“On the eleventh 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.
November saw all Exmoor weathers across the month, plus a visit by an award-winning actress, the launch of our Poetry Book and the success of our Winter Dormouse Appeal.
All the seasons in one month
November on Exmoor proved to be highly variable on the weather front, from snow to clear blue skies to pouring rain that created flooding across the moor, sadly resulting in some of the stone slabs (“clappers”) at Tarr Steps being washed away. However, as noted in our post about Tarr Steps earlier in the year, this happens more frequently than you think, so we’re sure work to replace the slabs will be carried out in the not-too-distant future.
Visit by Campaign for National Parks President
Our Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning and Simonsbath received fact-finding visits by the President of Campaign for National Parks (CNP), who is probably better known by the other work she does – actress Caroline Quentin. Along with her colleagues from CNP, she was keen to find out about work we do to connect people with the cultural and environmental landscape. Caroline has a particular interest in ensuring children and young people are using National Parks, so she was delighted to see what we do at Pinkery (and even had a go on the ropes herself). This was followed by a visit to Simonsbath to learn about the community-led Simonsbath Programme to develop a sustainable plan for the village’s heritage assets, including the lost gardens in Ashcombe.
Poetry Box Book Launch
Despite the stormy conditions in Lynmouth, lots of people defied Storm Angus to come along to the launch of the book “A Harvest of Wild Words” by Christopher Jelley – a selection of the poetry written as part of our 3-year Poetry Box Project. A simple concept: each summer (in different locations across Exmoor) leave tins containing a book and a pencil with the instruction “Write poetry in me” and see what happens. Three years, 123 note books and over 5500 poems later, Christopher had the unenviable task of selecting just 100 of the best for publication.
The 6 boxes had spent their summers tethered around the Valley of Rocks (for the first year), Tarr Steps (in year 2) and finally in the summer of 2016 in Dunster. We were blown away by the popularity of the concept, from The Guardian asking if a book would be the end result to Christopher’s many interviews in print and on TV (for example visited by our local BBC crew). We even got coverage in the German media. All 123 journals are still available to read at our National Park Centre Lynmouth as part of the Lynmouth Pavilion Project archive.
Help us give a dormouse a home
Dormice are one of the world’s most ancient mammals, but sadly their numbers are in decline, so in November CareMoor launched a Winter Appeal to raise funds for 150 dormouse boxes at three woodland sites in the National Park. Exmoor is a nationally important habitat for the species, but we recognise that the dormouse boxes get damp and need replacing. To supply, install and monitor a dormouse box costs more than £20, so we aimed to raise £3000 – and were overwhelmed by the response! Many donations flooded in, so much so that we will be providing many more boxes in more sites to provide shelter and safe nest sites for summer breeding.
Bits & Pieces
- Tarr Farm Inn was featured on Channel 4 when hosts Hilary Lester and Stacey Wade participated in Four in a Bed. Click here to see how they got on
- We asked for people’s opinions on Exmoor National Park by completing a survey which will feed into our new Partnership Plan for Exmoor
- Our National Park Centre in Lynmouth put up a wildlife sightings board to make it easier for visitors to record the wildlife they had come across