“On the ninth 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.
September saw Tarr Steps go global; our annual Hedge laying competition winners; the re-opening of a new bridleway and the celebration for the Two Moors Way.
Tarr Steps goes global!
We had a pleasant surprise early in the month when a lovely picture of Tarr Steps was used as the Image of the Day on Bing.com (the search engine operated by Microsoft).
Exmoor Hedge Competition
The essential work of Exmoor’s hedge layers was rewarded in the annual Exmoor Hedge Competition.High quality hedge laying is of huge benefit to Exmoor’s farming, wildlife and landscape. This work is very skilled and provides employment for numerous people during the winter months on Exmoor.
Sponsored by the Exmoor Trust and Exmoor National Park, prizes of up to £200 were presented to the winning hedge layers: first place was shared by Mark Jackson (Yeo Mill) and Paul Groves (South Molton) who together laid David Bawden’s hedge at Cloggs Farm.Second prize went to Raymond Davey’s hedge at Lyshwell Farm, and Philip Veysey’s hedge at Venford Farm came third place. Both were laid by Martyn Lock (who was unable to attend the prize giving but his son William accepted the awards on his behalf). Martyn and Paul also shared the beech trophy for this year (locally made using wood from a laid Exmoor hedge), which was kindly donated by Mrs Stacey of Foxhanger Farm, Brompton Regis. As winners, they will join the judges to decide the winners of next year’s competition.
Heather Harley, Conservation Officer (Farming & Land Management) for Exmoor National Park said: “This traditional skill is so important to the landscape and an integral part of the rural community. Agri-environment support for hedge management has reduced dramatically over recent years and the future of hedge management on Exmoor is not certain. I hope that this competition goes a little way to promote the work of these craftsmen. We will be running the competition again so I encourage anyone planning their hedge laying this winter to give it a go and enter.”
New bridleway route through Worth Wood
Back in December 2012, a major flood caused a landslip which destroyed a 40 metre section of the bridleway on the western bank of the River Barle at Worth Wood, making it impassable. It took us a while to work out how best to solve the issue of re-establishing the legally recorded route (Public Bridleway DU10/38, Parish of Withypool & Hawkridge).
This summer, we created a new path further up the slope from the river and on 8 September were able to confirm the Public Path Order to divert public bridleway DU10/38 onto this new route. We’re now exploring funding options to install a new bridge below Great Bradley which would allow the Two Moors Way to be moved onto the west side of the Barle and provide a much more user friendly path between Withypool and Tarr Steps.
Two Moors Way 40th Anniversary Relaunch
September also saw the relaunch of the Two Moors Way as part of its 40th anniversary year at a celebration event at Simonsbath. The Two Moors Way was first established to link Dartmoor and Exmoor via a 102-mile walking route between Ivybridge and Lynmouth. There is also the additional 15 mile route from Ivybridge to Wembury which forms a Devon Coast to Coast route utilising the Erme-Plym trail.
At 40 years old the route was beginning to look a bit tired and most of the information available had become quite dated, so the anniversary was a good excuse to carry out a survey and update the way-marking along the entire route, plus completing lots of trail improvements such as installing new bridges and major resurfacing works. At the event, a new pocket guide and website www.twomoorsway.org was launched to provide inspiration and information for anyone considering walking the route. The website features full route descriptions, sleeping and eating listings and a whole host of practical information along with inspirational photography and a section for users to share their experiences.