I often get asked if anyone can book The Exmoor Centre; The Charity exists to ‘Provide affordable accommodation for young people to experience the wilds of Exmoor’ so if your group in some way fits that then the answer is yes we’d love to see you!
Most of our visitors nowadays are family groups, often extended family groups of brothers/sisters, their wives/husbands, all the kids and some of their kids friends. Many of these groups are led by ex-Ilfracombe College students who came here themselves as schoolchildren and want to pass that experience onto their own children.
We do still get some school groups at the centre, these are often on Duke of Edinburgh training or Ten Tors training. This works well for the group leaders who usually sleep in the comfort of the bunkhouse with the woodstove whilst the students camp outside.
University Groups are rare now but we have some regulars, some pursuing their academic work studying Exmoors rich Flora, Fauna and Geology but often here to tear around on Mountain Bikes or Hike the remoter areas of Exmoor.
Groups of Children with special needs are groups we have always tried to help. Children with behavioural issues can benefit greatly from a change of environment, time at The Exmoor Centre is often calming for them.
We really enjoy seeing the reaction of inner city kids to the darkness of an overcast Exmoor Sky, often terrifying to them at first having never seen a real dark night.
The last group who come to us are the young at heart, and why not, if Grannie wants to go on a rope swing who are we to argue!
Firstly our intrepid team have finally got the balcony cover up so we have somewhere else to put wet boots and sit out when the weather is sub-optimal!
Secondly we have a ‘Gentlemans Agreement’ with the land-owners opposite for us to use the land over the river from us. This is very exciting as it gives us some great opportunities to create more seating spots and possibly a new bridge!
We are open all year so drop us an email and get yourself booked in!
Our Trustees obviously all enjoy spending time at The Exmoor Centre and usually venture off out onto the moor after our seasonal meetings. I asked them this week to let me have a few of their favourite photos for the website…
These first ones are from Liz Nicholson, daughter of one our founders John Gale. Liz loves to celebrate the changing of the season at The Centre and often spends Mid-Summers Day here
Next up some photos from Becky Crush, Beckie fell in love with the place after her son came with the local school and really enjoyed it. Becky is from a very artistic family and well worth following on Instagram if you want to see more of her Photography – https://www.instagram.com/bec4777/
Next up photos from John Overall, John taught me at school and is our current Chairman. John is the first one to get the tools out when something needs repairing.
Next up is Steve Keable. Steve is our Treasurer and been involved with the Centre on and off since it was built back in his schooldays. Steve took his family to the Centre for a week this summer and came away with lots of project ideas, many of which we are implimenting already.
Last in this bunch is Louise Reynolds, Louise knows people, lots of people, she has worked with Exmoor Natonal Park wearing several ‘hats’ so is a great person for networking ideas around other groups such as the North Devon Biosphere.Like Steve Louise dragged a group of family and friends out for a stay over the summer…
We love the autumn and winter nights here and it bewilders us why we get so few bookings in the later months of the year. Sitting around one of our campfires late into the night counting satellites and burning perfectly good food is just the best way to spend a night or three.
We still have some weekend dates available this year so email us and join the secret club of people who know the best time to be here…
Its been a strange couple of years for The Exmoor Centre, most people have struggled with Covid and we haven’t been any different. Our biggest issue has been groups not being able to come at the last minute as a member has either tested positive for Covid19 or has someone close to them who has.
Hopefully with the vaccination program rolling out well now we’ll have a more normal year next year. Having said that, this year isn’t over yet and there is still time to sneak a little Exmoor Adventure in before 2021 starts, we are open all over Christmas and New Year so drop us an email and avoid a bit of the Christmas madness in the wilds of Exmoor
Autumn is one of the very best times to visit The Exmoor Centre, the nights draw in earlier meaning youngsters can sit around the campfire in the dark and still get to bed at a reasonable hour.
Exmoors wooded valleys downstream of the centre are a blaze of colour in autumn. Fungi fans will be in for a treat as a huge variety of mushrooms can be found at every turn, Exmoor National park and The National Trust run fungi events to help identify edible varieties as does our favourite Bush Tucker Queen Liz at https://www.moorwildexperiences.co.uk/
Winter has officially started on Exmoor, we have had the first frosts and now the first snow of the season. We love the winter here, some of the best nights we have stayed out at the centre have been in the winter months, sledging and snowball fights, cold clear nights around the campfire stargazing and counting Satellites as they stream across the sky.
Winter campfires are just the best. These pics were taken a couple of weeks ago as we practiced our light sabre skills, A smoky campfire and a couple of cheap LED torches gives you hours of fun!
We have plenty of availability over the winter this year, escape the relentless Brexit and Election nonsense and come and play around the campfire at The Exmoor Centre. Email us for details.
Exmoor has been treated to its first snow of the winter and we all think that is the best time to be at The Exmoor Centre.
We get heavy frosts for 7 months of the year so you stand a very good chance of a white Christmas staying at The Exmoor Centre. This is the first year for a few years that we haven’t had people in for Christmas so now is your chance to escape the madness and go off-grid for a few days. Email us if you are interested.
We do have people in for New Year and that is hotly followed by a local business treating its staff to a post New Year campfire chillout. After that we have a few quiet weeks so get in touch and maybe you could be sledging down the Exmoor slopes soon.
The Exmoor Centre is high on Exmoor and is always one of the last places locally to see the first signs of Spring coming. We have been out there today to do a few odd jobs and other than a few catkins there is nothing to report yet Springwise. It won’t be long though and we have some spare weekends free here over the next few weeks so why not pack your exploring gear and head to Exmoor for some Springwatching. Before long the fields will be full of lambs and the hedgerows and skies teeming with fledgling birds.
Springtime is a great time for campfire nights here as its still dark early enough for young kids to be out stargazing without getting them over-tired.
Here are a few pictures from todays trip, fungi, mosses and lichens are in abundance at the moment.
It is easy to take life on Exmoor for granted, we grew up building rope swings from trees and camp building in the woods so it was very surprising and actually really rather emotional last year when we had a group come from a very urban background. Within minutes of arriving we were speechless to find several of the group had never seen a chicken or a cow up close before. The walk out to the Bunkhouse was a voyage of discovery for these kids, deep mud sucking at new wellies, the power of the shallow river as they paddled across and so many unfamiliar sounds to startle them. The rope swing over the river was the thing that got to me, none of the kids had been on a rope swing before!
The first night was scary for them; used to the fluorescent glow of urban life their brains simply could not compute the darkness of a cloudy Exmoor night. This was counteracted the following night by being able to see further into the universe than ever before, again their brains struggled to make sense of it. These usually boisterous teenagers were silenced by the information overload of new experiences.
The Milky Way over The Exmoor Centre
When we went to see them go a few days later they were a different group of kids, changed beyond recognition by a few days of wild adventure on Exmoor.
This year we would like to be able to do this for more groups if we can. We have the location but we need to raise sponsorship to pay for travel and any activities we lay on for the groups.
If you would like to sponsor a group to come please get in touch via email at Stay@ExmoorCentre.co.uk
2017 seems to have arrived and all of a sudden the email account has burst into life with new enquiries for bookings. Several people have already booked up for this year, I have even had people ask about next New Year, its not booked yet so if you fancy it get in touch quickly.
The late Autumns disaster at the centre was the strong unusual northerly winds whipping up the valley at tearing a huge limb from our Beech tree! Luckily nobody was hurt and we know just the people to sort it out for us.
The limb actually fell mainly outside the river fence but did take out the fence and gate in the process so I have some work to do to rebuild the fence in the next couple of weeks now the mess is cleared. Unfortunately we think we are going to have to relocate the legendary river rope swing, I have an idea though so don’t panic!
We have tons of brushwood so the next few weeks visitors won’t be short of camp-building materials or campfire wood.
We will be storing lots of wood for next winter and making some interesting features for the site with some of the other big bits of wood. Nothing will go to waste!
Next up is some painting work indoors I think. Beware if you are a friend of mine, you might be getting collared to help…
Bookings are usually quite quiet over the winter so if the weather looks good just give us a shout, you might be lucky and be able to grab a wild winter adventure on the moor. Bring your sledges, snow tends to hang around on the high moor so you can often find a good run.
2016 is rapidly approaching and our at our December meeting we will start the process of preparing for our Summer Programme of events. Every year we fund-raise to pay for some free Bushcraft days at The Exmoor Centre for as many schools as we can.
We get such great feedback from the kids and teachers about these events it spurs us on to improve every year. This year we are aiming to double what we can provide and would like to raise around £10,000 to do this. Could you help? Every little bit helps so please get in touch if you want to know more – >>>firstname.lastname@example.org
Its been a slow start for Spring this year it seems, nights are still cold in the valley where The Exmoor Centre resides, often freezing still even in April. Although Lynton 5 miles away is now in full bloom with blossom everywhere there are few buds showing in our valley yet.
Great news for us this year is we are now fully booked at weekends until the end of August! we still have some weekdays you can come though and some part weekends so email us if you have some dates in mind for a wild Exmoor adventure.
Above: Arriving at The Exmoor Centre on a chilly morning. Hopefully no more of these this year now until early November when the frosts return.
Soon we will be back to larking about in the river and starry nights around the campfire.
So many people who live here don’t know what they have on their doorstep, not us though, any excuse for an adventure out on the moor. I’d arranged to meet some people at The Exmoor Centre last weekend, we hadn’t set an exact time so when they weren’t there me and my terrier set off for an trot up the valley.
Looking SE from Hoaroak Cottage
Looking SE from Furzehill Common
Gate without and fence
Click on the pictures above to view the full panoramas!
About 45minutes walk up the valley to the south of The Exmoor Centre is Hoaroak Cottage, home to some ancestors of mine in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Its a fascinating place and well worth a visit if you are on Exmoor and are capable of the walk over rough ground to get there. Avoid it in poor weather though, its a bleak place at times and all too easy to lose your bearings when the moorland mists set in.
We have lots of dates available at The Exmoor Centre for the autumn and winter, with costs as low as £75 for the night you can have the bunkhouse to yourselves, the perfect base for an wild Exmoor Adventure for you and your family.
Every summer our St Mary Lyncombe Exmoor Trustees go begging for money and we lay on some free Bushcraft Days for schools to come to the wilds of Exmoor. This year we have been funded partly by the Lynmouth Pavilion Project (@LPavilion on Twitter) and we have been able to offer some overnight wild Exmoor experiences to groups. West Exmoor Federation are the first group to take this up and they have just had 2 days here with Sneaky Fox Outdoors providing the entertainment.
Paul Black the Sneaky Fox himself is a keen user of Twitter and you can follow his outdoor antics by following @OutdoorFox or reading his excellent website http://sneakyfoxoutdoors.co.uk/
There will shortly no doubt be a full report of the day available on the Sneaky Fox website. If this inspires you to bring your group to Exmoor for some simple wild fun then get in touch. Sneaky Fox work with us a lot throughout the year on various projects and we can tailor activities to suit all ages and abilities.
New balcony posts in place, just some straightening and staining to do now.
Well that was some weekend! The old balcony posts were getting a bit tired at The Exmoor Centre so we decided it was time to replace them.
A quick message around the usual suspects saw Darren Church, David Lovejoy and Matt Neale dashing to my aid to help. A trip to Mole Valley farmers saw me swapping money for timber and lots of screws, nuts, bolts, coachscrews and washers and we were ready.
Friday morning bright and early I started taking the old balcony apart, Darren arrived just as I had to dash off to a meeting at mid-day and he cracked on and finished the strip down and then set about repainting the toilets and re-siliconing anything he could aim a silicone gun at. by the time the rest of us got back Darren was exhausted and had started on the wine, well deserved.
We did a bit more before dark then set about drinking cider and scoffing sausages for all we were worth. I opted for a nights kip in the land rover and my boys had the tent. We knew the weather due to break but the 4.30am electrical storm that came certainly put an end to any chance of sleep. Being high on Exmoor in such a violent storm was something we won’t forget in a hurry!
Darren and I carried on with the balcony all day on Saturday whilst Dave and Matt played in the river re-adjusting the stepping stones and trimming branches from trees. Lots of work done over the 3 days so I am overjoyed, thanks so much lads 🙂
Adjusting the stepping stones with a Land Rover and winch
Pool improved for Mr and Mrs Heron to fish in and hopefully the otters.
Right, where was I? Sorry about the lack of updates, I’ve been working a bit too much and never seem to be where the little book of passwords is when I have time to update this site!
Not much to report really, its been a really busy spring out at The Exmoor Centre, lots of people here, some of them have even seen some good weather! Lots more booked in for the following weeks so we are very chuffed. We are also finalising some Bushcraft Days at the centre in conjunction with SneakyFoxOutdoors and The Lynmouth Pavilion Project. More about that later.
I have been adding the occasional photo to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ExmoorCentre and if you follow us on Twitter you may have caught my ramblings about life in the wilds of Exmoor.
We have a working party at the centre this weekend coming to replace our slightly rotten balcony and throw some paint around so pop back here next week to see how we got on.