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In addition to the houses and businesses that were flooded, the countryside has also suffered heavily from the recent flooding.
The heavy rain and floods have taken their toll on Exmoor with some Rights of Way badly affected by landslips and surfaces being washed away. Footbridges have been damaged, with one swept away completely, whilst the famous Tarr Steps, the longest clapper bridge in the country, has also been partially swept away, although plans for its reinstatement are already in hand.
The importance of the area’s footpaths and bridleways to the well being of the local area and economy has been proven and the National Park Authority is now working with its partners to repair the network as quickly as possible. National Park Rangers are currently assessing the damage, with initial estiamtes indicating repair costs to exceed £100,000. This expenditure exceeds the funding available each year to maintain public paths and a number of local people and businesses have offered financial help towards the repairs.
A small number of paths have had to be closed for safety reasons - details of these can be found here.
Contribute your support - every penny helps!
CareMoor for Exmoor is the Conservation and Access Fund for the National Park. Businesses, visitors and local communities have provided thousands of pounds towards different projects within the National Park. Recently funds had been committed to developing new interpretive material at Tarr Steps to reduce the clutter in the area and provide better information to visitors. This included the promotion of a short circular route which will now require extensive repairs.
The fund is open to anyone wanting to contribute towards the restoration of paths and structures around the National Park that have been affected by the recent floods. Funds are ring-fenced towards specific conservation and access work and add value to the core work of the Authority. Although some of the paths have been damaged, virtually all of them can still be used and Exmoor is very much open for business, with lots to do.
To make a donation, however large or small you can do so securely online or you can make payment in the form of a cheque payable to ‘Exmoor National Park (CareMoor)’ and send to us at Exmoor House, Dulverton, Somerset, TA22 9HL.
Businesses can participate too, either through a one off donation, or helping to raise funds from their customers through a variety of different methods. For further information contact Dan James, Sustainable Economy Officer on 01398 322234.
Tarr Steps – an example of the challenges being faced.
Tarr Steps is an ancient 'clapper' bridge across the River Barle set amongst woodland designated a National Nature Reserve. It is one of the most visited spots on Exmoor attracting thousands of visitors every year. The bridge is of primitive construction, with large un-mortared slabs of stone resting on one another, and is the largest example of its type. The exact age is unknown. Some claim it is prehistoric, others believe it to be medieval, whilst some think it is a more recent folly. The river and the valley woodlands are Sites of Special Scientific Interest and abound with wildlife.
There is a popular circular footpath that allows visitors to explore this gem of a location, and much of these paths have been badly damaged as a result of both flooding and landslips in the area, along with approximately two thirds of the bridge itself.
The Authority’s Conservation Manager, Rob Wilson-North saw the destruction first hand, as reported by the BBC. "It was the speed of the water, it was absolutely terrifying, it was moving so fast. I've worked on Exmoor for 20 years and I've never seen it like that. For me, it was absolutely shocking to see it like that.”
Each of the stone slabs is numbered making restoration an easier task once water levels have dropped and the stones retrieved. This work will be conducted by Somerset County Council in collaboration with the National Park Authority and English Heritage. Repairs to the Rights of Way network in the area are likely to be a much longer job. Please do support this work if you are able to.
If you have been affected by the flooding and live within the Somerset area of the National Park the Somerset Community Foundation have extended their Surviving Winter Campaign to offer financial support to flood victims. Click here for full details.