Friday, 17 April 2015

Spring spruce up round The Lizard

Digger in to repair the car park surface
The last few months have been a busy time for the practical team on The Lizard. After finishing off important winter habitat management work and all the vegetation 'cut backs' on the coast path in the New Year, the race was on to prepare for the busy summer season.

So what have we been up to?

'The Aerator'
The first job on the list was to repair the car parks and roads for what turned out to be a very busy Easter. 

The Kynance toll road sees lots of traffic each year which has a huge impact on the road, in terms of 'wear and tear'. This year the toll road needed a good few lorry loads of tar to repair pot holes and resurface the damaged sections.
Aerating the grassy sections of car park

The grass car park suffers a little from the high number of cars which compact the surface making it hard for the grass to grow. One of our contractors spent a day aerating and reseeding the grass sections of the car park, breathing a bit of life back into the surface and hopefully allow the grass a chance to develop stronger roots. 

Replacing the oak posts
Down at Lizard Point we’ve been busy working on the footpaths to improve access.

The oak safety fence that runs alongside the coast path at the Point was installed over 20 years ago and has lasted well, despite the amazing weather it must have experienced and the thousands of people that must have leant on it to admire the view. 

However, it was starting to show its age a little so over the past few weeks we have replaced the oldest section digging out 34 of the posts - It doesn’t sound like a big job but whoever had installed the fence originally had meant it to last, all the posts being set into very hard concrete. So for a few weeks Lizard Point rang with the sound of volunteers and staff breaking the concrete out by hand with bars and spades before installing the new oak posts and stainless steel wires. The new fence is now finished and looks great. 

New fence posts in place
Alongside this work, the paths to the Point have been widened in places before being swept of loose material and dusted with a fine surface coating making them easier to walk on.We've also been installing steps and improving drainage as well as simple jobs like cutting back brambles and vegetation to improve views which make such a difference.

Over the summer months we’ll be continuing to work hard maintaining and improving access to all across The Lizard, in the hope that more people can get out there and enjoy it! 

- Martin 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Mum? Dad? How long does it take to get to a star?

if you reach up far enough you could hold one!
Have you ever slept under the stars? I mean actually under the stars with nothing between you and the heavens? My first time was as a young child. It was rather daunting at first; I thought I might have been eaten by the creatures of the night! So what my parents let me do was to sleep with my head outside the tent with the rest of my body inside under lots of blankets to keep warm. No sleeping bags in those days! Well we couldn’t afford them!

The memory lives with me to this day, staring up at the thousands of twinkling lights in a mass of darkness. I was enthralled by the beauty of such a spectacular sight. And as I lay there, I could hear the soothing sounds of the night: the gentle rustling of the trees, an owl hooting in the distance, cows in a nearby field and the rummaging in the hedge of what I thought may be a fox or a badger. And as I became a parent, my children too were able to enjoy this great outdoors experience, and although now older and not at home, continue to do so to this day.

You too can enjoy this experience in whatever type of accommodation you prefer to stay in; it does not necessarily have to be a tent. The campsite here at Teneriffe Farm can accommodate caravans, motorhomes, campervans, trailer tents as well as tents. Or for the most adventurous of you, why not just sleep outside in a bivvy bag? Now that really is fun! However, I would not recommend sleeping with your head out of a caravan doorway. You’re liable to get an awful crick in your neck! But you could sleep outside on the decking of your camping pod. Here on the Lizard can you stay in one of the most southerly camping pods of England. And on a clear night the views are truly breath-taking.

one of the National Trust's camping pods
The National Trust has a number of campsites throughout the country ranging from small tent pitch only sites provided by National Trust tenant farmers to larger sites managed by the National Trust themselves. They are of course all different with their own ‘character’ but they all have one thing in common: you’ll find them situated in truly stunning areas. These areas, whether coastal or in the countryside, are looked after by the National Trust for ever for everyone. You’ll find Teneriffe Farm Campsite only minutes from the South West Coast Path and surrounded by the Lizard National Nature Reserve and the North Predannack Downs Nature Reserve.  What’s more, you don’t have to be a National Trust member to stay on one of our campsites. Everyone is welcome! But you may wish to join us when you see that stunning stretch of coastline or area of beautiful countryside of which the management and care is the responsibility of the National Trust. And your money goes directly in helping us with our conservation work.

Like to know more, then click here! It will take you on a journey of discovery and wouldn’t it be great to see the stars from the great outdoors. And for stargazing facts, tips & ideas then a visit here will provide lots of inspiration.

plenty of space for playing at Teneriffe Farm Campsite

So why not give it a go and experience a traditional camping experience which will be truly memorable. You won’t regret it, and if you have children they’ll love you for it.

Wherever you choose to stay we hope to see you soon. The stars are waiting for you.

Happy camping!


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Life as a volunteer Ranger

New chainsaw skills in use
For the last eight months I've been one of the full time residential volunteers with the National Trust in Cornwall, based with the Rangers at Poltesco who take care of all the Trust land around the Lizard. Here’s just a little bit about my experience.

Although I’d volunteered previously with various conservation groups, a lot of this job required a whole new and unfamiliar set of skills. When I first started I couldn't have told you the difference between a hacksaw and a bow saw and it was news to me that there were so many different spades for different jobs. The team had the unenviable task of making a Ranger out of me!

Sign making in the workshop
Strimming a path, felling a tree, putting up a fence, repairing the coastal path and to be honest most of the jobs we did were all new to me. Straight away I joined the team on the day to day jobs and  some tasks were easier to get to grips with than others.  I’ll not lie, some tasks were frustrating! You get taught how to do something and it looks simple enough, but actually doing the job ended up being another matter entirely. Some days my head and my hands were clearly in disagreement! For the brilliant Rangers, for whom the idea of putting up a fence is probably as easy as changing a light bulb, I can only imagine how hard it was to watch me fumble over a simple job. But they didn't show it, I was encouraged to give things a go and that trial and error was no bad thing. Meanwhile the Rangers would have discretely managed to complete the whole of the rest of the job around me with effortless ease and they’d still be smiling and encouraging me with my task. Eventually it pays off and one morning you’re given a job where you find yourself gathering the right tools, equipment, and doing the job with less and less guidance. Don’t get me wrong, I know I've still plenty still to learn. The wonderful part of this job is that there is always going to be more to learn because working outdoors you've got all kinds of variables thrown into the mix.

In the last eight months I've gained practical skills from all sorts of experiences, including swailing (controlled burning of) heathland,  fixing fences and gates, herding cows, repairing the coastal path, making and repairing signs, relocating ponies, removing rubbish across the Lizard, painting landmarks, building bridges plus I've also qualified in use of brushcutters, strimmers, chainsaws, and received first aid training. Through the Lizard Rangers, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend a week volunteering on Lundy with the Landmark Trust, helping re-point the Church.

helping ring Shearwaters on Lundy
Back on the Lizard, the team also do some fantastic events with local schools, visiting groups from further afield, and community groups, and as a volunteer you join in with these activities. I didn't expect to find myself searching for giants and pixies around Poltesco, or making start and finish lines for a snail race, but these are some of my favourite memories. I think we can all agree that we live in times where so many of us are disengaged with the natural environment around us and sometimes I know I get a little bit depressed about the fate of nature, but when you see people of all ages out and about enjoying nature together you can’t help but be uplifted and it restores your faith that there is hope for the natural world.

I never had a day where I didn't want to go to work, there was always a laugh to be had, and every day was different. There is such variety in the role and I gained a whole new set of skills to take forward. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful staff and other volunteers I worked with at the Lizard and neighbouring Penrose National Trust. It is a beautiful place but it was the enthusiasm, kindness and knowledge of the staff that made my experience so awesome and a time that I will never forget.


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