Thursday, 26 February 2015

Spring Highlights. A celebration of North Devon Coast and Countryside events

Something old, something new and something for the soul. The old; Mothers’ Day, Daffodil Days, Bluebell Days and wild flower walks through the ancient woodlands at Hartland Abbey, a Funtastic Fudge Hunt at Clovelly, new born lambs and an eggstatic Easter Eggstravaganza at the Big Sheep. Now for something new. Prepare to be inspired by The Big North Devon Wedding Show at the Big Sheep at the beginning of March. You can join the FROW on the Rock the Frock Catwalk, take advantage of the Hair and Beauty Parlour or Dance Choreography sessions. There will be live music and over sixty wedding suppliers. Mid April and it’s back to Clovelly for “The Vintage Bride” - a nautically inspired Wedding Fair at Clovelly Court. The Great Terrace at Clovelly Court will host a beautiful Vintage style Blue Fizz marquee, show-casing an array of wonderful wedding suppliers. There’ll be live music here too, Pop Up Vintage style refreshments, a Pop Up Beauty Parlour and a roaming Catwalk, fabulous giveaways and goody bags ..phew, makes you want to get married again! After all that excitement time you'll need something for calming the senses – oh good the inaugural North Devon's Mind, Body and Soul Festival is being held towards the end of April. Scroll down for event details:


Sunday 8th March The Big North Devon Wedding Show 11am until 4pm Meet the finest wedding exhibitors Devon & Cornwall has to offer at this new inspiring show set in this unique location. 60+ Devon & Cornwall wedding suppliers. £3 Entry - Book Now! Rock the Frock Catwalk, Pop up Hair and Beauty Parlour, Live Music, Dance Choreography sessions, Gorgeous Products. Visit Website
13th March Live Music from The Decibelles at The Clinton Arms. Be soothed lulled and rocked by the Decibelles. Book a table have a beer. Come hear a fantastic band comfortable with songs from the "bouffant petticoat" age of the 50's, traditional folk, Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Pretenders, - yes, even Abba, and quirky songs from any era that takes their fancy. They also sing their own stuff. The Clinton Arms Frithelstock, Torrington, Devon EX38 8JH Web Site
Sunday 15th March HARTLAND ABBEY DAFFODIL DAY 11am - 4pm. A lovely chance to come with the family or friends to see the wonderful collection of historic daffodils, many planted 150 years ago by our ancestors.Our spring flower days are really good fun days out for everyone including the children and dogs.Visitors will be able to see not only the daffodils, but also lots of camellias, hellebores, early spring bulbs, mimosas and our lovely wild primroses and violets.There is plenty of opportunity for a really good walk along stunning woodland paths through wild flowers to the Gazebo, the newly restored Summer House and Blackpool Mill, which starred as 'Barton Cottage' in the BBC adaptation of 'Sense and Sensibility'. The Abbey itself will be open between 12 -4pm at a small extra charge.Warming hot pasties, light lunches and really good home made cream teas available in the Old Kitchen Tea Room. Visitors are advised to bring wellies and do please bring lots of dogs! Flower Day entry prices: Adults £5, Children (age 5-15) £1, Under 5 free. Entry to the house £4 open 12-3pm For further information please ring 01237 441496 /441234 Hartland Abbey, Hartland nr. Bideford, N. Devon EX39 6DT
15th March Mothers Day - Free Entry to the BIG Sheep for all Mums when accompanied by a full paying child. Visit Website for details
Saturday 28th March to Monday 6th April Funtastic Fudge Hunt at Clovelly. Twenty fudge stones will be hidden in the village for 10 days leading up to and over Easter. Find one and take it to the Fudge Shop at the Vistor Centre and discover how much fudge you have won. If you find Number 20, you will win a whole kilo of fudge made up of eight different flavours - what a treat! And you can come back and try again. One stone redeemable per visiting family per day.
Saturday 28th March - Sunday 12th April BIG Sheep Easter EGGSTRAVAGANZA Festival As well as having over 30,000 chocolate eggs to find, there will be something for all the family to enjoy this Easter and every visitor will be entered into our FREE prize draw to win a MASSIVE chocolate Easter Egg which was handmade by award winning chocolatier Carlo Melchior who supplies chocolate to London's Fortnum & Mason. See website for more Easter Events at the Big Sheep
1st April Easter Lambing at the Big Sheep. Lambs expected during February Half Term Holidays and Easter. Easter at the BIG Sheep is an exciting time of year with lots of lovely lambs arriving to celebrate the advent of spring. Kid goats and piglets are also likely to arrive during Easter. Join in at the bottle feeding shows (running twice daily) and get a chance to bottle feed an orphaned lamb. Visit website for details

Saturday 4th April Easter Saturday, Ruby Country Market, Hatherleigh Visit Website for Details
Easter Sunday 5th and Easter Monday 6th April 2015, EASTER EGGING at Hartland Abbey 11.00 - 5pm. Come and join the fun in the beautiful grounds and gardens of Hartland Abbey over the Easter weekend. Children will have a wonderful time searching all the woodland paths and walks for clues that will lead them to a hidden treasure trove of Easter Eggs. There will be traditional games like Pin the Tail on the Bunny as well. For adults the daffodils and spring flowers should be looking wonderful, making this a special day out for adults and children alike. The house will be open at an extra charge. Other family fun things are planned too, so visit for further details. Admission rates: Adults £7; All children over 2 £4; Admission to house extra: Adults £4, Children free. For further information please ring 01237 441496 /441234. Hartland Abbey, Hartland nr. Bideford, N. Devon EX39 6DT
18th April Go ballistic with balloons at the BIG Sheep's Balloon Festival and let Vaughan, our resident balloon expert entertain you with his humour, mischief and incredible artistic ability to produce mind boggling entertainment which will have you dumb with amazement and shaking with laughter whatever your age.
Hartland Abbey Bluebell Walks photo copyright Hartland Abbey
Sunday 19th and 26th April, BLUEBELL DAYS at Hartland Abbey 11 am - 4 pm. The bluebell season runs throughout April and the beginning of May but normally the last two weeks in April are when the flowers are at their best. Bring your children and dogs to enjoy some lovely walks within the Abbey grounds from the Walled Gardens to the sea carpeted with beautiful bluebells and other wildflowers. A newly restored circular, woodland path links the Summerhouse to the Gazebo and Blackpool Mill overlooking the Atlantic. The Summerhouse was a favourite spot for the family to picnic and for the children to play. See 'Barton Cottage' which was the home of the Dashwood family in the BBC production of 'Sense and Sensibility', filmed here. Once you have worked up an appetite, enjoy lunch in the Old Kitchen Tea Rooms where there will be some special chocolaty treats as well as the delicious, homemade menu! Outside, there will be a barbecue of mouth-watering burgers. The house and grounds will be open with the museum and shop open too. Bluebell Day entry prices: Adults £5, Children (age 5-15) £1, Under 5 free. Parking free. Entry to the house £4 extra, open 12-4pm. For further information please ring 01237 441496/441234 Hartland Abbey, Hartland nr. Bideford, N. Devon EX39 6DT
Sunday 19th April The Vintage Bride - a nautically inspired Wedding Fair, Clovelly Court. Our gorgeous wedding fair is both VINTAGE and NAUTICALLY inspired ... the perfect combination for one of the most stunning wedding locations in North Devon. The Great Terrace at Clovelly Court will host a beautiful Vintage style Blue Fizz marquee, showcasing an array of wonderful wedding suppliers, both locally and regionally based. With live music, Pop Up Vintage style refreshments and food, Pop Up Beauty Parlour, roaming Catwalk, fabulous giveaways and goody bags ... our fair is the perfect Spring destination for brides and grooms 'to be'. Entry: £3.50 to include goody bags and giveaways; children FREE For further details contact:
Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th April North Devon's Mind, Body and Soul Festival. North Devon is a great place to live, work and play and offers everyone who lives here an opportunity to embrace a life style that feeds the mind, body and soul. We are fortunate that we have a wonderful array of therapists and practitioners in the area who offer a fantastic range of ways in which to explore a holistic approach to help balance the mind, body and soul. To help celebrate all that is good in our lives the inaugural Mind, Body & Soul Festival will be held in The BIG Sheep's EWE2 arena, home to some of North Devon's top events, Visit Website for details
 For more North Devon Events see Local Press: What's On North Devon Gazette - North Devon Journal
Photo Copyright P. Adams (All rights reserved)
North Devon Tourist Information Centres
Barnstaple Tourist Information Centre, North Devon Museum, The Square, Barnstaple, North Devon, EX32 9LS
Bideford Tourist Information Centre, Burton Art Gallery, Kingsley Road, Bideford, EX39 2QQ 

Braunton Tourist Information Centre The Bakehouse Centre, Caen Street, Braunton, North Devon, EX33 1AA
Combe Martin Tourist Information Centre Cross Street, Combe Martin, North Devon, EX34 ODH 

Holsworthy Visitor Information Centre: The Memorial Hall, Holsworthy, 
Torrington Tourist Information Centre, Castle Hill, South Street, Torrington   
lfracombe Tourist Information Centre The Landmark Theatre, The Seafront, Ilfracombe, North Devon, EX34 9BX
Lynton Tourist Information Centre Lynton Town Hall, Lee Road, Lynton, North Devon, EX35 6HT T

South Molton Tourist Information  1 East Street, South Molton, Devon, EX36 3BU 
Woolacombe Tourist Information Centre The Esplanade, Woolacombe, North Devon, EX34 7DL 
Click here to add an event go to North Devon Focus Coast & Country Chronicle Community Calendar 
(We advise that you check with venues to ensure events are taking place, to confirm details dates & times)

Friday, 20 February 2015


Ladies and Gentlemen, hold onto your hats. The circus is coming to town!  The Electric Swing Circus is a 6-piece fusion of saucy 20′s swing and stomping electro beats. With an explosive sound that reverberates back through time, the ESC hotfoot their way through everything from breakbeat and house to reggae and dubstep, all with their own unique style of swing. A full time, touring band on the international circuit, the ESC’s live set includes electric double bass, vintage samples, gypsy-jazz guitar, keys, drums, synths and electro beats. Fronted by a sassy female double-act, the ESC delivers a consistently dazzling show. Their debut, self-titled album is available now on Ragtime Records. The ESC line-up features Laura Louise and Bridget Walsh (vocals), Chandra Walker (drums and keyboard), Tom Hyland (guitar), Rashad Gregory (samples, MPC & synths) and Patrick Wreford (bass & bass synth). The band first formed in June 2011, with their preview EP, Penniless Optimist, released in September 2011. Their eponymous debut album “Electric Swing Circus” was released in May 2013. After a big year of festivals and international touring in 2014, a new album is in the pipeline for 2015. Support comes from Don Johnston noted for tight, original DJ sets. Expect jazzy swinging bass music and a high energy playing style that always captivates audiences.
  • Doors open at 8PM  - Advance tickets £8.00 
  • Physical tickets available from: Beats Workin, Barnstaple 
  • Online tickets available from: (Ticket outlets subject to booking fee)
The Factory Petroc Brannams Campus, Oakwood Close, Roundswell Barnstaple, 
North Devon, EX31 3NJ

Album available on iTunes

Friday, 6 February 2015


North Devon film making project Boat Stories has come up trumps again with Winner Takes All, an exciting short film capturing the thrills of women's gig racing in North Devon. The five minute documentary follows Appledore Pilot Gig Club Ladies A Team as they compete on home waters at last year's Appledore Gig Regatta. When Boat Stories Producer, Jo Stewart-Smith met the Ladies A Team she immediately spotted a good story "I was impressed with the welcome I was given" says Jo "how hard the teams trained through the winter – how competitive they were and yet the friendships they made through the team and the club carried on into their social life so that they were a tight knit group at work and at play. " Emily Lea, Vice Captain of the team says they were really excited when Jo approached them with the idea of making a film and they are thrilled with the result  "The film captures the great passion and incredible dedication members have at Appledore Pilot Gig Club. While watching the film, I went back to those gruelling training sessions, those competitive, goose bump moments where we almost beat our rivals and that sheer feeling of giving all you have got, for those incredible minutes of racing!" "Rowing is already a popular sport, but with the help of this film, I feel it will promote the sport in a positive light, and encourage more people to get fit, and what better than to row in a boat!"
The sport is popular with both men and women, a lot of Appledore Pilot Gig Club members are married, which brings healthy competition between the sexes. The ladies have three racing teams, A, B and C crews and an intermediate group, who will be forming a D crew this season. There is also a group of 'women of a certain age' and Emily says "We are very lucky to have the amazing "hot flushes" they compete in the vets and super vets races, and often win silverware for the club. We are all very close and it just proves age really doesn't matter when it comes to rowing." "Women of today are so busy juggling home and work life, rowing is a welcome escape, you can step into the boat in a stressed and bad mood and leave after a good row feeling refreshed, confident and ready to face the world!" The team's next battle will be in The isle Of Scillies at the World Championships where they will be rowing hard but also celebrating 4 hen dos. Emily notes "This of course will be happening after we have competed. There is a strict rule amongst the woman of no drinking until the last day ... that's the beauty of rowing though, we don't need alcohol to have fun!"
Along with the other Boat Stories short films Winner Takes All can be viewed at the Boat Stories website where you can read more about gig rowing in North Devon and the making of the film.

Work for Devon Wildlife

Devon Wildlife Trust is looking for friendly, enthusiastic and confident people to take on a new challenge in 2015 and help Devon's biggest wildlife conservation charity recruit new members. The Membership Recruiter position has never been more valuable to DWT, as membership is the only reliable source of income for the charity to be able to continue helping wildlife in Devon. DWT's 49 nature reserves across Devon provide habitats for a host of threatened and rare species including dormice, otters and greater horseshoe bats. Membership allows the charity to continue the habitat management for this precious wildlife to thrive in Devon. DWT's Membership lead, Rachael Fielder-Pine, said, "This is a great opportunity for anyone who loves talking to people, working outside, and cares about wildlife and Devon. Our recruiters approach visitors to venues, such as garden centres and county shows in Devon, and talk to them about the Trust's valuable work, with a view to securing a regular monthly donation. In return, membership recruiters can expect flexible working hours, competitive rates of pay, and of course, the nice feeling that they are making a real contribution to the wellbeing of wildlife in Devon!" DWT Membership Recruiter, Jo Forsyth, said, "The role is flexible and varied, you're outdoors often, and you get to attend some really nice events and venues, whilst enthusing people about the environment and wildlife and DWT's role in looking after it. For me it's about capturing people's interest in and concern for nature and turning that in to valuable support for DWT." 
Hours are flexible and earning dependent on hours worked. Basic pay is £8.50 per hour, or 38% commission of the annual subscription value, including gift aid, of each confirmed membership, whichever is the highest at the end of each month. An additional 10% commission can be earned for exceeding monthly targets. For more information about the role, and how to apply, visit

Photo: Jo Forsyth, Membership Recruiter © Devon Wildlife Trust copyright DWT (All rights reserved)

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Drop-in to discuss next steps for beavers

People are being invited to a public drop-in session in Ottery St Mary to hear what the next steps will be for the town's local wild beavers.  The drop-in is being held on Friday 6 February between 3pm and 7.30pm at The Institute, Ottery St Mary, East Devon. The organisers are keen to stress that everyone is welcome. A small population of beavers is living on the River Otter close to the East Devon town of Ottery St Mary. The animals recently made national news headlines when Natural England decided to grant Devon Wildlife Trust with a licence which would allow the animals to live on the river while the charity monitored their impacts on the local community, landscape and economy. The River Otter Beaver Trial, as it is known, will last for the next five years. Representatives from Natural England will be at the drop-in session to discuss the temporary removal of the beavers which is being planned to ensure that they are healthy. Devon Wildlife Trust staff will also be on hand to discuss how the River Otter Beaver Trial will work over the coming years.
Devon Wildlife Trust's Peter Burgess said: 'It is very good news that we have been granted a licence to release the beavers back on the river once they have been proven to be healthy. Natural England and Devon Wildlife Trust are hosting this meeting to answer any questions the local community may have about the next steps of the project.'
The Institute can be found in Ottery Street, Ottery St Mary, Devon, EX11 1HD. Parking at the Institute is very limited, but there are public car parks nearby.
Devon Wildlife Trust

Monday, 2 February 2015

Government cuts back on ambitions for marine protection

The long-awaited consultation on the next stages of Marine Conservation Zone designation in English and non devolved waters is launched today.  But with only 23 out of a possible 37 sites included, The Wildlife Trusts are frustrated at the lack of ambition shown by the Government.

Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas, said:  “We are bitterly disappointed that the Government has opted to consult on just 23 new Marine Conservation Zones and that some very important areas for marine wildlife  have been dropped from the list.  We are particularly frustrated that a number of sites – including in the Irish Sea - have been removed because of the likely ‘economic cost’. 

“The Wildlife Trusts believe this is a missed opportunity to achieve longer-term gains that will benefit marine biodiversity and fishing.  Ultimately an economic activity that is based on over-exploitation, beyond the ability of the resource to renew itself, is not sustainable and has no long-term future. 

In Devon the news of two new recommended MCZs was met with a mixed reaction by Devon Wildlife Trust. While the news of more protection for North Devon’s marine wildlife was welcomed, The Trust reflected on missed opportunities elsewhere. Devon Wildlife Trust’s Richard White said:
“We are pleased that Government has recognised the value of North Devon’s marine life by recommending two areas for protection.  These two new proposed Marine Conservation Zones at Bideford to Foreland Point and Hartland Point to Tintagel are home to a stunning variety of marine life. Their collections of corals and sponges form a beautiful backdrop to shoals of colourful fish.  All will benefit from the protection provided by becoming Marine Conservation Zones.”

“At this stage today’s proposals for new MCZs are just recommendations and the Government is now asking people their views on whether they should become a reality. We’d urge anyone who cares about the future of the South West’s marine life to back these MCZs and take part in the government’s consultation process. Responding doesn’t take long via Defra’s website. It gives everybody an opportunity to shape the future of our precious marine wildlife.”

“While today’s announcement provides some good news we are very disappointed that we still don’t have the network of areas of protection that our seas need. We hope that this will be remedied by Government in the future.”

Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, Callum Roberts, says: "The decision not to create protected areas in the Irish Sea on the grounds of cost to fisheries is ironic and misguided. Irish Sea fish stocks are among the most heavily overexploited in the UK and are now on their last gasp.  Two centuries of fishing with destructive trawls and dredges has stripped the seabed of its fish and once-rich habitats like oyster and horse mussel reefs.  It will remain impoverished without protected areas; it has a chance of recovery with them.  There is no in between."

The North West Wildlife Trusts’ Marine Conservation Officer, Dr Emily Baxter, said: “The muddy habitats of the Irish Sea are as diverse as the Amazon rainforest and coral reefs.  There are also living reefs that support a wealth of species from sponges, crabs, lobsters, and anemones to an array of seaweeds.  At least 30 species of shark and a dozen species of cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises) live in the Irish Sea, including the basking shark, the world's second largest fish.

“By postponing action to protect these areas yet again, the Government is leaving the Irish Sea open to an environmental disaster. 

Supporting sustainable fisheries, instead of encouraging overfishing and habitat destruction, would increase fish landings, generate more income and create more jobs in the sector.  Decision-makers need to think of sustainable fisheries as an opportunity for job creation and increasing the value of fisheries rather than an environmental principal that comes at a price to the industry.  Marine Conservation Zones are a vital part of this process.”

Joan Edwards explains:  “Only this week, the Government’s Natural Capital Committee published a report which shows that investment in nature makes obvious economic sense.  The Government must develop a comprehensive strategy to secure the recovery of nature in a generation.  This must include the designation of a well managed and ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas.” 

The Wildlife Trusts will be responding to the Government consultation and plan to publish our recommendations online in due course.  We will be urging the public to have their say and respond to the consultation to help ensure no further potential Marine Conservation Zones are lost. See

Marine Conservation Zones protect threatened undersea habitats such as eelgrass meadows, rocky reefs and deepwater canyons – and the animals that live in and around them.  These important sanctuaries for marine life remain at risk until more areas offering effective protection are established.  Marine Conservation Zones should protect the species and habitats found within them from the most damaging and degrading of activities such as scallop dredging and trawling, whilst mostly allowing sustainable activity to continue.
Valley of Rocks, North Devon Photo copyright Nigel Hicks (All rights reserved)

Of the 37 sites listed below, 23 are now included in the current Marine Conservation Zones consultation, which runs for 12 weeks from Friday 30 January 2015.  The 23 sites are shown in bold black (we’re disappointed the ones in red have been dropped – for site descriptions, please see attached document):

Coquet to St Mary’s
Farne’s East
Runswick Bay
Compass Rose
Holderness Inshore
Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds
Swale Estuary
Dover to Deal
Dover to Folkestone
Offshore Brighton
Offshore Overfalls
Norris to Ryde
Yarmouth to Cowes
The Needles
Studland Bay
Western Channel
Mounts Bay
Lands End
North-West of Jones Bank
Greater Haig Fras
Newquay and the Gannel
Hartland Point to Tintagel
Bideford to Foreland Point
North of Lundy
South of Celtic Deep
Celtic Deep
East of Celtic Deep
Mid St Georges Channel
North St Georges Channel
Slieve Na Griddle
South Rigg
West of Walney
Mud Hole
Allonby Bay

The centre-piece of the landmark Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009) legislation was the commitment to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas throughout UK seas; a response to the widely acknowledged crisis facing the health, diversity and productivity of our seas.  While this Parliament has seen the first designations, we remain a long way from the full network.  

127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones were chosen after two years of hard work by more than one million stakeholders from all sectors of the marine environment and at a cost of over £8.8 million to Government.  Twenty seven Marine Conservation Zones were designated in November 2013 as a first step towards achieving an ecologically coherent network of areas which will protect and help to restore the marine environment.  In February, Defra released a list of 37 sites, recommended by experts and stakeholders, to be considered for a second tranche of Marine Conservation Zones.  The excluded areas were identified by the statutory nature advisors as necessary to help fill current gaps in the network of protected areas at sea and achieve ecological coherence.  The Government is committed to a third tranche, to complete the network, by 2016.