I got a report that the temperature was down to -2degC across the moor a few days ago which set alarm bells ringing. We usually get our first serious frost at the beginning of November at The Exmoor Centre but its early this year, we have the potential for frosty mornings for seven months of the year!
When the woodburning stove is raging the bunkhouse is toasty and warm no matter what the weather but left unheated the temperature drops and being in a deep combe high on the moor some days the temperature struggles to get above freezing.
Our main winter problem is the water system; it soon freezes solid potentially causing damage to the delicate gas water heater and the shower mixer, both of which were damaged last year. A couple of years ago we altered the water system a bit to allow it to be drained down quickly, all we need do now is turn a couple of valves and open the taps. Refilling is also straight-forward meaning we can fairly easily turn the system on and off. The exception is the shower which cannot be drained without several hours work so we tend to leave it off during the winter unless groups are staying for several days.
Snow is our other problem, it covers our solar panel meaning the batteries soon run down. If you are at the bunkhouse during a snowstorm remember to clear the panel as soon as the snow stops falling.
Chopping wood is a relentless task in the winter, we try to get a good stock of wood together through our ongoing woodland management around the property and the local farmers are good enough to allow us to collect wood from hedging etc, we even raid builders skips on a regular basis for free firewood. Most visitors are good enough to leave plenty of wood ready for the next visitors to get a fire going without too much work.
For all the extra work winter brings it really is the best time to be at The Exmoor Centre and we have a hard-core of regulars who come to Mountain Bike and Hike the hills throughout the winter. Pack you winter waterproofs and book yourself in, you might get lucky and get snowed in!