Monday, 30 January 2012

Hidden Exmoor

Our part of Exmoor is well hidden and far away from the usual tourist honeypots. Even in the height of summer its rare to see people passing by. Those that do are usually on horseback and trekking from one of the local stables or hunting with one of the local packs. Mountain bike riders passing have been on the increase since full suspension bikes have been popular, the steep rocky bridleways around the centre are a challenge for even the experienced and we have several cycling groups who stay at the centre regularly. Below are a few photographs of where we are the first two are of the valley we are in looking south.
Upstream of the centre the river runs slowly and there are a few really deep pools, ideal for the brave to tackle some wild swimming.
This is the main access to the centre, it is steeper than it looks in this photograph and can be extremely hazardous in a vehicle in wet or snowy conditions.
The last obsticle to tackle arriving at the centre is the river crossing. The stepping stones are regularly washed out so can't be relied on, there is a taught rope across the stones to help steady you but it is wise to arrive in wellingtons or waterproof walking boots and paddle through the shallows just downstream of the stones.

Working Weekend

We will be having a working weekend out at The Exmoor Centre over the weekend of 18/19th February. Everyone is welcome to join us for a spot of weeding, digging and nailing with a good deal of tea drinking and cake eating thrown in. Please get in touch if you would like to come and help or just have a nose around and see whats out there. Contact details are on the latest newsletter which can be found online at -

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A few pictures of the neighbours

 I've decided to build up a file of wildlife photos taken at or nearby the Exmoor Centre. Here are the first batch that I have come across whilst trawling the files. These are all very frequent visitors to the site.
A Meadow Brown Butterfly.
A Pheasant, a very vocal bird if disturbed.

Red deer, always alert and difficult to get near to.

Heron. These very large birds fish daily in the river at the centre.

Starlings. These are often seen in huge numbers in the fields and in the mature Hawthorn Trees to the south of the centre
Blackbirds are always around and very vocal.
Buzzards are nearly always in the skies over the bunkhouse.
A female Chaffinch, thought of as garden birds they also frequent the woodland at the egde of the moor
A male Chaffinch
The Great Tit, another 'garden' bird that enjoys the wild life on the edge of the moor.
Exmoor Pony. Supremely adapted to Exmoors climate. Inquisitive, headstrong and above all tough little ponies.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

More snow on the way?

We love snow at The Exmoor Centre. The bunkhouse is high on the moor in a still secluded valley so its almost always frosty on winters mornings, however snow makes it a lot more exciting. Snow shows you just what a huge amount of wildlife is wandering about, there is great fun to be had following footprints of badger, fox and deer to see if you can track them down. As you can see from the photo there are some great sledge runs too. Book yourself in and pray for snow!

The river crossing arriving at the centre.

Perfect snowman making weather.

Now is the time to visit

Exmoor has the most amazing colours on show at this time of the year. The Exmoor Centre is the most amazing place to take advantage of the shorter days of winter due to its location within the darkest area of Exmoor's Dark Skies. Exmoor is now a world recognised area for stargazing so bring warm clothes and a telescope and explore not only Exmoor but the whole universe!

Improvements at The Exmoor Centre

This year we are trying to add more play features around the site, we have installed a cargo net between some of the trees that not only provides hours of exhausting fun for kids but acts as a great daydreaming hammock by the river for those who visit without kids in tow.

We have several other features in the planning stage and will update you as and when we find the time to install them.

Also new for this year is the instant hot water system. After several years of trying to provide a 'green' water heating system we have had to admit defeat for the time being. Wood fired water heating proved to be too uncontrollable without the benefit of a pumped system to discharge excess heat to radiators. This meant boiling water was feeding back to the cold water plastic tanks above the bunks, there have been cases at other centres where this has led to tank failure drencing the hapless victims below in scolding water! This was not a situation conducive to a good nights sleep so we have been on a mission to find an alternative. Initially we fitted an immersion heater running from our diesel generator, however this took time to heat the water and meant visitors had to live with the din of the generator running. Finally we have found a more elegant solution and Exmoor Heating have installed and commissioned a Bosch Instantaneous gas fired system. This is both economical and blissfully simple to use, just ensure the gas is on then the system just self fires when the hot taps are turned on and provides hot water within seconds.

Last winter saw the installation of a larger woodburner and underfloor insulation. For those who remember the old wood stove and draughts this has been a revelation. The whole building is easily heated due to the woodburners huge 10.5kW output. The new woodburner also includes an oven making cooking at the centre easier than ever.

In the next few weeks we are hoping to get the outside campfire area improved.

...more to follow...

Exmoor Centre Blog

We've created this blog as a supplement to our main website to inform the good folk of planet Earth of the day to day goings on in our corner of Exmoor.

The Exmoor Centre is owned by The St Mary Lyncombe Exmoor Trust. Established under the will of Dora Cartwright-Williams, it was her wish to see a centre for young people in the Hoaroak Valley in memory of her husband and their life together on Exmoor. Their home in the valley was swept away in the floods that engulfed Lynmouth. The Centre was originally financed and built by the Parent Teacher Association of Ilfracombe Grammar School and opened in 1968. The Trusts Chairman John Gale, now in his 80s, is still actively involved on a day to day basis with the running of the centre. The centre is available for any group to hire and our visitors range from local schools and colleges through to corporate team weekends. Many of our visitors are small family groups, often the families of ex-schooldays users of the centre. It is not our aim to make money, but to make the centre use affordable for those it was originally intended to benefit. We keep our running costs to a minimum using solar power for lighting and a wood-burning stove for heating. The majority of the wood we use is sourced from the careful management of the woodland around the site.