Friday, 16 August 2013

11 Things to do before you go back to school...

With the summer holidays in full swing, Penrose is becoming a hub of activity. The Stables Café, open every day now, is providing visitors with welcome refreshment and the events are pulling in the crowds. Last week Squshbox theatre performed Skillywidden, a tale of Cornish Piskies and fairies, which delighted all ages in the audience. Don’t miss the next one on August 27th! 

This week Claire from Plantlife came along with an awesome array of fun activities to help everyone uncover the secret life of plants. The nature trail, which wound its way through the walled garden, included having a go at pollinating flowers with a cotton bud to understand the vital job insects do. 

We’ve also been getting creative with willow withies! Lucy from Nauti but Ice and friends delivered a brilliant workshop where we made an array of insects from butterflies to lady birds and even a fairy house. Once the basic sculpture of the insects were made we then covered them in brightly coloured tissue paper and they are now decorating our plant pots! 

Archery has proved just as popular as in medieval times and we even had to add another session to meet demand. We enjoy thinking of new ideas for events and different ways to get you outdoors but let us know if you've got any ideas for events you'd like to see at Penrose.

The ranger team at Penrose would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who’s supported our events and The Stables Café so far! As a charity all your donations and support help us to carry out vital conservation work and to maintain access on all the footpaths and cycle routes you love using. Keep checking our events listings to see what else is coming up.

And if you're wondering about the title of this post... there are 11 events listed on our summer holiday leaflet and we're over half way through already! 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Summertime and the livin' is wild!

The Wild Lizard Project has been in full flow this summer, with over 50 people attending the first Beachcraft session and Rockpool last Wednesday and the same this Wednesday it has been a busy couple of weeks. Taking place on the Lizard National Nature Reserve and managed by Natural England Kennack Sands it is a very popular beach with locals and visitors alike. We were treated to a couple of basking sharks just offshore, a spider crab, pipe fish and with one little girl having the dubious luck of catching a weaver fish they were still brilliant sessions! Having never met a weaver in person before I watched as it tried frantically to bury itself into the bottom of the bucket and bristled its notorious spines. A rather underwhelming grey speckled fish it is easy to see how it blends in with its environment and catches people unawares. The mini-raft building proved popular especially with fathers who became quite competitive with the designs and dam building of the stream, leaving the children to undertake the launching of the rafts.

Join in with more Beachcraft adventures next Wednesday meeting on the beach at 12pm for the rockpool exploration and crafts.
Rockpoolers with their wild and wonderful discoveries
Jessica, Aoife, Isaac and Noah with Jenny one of the Wild Lizard
volunteers learing how to make Neptunes Eyes

The all new very popular Bushcraft Club has also been running every Tuesday, with new exciting activities led by Sarah Henn as part of her Forest School Leader training. With real adventures taking place each day and new bushcraft skills introduced each week it is easy to see why they are fully booked. This week we went up the side of the Poltesco Valley discovering new places to build dens. The children loved exploring an area where no-one has been for years, carving out their own paths through the brambles, they remained completed unfazed by spiky plants and nettles, building their own camps in the undergrowth. Many of the children have booked in for all four sessions and are learning new exciting skills each week. This has proved a very popular venture and we certainly could have filled the places twice over which proves there really is an interest in learning more about our amazing natural environment.


Now it is just up to me to think up more wild and wonderful adventures to have!


Monday, 5 August 2013

Seeing the wood for the trees

The banks of the Helford river are a haven for local wildlife from estuarine birds to rare woodland flora. This tranquil part of the Lizard peninsula offers wildlife lovers and water users alike the chance to explore and discover peaceful creeks and wooded valleys undisturbed by the bustling tourist season which is now upon us. It was here that Daphne Du Maurier composed her famous novel Frenchman’s Creek and more recently Kylie Minogue filmed her music video for Flower. Aside from its fame, the Helford area is steeped in history and home to many pockets of ancient woodland. These remaining areas of ancient woodland are bursting with biodiversity and support some of the countries rarest species such as the greater horseshoe bat which has declined by 99% over the past centuary.

Part of my role as a Ranger here on the Lizard is to look after these important woodlands to ensure they remain in a favourable condition for the wildlife that lives there. Perhaps one of the largest areas is Tremayne woods, which many of you who have spent any length of time here will be familiar with. Tremayne was originally part of the Trelowarren estate and is a linear woodland following the creek down to a Victorian stone built Quay. Initially built to receive Queen Victoria, who never came because it was raining, the Quay is now a popular picnicking and wild camping spot amongst locals and visitors to the area. We are appealing for help to undertake some urgent restoration work to Tremayne Quay, please see below.


Inevitably part of the life cycle of woodlands means that every year trees come down, either due to natural causes or felled as they are no longer structurally safe. This then creates glades where woodland flora and butterflies flourish and eventually new trees establish. Much of the timber that comes down is inaccessible and so is left to decay naturally creating a perfect habitat for insects and fungi.

However Tremayne, with a track running through, lends itself well to extracting some of this timber. The extracted timber is then used on the Lizard for bench tops, posts and bridges etc, with a next to nothing carbon footprint. All the timber is native hardwood and therefore has a long life span without the need to treat with chemicals or preservatives. This method is sustainable and has a very low environmental impact. Last week we spent a day with a local mobile sawmill and produced dozens of square posts and planks out of a fallen oak tree which are to be seasoned and then used across the Lizard. You can’t get more local than that, and there is a great feeling of satisfaction to see this from tree to product in a small scale, sustainable way.


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