Saturday, 26 May 2012

from the archives

I was rummaging through some old family photos a few days ago and came across this one. It must be of an Ilfracombe College trip to the centre and an educated guess is sometime in the early to mid 90s. Does anyone recognise anyone in the picture?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Indoors at The Exmoor Centre

Most of the posts on the blog are unsurprisingly about the great outdoors but at the end of the day when its too chilly outside even with the campfire going this is what we have indoors at The Exmoor Centre.

Firstly the kitchen, we have a gas stove with a four ring hob and a sink with hot and cold running water. Our water is spring fed, at present it is filtered but not treated so it should be boiled before drinking. We will be installing a new treatment system in the near future as soon as our solar power system is upgraded. There are  saucepans, kettles, tea-pots, cutlery and crockery provided. The wood burning stove also has a built in oven that is great for jacket potatoes and baking sausages.

The two bunkrooms have eight and six bunks (14 total maths fans). The bunks have mattress topper sheets but you'll need to bring sleeping bags and pillows as required.

The wood lined living area has benches and collapsible tables making it very flexible for eating and relaxing around the wood-burner. The woodburner itself is a 10.5kW version so is more than capable of heating the whole bunkhouse. There are two additional camp beds in the living area that group leaders often use.

 The centre has 240v electricity but this is provided by a noisy diesel generator, we prefer to use the free 12v solar generated electricity. The solar system provides lights throughout and sockets for 12v power (car chargers for phones, laptops etc).

 There is a communal washroom with two basins (H&C water) and two WC cubicles, one of which has a shower. We have solar shower water bags that can be used in the shower or outside. The solar shower bags have proven to be extremely popular, they are very cheap to buy (under £5ea if bought in bulk) and we recommend large groups acquire them for extended stays here.

At the back of the bunkhouse there is a large covered drying area, very useful given Exmoor unpredictable climate.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A few improvements

Today we have had some improvements done at The Exmoor Centre.

The fence to the river was forever getting broken due to people climbing over it to get to the river, the obvious solution was a new gate in the fence.

We have installed a few big rocks along the edge of the camping area to prevent vehicles being driven onto the site.

The next improvement was to make a pathway between the bbq area and the campfire. Until now getting between the two has meant vaulting a low wall or a detour half way around the campsite.

Lastly we have levelled and made the campfire area bigger. Now all you need to do is email us and book your time in the wilds of Exmoor and test out the new features.

Monday, 21 May 2012

The wilds of Exmoor

Exmoor is best known for its hogsback sea cliffs and dramatic wooded combes but our favourite bit are the wilds of the moor. The Exmoor Centre is on the very edge of the open moor and from here you walk straight out into an almost untamed landscape. Below are a few photographs showing the landscape up the valley from the Bunkhouse.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


Exmoor bluebells are finally giving us a weird splash of blueness in our otherwise lush green landscape. The best of them in my book are on the National Trust Watersmeet Estate. You can find them by following the east Lyn river upstream from Watersmeet via the bridleway to Rockford.

To the Batcam!

Have you ever tried to photograph bats? Its jolly difficult. I met this one on the way home yesterday, I'm not a bat expert but by its size and behaviour it may be a Daubentons Bat. I took about 40 pictures and these rubbish ones are the best two!

Will :-)

Friday, 4 May 2012

Many moons ago

Trawling through my files looking for something else I came across this photograph of my old Range Rover out at The Exmoor Centre in the late 90s.

Back then the centre was managed as it had been for many years by Ilfracombe Comprehensive School, Ilfracombe Arts College as it is now. My brother Jonny Bowden helped run the centre along with Keith Rickwood from Devon Youth Service. Both are still involved with the centre today. Jonny now does the bookings for the centre and Keith is a Trustee and user with the Youth Service.

Its amazing the loyalty the centre instils in those who use it. Our treasurer Steve Keable was one of the schoolboys who built the centre in the 60s and our Chairman John Gale has been with the project since day one, even now in his 80s he has a day to day handle on the running of the centre.

If you've never visited us its time you started your life-long involvement... email

Thursday, 3 May 2012


We are well used to tweeting at the Exmoor Centre with the huge variety of birdlife that surrounds the bunkhouse but now the Centre itself is Tweeting. Follow us on Twitter as @ExmoorCentre

We would love to hear you Exmoor Centre stories if you have stayed at the bunkhouse over the past 45years of its existence. Email us at Will @ with your tales or at the usual Stay@ email address for bookings.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Testing times

Yesterday was our water test day. The centre uses a private spring water supply so we have to have this tested periodically to make sure it is fit for use. We have used the same supply for nearly 45 years, it is unreliable in terms of quantity available and its ability to freeze up occasionally for 7 months of the year but it is the only option we have available to us.

Myself and Jacqueline our 'nearly Trustee' were tasked with dealing with the water. We met the 'chap from the ministry' as Jacqueline insisted on calling him and loaded up the Land Rover with boxes of empty sterile bottles, clipboards and oddly a blowtorch. Our water inspector turned out to be a decent approachable chap and we had a jolly morning learning a lot about water.
Centre Manager Will (Me) in orange discussing the finer points of traditional spring water catchment pits with the man from ministry. Our catchment is a rare example of the traditional means of catching spring water. A three sided chamber is built into the hillside with the four side created by the exposed strata of the rock from which the spring rises. the pit is lined internally with clay. The pit is covered with a concrete 'roof' with an manhole cover for inspection.

Fallen trees, looking down the gully from the catchment area.

Heading back along the steep wooded hillside to the centre for a well earned mug of coffee made with our own free spring water. We still recommend that water is well boiled before drinking as although the water is filtered it is not fully treated as we don't have power to run a UV system reliably.
Thanks to Jacqueline Le Sueur for the Photos and the coffee making :-)