Friday, 21 August 2015

Community Volunteering Ranger - What exactly do you do?!

Since I moved from the admin support role to the new role of Community and Volunteering Ranger lots of people have asked the same question ‘What exactly do you do?' Like any National Trust job it’s probably easier to talk about what you don’t do rather what you do do, because there is so much variety in our jobs, which is what makes it so fun. To give you an idea of what I do do, here is a snapshot from my first 6 months.

Wildlife Watchpoint
I started in March when we were busy making preparations for the new wildlife watchpoint. The old serpentine store at the Point became available and we decided to renovate it and open it as a wildlife information centre to support the outdoor watchpoint at Lizard Point. The watchpoint is run entirely by volunteers, with a little help from me, and is open daily from April to mid September. So far this year the team has talked to well over 12,000 visitors about seals, choughs and other local wildlife. Here’s a before and after shot:

Pics 1&2 - Wildlife Watchpoint - before and after renovations              Pic 3 - Crowd seal watching at the outdoor watchpoint

Chough Nest Watch
March came with a very unexpected surprise that broke the ‘chough rulebook’*. The new Lizard pair who nested for the first time at Lizard Point in 2014, decided to move round the corner, whether the view was better or the neighbours friendlier who knows, but we had to think quickly to get our nest watch plans in place for a new site. The new nest was no longer visible from the watchpoint which meant we were going to need twice as many volunteers to cover the round the clock nest watch from March until June. Despite the initial difficulties for us, the choughs had a bumper brood with 5 healthy chicks fledging in early June. Thanks to sightings sent into the RSPB ( we know, and are delighted to report, that all 5 chicks are all still alive.  

(* Normally choughs are faithful to their nest site for life).  Here’s a video of the chicks on their first flights:

Local poop poster

Friends of Poldhu
I also work with the Friends of Poldhu who carry out regular beach cleans at Poldhu and Church Cove. Some of the Friends are about to embark on a mission to reduce the amount of dog waste left along the coastpath in the area. Watch this space for the new friendly Dog Rangers! If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch:

Mullion Harbour Day 2015 - for more pics click here
Mullion Harbour Day

Rosie, from the visitor services team, and I organised Mullion Harbour Day this year, It was the first time we’d ever done but with help from the Ranger Team we had great day and a very successful event. Already we are looking forward to next year.

Elle (Countryfile), Joe and Wireless Station volunteer John Davies 
Lizard Wireless Station

As well as coordinating all the volunteers for nest watch and the watchpoint, part of my new job is to work with the volunteers at Lizard Wireless Station. This fascinating museum celebrates Marconi’s ground breaking experiments in radio. It is here that he proved that wireless technology could be used to communicate over the horizon, he also went on to prove it could be used to communicate with the Americas from his station at Poldhu. Marconi has shaped communication as we know it today and a visit to the Lizard Wireless Station will send you back in time and give you a real sense of The Lizard’s history. The building is over 110 years old and is set up with replica equipment so that it looks just as it would have in Marconi’s day. Volunteers host museum tours for visitors from 12-3pm (on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays) from March until October. 

Sound of our Shores
Elle from Countryfile talking to Joe at Kynance - photo Steve Haywood
If you regularly read our blog or social media pages (facebook and twitter) then you will already have heard about the ‘Sounds of our Shores’ Project. It’s a partnership project between National Trust, British Sounds Library and National Trust for Scotland. Their aim is to encourage people from around the UK to go out and record coastal sounds and upload them to the first ever coastal  sound map this summer. You can read more about it here.

Because of the obvious links with sound, Marconi’s Lizard Wireless Station (LWS) has been in the limelight regularly this summer, so far we’ve had Countryfile and Radio 3 come for a visit to talk about Marconi and the ‘Sounds of our Shores’ Project.  This coming week we have a Sound Artist and Musician called Joe Acheson (from the Hidden Orchestra) coming to LWS. Joe will be staying with us for a few days recording various coastal sounds as well as sounds from the museum in preparation for creating a piece of music to celebrate Marconi’s work on the Lizard. You can find out more about Joe’s other work here.

Petroc Trelawny (BBC Radio 3) visiting Lizard Wireless Station

Unfortunately the Lizard episode of Countryfile  is no longer available on iPlayer, but you can listen to the BBC Radio 3 broadcast herefeaturing the Lizard Wireless station, sounds of our shores and the Cadgwith singers.

And the rest...
So those are the exciting bits that everyone wants to hear about, but to keep things running smoothly in the background I’m in the office most days. If I’m not doing emails then I’m often in meetings to discuss events and opportunities on the Lizard. One of the things that has taken up quite a large chunk of time this year is the launch of our new online volunteering system, which I must say is brilliant, it means a lot less paperwork for me and makes all of our processes much quicker. It has taken time and a touch of effort for the staff and volunteers to get used to the new system, but overall we’ve had a hugely positive response. I can certainly say that it makes keeping in touch with and looking after our 90 plus volunteers, here on the Lizard, a lot easier. It also gives our volunteers more flexibility in booking shifts, claiming expenses as well as easier access to information. WIN WIN WIN!

If you are interested in volunteering with us, please do get in touch:

- Cat

Friday, 14 August 2015

25 Year of Environmental Education at Poltesco

Poltesco:  25 years of environmental education with the National Trust.

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance encounter with a young lady who enthusiastically reminded me of the ‘Wild Wednesday’ workshops she attended as a young girl at Poltesco almost 15 years ago.  These children’s workshops, started in 2001 during the summer holidays, were a means of engaging children in nature and art around the Poltesco valley.  Today she works at St Michaels Mount undertaking similar work, engaging with young people through story-telling and events.  Perhaps her attendance at the Wild Wednesdays sparked a future interest and career in environmental education?

Wild Wednesday: 2006?
Wild Wednesday 2003

Christmas Workshop 2006
This chance meeting got me thinking about the variety of children's activities delivered at Poltesco over the years for generations of young people.....

In 1992 the National Trust hosted the first Earth Walk Festival at Poltesco.  This legendary event involved more than 100 children learning everything from circus skills, drumming and wood carving. The primal and hypnotic drumming of ‘Thelemic Pulse’ resounding up the valley remains etched into the memories of those lucky to have attended whilst a more physical reminder of this seminal event is the small wooden totem pole in the picnic area. This was created, with the help of local wood carver Peter Boex, by the children of the Earth walk

1992 Earth Walk Festival; anyone you recognise?

For a number of years, the Trust hosted the annual ‘Poltesco Memories’ visits.  For a whole week, we hosted each primary school on the Lizard, over 300 children each week, to learn about the local history of milling, serpentine working, fishing and farming in the valley through role play, story-telling and dressing up. 
Over the years, pretty much every Lizard child has had the opportunity to visit Poltesco on numerous school visits, Christmas and Halloween workshops, bushcraft clubs, forest schools, camping trips and of course the truly magical Grade Ruan School plays.

Grade Ruan School Play 2010?

The tradition continues today.  Claire Scott, the Wild Lizard Education Ranger, is employed through the Linking the Lizard Partnership to deliver education and events, not just at Poltesco, but across the whole Lizard including Kennack Sands, Windmill Farm, Bochym, Predannack and the Helford River.
If anyone has any photos or memories from these past events, please share them with us.  It would be great to hear from you.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Discovering the past at Gunwalloe

The excavation taking place behind Dollar cove
This week an excavation organised by the National Trust and funded by the Trust’s 2015 Coastal Festival is enabling archaeologists to dig deeper into Gunwalloe’s fascinating history. The site has captured the imagination of local residents and archaeologists for over 60 years as features have eroded out of the cliff face and dropped to the beach below. Over a week long dig, excavations will be carried out by local volunteers under the direction of Dr Imogen Wood. Gunwalloe is an important site as is holds a fascinating mix of history in a relatively small area; From the Bronze Age and Iron Age remains of a Promontory Fort, to the 6th century establishment of a Christian hermitage and a powerful Dark Age Settlement and Royal Manor, followed by the creation of St Winwalloe’s Church in the 14th Century. Due to the fast rate of erosion the artefacts and the stories they tell us are at risk of being lost to the sea forever.

We are currently on day 5 of the dig and so far the remains of a potential medieval house have been uncovered. We have also found a huge midden- a medieval rubbish heap- containing pieces of animal bones, fragments of clay pot and lots of shells such as limpets. This gives an insight into the diet of the people at this time.
Probable wall of a medieval house

Sifting soil for artefacts
If you’d like to found out more you can visit Gunwalloe and watch as the excavation happens this week. This Saturday the 8th of August we are holding an open day where you can talk to experts, see the artefacts from previous excavations, make a clay pot and discover prehistoric cooking. Just drop in between 11am and 5pm. 

Thanks to everyone involved in enabling this project to rake place; local volunteers, the Cornwall Archaeological Society and Meneage Archaeological Group, Imogen Wood, John and Jenny Curtis of Winnianton Farm and National Trust members whose support has financed this project. 
Local volunteers having a break from working on the dig

Contact us


Email *

Message *