Celebration of the Heart of Exmoor Scheme

Moorland - the Heart of Exmoor

Volunteers, farmers, funders and supporters joined the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership to celebrate the success of the Heart of Exmoor Scheme last week. Pupils from Dunster School provided a special highlight with a reading of moorland-inspired poetry.

Over the past 5 years, this Heritage Lottery Funded programme has championed Exmoor National Park’s moorland heritage and invested £1.2 million in Exmoor’s landscape and community.

Arabella Amory, who chairs the Partnership on behalf of The Exmoor Society said:
“There are so many people we have to thank – the successful 5 years is due to the enormous generosity and commitment of the Heritage Lottery Fund and we are very grateful, without them none of this would have been possible. They have been generous and encouraging and, above all, understanding and flexible – thanks go to the HLF and to all members of the partnership who contributed match funding, both in kind and with funds. Thank you, too, to the thousands of volunteers who have helped with so many of the projects.”

“The Scheme has been run by a tiny but dynamic team – Jason Ball, David Rolls and Faye Balmond, who have punched way above their weight exceeding their targets every quarter – so a huge ‘thank you’ to them. For me it has been a pleasure to have been part of such a successful project.”

Jason Ball, the Scheme Manager said: “The celebration was our chance to show our gratitude to everyone who supported the projects. People, participation and a fantastic sense of partnership were crucial to our collective achievements.”

JasonBall_speaking-sqbw“Thanks to everyone involved we’ve helped thousands of people to enjoy and appreciate the moorland’s natural and cultural heritage, and support the people who take care of this precious landscape – the farmers and commoners, landowners, rangers and volunteers – to help conserve it for future generations.”

An army of people have worked as a team with the staff – not just from the Landscape Partnership but also supporters from all walks of life – the farming community, local businesses, researchers, ecologists, archaeologists, students and the retired – all sharing their enthusiasm for the moorland.

The scheme has invested £1.2 million in Exmoor’s moorland landscape and the local community, including £100,000 in landscape grants, £16,000 in Exmoor Pony Grants and £11,000 for Scheduled Ancient Monuments. The Moorland Partnership has supported 3 apprenticeships, employed 3 farmers as Moorkeepers, helped more than 560 trainees add to their moorland management skills, supported over 7,000 school visits and attracted over 14,000 visitors.

The Heart of Exmoor programmes excelled at achieving goals but the most lasting impact of this Heritage Lottery Funded scheme is undoubtedly the partnership work and participation by all involved.


The scheme is run by the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership comprising 12 organisations with Exmoor National Park Authority as lead partner and Arabella Amory from The Exmoor Society chairing the group. Programmes were supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Exmoor National Park Authority, Leader 4 Torridge and North Devon, Western Somerset Local Action and local partners and funders.

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Exmoor Horn Wool socks launched in time for cold weather!

Launch of Exmoor Horn Wool

The Exmoor Horn Wool Company recently launched their snazzy new range of woolen socks – now on sale – at the National Park Centre in Dunster. The project, supported by the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund, is a culmination of two years of hard work by a handful of Exmoor sheep farmers determined to find a way to add value to the fine fleeces produced by the indigenous Exmoor Horn sheep.


On display was the full range of dyed wool for knitting, in five colours that reflected the Exmoor landscape such as purple for heather, yellow for gorse, and a range of socks in a variety of colour combinations, each one unique to a particular village on Exmoor. The knee length socks are designed as shooting socks, but are also perfect as wellie socks or, as one satisfied purchaser pointed out, golfing socks.

Brian Buckingham, an Exmoor Horn breeder for over 40 years, and now chairman of the Exmoor Horn Wool company, is very enthusiastic about the new enterprise, “So many of the towns and villages in the South West were built on the back of wool production, even our launch took place only a few yards from the old Dunster yarn market building, so it is great to see sheep farmers once again restoring that link between their sheep and the final wool product – and what a fine wool product it is.

“Thanks to their wool our Exmoor Horns can withstand days of blizzard out on the moor, so what better wool could there be to knit into warm outer garments such as jumpers and scarfs?”

Exmoor Horn wool project leader Lindy Head added: “The two years it has taken to get to the final product range has been an incredibly steep learning curve. With the help and guidance of John Arbon Textiles and the Wool Board, all those involved, including the Exmoor Horn Wool board, its shareholder farmers, and the Exmoor Horn Sheep Breeders Society, have had to get to grips with the intricacies of the spinning process – from deciding on yarn specifications to fibre conditioning techniques, the challenge of getting the colour mix right, and understanding the working methods of the traditional sock manufacturing industry.

“Then there has been the digital marketing element, a vital component for any new company, but not something Exmoor sheep farmers normally have to handle. I’m now delighted to say that a website, www.exmoorhornwool.co.uk, is up and running and we are hoping that lots of people will support the new venture.”

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Exmoor Wildlife Forum


Speakers at Exmoor’s first ever Wildlife Forum, hosted by the Heart of Exmoor Scheme. Photo by Steve Guscott.

Celebrating Exmoor’s wildlife

Eighty people gathered in Dulverton Town Hall recently to celebrate the wonderful wildlife of Exmoor and the work of the numerous volunteers and organisations who help to safeguard it.

It was clear right from the outset that the work of the organisations present (including Exmoor National Park Authority, RSPB, Devon Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency​, the National Trust and Butterfly Conservation​) has been considerably enhanced by the invaluable contribution of a dedicated network of volunteers and by working together in partnership.

The event also celebrated the success of the New Ecologists project, a two year project which comes to an end this year. The Heart of Exmoor Scheme’s New Ecologists has helped to reach nearly 5,000 individuals through a programme of training and family-friendly events spanning the last two years. In addition the project has developed a series of resources for schools and engaged with over 900 school children.

Commenting on the day, Exmoor National Park Authority Member Dr Stephen Head said: “At a time when all conservation organisations are under tight financial constraints, it is really exciting to see how so much important work for Exmoor can be done with the help of our brilliant volunteers – and how much they gain from it too”.

According to one of Exmoor National Park Authority’s Wildlife Conservation Officers, Bea Davis, “We are fortunate on Exmoor to be surrounded by an amazing wealth of wildlife, and to have so many people who are dedicated to keeping it that way. It was fantastic to see people come together to celebrate a small sample of the hard work that goes on for wildlife around the National Park. The atmosphere had such a buzz and vibrancy to it and we hope the event may have inspired more people to get involved.”

If you would like to get involved with volunteering for wildlife on Exmoor please contact Patrick Watts-Mabbott or Jackie Kiberd on 01398 323665 or info@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

The Exmoor Wildlife Forum and the New Ecologists Project received generous support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Exmoor National Park Authority through the Heart of Exmoor scheme.

Published: 4 November 2015

Contact the press office:
Clare O-Connor
T: 01398 322244
E: CKOConnor@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

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Exmoor’s last BIG Adventure of 2015!

Exmoor Community Youth Club showing off their spooky face painting skills. Photo by Aggz Waywell

Exmoor Community Youth Club showing off their spooky face painting skills at a previous BIG ADVENTURE. Photo by Aggz Waywell

Free event, amazing location, great games and activities – it must be this year’s Big Autumn Adventure on Wednesday 28 October from 10am-4pm at Webbers Post, near Wheddon Cross in Exmoor National Park.

National Park Ranger Adam Vasey says: ““It’s the last Big Adventure of the year and, with the help of The National Trust, it’s going to be a good one. Get your wellies on, have a go at orienteering, help us make a giant den or keep warm by the campfire and toast some marshmallows.

“There will be lots to do with the usual range of fun family-friendly games and activities, so come and join us – we look forward to seeing you there!”

This is the sixth Big Adventure event this year and hundreds of people have enjoyed the free family days out courtesy of Exmoor National Park Authority, The National Trust, Heart of Exmoor and a variety of other organisations and volunteers.

There is car parking and toilet facilities on site – for more information please contact the National Park Centre at Dulverton, phone 01398 323841.

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Learning to Strim

Nice post by NT Volunteer Ranger, Zoe Caals. (Glad we were able to help. Thanks for mentioning the funders!)

National Trust - North Devon Blog

Whether maintaining footpaths and car parks, or carrying out habitat management work, brushcutting/strimming is a useful skill for someone wanting to work in conservation. As a full-time volunteer with the National Trust, I was keen to get training for it if possible. Fortunately, through funding available from the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Project I was able to do so, along with fellow volunteer Oli.

We were signed up to a 2-day Lantra course with a training company on the Devon/Cornwall border. The first day was spent learning about the machinery, the different parts and how to look after them properly. Most of this was completely new to me but I found it really interesting and should help if I have any problems with the equipment. We also went through how to do a risk assessment before starting any work to ensure that all safety precautions have been considered. This would…

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Roll up, roll up for the 12th Annual World Bolving Championship


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Roll up, roll up for the 12th Annual World Bolving Championship at Exmoor National Park

This year’s World Bolving Championship takes place on Saturday 17 October at Draydon Rails, Dulverton (TA22 9QE) in Exmoor National Park starting at 6pm and everyone is welcome.

It’s an evening with a difference as National Park Ranger Richard Eales explains: “This is a competition to find out who can sound most like a rutting stag – can you get a real live deer to answer you across the wild deep valley?

“This year there is a beautiful, framed stag picture that has been kindly donated by http://www.mikesherwinphotography.co.uk as well as the Phil Ferris Shield that will go to the winner. Mike Sherwin has also kindly donated a picture that will be presented to the best junior bolver, so get practicing kids.”

380_Robin Offer bolving 2014_10_18_0219Anyone that would like to join in and test their vocal chords can just turn up on the night and enter. Entries are a minimum donation of £2 per person and all the money raised will go to the Devon Air Ambulance Trust.

People can either meet up with other competitors at The Rock House Inn, Dulverton at 5pm or just turn up at Draydon Rails at 6pm. After the competition it’s back to the pub for the results and winners’ presentation, beer, food and the prize draw.

For further details please contact Richard on 07772 989737 or the Rock House Inn on 01398 323467.

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What’s happening with Exmoor’s moorland? You tell us!

The 2015 Moorland Units Review

Share your knowledge of Exmoor’s moorland landscapes for the 2015 Moorland Units Review and help to shape Exmoor National Park’s priorities and projects for the next 5 years.

The 2015 Review questionnaire is now available online


Deadline for submissions 31st October 2015

For a paper version or more details call Jason Ball on 01398 322164.

Please help to update details for your Moorland Unit. The survey doesn’t take long and  this report will be an official document for Exmoor National Park Authority. 


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