Safaris, rides and shows in 2014 Exmoor Pony Festival week

The 2014 Exmoor Pony Festival
Saturday 9 – Sunday 17 August

This year’s Exmoor Pony Festival (Saturday 9 – Sunday 17 August) looks set to be better than ever with safaris, pony shows, rides, walks and special herd open days – with something on each day it’s the ideal way to discover the unique Exmoor Pony breed and those famous free-running herds in their native landscape, Exmoor National Park.


The Exmoor Pony Festival is now in its third year, supported by volunteers and herd owners and by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Heart of Exmoor scheme. The Festival is timed to coincide with the Exmoor Pony Society’s annual Breed Show on Wednesday 13 August at the Exford Show, which this year has HOYS qualifiers (Horse of the Year Show) and features a Moorland Herds Exhibition Area.

Linzi Green, festival manager and Exmoor Pony Officer for the Heart of Exmoor scheme said: “As always the Exmoor Pony Festival has something for everyone’s interest. Test your camera skills on safari, spend the day at a country show, take the family for up-close pony experiences, do the Fun Ride and join the BBQ quiz. These nine days showcase the breed at its best, because you’ll see Exmoor herds out on the open moors, watch equestrian talents at the shows and hear first-hand from the breeders behind the herds.

Everyone enjoys watching these fascinating free-roaming herds on Exmoor National Park, and thousands come each year to see them. Exmoor Pony Festival helps you to rediscover this rare native breed, renowned for its intelligence and an ability to withstand the harsh conditions of Exmoor’s beautiful upland.”

Over 1300 people attended the Exmoor Pony Festival in 2013. With events happening every day, the organisers hope that this year’s Festival will attract even more visitors to the area during the summer holidays. Now in its third year, the Festival brings together a combination of events and activities at various locations around Exmoor National Park.

Whether you aim to buy a pony bred on Exmoor, wish to learn more about the breed, or simply feel fascinated by them, the variety of events in this festival has something to offer everyone.

For all the details please visit call 01398 323841 or follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter. (Please note: some events require booking in advance.)

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Butterfly bonanza!

Originally posted on National Trust - North Devon Blog:

It is butterfly season and what a brilliant lot of weather we have had to go with it. Yesterday I accompanied a guided walk with Jenny Plackett of Butterfly Conservation on some of our butterfly sites here in the Heddon Valley. Some 32 people attended the walk on a glorious summer’s day walking along Ladies mile and completing a loop though Parsonage Wood.

In the Heddon valley the National Trust and Butterfly conservation have worked over many years to preserve and enhance the conditions for High brown Fritillary a rapidly declining butterfly species which has a stronghold here at Heddon. On our walk we saw many High Browns this being a very good year for them here and Dark green fritillary which we learnt to tell the difference between.

We also saw speckled wood, ringlets, skippers and red admirals among others along our walk. The whole group thoroughly enjoyed the…

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Beautiful Butterflies, 24 June

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Beautiful Butterflies, 24 June, Heddon Valley

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Heath Fritillary Identification and Survey Workshop Success

Heath Fritillary on Grabbist Ridge above Minehead.

Heath Fritillary on Grabbist Ridge above Minehead.

The Heath Fritillary identification and survey workshop was an opportunity for people to learn about how to identify and survey one of Britain’s rarest butterflies which occurs on Exmoor. The session was held on the 3rd June and was run by Jenny Plackett from Butterfly Conservation and Paul Camp, a National Trust Ranger from the Holnicote Estate.

Fifteen volunteers attend including representatives from the Exmoor Mires Project and the Somerset Environmental Records Centre, as well as local Farmers. The workshop started with a talk at Piles Mill, on the ecology of the Heath fritillary butterfly and why the butterfly has become endangered. The talk also covered how to identify and survey the Heath Fritillary butterfly.

 The volunteers where taken to sites where the Heath Fritillary butterfly occurs, which gave the volunteers the opportunity to practise identification of the Heath Fritillary butterfly and the surveying techniques. At the first site several individuals where found. However at the second site only a few individuals where found but the volunteers were treated to a fly-by from a pair of cuckoos. The volunteers then went back to Piles Mill where they were informed as to how they can now help with the Heath Fritillary surveying.

“It was great to have lots of people attending the Heath Fritillary Survey training. Monitoring our butterflies is really important because it helps to inform our conservation management. The volunteers where really enthusiastic and we are hoping that they will now go and survey more of Exmoor’s sites”. Jenny Plackett, Butterfly Conservation.

This event was part of the Exmoor Wild Watch 2014 which is funded by Exmoor National Park and the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Heart of Exmoor Scheme.   Please visit the Exmoor Wild Watch website for further free training opportunities.

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Bogtastic Festival 2014 announced – Sunday 17 August

Bogtastic is the South West’s biggest and best bog festival celebrating the special qualities of Exmoor’s bogs, rivers and wildlife taking place Sunday 17 August 2014 in Simonsbath in the heart of Exmoor.

This year’s features include the Bogstacle course (Exmoor’s version of bog snorkelling), a Bio Blitz (a wildlife survey of 1km2 in 24hrs), bog safaris, tours of one of the South West’s last remaining operational water powered sawmills, Exmoor Ponies, guided walks of Simonsbath village in the ‘last Parish in England’, fine foods ranging from street food to Boevey’s famous cream teas, the Court Farm Market Place with its crafts and home produce and lots more.

On the evening before, Saturday 16 August, there’s a chance to join ‘Exmoor’s Wild Night Out 2014’ hosted by the Simonsbath House Hotel. Food and a selection of wildlife themed ales will provide the backcloth for storytelling, campfires, star gazing, the chance to get up close to Exmoor’s amazing bats and moths and a whole host of other nocturnal wildlife opportunities. Accommodation is available locally with a travel bursary available for local community groups.

Dr David Smith (Exmoor Mires Project) highlighted how Exmoor National Park ‘has some of the most important and special bogs in the UK. Bogtastic is a festival of fun and learning about them and Exmoor’s amazing wildlife and heritage. We are extremely grateful to all our event sponsors especially Exmoor National Park, South West Water and the Heritage Lottery Fund.’

Dan James from Exmoor National Park said: “We are delighted to be supporting Bogtastic and it’s great to be working with local businesses and community groups on this innovative event.”

To book a stall or to offer sponsorship of this event and for all further details please visit Bogtastic event web pages on Exmoor National Park website or ring the National Park Centre at Lynmouth on 01598 752509. Profits from the event will be used to support the vital work of local community groups and charities that have assisted in the organisation of Bogtastic.

Entrance is free although some activities may request a small charge.

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Cuteness overload – a Red Deer calf on Exmoor

a Red Deer calf quietly going to hide in tall grass

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Are you reaping the rewards from rural tourism?


Valuable support is on offer to tourism providers in Exmoor and Somerset to help them make the most of their rural environment to give visitors first rate and unforgettable experiences on holiday. Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Exmoor National Park Authority are inviting tourism businesses to join them for three practical workshops, networking and presentations.

These exclusive free seminars are being organised by the four local authorities in the area that are working together on the ‘Interreg’ EU funded COOL Tourism project, aimed at boosting rural tourism by looking at best practice, supporting providers and developing themed marketing campaigns.

The first is a Coleridge Way business workshop on 10 June, 11am – 2pm at the Moorland Hall, Wheddon Cross

Following the successful launch of the Coleridge Way extension, businesses from right along the route and surrounding areas from Nether Stowey – Porlock – Lynmouth are invited to join a workshop to explore how to make money from the Coleridge Way.

The workshop will provide businesses with the background to the Coleridge Way, top tips on gaining business from walkers, case studies from the industry, and a great opportunity to build networks with different sectors along the route including accommodation providers, local Walkers are Welcome communities, transport / luggage transfer providers, activity providers and information services.

There will also be an opportunity to develop and join a new business network to further develop collaboration and support amongst the industry for the route. New Coleridge Way leaflets will also be available for you to collect. The event is free and includes a buffet lunch. Advanced booking is essential (a charge of £10 will be made for any places booked but not attended due to the costs incurred).

To book please with your name, organisation, contact details and any dietary requirements. 

The second and third sessions will be on June 16 at Burnham-On-Sea or June 17 at Dunster, where business coach and motivator, David Dann, will lead a session on experiential tourism and niche markets and Jim Hardcastle of Viper Marketing will talk about digital campaigns that change behaviour.

In addition to marketing support there will be advice on business grants and adapting to climate change. The seminars will provide a helping hand for local businesses as they prepare for the peak season, show that the area is open for business and offer some great experiences.

Jim Hardcastle of Viper, said: “Tourism businesses in Exmoor and Somerset are superbly placed to benefit from the rise in popularity of holidays offering the rich experiences available in rural destinations such as wildlife walks, food safaris, village heritage and many more.

“We are surprised how many businesses don’t really see what valuable natural resources they have on their doorsteps and how they can create bespoke holidays for people who appreciate them.”

The Burnham –On- Sea seminar is in the Princess Theatre and the Dunster seminar is in the Tithe Barn. Both run from 10am – 4pm and include lunch. Any rural tourism based businesses located in Somerset or Exmoor National Park who think they would benefit from the seminars are invited to visit the course website at:

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