Friday, 31 July 2015

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

Lazy days of Summer, not if you're organising an event in North Devon. There is a lot happening around Bideford Bay with Gig Racing and Lifeboat Weekend down along Clovelly and once again those crazy aviators will be flinging themselves off the pier at Ilfracombe. Hartland Abbey are hosting their outdoor theatre season for those who enjoy somewhat quieter, more refined entertainment. Kid's favourite cheeky little piggy, Peppa Pig, is back by popular demand and will be visiting The BIG Sheep, on Bank Holiday Sunday 30th and Monday 31st August. Meanwhile over at Great Torrington the Torrington Cavaliers have been putting the finishing touches to their replica of "Trumpton", the village from the popular children's BBC TV series in the 1960s. Amazingly after all their hard work they will be burning it to the ground on the 29th August, all for charity of course. It's carnival time for Appledore and many of the villages around and 2015 marks the 130th Appledore & Instow Regatta which is running from 30th July until the 17th August. Finally if you have read the book or seen the film and would love to see the place that inspired ‎Michael Morpurgo's War Horse then pop over to Iddesleigh and join The Parish Walk - War Horse Valley.

Saturday 1st August Clovelly Gig Regatta. Gig racing is exciting and strenuous, with crews reaching speeds of nine knots in North Devon's powerful tidal waters. You're assured and exhilarating day's racing. So come along and cheer on the brave crews!
Saturday 1st August  The South West Birdman Competition sees crazy aviators and would-be pilots hurl themselves off Ilfracombe Pier into the icy waters below - all hoping to "fly" the furthest and be crowned champion of the event. Visit Website for details
Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August Lifeboat Weekend, in aid of the R.N.L.I. This popular event is a celebration of the Clovelly lifeboat. The Lifeboat House will be open to visitors. On Saturday afternoon there will be a sponsored swim from Bucks Mills to Clovelly, followed by a barbecue. Sunday will be a fun-packed family day with games, competitions, entertainments, food and drink and music. During the day the Clovelly lifeboat will be launched and in the evening there will be a curry, quiz and live music.
Tuesday 11th August 5pm Illyria Theatre - The Sorcerer's Apprentice at Hartland Abbey. The original boy-wizard story was most famously told in Disney's Fantasia, where the title role was played by Mickey Mouse! Bored of chores, the apprentice waves a wand and a broom magically fetches water. But what is the spell to make it stop? In desperation he saws it in half and everything spirals out of control… This show features the original music by Paul Dukas (as used in Fantasia); more water then you have EVER seen in a play before; and eye-popping magical illusions designed by the world famous illusionist Paul Daniels. Exciting, magical family fun for all ages 5+! Hartland Abbey Open Air Theatre Season in conjunction with the Plough Arts Centre
16th August Appledore Carnival Visit website for details
Tuesday 18th August 5pm Cambridge Touring Theatre - Robin Hood, The Musical at Hartland Abbey. "Most enjoyable. ...colourful costumes extremely funny and lively family show. The Stage. Come and have a joyful, fun-filled time with your family as you watch this hilarious musical show full our usual zest and vim! Boys and girls are invited to come along dressed in their best Sherwood fashion. Robin? Marian? Sheriff? Knights? You'll meet them all.
Pre Performance Workshop There is a 45 minute drama workshop where your child can play theatre games with the actors. Age 5-10. Please check with the ticket office whether the workshop will be running and whether there is availability. Hartland Abbey Open Air Theatre Season in conjunction with the Plough Arts Centre
Tuesday 25th August 7pm Illyria Theatre - The Three Musketeers at Hartland Abbey. All for One - and One for All! Young D'Artagnan is desperate to join Athos, Porthos and Aramis as an elite Musketeer of the King's Guard. To prove himself he plunges headlong into a thrilling adventure to restore the Queen's honour, survive the machinations of scheming Cardinal Richelieu, race the clock to save the hapless Mme Bonancieux and cross swords with the deadly Milady de Winter. Set against a sweeping panorama of 17th century France at war, this production is a whirlwind of excitement, broad comedy and ingenious story-telling. Romance! Swashbuckling! Intrigue! Murder! Betrayal! Revenge...! It's got the lot! Suitable 8+  Hartland Abbey Open Air Theatre Season in conjunction with the Plough Arts Centre
Saturday 29th August Great Torrington Cavaliers charity bonfire and firework spectacular. The Great Torrington Cavaliers have built a replica of "Trumpton", the village from the popular children's BBC TV series in the 1960s. The village scene features all the famous buildings including Trumpton town hall, the fire station and most importantly, a working version of Windy Millers windmill! Visit website for details
Monday 31st August 7pm Heartbreak Theatre - Emma by Jane Austen at Hartland Abbey. In true Heartbreak style, the adaptation of Jane Austen's 'Emma' is introduced and performed by a group of artists who tell the story in the hope that the Romantic nature of Austen's writing inspires their portraiture and landscape skills. Hartland Abbey Open Air Theatre Season in conjunction with the Plough Arts Centre
Sunday 30th August Parish Walk around War Horse Valley. A circular guided very interesting walk through War Horse Valley on PRIVATE LAND finishing with a cream tea, approximately 4 miles long and is estimated to take 2hours. Well behaved dogs on leads are welcome. Anyone unable to walk is invited to come for a cream tea, there will be plenty of car parking. Adults £5 to include cream tea, grand draw, excellent prizes. From Parsonage Farm Iddesleigh EX19 8SN. IN AID OF: The Friends of St James Iddesleigh. Contact Tel: 01805 804347

 For more North Devon Events see Local Press: What's On North Devon Gazette - North Devon Journal
Great Torrington Cavaliers replica of "Trumpton" - 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)

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Meet the Author. Bideford's Liz Shakespeare will be out and about this Summer

The name of Liz Shakespeare has become well-known in the South-West as an author who brings to life the people, history and landscapes of Devon.

Liz was born and brought up in Bideford and has a long Devon ancestry which she feels has given her a good understanding of Devon and its people. Her most recent book, All Around The Year, is a collection of twelve poignant stories, deeply rooted in the Devon countryside, and each linked to a month of the year from January through to December. For each story, she has created a character whose life is influenced by the landscape around them. With stories set in North, South and Mid-Devon, All Around The Year is popular throughout the South-West and beyond.

She relied on historical research for inspiration for her previous books, The Turning of the Tide, a true story of a young Clovelly mother confined in Bideford Workhouse, Fever: A Story from a Devon Churchyard, and The Memory Be Green: An Oral History of a Devon Village. She is currently working on a novel based on the life of the Bideford Postman-Poet Edward Capern.

Liz will be signing copies of her four books at Launceston Show on 30th July, in the Crafts and Gifts Marquee at the North Devon Show on August 5th, Okehampton Show on August 13th, Chagford Show on August 27th, Holsworthy Show on August 27th and Clovelly Crab and Lobster Festival on September 6th.

Further details of Liz’s books can be found on her website
Photo copyright Liz Shakespeare (All rights reserved)

Animal believed to be extinct for 150 years found living in Devon

An animal that has only been recorded once in the UK before and was thought to be extinct has been found alive and well living on a Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve. 

The fly, Rhaphium pectinatum, was last recorded on 19 July 1868 when the renowned Victorian entomologist George Verrall caught a male and female at Richmond in Surrey. In the decades since it was presumed that the fly was extinct, but now, nearly 150 years later it has been spotted again, this time at Devon Wildlife Trust's Old Sludge beds nature reserve, near Exeter. The remarkable discovery was made by expert naturalist Rob Wolton who is a member of the Devon Fly Group and the Dipterists Forum which specialises in the study of flies.

Rob said: 'I took a recent trip to Devon Wildlife Trust's Old Sludge Beds nature reserve on the outskirts of Exeter specifically to look for flies. Imagine my surprise when I examined my catch that evening to find it included a fly that was presumed extinct in Britain, not having been seen for 147 years! Definitely one to add to the list of Devon specialities.'

Little is known about the handsome, metallic green coloured fly, apart from that it is part of the family Dolichopidiae, a group which is known as long-legged flies. Most members of the family live in tropical areas of the world. Rob explained: '
The only other record of the fly was found near Richmond in London in 1868. Nothing is known about its biology, but it seems that it may like brackish (salty) conditions like those found at the Old Sludge Beds, and may even be associated with the extensive tidal reed beds nearby at the head of the Exe Estuary. Finding the fly here demonstrates the importance of the work the Devon Wildlife Trust does looking after these unusual and special habitats. 'Flies don't always have the best press, but Rob was quick to point out the critical part they play in all our lives:

'To most people, the only good fly is a dead one! Only a tiny proportion of the flies in Britain are pests, while many are important for pollination and for ensuring efficient recycling of the nutrients in dead plant material. And they are an important part of the food web - many of our birds rely on them. Without flies, there would be no swallows, and not many bats! Nor, incidentally, would we have any chocolate - the cacao tree is pollinated by midges, a kind of fly!'

The fly has made its home at Devon Wildlife Trust's Old Sludge Beds nature reserve. The five hectare site is situated between the River Exe and the Exeter Canal. Until 1969 it was used as a place where Exeter's sewage sediment was stored. Since 1979 The Trust has managed the place as a nature reserve for people and wildlife.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey said: 'So often we have to break the news of species that are disappearing, so it's good to be able to announce the discovery of an animal that was thought to be extinct. This is a very exciting find for Devon Wildlife Trust. We've worked hard at the Old Sludge Beds nature reserve in recent years to maintain a patchwork of reed beds, ponds and lagoons which now provide a home to local wildlife including rare dragonflies, birds and amphibians. The presence of this special fly means that we must be doing something right in supporting many of the species that make our county so special.'
Photo: Rhaphium pectinatum. Copyright Rob Wolton (All Rights Reserved)

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Unique opportunity to walk on Private Land around War Horse Valley, Iddesleigh

Please come and join the Friends of St. James at Iddesleigh for The Parish Walk on 30th August. This is a unique opportunity to walk on private land around War Horse Valley. The walk will be a circular one, starting at Parsonage Farm which is in the heart of War Horse Valley and home to the War Horse Museum and will include: Bridge Town, on to where the rivers Torridge and Ockment join, along the marshes beside the Ockment to Nethercott Barton and finishing at Parsonage Farm for a cream tea and to enjoy the beautifull views of War Horse Valley.

Willing participants must meet at Parsonage Farm, Iddesleigh, EX19 8SN, where there will be plenty of car parking available, for a PROMPT 2pm start. Please note that this walk will be a guided one in groups, is approximately 4 miles long and is estimated to take 2 hours. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome and sensible footwear is advisable.
Anyone unable to walk is invited to come for a Cream Tea, there will be a Grand Draw with exellent prizes, directions will be signed from Iddesleigh.

Photo St. James, Iddesleigh copyright Rose Ward (All rights reserved)

 Visit the place that inspired Michael Morpurgo to write "War Horse"
For more information Tel: 01805 804347
ADULTS £5 to include Cream Tea

War Horse Museum. includes a World War I Exhibition alongside a War Horse Exhibition. World War I artifacts and information help show the effect the war had on this part of Devon and the invaluable part horses played in the conflict.

Experience life at sea and the exhilarating pleasure of sailing aboard an historic trading Ketch

Experience life at sea and the exhilarating pleasure of sailing aboard the historic vessel, Irene, along the stunning coastline of Clovelly or to Lundy Island this September.  Enjoy lending the crew a hand by hoisting and trimming sails, and steering the ship. No experience necessary - just come along for the fun! 

'Irene' was launched over 100 years ago at Bridgwater, Somerset and is a "West Country trading ketch", designed to be beached along river banks so loads could be easily transferred to horse-drawn carts.  

SEPTEMBER SAILINGS:  Starting on the day of the Clovelly Lobster & Crab Feast on Sunday 6 September to Saturday 26 September : 
Bideford Bay Day Sails
Join the crew and experience sailing a traditional West Country trading ketch or just relax and enjoy the trip along the beautiful coastline.  Lunch included.
Overnight to Lundy Island at weekends
Sail from Clovelly to Lundy and explore the island, full of wildlife and wonderful scenery.  Then dine and sleep aboard 'Irene' overnight.  On the Sunday you will experience the RNLI performing a mock rescue on board before sailing back to Clovelly
Below decks 'Irene' is fitted with cosy and comfortable en-suite cabins each with double and single bunks.   Meals included (delicious food with locally sourced ingredients).
All voyages are subject to weather conditions and must be booked in advance.  Deposits are required (only refundable in case of bad weather) and travel insurance is necessary for overnight voyages.
For information and to book your place/s, please contact the Skipper, Charles Robertson on 07896 215213 or email

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Outstanding. 4 Holiday Parks in Woolacombe for the price of 1

Suddenly it’s summer and time for adventure weekends away with mates or action-packed family holidays and where better to experience the very best of coast and countryside activities than Bideford Bay and the North Devon Gold Coast. The lively resort of Woolacombe is most famous for surfing and its award winning beach. Three miles of golden sand stretching out between two National Trust promontories, Baggy Point and Morte Point. High above Woolacombe is the picturesque village of Mortehoe, steeped in history and a perfect location for nature lovers hoping to explore the South West Coast Path and Morte Point. There is a wide variety of accommodation on offer including camping and touring, value and luxury caravans for hire with panoramic sea views, self catering holiday lodges, farmhouses, apartments, villas and bungalows. We know the kids love the beach but even they can get a little bored building sandcastles and rock-pooling but if you stay in one of the four seaside Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks you’re free to use the facilities on all four. You and the family can choose from over 40 FREE activities and there is even a bus service between the Parks and down to the beach. Happy Holidays!
4 Holiday Parks in Woolacombe for the price of 1
In an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

4 Holiday Parks in Woolacombe for the price of 1

1. Golden Coast. Situated at the head of a picturesque valley, the Park is a resort within itself, perfect for countryside walks with all the facilities you could dream of to keep all ages entertained from dusk to dawn. Outstanding leisure facilities and activities. A wide choice of holiday accommodation, camping and touring. Sports Complex with surfing simulator, high ropes course, climbing wall, adventure play areas and more! 
2. Woolacombe Bay Holiday Village In an area of outstanding natural beauty overlooking the sea. Caravan holiday homes and stunning camping site. Excellent facilities and activities. Packed full of fun and overlooking the beach, this lively Park enjoys magnificent views across the bay and offers excellent facilities and activities to satisfy all ages including pitch & putt, adventure golf, a 9-hole family golf course and tennis courts will provide hours of free fun for everyone. Plus any weather bowling, volleyball or just have a kick around on the sports field.
3. Easewell Farm Ideally placed for exploring North Devon, the Park is in a great location nestled amidst glorious National Parkland. The Park is home to the Woolacombe & Mortehoe Golf Club, a comprehensive 9-hole course affiliated to the Golfer’s Union. Farm cottages, camping & touring with superb leisure facilities. A haven of peace and tranquillity with unforgettable views over the surrounding countryside and Woolacombe Bay.
4. Twitchen House An Edwardian manor house is at the heart of the Park, set in acres of picturesque woodland beside a sleepy Devon lane that meanders down to the village of Mortehoe. Twitchen House is an ideal haven for leisurely holidays. It is also perfect for ‘outdoorsy’ types with plenty of sports action. You can brave the 24ft climbing wall, cast out at the fishing pond or head over to the crazy golf. This pretty Park is surrounded by miles of National Trust parkland with its own footpath down to the sea and those three miles of golden sand.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Dartmoor jewel becomes new nature reserve

70 hectares of wildlife-rich land close to one of Dartmoor's most popular recreation sites is set to become a brand new nature reserve thanks to a partnership between Devon Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission. The nature reserve, which is to be called Bellever Moor and Meadow, is owned by the Forestry Commission and is close to the moorland village of Postbridge and the well-known Bellever Forest picnic site. The land, which is made up of a patchwork of traditional hay-meadows, wet grassland and moorland, is set to become the latest of nearly 50 nature reserves cared for by local charity, the Devon Wildlife Trust. Bellever Moor and Meadow has been leased to Devon Wildlife Trust by the Forestry Commission under a 25 year management agreement. The Forestry Commission identified the opportunity for the land to be managed more effectively for wildlife and approached Devon Wildlife Trust to propose the partnership agreement. It will be open to the public to explore and enjoy for free, 365 days a year. And like all of Devon Wildlife Trust's nature reserves, it will be managed as a haven for local wildlife.
Devon Wildlife Trust's Nature Reserves Manager, Matt Boydell, was part of the team that worked with the Forestry Commission to agree the lease. He said: "Bellever Moor and Meadow is a stunning site and provides a wonderful opportunity for Devon Wildlife Trust to become more actively involved in the very heart of Dartmoor. The nature reserve also gives us a chance to put the skills we've gained over the last 20 years in restoring and re-creating grassland to use on Dartmoor in the restoration of nationally rare upland hay meadows."
Robert Harris, Land Agent at the Forestry Commission said: "We are delighted that Devon Wildlife Trust agreed to take on the management of this area and look forward to working with them. We will continue to manage Bellever Forest, which is also rich with wildlife as well as archaeological features, so the whole area will be managed effectively as part of the wider Dartmoor landscape." It will be the job of Devon Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve officer Ian Chadwick to look after the new site day-to-day. Ian has more than ten years of experience managing wildlife reserves in the South West. Ian said: "This really is exciting! It's a jewel of a place. Over the next few months we will ensure we get out on to the nature reserve as much as is possible and to start to develop an understanding of the plant and other species currently found there. It will also be an opportunity to speak with local people and find out more about the history and potential of this stunning location."
Matt Boydell looked ahead to an exciting future. He said: "The wildlife value of the nature reserve is already good. Parts of it are rich in wildflowers which were once much more common across the moor. Plants such as eyebright, heath spotted orchids, southern marsh orchids, ragged robin and yellow hay rattle are all there. In other parts of the nature reserve our plan is to restore a network of traditionally managed hay meadows. In turn these will attract insects, birds and mammals including bees, butterflies, bats and barn owls. It's a very exciting project."
Bellever Moor and Meadow nature reserve is located close to the Bellever Youth Hostel, near Postbridge, Dartmoor. Visitors are welcome but paths are rough and as yet unmarked. This reflects the newness of the site and Devon Wildlife Trust's desire to keep the place as part of Dartmoor's wild landscape.
Butterfly Orchid on the Bellever Moor and Meadow Nature Reserve - Photo copyright DWT (All Rights reserved)
Looking across Bellever Moor and Meadow Nature Reserve towards Postbridge - Photo copyright DWT (All rights reserved)

Monday, 6 July 2015

Maritime Fun and a Gun Run.

Since 1912 The Royal Navy’s Interport Field Gun Competition, inspired by the exploits of a Naval Brigade during the Boer War in 1899, took place during the Royal Tournament. In 1989, Jim Cory, then a civilian instructor with 326 Hartland Squadron, single handedly built a replica field gun out of scrap metal and old car wheels for use by the cadets as it is easy to dismantle and reassemble.

It had its first outing on the playing fields at Hartland and was an instant success with locals. In the early 1990’s a ‘Gun Run’ took place in Clovelly, with the cadets pulling the gun up the street and ‘race’ times were recorded. Last year, the cadets resurrected the tradition and are hoping to make the ‘Clovelly Gun Run’ an annual event. This year, two teams will take it in turn to manhandle this weighty gun from the Harbour to the Fountain at the start of Clovelly’s annual Maritime Festival!

Come along and support the cadets as they try and beat last year’s race time. It really is an amazing sight of hard work and dedication!

Clovelly Maritime Festival, 10th Anniversary in aid of the North Devon Hospice, 19 July 2015 at Clovelly Harbour  10 am to 5 pm Contact: Tel: 01237 431781.
Photos Clovelly Gun Run 2014 copyright Hartland ATC (All rights reserved)