Monday, 26 January 2015

A little bit of Winter warmth

Before the mince pies were being nibbled and the Christmas parties got into their full swing, the Poltesco National Trust team headed out to the coastal cliffs of Predannack to help out  at the farm with a controlled fire, or swailing as it is also known.

 Believe us or not, the fires weren’t just our cheeky way to warm us up on a chilly winter’s day. Fires are an incredibly important process in many ecosystems, they occur naturally throughout habitats across the world and have a large number of ecological benefits such as enriching soil, clearing old dead matter, and controlling scrub encroachment. Habitat management was one of the key reasons for us to swail at this site. Rare plants that are found here were at risk of being encroached upon if the scrub had been left to its own devices. Practices such as grazing and cutting can also help with scrub encroachment but they aren’t always the most practical or feasible solution. It was not only the rare plants that benefited, other native plants can flourish when we prevent a site from being dominated by just a few species. This diversity of flora helps provide resources for a wealth of invertebrate life, which in turn supports those creatures higher up the food chain too!

Another huge benefit of the controlled fire is that it helps reduce the impact and likelihood of summer fires that can be set alight either purposefully or accidentally with devastating consequences. Out of control campfires, bbq’s or intentional arson attacks have been known and they put wildlife, people and habitats at serious risk! Even a controlled fire carries risk and is not something we take lightly but there are legal obligations, safety procedures and environmental guidelines that we ensure we abide by.

Dressed for the job in our bright orange jump suits we set to work nice and early, first of all safety checks got underway and then the team took to their posts. With the fire service notified, some of the team got the fires going whilst others kept watch. With fire beaters ready at hand our job was to patrol the fires and ensure it didn't make a break for freedom by jumping to neighboring areas of scrub. The fire was kept nicely under control with only the desired areas feeling the burn.  It was a real eye opener into the power of fires and was interesting to witness how some areas roared up in flames burning bright and fast whilst in other areas the fire just slowly crept through the undergrowth.

The flames created quite the scene over this stunning coastal backdrop but as light began to fade, so did the flames. In the hours of the late afternoon we ensured all the final fires had burnt out before packing up for the day. Once we were happy that all fires were out, the fire service was once again notified.  There is no denying that afterwards the sight of the scorched ground was dramatic and it was probably natural to think that it really didn't look very nice either. However, if you go down to those cliffs today then you are in for some miniature surprises. Yes, there’s still no denying that the burn sites aren't the most attractive but the wonderful thing is that when you look up close, they are full of signs of new life.  Nature is brilliant and resilient and these controlled fires can have incredible benefits for an ecosystem, benefits that will hopefully become clearer to see as the scars fade and the seasons progress.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Getting Ready for Summer 2015

As you can see in some of the below blogs the staff are busy at this time of year, some at their busiest, even though to the visitor it seem like we are only open in summer. The Lizard and Penrose property portfolio is actually open all year round, unlike the gardens that can close the doors for January and February, we keep all our land and car parks accessible throughout the year, and this means lots of man & woman power!

You may see that there is a lot of conservation management taking place across the property with maintenance to structures, new footpaths and existing car parks to name but a few, all building towards the Easter deadline, so that they are available for visitors to enjoy this coming summer.  Have a chat to the rangers and volunteers who you see out and about on the Lizard cliffs and around Penrose, they would be happy to tell you about what they do to keep these places special, but there is also lots happening behind the scenes, especially in the Visitor Services Department.

For example, the first National Trust face that most visitors see is one of our car park or campsite team; this requires recruitment of these posts in February so that training can happen before the car parks open. If you would like to apply for one of these roles please apply through the National Trust website when the roles are posted in the next few months at:
Another major aspect of our jobs is to plan for the summer season, order stock, leaflets and uniforms and also to plan bigger projects to improve the car parks and campsite to make them all run as sustainably as possible.

Along with all our other weekly tasks, we organise events for the summer season and regularly check our sites and public rescue equipment.

If you would like to book one of our pods (seen to the left) this summer at Teneriffe Farm Campsite or a pitch please call 01326 240293.

You can also still sign up for membership at this time of year with us, all the money comes back to Lizard and Penrose,  you can do this by coming to see one of us at our offices at Poltesco or Penrose, or look out for the blue NT van that is often about on the Lizard!


Friday, 9 January 2015

Looking forward to 2015

Before we look forward to 2015, it’s well worth a look back at 2014. 

Below I have summarised what happened for us in 2014, for a more detailed picture it's well worth scrolling back through our blog articles to see what we have been up to over the past 12 months. Wow!

2014 for Lizard and Penrose - National Trust

Repair work on Mullion Harbour 
This time last year our work was being severely challenged by the winter storms. Wave after wave of low pressures hit our coasts and some of our places took a severe beating. Work is still going on to repair that damage at Mullion and at Kynance but it took a lot of our team’s time at the early part of the year to repair footpaths, retrieve litter washed up on beaches and replace public rescue equipment and signs from almost all our beaches. 

Unusual weather is likely to become more and more a part of our lives and having a skilled and knowledgeable team of rangers, ably assisted by volunteers, means that we are able to react quickly to whatever happens and ensure access to our coast is maintained and is safe.

Family day out - cycling on the Penrose trails
Coming out of winter (and almost despite the foul weather) we were able to celebrate the opening of new footpaths at Penrose in April. This work, funded by Natural England but developed and carried out by the Penrose team has made a major difference to Penrose and how it is able to be used by visitors and the local community. Improved surfaces mean a far wider range of users are able to enjoy its beauty and new routes mean there are many more places people can go. Over 17 miles of trails mean there is something for just about everyone!

Visitors watching choughs at the Wildlife Watchpoint
Down the coast at Lizard Point our new wildlife watchpoint was a great success, as over 11,000 people were able to enjoy great views of choughs, seals, seabirds and mammals from the most southerly point. Not only that but we were able to play an important role in monitoring wildlife on our coast through the records our dedicated band of volunteers made during the summer whilst they showed people what was out to sea or up in the air.

Visitors getting directions from our car park attendant Lee
And what a summer it turned out to be, we had record breaking numbers of people at Kynance  car park, more campers than ever before at Teneriffe, lots of visitors to our holiday cottages and the Lizard team smashed their target for recruiting new members to the National Trust.

Kynance - by Shannon O'Grady of Shazzam! Photography

But it’s not just the big stuff  that struck me as I looked back at the past year, it’s the diversity of what the National Trust gets involved with and the beauty of the special places we look after (thanks Shannon for all those great photos to really remind us of that!) that made me stop and think.

From footpath repairs to habitat creations, from apple fairs to archaeological digs, or great learning experiences for school kids to Halloween scariness in the evening! Caring for these places takes a lot of skill, commitment and hard graft and giving people great experiences whilst they visit takes effort, inspiration and creativity, but fortunately we have a team of staff and volunteers at the Lizard and Penrose who have all of that in bucket-loads.

So what about 2015?

Kynance Cove
Walking around Kynance this week on a beautiful sunny day, the people I was with were gobsmacked by the beauty of the place. It reminded me that we couldn’t have achieved what we have in terms of landscape restoration, habitat management and visitor facilities without Enterprise Neptune. It is 50 years since this most successful fundraising campaign was launched. As part of Coast 2015 you can expect to see a whole range of activities and events that celebrate the diversity of our coastline and what the Trust has been able to achieve through the generosity of our supporters. (Keep an eye out on the events part of our website for all of this.)

Loe Pool
Elsewhere I’m looking forward to continuing to work in partnership with other conservation organisations as part of Linking the Lizard and the Loe Pool Forum so that our wildlife rich sites are bigger, better and more connected with others in the area. And I’m also looking forward to working with Visit Lizard, South Kerrier Alliance and Helston BIP to make the most of what our places can offer the local community and the local economy.

We’re also trying to capture the essence of many of our special places, what’s important about them and what do people feel and value about them, so that if we are to make changes in the future we’ll not spoil what we are here to protect.

For visitors we’re hoping to have new information panels at all our most important visitor sites by Easter, a new walks booklet for the Lizard in the summer and we’re working on new facilities for our campsite and Kynance car park to open in 2016 and to improve our car park at Penrose Hill.

Guided wildflower walk
As if that wasn’t enough, there are car parks to open for Easter, work to be done to make sure all our places are safe for visitors, maintaining and improving miles and miles of footpaths and trails, looking after rare and unusual nature and lovely old houses and farms, planning guided walks and delivering lots of activities and events.

Keep an eye out on the blog going through this year and our facebook and twitter pages too for updates on all of the above and lots more!

Your local National Trust pages:
Lizard and Penrose blog:
South West Cornwall twitter:
Lizard Rangers’ twitter:
Lizard Rangers’ facebook
Penrose Rangers' facebook:


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