink shades; Myosotis and Muscari are of course perfect for blues. We use Myosotis sylvatica 'Indigo', M. sylvatica 'Bluesylva' (Sylva Series) AGM, Muscari armeniacum 'Valerie Finnis' and Muscari aucheri 'Blue Magic'. These are all low-growing plants and so are perfect for growing around Exmoor. They keep their heads down out of the wind and cover the ground, helping to prevent the rain from washing away precious soil nutrients. If you want to grow taller flowering plants such as tulips, look for short-stemmed varieties in the catalogues. Bedding plants can be used less formally, at the front of the border or to fill bare soil under shrubs and roses. Here is an opportunity to have fun with colours and textures in the knowledge that, if you don’t like the result, the plants will be removed at the end of the season, and you can make improvements next year without breaking the bank. Biennials are sown in the first week of July in the nursery and planted out in late September/early October. Our favourites include Hesperis matronalis (sweet rocket/ Dame's violet), sweet William (Dianthus barbatus 'Sooty' and D. barbatus Auricula-eyed Mix), wallflowers (we love Erysimum cheiri 'Sunset Purple') and honesty (Lunaria annua). Foxgloves are a special favourite, including Digitalis

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purpurea 'Pam's Choice', D. purpurea 'Excelsior Group' and D. purpurea f. albiflora. These are used in the Cottage Garden, Shrub Rose Garden and anywhere else we can fit them in, as they always put on a lovely display in May/June. To make best use of the available space, plant in layers and you'll be surprised just how much colour you can get in a small area. We normally plant all of the annuals and biennials first, and then the bulbs in between, even those that need to go in deep such as the Dutch iris, alliums, tulips and narcissus. There are many narcissus cultivars available, but we find the N. cyclamineus hybrids stand up well to wind and rain, for example N. 'Jack Snipe' AGM, N. 'Jenny' AGM and N. 'Jetfire' AGM. Of the alliums, A. cristophii AGM is short stemmed, but the heads are large, and so benefit from some shelter. A. hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' AGM is a good one to try as we've found it more reliable than many in coming back year after year. Cyclamen coum AGM, crocus, snake'shead fritillary, lily of the valley and bluebells can all be planted in autumn for naturalising under trees, in hedgebanks and beneath stone walls. Living in the challenging conditions around Exmoor does mean that you need to plan more than most for your spring display. Many problems can be overcome by planting in pots; they can be moved around to the best spots and foil the attempts of badgers and voles to make a tasty snack of your tulips. As for what to plant and where, nature provides the best clues; you'll find spring-flowering plants sheltering at the bases of hedges and walls or at the edge of woodland where they get protection from the wind but plenty of sun. Plants growing on more exposed sites tend to be ground hugging or have short, sturdy stems. Try to imitate these conditions in your own garden; provide shelter by planting trees and shrubs to create your own microclimate. From top, left to right: Foxgloves with 'Pam's Choice' in the foreground (©RHS/ Jason Ingram); spring pots (©RHS/Jason Ingram); pink tulips and Bellis, white Primulas and blue Myosotis (©RHS/ Sheila Dearing); spring pots (©RHS/Jason Ingram); Hesperis and Digitalis in the Cottage Garden (©RHS/Sheila Dearing).

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From the Wild Earth: Jonathan Walker WORDS by Mel Roach


ft regarded as a contemporary master of anthropomorphic art, Jonathan Walker captures something of the psychology of all of us in his irreverent country characters. In his wildly imaginative alternate reality, provincial feral-folk go to church, keep pets and hang out washing. They also plot, steal and drink tea on the toilet – a motley community of banjo-playing, ale-swilling toads, dapper hares, miscreant foxes in battered hunting jackets and homely badgers engaged in domestic tasks. Evoking the archetypal quaintness of country life, whilst still encompassing the colours and ruggedness of the wild earth, Jonathan personifies his beasts in a way that does not diminish their nobility.

Clockwise from this image: The Late Arrival, 46cm x 37cm; The Blade, 55cm x 50cm; Slow Smoked, 41cm x 61cm; Little Fury, 32cm x 42cm; The Remedy, 33cm x 41cm.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 93

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Arts Gently spoken and a ponderous thinker, he responds to each of my questions first with a placid silence as he contemplates them fully and patiently. Once upon a time, he tells me, he studied divinity at university, followed by religions, before entering into the world of psychotherapy for some years – but he has been an artist since the beginning. “I always knew, all artists know they can paint from a young age, you just slide into it.” His father was a competent amateur painter which helped him immensely in a practical sense. “Insights – that's all you need as a child, Dad gave me lots of practical advice. I remember things he said that made me 'see', such as the colour of the sky growing lighter as it gets further away from you. He was someone who always 'saw', always 'looked'.” The young Jonathan would spend priceless times in the old Victorian library in his home town of Leek, Staffordshire, consuming the works of the great nineteenth- and earlytwentieth-century illustrators such as William Heath Robinson, Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Hablot Knight Browne, aka 'Phiz', who illustrated Dickens' work for 23 years. In his studio, Jonathan introduces me to the work of Heinrich Kley, a lesserknown, frenetic German illustrator from the Victorian period. Kley's fervent lines and often outré subjects are the passing preoccupations of a helter-skelter psyche, disgorged unapologetically onto the page with considerable genius and madness. Despite utterly different subject matter and tone, I see a commonality between Kley's cerebral anarchy and the off-the-wall, animal characters for which Jonathan is known. Each is the product of an imagination allowed to meander freely – and the defiance to place it on the page and to hell with it. The tendency of humans to attribute our qualities to nonhuman entities is widely accepted as an ingrained component of our psychology and this is not lost on Jonathan, who was a professional therapist when he arrived in Devon in 1991. His instinctual categorisation of certain animals as particular 'types' probably goes back to childhood, he concludes, as he introduces me to his fantastical inner world. “With foxes it's all low voices, wild and edgy, they are huddled, it's all dark tales and plotting, I imagine a derelict pub on Exmoor where they

may hang out; hares are elegance and poise and badgers are like old friends that never do up their trousers, badgers don't wear bright colours.” Jonathan knows exactly how the animals would talk – foxes commune in whispers, hares do not really talk at all as they are 'elsewhere' and badgers? “In broad Devon accents of course!” Jonathan exclaims, “It's obvious!” Geese, he explains, are 'blousy and haughty', though I see something else in Jonathan's geese; they are a domestic strain, not clothed like their wild neighbours, belonging only to themselves and possessing an almost esoteric quality. They are marginal, party to many a gathering, sermon and plot, but possess a status that is somehow equivocal and inscrutable. These surreal subtleties creep out from Jonathan's works the more you look at them – the scenes are often funnier, or darker, than at first glance and each painting feels like a sliver of a hidden saga unfolding parallel to our own. Jonathan didn't always paint caricatures, he began painting everything that spoke to him; scenes in oils of everyday life, items with a particularly resonant texture or shape. He tells me he still paints 'anything' and the evidence is dotted about his home – I was particularly drawn to a trio of somewhat reverential oil portraits of geese on display. Quite a departure from the work Jonathan is known for, they are faithful, un-ironic homages to a bird he admits he 'has a thing about', revealing an accomplished and versatile talent. Jonathan was great friends with the late Exmoor artist Mick Cawston and had an influential role in encouraging Mick's successful 'Lamping' and 'Cheers' collections of anthropomorphic scenes, but he downplays his own accomplishments, describing his animal caricatures as 'accessible', and telling me that, “It's not unique what I do, I'm not making a great statement, you just have to find a little niche.” Finding that niche has enabled him to paint 'full time' for the last 15 years and he deserves to, because he is a pure artist, with a self-confessed obsession with the fundamentals: colour, Clockwise from below: All In, 69cm x 53cm; Bedlam Mount, 66cm x 52cm; Wee Charles, 35cm x 44cm; Kelp, 32cm x 65cm.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 95

light, texture and, above all, 'the line'. “I start with a very small thing, a thumbnail sketch, then a larger rough pencil sketch, then the final piece and then a rolling process of refining, but it is all about the joy of a line, I've never become fed up with that.” After moving to Devon, time immersed in the local landscape and observing the creatures of its hills and hollows began to invoke in Jonathan the more offbeat view of the animal kingdom that informs his work today. At first Dartmoor and, later, Exmoor were great inspirations – the two moors have distinctly separate qualities for him. “Dartmoor has a grandeur, but Exmoor has more of a magic about it.” Jonathan particularly loves his regular drive from his home near Silverton up to Porlock where his works are displayed in the 'fantastic' Churchgate Gallery. “The wooded valleys are amazing as they thread to the sea, all that contrast in such a small space, and the high moor – it is in reach of everywhere, but feels really remote and a place apart.” The West Somerset Mineral Line provokes more fascination, and Jonathan sometimes ventures to Roadwater to procure handmade paper from the Two Rivers Paper Company and is entranced by this pocket of Exmoor. “Exmoor is like a trip into another world and going up the old Mineral Line is like entering another world again. What a place! The way I get to it, weaving up past Exford, feels like a real journey to somewhere 'else'." It almost goes without saying that he is an enthusiastic, observant naturalist. “I am always out and about looking at things, but people do stare at you strangely when you walk in the countryside without a dog – I think it's a different kind of walk.” In his quiet garden studio, Jonathan shows me some works in progress. One, as-yet untitled, piece depicts a grandfatherly, scruffily-attired badger, clinching a trophy cup and a lead attached to a colossal prize-winning snail. “I liked the idea of badgers rearing snails in an allotment, feeding them lettuce!” Fellow brocks bearing far more diminutive snails are assembled about the victor, but he is unruffled, bearing the countenance of one who is well used to winning – somewhat bored of it even. Such delicious minor details are key to the evocation of the familiar in Jonathan's work – he unmistakably defines the body language of groups and the involuntary facial expressions betraying the most basic human motives. To peruse a selection of Jonathan's works is to be touchingly reminded of most of the people you have known, loved and lived amongst. Engaged varyingly in farcical exploits, compatriotism, prosaic realities and clandestine roguery – with no modest sense of entitlement – these critters are us, unrepentant and inexorable, raised, as the wild things are, straight from the rich, red soil. See opposite page for details of Jonathan's autumn exhibition.

Left: Velvet Slippers, 53cm x 98cm. Above: Cider Brandy Moon, 97cm x 52cm.

96 Exmoor Autumn 2016


We now offer Own Art, an Arts Council supported scheme that allows you to spread the price of an artwork over 10 months interest free. find out more at


Exmoor Autumn 2016 97

The Exmoor Pony Centre celebrates turning ten by Sharon Goble

to have a few visitors. Now we welcome thousands each year to meet this wonderful iconic breed. In the last decade, we have helped over 300 ponies and had over 6,000 people in the saddle.” Extensive improvements have been made to the Centre over the years, including enhanced paddocking, pony handling and visitor facilities. In 2011 the ‘Green Room’ was renovated to provide a dedicated space for exhibitions, education and fundraising.

Two equestrian celebrities have helped the Exmoor Pony Centre celebrate its milestone tenth birthday. Author and Exmoor pony lover, Victoria Eveleigh, and Devon horse trainer, freerider and TV presenter, Emma Massingale, attended a special birthday party in honour of Exmoor pony Barney, who also turned ten. Barney was one of the first foals to be taken in when the Centre opened in the summer of 2006 to promote and protect the endangered rare breed. His party was held at Dunster Country Fair in July – with birthday cake for ponies and people! Another supporter, pensioner Michael Woodcock, had hoped to jump an inexperienced young Exmoor pony to raise money at the Fair. He unfortunately had to withdraw from the challenge. The Centre’s Linzi Green says, ”We are as much in need of funds now as when we first opened. Then, we were thrilled just Dunster's Calling, Tracey Gemmell, 2016, 320pp, pb, ISBN: 978 0 9976137 0-4. "I never really left Exmoor," says Tracey Gemmell. "Or maybe Exmoor never really left me. Either way, despite currently residing in the United States, Exmoor’s where my heart lives. So I had to search for a remedy for homesickness – and that’s how Dunster’s Calling was born." This novel follows British expat, Samantha, from childhood exploits with her Exmoor pony, Dunster, to an adulthood that

98 Exmoor Autumn 2016

The Centre is run by the registered charity, the Moorland Mousie Trust. Moorland Mousie was the central character in a 1920s children’s story about an Exmoor pony – a favourite childhood book of the Duchess of Cornwall who was, for a period, the charity’s patron. The anniversary celebrations include more events during August as part of the Exmoor Pony Festival. or

Exmoor Calvert Horseshoe

in beautiful Exmoor scenery including the Barle River valley, Dunkery Gate, Dunkery Hill, Cloutsham Ball and Horner Wood. Local rider Julie Lyons described her experience: “I had a fantastic day, made some new friends, and enjoyed some beautiful scenery and lovely weather at this well-organised event!” Calvert Trust Exmoor is a charity that works with people with all types of disability, providing opportunities to access many adventurous sports and activities, including horse riding and carriage driving. Robin Nicoll, Head of Fundraising at Calvert Trust Exmoor, says, “We’ve had brilliant support for our first ever open country riding event, with over 100 riders raising approximately £2,000 for Calvert Trust Exmoor, and more sponsorship and donations are still coming in.” The event was also kindly supported by Rosettes Direct, the UK’s largest rosette manufacturer, who provided rosettes for all riders.

Calvert Trust Exmoor ran its first ever open country horse riding event, the Exmoor Calvert Horseshoe, on Bank Holiday Monday, 30 May 2016.

Photo by Tim Lamerton


The Exmoor Calvert Horseshoe offered two alternative rides through beautiful Exmoor countryside: a 15-kilometre leisure ride and a 25-kilometre endurance ride. Both started and ended at Comer’s Gate, near Withypool, taking finds her, surprisingly, married to a US citizen and living in the States. This humorous tale carries the reader from disastrous gymkhanas to ancient castles, French goats to intuitive dogs, and from thatched-cottage villages to a New York cruise that ferries Sam away from her livery-stable-with-attached-cream-teashop destiny. She discovers that, contrary to popular belief, not everyone is trying to get into America. She’s trying to get out. But must she choose between her homeland and her husband? Dunster’s Calling explores what makes ‘home’ home and will touch anyone who’s ever pined for a special place – or loved a pony. "I left Porlock years ago only to find I’ve spent years trying to

get back, so Sam and I definitely have something in common," Tracey laughs. "I just wish I’d had an Exmoor pony like Dunster!" Tracey’s trans-Atlantic lives have included roles in speech-language pathology and professional horse training. She currently divides her time between Wisconsin and Exmoor. Visit her at or Available in paperback and e-book from, CreateSpace, Smashwords, and other outlets. A percentage of proceeds will be donated to the Moorland Mousie Trust.

WIN A FLY CONTROL KIT FROM MOLE VALLEY FARMERS! Riders are still engaged in the battle with midges and flies, which can make summer riding so difficult. Sensitive animals can be tormented until nearly unrideable, while others can be plagued with lumps, rashes or sweet itch, and wounds can become infected, as can eyes. Several species of fly are particularly problematic. Biting flies, such as horseflies, which typically appear in June and July, can pierce the horse’s skin and feed on its blood, while nuisance flies lay secretions in and around the horse’s eyes, mouth, nose and other sensitive areas. Aside from the threat of an allergic reaction and annoyance, flies can carry diseases, which spread from horse to horse. Recurrent dermatitis (SSRD) – sweet itch – can cause total misery if not controlled effectively. The condition, which is set off by a reaction to the saliva of biting midges, causes horses to rub their manes, tails and sometimes their undersides too, with varying degrees of severity. Top tips include stabling your horse from dawn to dusk, using a fly rug with face mask for additional protection (and fly rugs for riding in are now also available), using an effective fly control product and applying it at least once a day and feeding garlic to repel insects. If feasible, it can also help to use fields with lower midge burdens; those away from water and higher up are preferable. Get set for a happier summer next year! Mole Valley are offering you the chance to win a Horseware Mio fly rug and mask worth £46. This rug has a reflective outer for added protection from harmful rays, an integrated hood and extra-long tail flap for excellent protection. To enter, email your address, phone number and the answers to the two questions below to: before 30 September 2016.

1 During which months do horseflies become a particular nuisance?


Horse Insurance by Jill Headford


typical Horse and Rider insurance policy covers these areas:

Death of the horse Insurers will usually pay the lesser of the sum insured or the market value of the horse. Humane slaughter will only be covered subject to certain conditions. Theft and straying Cover is for market value or sum insured in the event of the death or permanent loss of the horse. Vet’s fees The level of cover and amount of excess will both be directly reflected in the premium. Pre-existing conditions are not covered and there is usually a qualifying period of 30 days from inception of the policy before claims can be considered. The policy will specify what vet's fees are covered and make clear whether alternative therapies are covered. Permanent loss of use Permanent loss of use will generally not be paid out until 12 months from the date of the accident or onset of the condition which led to the loss of use. It is important to notify the insurers quickly after the onset of the disease or condition, which can of course catch owners out. Loss of use means the horse is permanently incapable of fulfilling the purposes for which it is actually insured and the cost of the destruction of a horse for economic purposes (because it can no longer do its job) is usually paid out under this section if at all. Some policies pay out the market value or sum insured, but if the owner elects to keep the horse the policy usually pays out a reduced sum. Personal accident insurance Covers injury suffered by the owner or insured person (and, in some cases,

2 Which insect causes sweet itch?

a permitted person) while riding or driving, etc. The policy will contain important definitions of relevant terms such as bodily injury, permanent total disablement and loss of a limb and exclusions such as someone being injured while under the influence of alcohol or under 5yrs/over 75yrs. It will usually be a condition of cover that the injured person was wearing correctly adjusted and safety approved headgear. Fixed sums (often not large unless the policy is specially negotiated) are paid out on death, loss of sight or limb, permanent total disablement, etc. Trailers, horse drawn vehicles, tack, etc. Cover is for theft and accidental damage up to the amount specified, but not exceeding, market value. The policy will invariably not cover wear and tear, breakdown, theft from a building where entry was not forced, vehicles not secured by a towing lock or wheel clamp, tack left in unattended vehicles, etc. This type of cover is not intended to apply to legal liability to third parties, eg. someone injured by a trailer being towed by the insured. That type of cover is a matter for motor insurance. Third party liability This is cover for injury or damage caused to someone by the insured horse. The limit of cover will be high, often over £1 million. It should cover the insured’s liability, both for losses and for legal costs and expenses awarded against them. It may also cover the insured’s own legal costs and expenses. Don't forget to pay extremely close attention to the list of rules which must be complied with as conditions of cover, the list of exclusions, the policy schedule and any stipulation for a pre-purchase vetting certificate. If you need more advice please email Jill Headford of Tozers Solicitors:

Equine clothing • tack • feed bedding • stables • yard • paddock Visit us online for great equestrian offers

Exmoor Autumn 2016 99

In the heart of Exmoor Country

Burrowhayes Farm Riding Stables 01643 862463 Gif Vouch t Avail ers able Escorted rides on Dunkery, Ley Hill & Selworthy Children’s ponies for parents to walk & lead Licensed by W.S.D.C • Open from Easter to end of October Also popular family camping site • Just 1 mile east of Porlock off A39

West Luccombe, Porlock, Minehead, Somerset TA24 8HT

Coal and Logs Supplied

Fine quality Socks & Yarns from North Devon

01984 640412

A family run agricultural merchant based in the south west covering all aspects of rural life.

Equestrian • Countryside Pursuits Farming • Home & Garden WASHFORD MILL, WATCHET, SOMERSET, TA23 0JY

Riding & Holidays on Exmoor Beginners Hacks by the hour l Safari Day Rides (unsuitable for beginners) l Children’s unaccompanied riding holidays l Traditional holiday cottages self catered with service l




BROFORD FARM STUD Our horses are bred for endurance riding, racing or enjoyable hacking. Come and visit with no obligation to buy.

Tel: 01398 (Dulverton) 323569

Pine Lodge is an established approved Riding Holiday Centre near Westernand Counties Equine Hospital Dulverton, in the Exmoor National Park. We have horses and ponies to Equine Veterinary Surgeries suit most abilities. They are used to all terrains, including crossing 841100 rivers, forest trailsTel: and 01884 cantering over the open moorland of Exmoor. All rides are escorted by our friendly and experienced ride leaders.

At Western Counties we have the skills and experience to diagnose and treat your horse whatever the problem.

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Eight dedicated equine vets, including RCVS certificate holders in equine practice, medicine and equine surgery. We provide a full range of ambulatory services across Devon & Somerset complemented at the hospital by a caring team of nurses providing 24 hour on-site nursing cover.

Western Counties Equine Hospital

Stud medicine including artificial insemination packages. Our modern stabling barn provides accommodation for 12 horses including intensive care and mare At Western Counties we have the skills At Western Counties we have the skills and foal boxes. Other new facilities and experience to diagnose and treat and experience to diagnose and treat include video-gastroscopy your horse whatever the problem for diagnosing gastric your horse whatever the problem. ulcers, remedial We have a dedicated team of equine farriery and We have a dedicated team of equine vets, including RCVS certificate holders Equine Veterinary Surgeries vets advanced RCVS certificate holders in inincluding equine practice, medicine and equine dentistry. equine practice, and of equine surgery providingmedicine a full range ambulatory surgery providing a fulland range of services across Devon Somerset ambulatory services Devon complemented at theacross Hospital by &a caring At Western Counties we have the skills and experience to diagnose Somerset, complemented at the team of nurses providing 24 hourHospital on-site by a caring team of nurses providing 24 and treat your horse whatever the problem. nursing cover. hour on-site nursing cover.

Western Counties Equine Hospital Tel: 01884 841100

Eight dedicated equine vets, including RCVS certificate holders inOur equine practice, vets have experience in all equestrian disciplines ranging racing and Our vets have a vastfrom knowledge of the medicine and equine surgery. competitions breeding andPoint pleasure Racing world,to covering many to We provide a full range of ambulatory services across Devon & Somerset Points and National Hunt meetings. We horses. complemented at the hospital by a caring team of nurses providing hour on-site offer24 a full range of services for the racing Full diagnostic services including endoscopy, client including, Tracheal Washes and nursing cover. radiography and ultrasonography are Blood Profiles, which are processed in our available at home with or atsame the hospital Stud medicine including artificial insemination packages. on-site laboratory day results and veterinary interpretation. Breeding packages for chilled and frozen Our modern stabling barn provides accommodation for semen 12 horses including intensive care and mare Endoscopic, Videoscopic, Gastroscopic Our modern stabling barn provides and Over the Ground Scoping, Ultrasonic and foal boxes. Other new facilities Culmstock, Cullompton, Devon. EX15 3LA accommodation for 12 horses including and Radiographic imaging are available include video-gastroscopy intensive careorand mare and foal boxes. at your yard at the Hospital. for diagnosing gastric Referrals accepted for surgery including ulcers, remedial arthroscopy, colic surgery and medical Please contact us on the number below cases including and neonatal farriery and to discussgastroscopy your requirements with ourcare. reception team. advanced Please contact us on the number below to discuss dentistry. your requirements with our reception team. Culmstock, Nr Cullompton, Devon EX15 3LA email:

01884 841100 100 Exmoor Autumn 2016


Celia Braund WORDS & PHOTOS by Victoria Eveleigh


first met Celia Braund when she brought her daughter Flora to our farm for a Young Farmers’ stock-judging event. From the start it was obvious that Celia had a natural affinity with animals, especially our horses, so I asked her whether she’d grown up around them. “I wish!” Celia replied, and told me how she’d longed for a pony when she was a schoolgirl in Ilfracombe but had only managed to save up for a few cherished riding lessons in the holidays. “In fact, I’ve never stopped longing for a horse of my own. I even know what he’ll be like: a grey Irish draught, that’s my dream.”

We carried on talking as Celia came into the house to help me cook supper for everyone. Her life so far has been remarkably varied, from a few years in London working as a researcher for Which? magazine (when she managed to seek out horses in Epping Forest), to a year at Arlington Court helping with the restoration of the carriages there (and spending as much time as possible with the carriage horses), conservation work in numerous places including Lundy (where there are ponies, of course) and a period spent working with people with learning disabilities and mental health issues across North Devon (with days off spent riding on Exmoor).

Exmoor Autumn 2016 101

In the Stableyard There were two themes going on here – caring and horses – so I wasn’t at all surprised when Celia told me that she was doing an equine massage course. She’d trained in energy healing with the National Federation of Spiritual Healers and had also studied aromatherapy and massage for humans, but her ultimate goal was to branch out into equine and canine massage. “The problem is I need several different types of horses for case studies,” she said. “We’ve got an ex-racehorse, a hunter, a retired Shire, a young Clydesdale and several Exmoor ponies. Is that enough variety?” I asked. Since then our horses have had several massage sessions with Celia, and we’ve found out a great deal about them through her ability to detect energy patterns, tight muscles, stiff joints and signs of tension. In fact, if we ever buy another horse I think it would be really helpful if she were to look it over for us in addition to getting it vetted. Our only horse that seems to have little or no tension in her muscles, but loves being massaged, is Ruby the Clydesdale. One day I made the mistake of saying, “Well, there’s no point in massaging Ruby. She hasn’t got anything wrong with her.” “Aha, classic misconception!” Celia replied. “Regular treatment can stop problems from occurring – so much better than trying to fix things after they’ve gone wrong.” Celia’s initial deep-tissue massage training on Exmoor, using our horses and others as case studies, led to a more advanced course in Oxfordshire to learn equine mobilisation and stretching techniques. And she hasn’t finished yet. “Every new thing I learn opens the door to something else,” Celia told me when we met up at the Exmoor Pony Centre this summer, so that I could take photos while she worked with a pony there. “For instance, I’d love to increase my knowledge

Previous page: Celia giving Ruby, my Clydesdale mare, a massage. Above: Stretching and mobilising Laura Staite’s sports horse, Jet

102 Exmoor Autumn 2016

of equine physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments. I’m also fascinated by the healing properties of plants and how animals select them to cure themselves. Oh, and I’m going to do some more Open University natural science modules this autumn, looking at cellular biology and evolution.” It’s impossible not to be impressed by Celia’s thirst for knowledge and the enthusiasm she has for her work. Her aim is to be a truly holistic therapist, drawing on a wide range of intuitive skills and learned techniques. She’s happy to work with humans and dogs, but horses are her passion. “I feel naturally at home with horses; they just make sense,” she remarked as we stood looking at several Exmoor ponies munching hay in the yard by the indoor school. All Celia’s animal treatments start with a brief consultation to get background information and make sure the vet’s happy for her to work with them. The Exmoor Pony Centre’s vet welcomes complementary therapy alongside conventional veterinary care, but it’s essential for veterinary permission to be obtained before anyone other than a qualified vet can treat an animal. The Centre manager, Linzi Green, was away delivering some ponies to a conservation site, so Claire McGurk was in charge on the day we visited. Claire had joined the team recently and wasn’t sure about the medical history of the ponies, which meant all Celia knew about the gelding she’d be treating was that he was called Rama, he was 12.2 hands high, he was born on Withypool Common in 2001 and he’d been used as a riding pony. Rama had just been brought in from the field. He was muddy and shedding his winter coat. With photos in mind, we brushed him off as best we could. He looked slightly uneasy about being brushed by three people at once, all trying to make him presentable as quickly as possible, and I secretly wondered whether he’d enjoy the experience of a massage.

In the Stableyard

Above: Celia assessing and helping Rama at the Exmoor Pony Centre, assisted by Claire McGurk. I needn’t have worried. As always, Celia introduced herself gently but confidently, and from the start Rama seemed to know she wanted to help him. A walk and trot up, to see how he moved, was followed by a muscle assessment to feel for areas of tension while letting the pony get used to her touch. Then Celia started her routine, incorporating massage, stretching and mobilisation. Rama spent most of the time with a blissful droopy-lipped expression on his face, especially when Celia worked on the muscles of his near side shoulder and forelimb, which she identified as a particular problem area. His eyes closed almost completely then, and he looked so relieved that she’d found the right place...

Eventually, Claire led him out into the yard to join his friends at the hay nets. “Can I have one more photo of the three of you before his head collar’s taken off?” I asked. As Celia took her place next to Rama he turned his head towards her, touched her gently with his muzzle and remained like that for some time – long enough for me to turn on my camera, point and shoot. The photo is hurried and underexposed, but it’s special because Rama appears to be thanking Celia.

As is often the case, the diagonal limb – his off hind – also had limited mobility.

POSTSCRIPT: Linzi Green arrived back at the Exmoor Pony Centre just as we were leaving, and Celia had a brief chat about Rama. Linzi confirmed that in the past he’d been lame on his near fore and off hind.

I was impressed that Celia always concentrated on what the pony could do willingly when performing the stretching and mobilisation exercises. She never pushed him past the point of resistance, and seemed to know instinctively what he needed.

Celia Braund Telephone: 01271 862205 Email: Facebook: White Horse Holistics

Although Celia must have worked with Rama for well over an hour, he looked as if he’d have stood there all day, happily lapping up the attention.

You can meet Rama and his friends at the Exmoor Pony Centre. For details of opening hours, activities and special events go to or telephone 01398 323093.

Exmoor Autumn 2016 103

Diary 60+ Reasons to Pop Out this Autumn... Photo by Jane Mares

COMPILED by Katy Charge

Our diary gives a small sample of the type of events taking place locally. See page 109 for some useful websites and keep an eye on our Facebook page too ( ENPA's Exmoor Visitor also contains listings. The dates here are submitted to us and as far as we are aware the information is correct at the time of going to press. Contact details are included so that you can check events nearer the time. Please email your winter dates to us by 30 Sept. (see page 6 for details). We are always oversubscribed but will do our best to fit you in! 2nd and 4th Saturdays of Every Month Open Nights/Concerts respectively Shammick Acoustic, Pack o' Cards, High Street, Combe Martin. T: 01271 882366/07977 914736,,, search Shammick Acoustic on Facebook.

August Sunday 21 August Keith Hole Memorial 23rd Classic Tour of Exmoor 9.30am-3pm. Organised by Minehead Motor Club. Bacon butties/hot drinks from Doniford Farm (TA23 0TQ ) then approx. 100-mile circular Exmoor route, finishing with a cream tea. Touring Car Assembly open event for members/ non-members with classic cars/vehicles of interest. Booking essential, entry fee per car. T: 01643 706162 ( Jenn Williams), W: Sunday 21 August The Wild Stuff 11am-1pm. Meet a National Park Ranger at Dry Bridge for a 2hr/3.5-mile circular walk across open moorland. Meet at Dry Bridge SS759451. Walking clothing/boots essential. No need to book, donations to CareMoor welcome. T: 07970 099116, W:

104 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Friday 26 August Minehead Country Market 9-11am. Traditional fare to take home. Every Friday morning indoors in the Quaker Meeting House on Bancks Street. Breads, cakes, honey, jams, chutneys, savouries and main dishes, plants, seasonal veg, and handcrafted items. Free event. Minehead TA24 5DJ. T: 01643 705291 (Pauline Davis).

Sunday 28 August Cullompton Town Fayre 11am-6pm. Stalls, refreshments, entertainment and more on the CCA Fields. The event will raise funds for Crohn's and Colitis UK, Bowel Cancer UK and Cullompton Community Association. W:, charityfundraisingindevon.wordpress. com/events/cullompton-town-fayre.

Friday 26-Sunday 28 August 10th Watchet Music Festival A family-friendly music festival with views of the West Somerset coastline and beyond. On-site camping, 3 stages, over 50 live acts. Headliners include The Levellers, UB40 & The Feeling. W:


Saturday 27 August Exford Flower & Produce Show 2pm. Marquee with stalls and activities on the village green. No need to book, donations welcome. Exford Village Green TA24 7PP. T: 01643 831634. Saturday 27 August Discover Exmoor's Bats at Wimbleball 8-10pm. An evening walk spotting bats. Use detectors to hear the bats and see them in flight. Bring a torch, warm clothing and suitable footwear. Children to be accompanied. Camping available if booked in advance. Booking essential. Free event, donations to CareMoor welcome. Meet at Wimbleball Lake café, TA22 9NU. T: 01398 371116 (Alex Forster), E:, W: get-involved/events-and-training. Saturday 27 August Shammick Acoustic Concert: Anna Shannon 8pm. Pack o’ Cards, Combe Martin. Original songs rooted in the countryside, multi-instrumental singer-songwriter. T: 01271 882366, W: Saturday 27 August-Sunday 30 October Woollen Woods AT ARLINGTON See page 16 for more details. Sunday 28 August Terrier, Lurcher & Kennel Club CompaNion & Family Dog Show 12.30pm. Annual dog show. Qualifiers/ trophies, tea tent, home-made cakes, BBQ. No need to book. £1 per entry in the rings. Melcombe, Exford TA24 7LU. T: 01643 831500.

Friday 2-Sunday 4 September Stogumber Festival A celebration of the performing arts, bringing together world-class classical, folk and jazz musicians, plus emerging talent. Lots of free events in the Square and Skittle Alley. Instrument workshops for the local school, and for Hestercombe Centre for Young Musicians in Taunton with masterclasses by visiting musicians. Festival passes £75 for all nine events, or £65 for second price seats. Saturday passes £50; Sunday passes £20. E: or W: Tickets also available from Central Stores, Stogumber. Saturday 3-Sunday 4 September Late Summer Weekend Enhanced train service over England’s longest heritage railway headed by steam and vintage diesel locomotives. Explore the places along the 20 miles of line to Bishops Lydeard. No need to book, £19 (adult), £17.10 (60+), £9.50 (5-17yrs), £47 (family 2+2). WSR, The Railway Station, Minehead TA24 5BG. T: 01643 704996, W: Sunday 4 September Ralegh's Cross Long Walk 9.45am-2.45pm. Explore the iron mining in the Brendon Hills. Visit Beulah Chapel, Brendon Hill Village and the Winding House, then down the Incline to Comberow, through the woods to Leighland Chapel, circling back via a waterfall. Bring a packed lunch. About 7 miles. Steep. Walking boots and rain gear essential. W: Sunday 4 September The 10 Parishes Street Market and Wheelbarrow Carnival 10am-5pm. Food, drinks, crafts and gorgeous things to try and buy! Live music all day in Jubilee Gardens. The nicest and greenest Carnival at 3pm. West Street and The Square, Wiveliscombe TA4 2JT. T: 01984 624564.

Thursday 8 September In Coleridge's Footsteps to Culbone 10.30am-4.30pm. Join a member of The Exmoor Society on this circular 6-mile walk along the most recent section of the Coleridge Way to Culbone Hill and down to England's smallest church at Culbone. Steep hills, muddy underfoot, spectacular views. Bring a picnic and weatherproof clothing. Dogs on leads welcome. No need to book, free event, donations welcome. Porlock Weir car park, Porlock (parking fee), TA24 8PD. T: 01398 323335, W: Fridays 9 September, 14 October & 11 November Exmoor Stained Glass Making Workshop 10.30am-12pm. Make beautiful stained glass creations with Lani Shepard. Choose from a selection of designs with different coloured glass and make a memento to take home. Friendly, fun tuition. Suitable for beginners, adults only. Booking essential, £15. Lynmouth Pavilion EX35 6EQ. T: 01598 752509. Saturday 10-Sunday 25 September North Devon Art Trek See page 16 for details.

Saturday 10-Sunday 25 September DEVON OPEN STUDIOS See page 17 for details. Sunday 11 September The Velociraptor 9am-5pm. A social ride where participants are encouraged to enjoy a cycle with friends, family or like-minded cyclists through North Devon. Three route options: Velo Group (65 miles), Raptor Group (100 miles), Dino Group (6 miles). Longer routes have enforced stopping points for refreshments. Booking essential. The Velo or Raptor events have an entry fee of £25 and a pledge to raise £50 min. sponsorship for North Devon Hospice. Taking part in the Dino event is free for under-14s and £15 for over14s (sponsorship optional). Tarka Tennis Centre, Barnstaple EX31 2AS. T: 01271 347213, W: Tuesday 13 September AN Historic Tour of Dulverton 4pm-5.30pm. A guided walk exploring the history of Dulverton. Discover some secret places and hear tales of old from local guides. No need to book, minimum donation £2.50pp. Dulverton Heritage Centre TA22 9EX. T: 07969 243887, W:

Wimbleball Lake

explore • discover • challenge • relax

Create n w o r u o y e r u t n e adv • walking • cycling • sailing • windsurfing • canoeing • rowing • paddleboarding • fishing • archery • climbing • camping • bushcraft or just relax in our café

Calling the ce van centre in adeather to check w s is condition advised

01398 371460 Near Dulverton, TA22 9NU •

Wednesday 14 September Hidden Dunster Guided Walk 11am-12.15pm. An easy guided stroll around this historic village exploring some of the hidden aspects of its history. Booking essential, free event, donations to CareMoor welcome. Starts from Dunster's National Park Centre TA24 6SE. T: 01643 821835. Thursday 15 September Natural History Walk 2-4pm. A gentle stroll to explore and learn about the natural history in the landscape around Porlock Weir. No need to book, free event, donations welcome. Porlock Weir Centre. T: 01643 863124, W: Saturday 17 September-Sunday 2 October SOMERSET ART WEEKS See page 16 for details. Saturday 17 September Exmoor's Bats at Simonsbath 7.30-9.30pm. Follow the bats with detectors and see them in flight. Local bat groups will be present with some hand-reared bats. Bring a torch, warm clothing and suitable footwear. Booking essential, free event, donations to CareMoor welcome. Park at Ashcombe





20 Miles of steam train travel through the Quantock Hills and along the Exmoor Coast. A year long events programme. Check our website for further details. Book online at or telephone 01643 704996

Exmoor Autumn 2016 105

Diary car park SS774394, meet at Simonsbath Sawmill TA24 7SH. T: 01398 322282, W: get-involved/events-and-training. Saturday 17-Sunday 18 September Wild Camping for Wimps Saturday 4pm-Sunday 11am. Introduction to wild camping for all the family. Open-fire cooking, storytelling, foraging and a food tasting with a wild food expert. Bring your tent, camping equipment and torch, plus food to cook and something for breakfast. Clothing suitable for any weather. Booking essential, adults £15; children £5. Heddon Valley National Trust Shop EX31 4PY. T: 01598 763402, W: Monday 19 September & Monday 17 October Simonsbath Sawmill Open Day 10am-4pm. No need to book, advisable to ring (10am-4pm). Parking and toilets Ashcombe car park SS774394, Simonsbath. Donations welcome. T: 01643 831202 (on the day), W: Thursday 22 September The Mining and Mystery of Wheal Eliza 7.30pm. A talk by Rob Wilson-North, conservation manager Exmoor National Park, about the nineteenth-century copper mine on the Barle, southwest of Simonsbath. Dulverton Group Exmoor Society members free, non-members £3. Refreshments. Congregational Church Hall, Chapel Street, Dulverton. T: 01398 323954 (Linda Hammond). Friday 23-Sunday 25 September South West Outdoor Festival A weekend of activities, including the screening of adventure films, camping and campfire cooking, organised walks, trail runs, talks and workshops led by high-profile adventurers, conservation activities, cycling and kayaking events, wild-food foraging, outdoor photography clinics, entertainment by local performing artists, musicians and storytellers, and star-gazing. Visit for the day, or stay for the weekend, camping in a riverside setting. Locally grown/made food. Heddon Valley basecamp. W: regionsouthwest/south-west-outdoorfestival. (If you work in the outdoor industry and you'd like to be involved, please call 07415 512631.)

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Saturday 24-Sunday 25 September Autumn Gala Several engines in steam, marquee attractions, real ale and much more! Woody Bay Station EX31 4RA. No need to book, entry fee varies. T: 01598 763487, W: Saturday 24 September Launch of Wiveliscombe Children of the Great War Project See page 12. Saturday 24 September Hope Bourne and her Beloved Exmoor – A Guided Walk 10.30am-1pm. Join a member of The Exmoor Society for this walk of approx. 3 miles around the Withypool area in the footsteps of Hope Bourne, taking in her favourite views from her writings. Rough/ steep underfoot in places; wear suitable attire. Followed by optional lunch in Withypool or bring a picnic. No need to book, free event, donations welcome from non-members. Withypool car park, Withypool TA24 7QP. T: 01398 323335, W: Saturday 24 September Barn Dance and Ploughman’s Buffet Supper 7.30pm. Tickets £8 from Porlock Costcutter, Allerford Post Office & Summerland Road pet shop, Minehead. Allerford Community Hall. T: 01643 862831, W: Saturday 24 September 2016 Bridle and Saddle Fit, and the Effects on Ridden and Driven Performance 4pm. Talk by internationally renowned physiotherapist Mary Bromiley MBE, also a veterinary physiotherapist, international lecturer, author and physio to the New Zealand equestrian Olympics squad – as well as one of Exmoor Magazine's popular contributors! Mary will discuss the latest research (with kind permission of Fairfax Saddles). Conquest Centre (indoor arena), Taunton TA2 6PN. £10pp. T: 01823 433614, W: www.facebook. com/events/871490126328413. Sunday 25 September Exmoor Beast Cycle Challenge Different route options for 2016: 100 miles, 76 miles and 29 miles. Register online. Booking essential, entry fee varies depending on when entering and route. T: 01614 083222, W:

Sunday 25 September Lyn Food Festival 10.30am. Food festival showcasing the best food and drink from across the area. Street food, bar, entertainment, all in a beautiful Grade 2* listed Victorian building. Free entry, sorry no dogs inside, though there are lots of outdoor stalls to enjoy. Lynton Town Hall EX35 6HT. T: 01598 753322 or 01598 753568, W: Friday 30 September Book Sale 10.30am-4pm. Book sale in aid of Dulverton Model Railway and the Heritage Centre (weather permitting). Model can be seen together with all the usual exhibits. Free entry, no need to book. Dulverton Heritage Centre TA22 9EX. T: 07969 243887, W:

October Saturday 1 October Quiz Night 7.30pm. Allerford Community Hall. Entry £2pp. Teams of 4 max. Refreshments and soft drinks available. T: 01643 862831, W: Sundays 2 & 9 October Breakfast in the Heart of Exmoor 8am-12pm. A full Exmoor breakfast in the highest village on Exmoor. Locally produced/purchased. Vegetarian option available. No need to book; adults £6.50, children £4. The Moorland Hall, Wheddon Cross TA24 7DL. T: 01643 841891, W: Monday 3 October Autumn Deer Walk 6-8.30am. Ranger, Marcus, will guide a walk in the places where deer are likely to be seen at rutting time. Marcus' enthusiasm and knowledge of the local deer population and habitats will make this a fascinating walk whatever the outcome. Booking essential, £5pp. Meeting place TBC. T: 01598 763306, W: Saturday 8-Sunday 9 October Half for the Hospice: Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Half of all ticket sales go to the North Devon Hospice. No need to book, fares vary for train rides. Woody Bay Station EX31 4RA. T: 01598 763487, W:

Diary Saturday 8 October Ada Lovelace Day: an Afternoon with Inspirational Women 3-5.30pm. A celebration of Ada Lovelace's life, with speakers from a variety of fields describing their own paths to success and achievement. Booking essential, £8, includes a cream tea. Porlock Village Hall TA24 8QD. T: 01643 863150, W: Wednesday 12 October Red Deer of Exmoor 3.30-4.30pm. An illustrated presentation by Exmoor National Park Ranger, Richard Eales. No need to book, £2.50pp. Dulverton Heritage Centre TA22 9EX. T: 07969 243887, W: Thursday 13 October Otters 7.30pm. A talk by Pauline Kidner, founder of Secret World Wildlife Rescue. Dulverton Group Exmoor Society members free, non-members £3. Refreshments. Congregational Church Hall, Chapel Street, Dulverton. T: 01398 323954 (Linda Hammond). Saturday 15 October Mineral Line Bus Trip 9.30am-2.30pm. An overview of the mining industry in the Brendon Hills. Travel by minibus to the route of the Mineral Line and see the sites along the way. Easy walking. Meet Minehead Railway Station TA24 5BG. Booking essential by 10 Oct. £7. T: 01398 323841, W: (and click on the 'walks' tab). Saturday 15 October Exmoor Archaeology Forum 10am-4.30pm. Day of talks/presentations on the theme of historic buildings. Booking essential, £16pp, including lunch. Brushford Village Hall TA22 9AH. T: 01398 322229. Go to the website and type 'Exmoor Archaeology Forum 2016' into the search box to find the link.

Saturday 15 October and Saturday 12 November Quantock Hills Walk With The Friends of Coleridge, see page 18.

and back; 15.1 miles, ascent of 3,627ft. Stumble: off-road 6-mile run (approx.). Booking essential, fee TBC. T: 01643 702617, W:

Sunday 16 October Wedding Fayre 11am-4pm. Free entry. Lynton Wedding Venue, Lynton Town Hall EX35 6HT. E:, W:

Wednesday 26 October Fungi Walk and Talk Join Exmoor National Park Officer, Patrick Watts-Mabbot, on a fungi walk and talk. For all age groups. If families want to come in the morning to take part in the activities of the Exmoor Big Adventure, there is den building, fire lighting, campfire cooking, craft activities. Fungi event starts 2pm at Webber’s Post. Open to Somerset Wildlife Trust members and non-members. Donations welcome. T: 01984 632067 (Sally Saunders), E:

Sunday 16 October Foodfest 2016 North Devon's biggest celebration of local food and drink. Over 100 stands, and chef demo stage. Barnstaple Pannier Market. T: 01271 321049, E: foodfest@, W: www.barnstaple. Saturday 22-Saturday 29 October TWO MOORS FESTIVAL See page 17 for details. Saturday 22 October Coppicing and Charcoal Day 9am-5pm. Join the rangers to learn the art of coppicing and why it is beneficial to native wildlife. Fire up the kiln and make charcoal. All tools/equipment provided. Bring food to cook on the fire, hot drinks, sturdy footwear and old weatherproof clothing. Booking essential, £15pp. National Trust car park at Woody Bay SS676487. T: 01598 763402, W: www. Sunday 23 October Early Morning Deer Walk in Rut 7.15am. Join an Exmoor National Park Ranger to see/hear Exmoor’s red deer in the rutting season. Approximately 3 miles on quite steep ground, 2-5 hours. Bring binoculars, wear walking boots/ outdoor (rustle-free) clothing. No dogs. Booking essential, donations welcome. Start location TBC. T: 01398 323841. Sunday 23 October Exmoor Stagger & Stumble Stagger: a challenging trail race from West Somerset College, Minehead, to Dunkery

Thursday 27 October Bampton Charter Fair One of the oldest charter fairs in the country. The roads through the centre of town are closed and filled with a street market. Craft fair, local produce and traditional skilled craftsmen. Fun fair, live music, street entertainers. No need to book, free entry, £5 car park & programme. Bampton, Devon EX16 9LN. T: 01398 332324, W: Thursday 27 October Halloween Activity Afternoon 12-3pm. A spooky afternoon of fun and games. Meet the ponies, rides and grooming. Refreshments. Riders must be 4yrs and over. All-weather activities. Exmoor Pony Centre TA22 9QE. No need to book, donations welcome, small charge for some activities. T: 01398 323093, W: Thursday 27 October The Big Autumn Adventure 10am-4pm. Explore the natural world with family games and activities on Exmoor. Wear outdoor clothing and suitable footwear. No need to book, donations to CareMoor welcome. Webber's Post TA24 8HY. T: 01398 323841. DOS Exmoor Mag 020616 02/06/2016 08:19 Page 1

All A boar d! In and around Tiverton

2 July to 30 October 2016 #AllAboard!



Art at its origin 10 -25 September

A FREE full colour event guide is available from all leading Devon art venues, Tourist Information Centres and libraries. Or call or email us for a copy: 07768 164560 or

Exmoor Autumn 2016 107

B R O M P TO N R E G I S near Wimbleball Lake

Keep Exmoor Special

Visit one of the oldest sites on Exmoor, mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086)

Pulhams Mill Craft Centre (OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK)

During January and February please phone for opening times.

Genuine Exmoor Gifts

HARDWOOD FURNITURE by Ian Mawby, China by Pauline Clements,

Join us and help conserve Exmoor now and for future generations. A voluntary organisation founded in 1958. We support the purpose of the national park status and are constantly on guard to protect Exmoor's special qualities. We want family farms to survive and the villages to be places where the Exmoor people can earn a living and afford to live. We encourage people to enjoy outdoor activity and experience wild open country, tranquility and well-being. For further details of our aims and benefits to members apply to

Exmoor Society, 34 High Street, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9DJ Tel: 01398 323335 Email:

Local and British Arts & Crafts and gifts.


Pulhams made cakes, puds, lunches weekday Book for Sunday Roast


Visit our website for future events & courses woodcarving, painting, spoon making, plus more. on the road from the bridge on Wimbleball Lake towards Brompton Regis village near Dulverton TA22 9NT

Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 12.30-5

Tel: 01398 371366

108 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Good things from Exmoor Direct from the Producers Local Art, Crafts & Food

11 Friday Street, Minehead. Tel: 01643 702597

Diary Saturday 29 October Porlock Apple Day 10am-4pm. Celebrating the apple in all its glorious forms. Demos of old and new juicing techniques, apple-centred goods, food and drink for sale, activities for all the family. No need to book, free entry. Porlock Visitor Centre TA24 8QD. T: 01643 863150, W: Saturday 29 October Harvest Supper 7pm. Allerford Community Hall. £10pp, including a glass of wine. Tickets from Porlock Costcutter, Allerford Post Office & Summerland Road pet shop, Minehead, Minehead. T: 01643 862831, W:

November Saturday 5 November Guy Fawkes Treasure Hunt & BBQ 2pm. Allerford Community Hall. 50p entry for treasure hunt. T: 01643 862831, W: Tuesday 8 November Ralegh's Cross Short Walk 9.45am-1.15pm. Explore iron mining in the Brendon Hills. Visit the mine sites, Beulah Chapel and Winding House. Walk down part of the Incline: steep, spectacular, but optional. Approx. 3 miles. Walking boots needed. Booking essential, free event, donations welcome. Ralegh’s Cross Inn TA23 0LN. T: 01398 323841, W: Thursday 10 November Discover Trees in Winter 10am-3pm. Join the Exmoor National Park Authority’s Woodlands Team to learn about the principles of broadleaf tree identification in winter. Bring a packed lunch, sturdy footwear and waterproofs. Booking essential. Free event, donations to CareMoor welcome. North Hill, main car park SS953474. T: 01398 322267 (Robin Offer), E:, W:

Find out more... ENPA (a very useful diary for events across the area) Tel. 01398 323665 Twitter. @ExmoorNP fb. Exmoor National Park

EXMOOR SOCIETY Tel. 01398 323335 E.



A list of farm shops, local produce and regular farmers' markets is available on the Visit Exmoor site. www.visit-exmoor.


NATIONAL TRUST regionsouthwest/south-west Twitter. @NTSouthWest fb. National Trust South West



If you have a community website which is not here please get in touch. We would like to include a current site for each area.

VISUAL ARTS (Devon Guild)

If you know of a regularly updated, accurate site which you would like to suggest we include, please email the editor (see page 6). Priority will be given to noncommercial sites. To advertise call 01392 201227. Diary adverts cost from £35.

National Centre for Folk Arts

“An essential part of the UK folk scene” Paul Sartin, Faustus

01984 618274


Exmoor Autumn 2016 109


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For all your fishing and shooting needs. Quality flies to local patterns. Own build ‘Westcountry’ salmon and trout rods. Reels. Spey Lines. Backing. Day ticket fishing available. Local advice. Dulverton Angling Association membership available. Walking boots, socks, compasses. Large selection of Barbour clothing.

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Entertaining Alice WORDS by Mary Bromiley PHOTOS by Heidrun Humphries and (photo showing Heidrun) Debbie Zurick


ine years ago, when Heidrun Humphries collected an English springer spaniel puppy, there was no reason for her to envisage a future full of life-changing experiences. Neither Heidrun nor her husband were first-time dog owners; he had always had a springer and although the breed was new to her, she was in no way phased by the fact that marriage included one. Interested, she investigated their history, finding it well documented – starting with the name, which is coined

from the breed's work, the dogs being developed to flush or ‘spring’ game birds while working through dense undergrowth in front of a gun. When the dog’s age meant that the time to seek a replacement was drawing near, research revealed – despite action by the Kennel Club to promote a policy of responsible mating – that English springer lines, like many other breeds, still carry genes which may result in a dog developing any one of a number of physical defects.

Sadly, many do not manifest before the dog is two years old, but hip, muscle and eye disorders have been identified. A much-loved dog developing serious health problems as it matures is no fun for either owner or dog. Concerned, for they had not appreciated the extent of these background problems, it became obvious to the Humphries that health testing of a new puppy was essential. Following a lengthy search, they found a litter from a working rather than pet line

and Alice, an engaging, intelligent, liver and white puppy, joined the household. Even as a young pup her behaviour and enthusiasm for life were quite different from their previous springer and Heidrun realised that those bred for pets had a totally different attitude to life when compared with those bred from working strains. How to keep Alice entertained became a problem; she learnt rapidly and grasped all the basics such as 'sit', 'heel' and 'return' very early, but even

Exmoor Autumn 2016 111

Final Paws after exercise, when she demonstrated almost unbelievable speed, she was still quivering with anticipation, her eyes saying "What next mum, what next?" The burning question was should she be trained to work? When Alice arrived, Heidrun was working in the airline industry as senior cabin crew, a lifestyle not exactly suited to standing all day beside a gun during the shooting season. Contact with the Gundog Club was fruitful and their suggestion appealing: why not train Alice for gundog scurries? Scurries, while replicating all the situations a working dog would encounter, are relaxed, designed for enjoyment by all. Untrained dogs often provide spectator entertainment as, when loosed, rather than starting to search in a workmanlike manner, they wander off, cock their legs or roll in something not very nice – much to the amusement of those watching, and the embarrassment of their owner. Judged on the speed of the retrieve, competing dogs work through deep undergrowth,

over varied terrain out of sight of their handler, and in water, but a dummy rather than live quarry is used. When Alice was six months old, she and Heidrun enrolled on a graded training scheme to prepare them both for scurries and enable them, if they wished, to enter working gundog tests run by the Kennel Club. Training is very demanding and obedience is essential due to the necessity of the dog to remain sitting until given the command to seek for a previously hidden dummy. Tests which replicate flushing a live quarry then collecting the dead or wounded bird, come later, for when seeking AND retrieving the dog must drop and wait on command, often at some distance from the handler, before being sent out to retrieve. After 18 months, having completed the required sections successfully, Alice was entered for her first scurry which, to the astonishment of her owners, she won easily, her speed and detection impressing all those watching.

While there were hiccups along the way and success was varied, everyone survived. Eventually, to vary life, Alice was introduced to working at a walk-up, rough shoot; while Heidrun waded through mud and brambles wondering 'Why am I doing this?', Alice was totally unphased. A move to the West Country and the fascination experienced while training Alice resulted in the purchase of a second young springer, Caddie, so named as Heidrun's husband had retreated from dogs to golf clubs! Training Caddie should have been easy, there being a previously used, successful route with lessons learnt and mistakes appreciated, but Caddie proved entirely different to Alice in both character and temperament. Heidrun became enthralled by the differing attitudes of the individual dogs and learning to tailor training to suit. To foster this new passion, Murffi, a working bred cocker spaniel arrived. Originally bred to find woodcock, hence 'cocker', they are known for having a good nose and soft mouth.

Later two Clumbers joined the pack! Classified an endangered breed but with a recent upsurge of interest, they tend to have a charming but laid-back attitude to life, but their slow working is offset by an excellent nose. They are happy to work singly or in a pack, flushing partridge or pheasant, and though they are not natural retrievers they can be taught (see pages 111-112, issue 73, winter 2015). Now nine, Alice has done everything. Interestingly, at this later stage in life she has become enthralled by cats, in particular Tom, a neighbour. As large and heavy as she is, he engages Alice in staring matches and Alice usually needs rescuing! Never one to shirk new challenges and not satisfied with the photographs of her dogs, Heidrun recently decided to buy a camera and her photographs are now sought after by many country magazines, including The Field. She freely admits that without Alice, who opened so many lines of interest, life could have been less busy; retirement is certainly not on the menu!

PHOTOS: Page 111, clockwise from top left: Alice post-swim, ready for the next command; Alice with Clumbers Loki, Zeus and Boris – looking like she thinks she is a cut above!; Heidrun sending Alice to retrieve a marked dummy at a training day on Exmoor in May (photo by Debbie Zurick); Murffi the cocker, Alice, Ziggy the Clumber and Caddie the springer – after all, if you are taking one dog to compete, taking several is not difficult!; Alice at a scurry training day. Here: Alice looking very beautiful.

112 Exmoor Autumn 2016

Profile for Hoar Oak Publishing

Exmoor The Country Magazine Autumn 2016  

Exmoor The Country Magazine Autumn 2016 sample issue

Exmoor The Country Magazine Autumn 2016  

Exmoor The Country Magazine Autumn 2016 sample issue