“On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me….”. We’re following the Twelve Days of Christmas theme to look back on some of the activities, events and news items that provided an insight into life at Exmoor National Park through 2016.
June saw a very active month with our Volunteers celebrating their achievements; many people young and old tackling the annual Exmoor Perambulation; the success of a rare butterfly, and the launch of Grown in Britain on Exmoor brand.
Exmoor Perambulation & the Mosaic Young Champions
The annual Exmoor Perambulation is a 31 mile long-distance circular walk dating back over 725 years around the boundary of the old Royal Forest of Exmoor, providing a unique opportunity to explore areas of the Exmoor National Park not normally accessible to the public. This year eight participants added a twist to the weekend when they completed 14 miles of the route with Exmoor ponies carrying their supplies over a two-day trek.
Starting on the Friday (19th), the eight Mosaic Champions joined forces with project and National Park officers to lead the ponies from Landacre Bridge via Pickedstone Lanes up to the top of the Exe Cleave and on to Westermill for the first night camp. On Perambulation day they followed the route up to Sparcombe Water to Lark Barrow Corner and Alderman’s Barrow before going to Ley Hill, Halse Combe and Horner.
The Mosaic project introduces 16 to 25 year olds to National Parks and the Young Champions are volunteers who get more closely involved in a variety of ways, such as conservation volunteerings, advising the National Park Authority on a range of issues and testing out YHA hostels to see how they cater for young people.
The Mosaic Champions learnt a lot from the pony trek, from working closely with the Exmoor Pony Centre to planning and logistics of the trek with National Park staff. They also built on their navigation skills, as the journey included two river crossings and lots of hills!
Continued Success for Rare Butterfly on Exmoor
Butterfly Conservation revealed that a rare butterfly introduced to part of Exmoor in 2014 has more than doubled its population. Around 50 were released into woodland clearings in Hawkcombe Wood near Porlock. This year 125 Heath Fritillaries were recorded in one section of recently cleared habitat, thanks to conservation work carried out by Exmoor National Park.
The butterflies had been originally collected from the nearest occupied site (around 3km away) and as it is such a sedentary butterfly, it is unlikely that it would have made it without a helping hand. The Heath Fritillary is one of the UK’s rarest butterflies and is restricted to just a few sites in Kent, Essex, Cornwall/Devon border in addition to Exmoor, where it is most commonly found in sheltered heathland combes where common Cow-wheat – the caterpillar’s foodplant – is abundant. It can also be found in coppiced or newly felled woodland and has historically been linked with the traditional practice of woodland coppicing, giving it the nick-name of the ‘Woodman’s Follower’.
Grown in Britain on Exmoor
Exmoor boasts a rich woodland and forestry heritage (including some of the most important native woodland in the country). As we continue to promote the special qualities of Exmoor’s woodlands and the positive benefits of managing woodland and producing timber, one continuing challenge is how we capitalise on this inherent quality, heritage and knowledge.
The Grown in Britain (GiB) brand identifies wood grown in Britain and assured through a licensing scheme that the forests and woods are managed to the government’s UK Forestry and public procurement standards. On Exmoor we felt we could go a step further, so we decided to form the first GiB group scheme in the country, demonstrating Sustainability, Provenance and Legality in the management of our woodlands and sale of timber and products. Since its launch, woodland owners, processors and suppliers (covering more than 25% of all woodland in the National Park) have signed up. Exmoor National Park Authority operates as a Group Manager as we believe 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.
Bits & Pieces
- We celebrated the amazing work our volunteers do at the Get Involved Volunteers Conference with the day rounded off with our Get Involved Volunteer Awards
- The Go Outdoors campaign encouraged people to take a selfie within the boundaries of Exmoor National Park, send it to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account to have a chance of winning £500 of vouchers to spend on outdoor equipment
- We combined #NationalBikeWeek with #NationalPicnicWeek with an invite to celebrate them here on Exmoor
- We were visited by Dr Tam from Hong Kong so he could discover how we work in Exmoor National Park and in return, he helped us initiate our first Chinese pocket guide (to be published early 2017)
- We presented our Moor to Enjoy report to highlight the on-going success of the project
- The Lynmouth Pavilion Project hosted a Victorian Festival with events across Lynton and Lynmouth, Dunster, Porlock and Allerford as part of their ‘History of Tourism’ theme for the final year of the project
- 7th June we celebrated R D Blackmore’s birthday – famous for writing the best known novel set on #Exmoor – Lorna Doone – we shared some lesser known facts about him
- And the winner is…. our Exmoor filly’s new name was chosen to be Folly (after Follyfoot of course!)