east the water 2Torridge District Council and local developer Simon Maunder and his company Oceanside Developments have concluded discussions and signed contracts on the development of East the Water Wharves in Bideford. A delighted Torridge leader councillor Philip Collins said: “Torridge has been considering the potential development of this area for many years and remains determined that at the heart of any successful plan must be an attractive public open space with free waterside access and features and facilities that will enhance the enjoyment of Bideford residents and visitors alike. It’s been a long time coming but I’m very keen to progress this development, with really modern upmarket restaurants, shops and accommodation this will be a huge step in the regeneration of Bideford. The benefits will reach far beyond just the town but the wider Torridge and northern Devon area too.”

Simon Maunder, from Oceanside Developments, said: “This is a significant milestone in the development of the wharves. Torridge District Council has set the bar very high to ensure the scheme really works for Bideford. It will become a vibrant destination and the nautical leisure hub for the whole of North Devon. The waterfront public spaces are extensive and the residential aspect has been kept to a minimum, primarily to fund the associated Marina and other public amenities. It’s taken longer to get to this point than I envisaged, but I’m still as excited about it as I was two years ago when I submitted my bid alongside the many other interested parties. I truly appreciate that there is much at stake for Bideford and found that there were many different stakeholders who needed to be considered when devising the design detail. That phase is now complete and the actual build now moves to the forefront.”

Work on the wharves will start when the final planning and survey issues have been agreed this summer, with Bideford Marina hopefully opening to the public in 2016.

Back : Stewart Barr, Richard Brazier, Lee Bray, Robin Milton, Helen Blackman, Chris Binney; front: Keith Howe, Rachel Thomas [Society Ch.], Mereil Martin.

Back: Stewart Barr, Richard Brazier, Lee Bray, Robin Milton, Helen Blackman, Chris Binney; front: Keith Howe, Rachel Thomas [Society Ch.], Mereil Martin.

 “We believe that the lessons of Exmoor apply to all” wrote S. H. Burton in 1966. At a special Conference organised recently by the Exmoor Society, in partnership with Exeter University and the Exmoor National Park Authority, Rachel Thomas, Chairman of the Society set the scene, telling the story of how Exmoor’s designation as a national park 60 years ago was fiercely fought.

National parks in England and Wales were different from international ones in that there were no pristine landscapes that could be set aside and owned by the State. The concept applied in this country in 1949 was confined to beautiful and relatively wild country with extensive tracts of open land with high value for outdoor recreation and where hill farming had been practised for centuries. Exmoor was named because of its “spectacular coastline, fine heather bracken and grass moorland, beautiful wooded valleys and upland farmland and antiquities in great propinquity”.

She argued that in our crowded islands we needed to protect spectacular landscapes that held evidence of our past, provided space for nature and natural resource use, and gave pleasure to so many people. She stated that the national park concept has passed the test of time and has shown that it is adaptable to new challenges and priorities and has demonstrated that by encompassing land based rural development, landscape protection can be stronger and public benefits enhanced. She concluded by saying: “Exmoor is unique, still relatively wild and tranquil, the brand is strong, the people resilient. Let us have the passion and commitment to retain its special qualities for the nation”.

Academics from Exeter University explained to the Conference how their importance research work on Exmoor was of relevance nationally and internationally. Climate change is said to be one of the most significant long-term threats facing the natural environment, and Professor Richard Brazier, Associate Professor of Geography outlined his research on the Exmoor Mires Project. He showed that by blocking up drainage ditches on the peat areas of Exmoor’s moorland, it is likely that water could be stored for longer in the peat soils and be released more slowly as base flow in the summer months, and possibly help reduce downstream flooding. Carbon could also be retained and sequestered in the mires. How communities can come together and respond to flooding was demonstrated by Dr Stewart Barr, also an Associate Professor of Geography who through his workshop in Dulverton in November last year, showed how local solutions could be found. Dr Keith Howe, Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for Rural Policy Research, summarised recent trends in hill farming on Exmoor in the last decade, including a decrease in livestock numbers but that farming families with moorland were more resilient to change and likely to have named successors to continue the family farm.

Finally, the recent increased numbers of archaeological finds on Exmoor, going back to the Mesolithic period was said by Dr Lee Bray, who did his PhD research at Exeter University to show the importance of Exmoor internationally for understanding the prehistoric period. Other speakers and delegates highlighted the needed to find more about Exmoor and to bring together local as well as academic knowledge in order to manage this complex landscape sustainably.

Easter bunnyOn Good Friday and Easter Saturday (18 and 19 April), children can join the hunt to find three Easter egg pictures hidden in the market for a chance to win a delicious chocolate egg.

The Easter bunny will also be bouncing around the market handing out treats on the Saturday, with Borderline Morris dancers entertaining shoppers between 11am and 1pm.

Executive Member for Economic Regeneration, Councillor Malcolm Prowse, says: “There are always lots of treats on offer at the market but at Easter the choice gets even better. The Easter bunny is always popular with the children, giving mums and dads the chance to shop and pick up some fresh local produce or gifts. The market also reopens on Mondays from Easter, so we’ll be able to enjoy the market six days a week from now until Christmas!”

To take part in the Easter egg hunt, children will need to write down all of the Easter-themed words written on the pictures around the building, along with their name and contact details, to be entered into a free prize draw.

Entry forms can be collected from the ‘history barrow’ inside the market and posted in the competition box. The winning entry will be selected following the Easter Bank Holiday.

For more information about what’s on at the market, like their page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BarnstaplePannierMarket.



Photo by John Bridges (rspb-images.com)

Photo by John Bridges (rspb-images.com)

Have you heard a cuckoo yet? If so Exmoor National Park and the RSPB would love to know. Helen Booker from the RSPB explains more: “We are very concerned about the cuckoo; it is a bird that is very much under threat. Exmoor would appear to be an important habitat for them and we would really value any records of them.” Recording your sightings could not be easier. Simply go on line to the Wildwatch website, www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/environment/wild-watch, or ring the National Park Centre in Lynmouth on 01598 752509.

Did you know the Cuckoo spends as much as nine months of the year in tropical Africa and the adult cuckoo feeds almost entirely on big hairy caterpillars! Good places to traditionally hear cuckoos on Exmoor include Croydon Hill, Alcombe Common, Ley Hill and Webber’s Post, but there must be more! Wildwatch 2014 is also supported by over 25 free wildlife and surveying training events.

“Whether you are interested in butterflies, fungi or river life, there is something for everyone. All the training is delivered free of charge by experts to encourage people to learn more about Exmoor’s Wildlife through surveying. Again just visit the Wildwatch Website,” says David Rolls, Moorland Education and Outreach Officer. Exmoor Wildwatch is part of the New Ecologists project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Exmoor Trust and Exmoor National Park through the Heart of Exmoor Scheme. For more details on this work please contact David Rolls on 01398 322164.



A one-day, indoor folk festival will take place at Halsway Manor this Saturday, 19 April, 12 noon till late, supported by Folk Radio UK. Hothouse Festival is a one-day Acoustic Folk-Roots Festival showcasing the finest UK (and international) young folk talent; there will be appearances from young local musicians and dancers too.

Now in its third year, the festival’s 2014 line-up includes Radio 2 Young Folk Award winners Moore, Moss, Rutter, folk troubadour Sam Brookes (guest vocalist on Basement Jaxx single ‘What a Difference Your Love Makes’), honey-voiced shanty men The Ballina Whalers, European Bluegrass Band Award runners-up Jaywalkers, lively Priddy duo The Drystones, Australia’s acclaimed singer songwriter Katie Wighton, pure-voiced singer and pianist Jen Ord, emotive singer-songwriter Rosalie Bevan, fresh indie/folk from Jess McAllister… and more.

All-female rapper dance team Silver Flame Rapper will be making an appearance, to perform and to run a rapper-sword-dance workshop. There will be appearances from local bands – Torr and Thirsty Jenny amongst them – plus an open mic stage, and a Silent Disco to round off the night. The day will also feature brand-new performance pieces created by local young dancers and musicians during a week-long residency at Halsway Manor. Kicking off at 12 noon, Hothouse Festival takes place in the fantastic setting of Halsway Manor, on the edge of the Quantocks between Crowcombe and Bicknoller. Most of the activities will take place inside the fifteenth-century Manor House, so no need to worry about the weather, but if the sun does make an appearance you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful gardens and grounds!

Hot and cold food plus a licensed bar will be available. Plenty of parking onsite. Camping and B&B are also available at the Manor – but must be booked in advance. Tickets: £10/£2 aged under 14 (must be accompanied by an adult). To book contact Halsway Manor on 01984 618274 or book online: www.halswaymanor.org.uk


perspective boarding house and study centreWest Buckland School has submitted plans for a significant upgrade to its campus. The application from the North Devon independent school details a new study centre which will house open-plan learning spaces, library and IT resources over two floors. It will be used by all students across the senior school and will include a dedicated Sixth Form area. The application also details plans for a state-of-the-art 70study-bedroom Sixth Form boarding house.

If the plans are approved, work on the project will begin over the summer with the development completed and ready for students in September 2015. West Buckland School Headmaster John Vick explains: “This is an incredibly exciting and ambitious project that will bring many benefits for every day and boarding pupil at West Buckland School. We want to provide our students with the very best facilities and the study centre will provide a first class learning environment for students across the senior school. The boarding house will be a superb facility, with single bedrooms and en-suite facilities for boys and girls. The buildings will be in close proximity and are designed to create a dynamic new hub to the campus that encourages close interaction and integration between our day and boarding students. This development will provide students with a remarkable environment in which to learn, live and study. I am confident that if our plans are approved, we will provide the best facilities for sixth formers and younger pupils to be found anywhere in the South West and further afield.

jo stewart smith boat stories north devon 1Local community film making organisation North Devon Moving Image (NDMI) is getting set to launch Boat Stories, a new project producing a series of short films about people whose lives revolve around the working boats of North Devon. Thanks to funding from the Northern Devon Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG), supporters of sustainable fishing communities in North Devon and Torridge, research on the films is starting this month.

NDMI has teamed up with local film producer Jo Stewart-Smith who says: “I met Amanda from North Devon Moving Image by chance, on Woolacombe beach, where we were covering the same story – she was filming, I was writing. When I saw her work I knew that she understood the importance of a good story in a film so I approached her to host Boat Stories.”

FLAG Programme Manager Jenny Carey-Wood commented on the funding award: “The FLAG members were keen to support Boat Stories to increase understanding and awareness of the diversity of fishing and marine activity in the local area. The awarding of £18,934 European grant towards this project will provide a legacy on film to record, inform and celebrate the local fisheries and working boats through people’s own stories.”

As with all of NDMI’s projects Boat Stories will take a close up look at the lives of North Devon people. Jo explains: “I think for many of us landlubbers there is a big divide between what we can see – the romantic boat out on the water – and an understanding of the skills needed to work on a trawler out at sea or cope with the tidal race and sandbanks while fishing in the estuary. I think there’s a disconnection between the fish we eat and knowing where it comes from and how. Hopefully our films will go some way towards closing this gap.”

Amanda McCormack, Director and founder of NDMI, adds” “We are really excited to be collaborating with Jo on the production of Boat Stories. One of our aims as a community interest company is to promote and encourage documentary film making in North Devon. Jo will be working with local film makers on the Boat Stories project and we are really looking forward to seeing some exciting films made by our home grown talent.”

The Boat Stories series will be complete by Summer 2015 and the films will be shared on the North Devon Moving Image website. To keep up to date with the project visit the news page on the Boat Stories website http://www.boatstories.co.uk, follow the project on Twitter @boat_stories and the Facebook page – Boat Stories North Devon. … and if you have a Boat Story to tell please get in touch with Jo by email: boatstories@outlook.com or telephone: 07816 815761


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