Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Our blog has moved!

We have moved!

Lizard and Penrose articles will now appear on the new National Trust website. Please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lizard for more information.

For regular news visit our facebook pages:

Monday, 18 January 2016

A Pink Tide at Poldhu

You’ll have seen it on the TV, read about it in the papers, heard it on the radio or perhaps you’ve been down at Poldhu, Gunwalloe and elsewhere and helped us to recover some of the thousands of pink bottles of Vanish stain remover from our beaches.


It’s been a great effort by everyone concerned; our staff have dropped everything and turned out to help the growing number of volunteers, particularly from the Friends of Poldhu, to remove the bottles that have washed in day after day. We’re expecting this to continue for some time, there are probably still many thousands out there and some will be hiding in inaccessible beaches in the area.


We know now that a container, lost off a ship some 20 miles off Lands End, has found its way here and is probably lying just offshore from Poldhu, releasing its gaudy pink cargo onto the shore.   We’re working closely with other agencies to co-ordinate the effort of disposing of this cargo and we’re in regular contact with the company behind Vanish stain remover.


It’s a very visible reminder of the problem of plastics at sea and the action that needs to be done to prevent this scourge on our marine environment. Plastic litter has increased 140% on our beaches since 1994, coming from shipping, fishing, sewage systems and from the land and we need to press for changes in the way we deal with land and marine litter. It comes from many sources but it’s all preventable.

In the meantime we’re really grateful for all the support we’ve received over the past week, from volunteer effort, organisational help or messages of support. Thank you very much for that. Keep an eye on our Facebook pages for regular updates on what is happening on our shores.

Alastair Cameron.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

A year in the life of a National Trust pony

Grazing the heath at Beagles

The National Trust has had ponies here on the Lizard for over 20 years, grazing the coastal heaths and grasslands for the benefit of wildlife. Our original herd, now aged over 30, is still going strong, proving a life of sea air does you good! These purebred Shetland ponies came to us from Arlington Court, a National Trust estate in north Devon, where some of their old pals still live today.

Taking it easy on a sunny day at Chynalls Point
Chough benefit from coastal grazing
This herd numbers 5, and they are kept busy year round grazing our cliffs. The ponies rotate around the 3 sites we manage in-hand, namely the cliffs between Poltesco and Cadgwith, the promontory fort at Chynalls Point, Coverack, and the heath at Beagles, near Black Head.  The ponies do an excellent job of managing these Sites of Special Scientific Interest, by keeping the coarser grasses in check, and providing space for 
smaller plants to thrive, including some of our Lizard botanical rarities, like twin headed clover and dwarf rush. The chough also benefit from grazing, as they need the grass to be short enough for them to be able to probe the ground with their red beaks for invertebrates, and the dung also provides a welcome source of grubs. We’ve been treated to the fantastic sight of chough in amongst the grazing ponies at Enys Head, and it’s always worth listening out for their call on the cliffs.

Having their feet trimmed by the farrier
The ponies are sure footed and hardy, and they thrive in these tough habitats. In fact the biggest health risk to them is associated with them eating too much rich grass, which is most likely in Spring or Autumn. Laminitis is a painful hoof condition, which can lead to lameness, so we need to keep them on tight rations to avoid this. Shetlands like their food, and would balloon to be rotund if given half the chance!
Encounters with the equine dentist Photo M Hirst

Our herd gets an annual vet inspection, when their weight and teeth are checked, and they are wormed if necessary, and their feet trimmed by a farrier. Occasionally a visit by the equine dentist is required to correct tooth overgrowth. The industrial looking files are enough to put us all off the dentist forever!

Conservation grazing is no laughing matter!
The ponies are checked daily, and we thank our dedicated pony volunteers for their help with this task throughout the year. The only time we give them any additional food is to coax them with a bucket of nuts when we want to move them. If you meet the ponies out and about, please don’t feed them, as too much contact could teach them to pester people in the hope of an apple. They don’t mind having their photo taken though, so feel free to snap away! 


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Mild and wet, but why?

With the eyes of the world on the climate change conference in Paris this week we have been looking at the effects of climate change locally.

Stormy seas breach Loe Bar Jan/Feb 2014
As winter takes hold this year there are many of us wondering just why it's so mild. There is no doubt that climate change is happening, the effects can be seen from the poles to the equator including right here on our own doorsteps in Cornwall. Climate change is linked to the extreme weather events that we’ve had over the last few years and are set to continue to have in years to come. It is predicted that Britain will continue to have progressively drier summers and warmer wetter winters if global temperatures continue to rise even by what might be considered the smallest of fractions. You might be thinking that warmer weather seems quite attractive but even a 2 degree difference could have significant consequences for future generations to come.

Beach rubbish brought ashore by stormy seas
It’s believed that the storms we saw in 2014 here on the south coast of Cornwall will happen more often which poses a threat not only to our homes but to the local wildlife also. With storm surges and global sea level rise also comes the very real risk of flooding and changes to the shape of our coastline. Storms also damage habitats and as species behavior changes the balance between predators and prey becomes affected and many species choose to simply move putting habitats under even more pressure.

It is hoped that the meeting in Paris this week will achieve an agreement to limit emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas scientists believe is most responsible for driving climate change. It is also hoped that agreements will be made on the way we farm, manufacture and consume goods around the world, if this happens then it will be considered one of the most significant processes in climate change history. 

Rising levels in Loe Pool affecting wildlife habitats


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Fantastic Ferns

Ferns are one of the oldest plant groups in the world; believe it or not some of today’s British ferns were here when the dinosaurs still roamed, however, they often get overlooked. Many ferns look similar on a first glance, and they lack flowers to make them stand out from the crowd but the beauty is in the detail!

Harts-tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium)
Ferns can give you some really interesting clues about the environment that you’re in. Below are a few of my favourite ferns and what they indicate.

Harts-tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium)  is one of the most recognisable ferns we have in Britain, . It  is the only "simple" or undivided British fern, giving it a very unfern-like appearance. Growing clues! - Harts-tongue loves lime-rich soils in sheltered spots so, if you see one, the chances are you are standing on a calcareous bedrock. Also, the fronds will be bigger and greener the more sheltered and wet the site is. It will also grow on walls, but the fronds are usually much smaller and more yellow in colour.

Two very similar looking species, called Polypodies (Common - Polypodium vulgare, Intermediate - Polypodium interjectum) can be a real mission to tell apart, luckily we don't have to! Both species are most commonly found growing on sheltered banks and walls, however, they can also grow on tree branches on mossy mats - these are the ones to look out for.  Growing clues! - The maximum height at which they grow up a tree is an excellent barometer for how humid an environment they are growing in, with those in particularly humid spots growing on branches 10m+ off the ground.

Hard fern (Blechnum spicant)
Hard fern (Blechnum spicant) is an unusual fern in Britain as it has two different types of fronds - those that are fertile and those that aren't. Growing clues! -  This fern loves acidic soil and lots of rain, so it’s unlikely you will see this and Harts tongue fern growing together, but they can be a great indicator that the geology under your feet has changed.

There are plenty more interesting ferns; here is a great page by the British Pteridological Society which has loads more info on our fantastic range of British ferns.

If you have any questions or find a cool fern or one you’re not sure about, feel free to post it on our facebook page and I will try and help! 

- Ryan

Friday, 27 November 2015

Wildlife watching attracts over 24,000 people to The Lizard Point in Cornwall, but what is there to see?

Lizard Point – photo Barry Batchelor
Located at the most southerly point of mainland Britain, against sea sculpted cliffs carpeted in rare and exotic flowers, The Lizard Point, in Cornwall is a great place to spoil yourself with top notch wildlife watching within a stone’s throw of a cream tea or ice cream and an eclectic mix of gift shops.

Whether you’re a keen birder happy to watch thousands of special seabirds on migration or you’re relatively new to wildlife and you’d enjoying watching the local seals swimming, feeding, hauled out or ‘bottling’* nearby, there’s something for everyone at Lizard Point. 

(*’bottling’ is when a seal rests vertically in the water with just their head poking out from the surface of the sea).

Seal pup Keeley 2014 - photo Terry Thirlaway
From April to September every year, an enthusiastic team of weather proof volunteers are on hand at the National Trust wildlife watchpoint to give you great views of wildlife through binoculars and telescopes, and it’s absolutely FREE. 

This year we’ve welcomed over 24,000 visitors giving them great views of things like:
basking sharks
grey seals
barrel jellyfish
Lizard choughs 2015 - photo Terry Thirlaway
wild Cornish choughs
the resident gulls….and much more.

As well as getting over 24,000 people closer to nature, the wildlife watchpoint also works with the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust , Cornwall Wildlife Trust , RSPB  and the BTO to submit wildlife data to national recording programmes. 
Basking Shark - photo Green Fire Productions* 

This year the team of 30 watchpoint volunteers, collected over 3600 wildlife records from 132 different species seen from the watchpoint, and this doesn’t even include the local plant life! Unfortunately not all of our data is accessible online yet, but you can see a full-list of the bird’s that have been seen from Lizard Point on the Bird Track website. Click here and search for grid ref: SW 7011

For a fantastic story of discovery about a rescued seal who had her pup on the Lizard click here

We’re open daily from 10am – 4pm, from April to mid-September (weather permitting) | TR12 7NU. 


We are always looking for enthusiastic people to join the team. You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be friendly and have an interest in wildlife. If that sounds like you, and you’d like to get involved please get in touch: lizardrangers@nationaltrust.org.uk 

Lizard Wildlife Watchpoint 2014 - photo Shannon O'Grady

‘It’s great that we have the chance to talk to so many people about wildlife. What really inspires me is the joy that so many people get from seeing a seal, a basking shark or a chough in real life for the first time….sharing the amazement and the excitement of folks most treasured wildlife experiences never gets old. I love it and always will!’ 

– Michael, watchpoint volunteer

- Cat 

* Basking Shark - photo Green Fire Productions [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, 20 November 2015

Delving into the past at Porkellis

Over the past two years I’ve been working on an archaeological project on Tyack’s engine house at Porkellis Moor, which is part of the historic Penrose Estate in the old mining village of Porkellis. We were aiming to understand more about the mining archaeology in the area and to preserve some of the historic features, which are part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. The site consists of the engine house, which is a scheduled monument, the shaft, a smithy, a magazine, a flat rod trench and a balance bob pit.

Clearing the flat rod trench
The first phase of the project was to conduct a survey and produce a report on the archaeological and built heritage at Tyack’s engine house, detailing the historic development and the site’s present day context. Once this was complete, the second phase of the project was to carry out repair works identified by the report.
The smithy before...
...and after ivy removal and re-pointing 
The report uncovered some interesting findings. Tyack’s engine house dates to 1859 and is a rare surviving example in the Wendron Mining District. It was constructed to facilitate the deep shaft mining of the Tymorgie Lodes and represents an important phase in the development of mining and extraction techniques in the area. Not only was it a vital building for the industry in the 19th century, but it now acts as a symbol of this once dominant local industry and testifies to Porkellis’s role at the heart of the tin industry.  

Engine house before...
...and after ivy removal
Building work began on site at the end of the summer. The ivy was cleared off the engine house and the out buildings were repointed with lime mortar. One of the biggest jobs was to cover the shaft with a metal grid, so that it was safe enough to remove the old barbed wire fence.

Now the work is complete we are aiming to keep the buildings free from ivy and to keep the vegetation under control so that these beautiful, historic buildings can be seen.

Porkellis History: The previous owners of Penrose, the Rogers family, bought part of Porkellis Moor in the 1930s in order to close down the mines to stop pollution flowing into the River Cober and eventually into Loe Pool further downstream. The National Trust inherited this along with Penrose when the Rogers kindly donated the estate in 1974.

View of Tyack's engine house from the road approaching from the north
With thanks to Natural England for part funding this project through a Higher Level Stewardship agreement, MRDA Architects and MC Quick building contractors.

Laura, Penrose Ranger.

Contact us


Email *

Message *