In the heart of Penrose is Loe Pool, with a fabled history including King Arthur’s Excalibur and local legends of giants moving sand to create the bar which isolates this, the largest natural freshwater lake in Cornwall, from the sea.
More recently, mining and agricultural activities in the Cober catchment during the last few centuries have led the Pool into a state of enhanced nutrient enrichment known as eutrophication. As a result of this, its impact on the ecology of the Pool, and the expansive algal blooms seen during the 1980s and 1990s, the Loe Pool Forum (LPF) was set up in 1996 to bring together all the different organisations with an interest in the health of Loe Pool.
The great work of the partnership has already seen some positive results over the years. One of the many aspects of the Forum’s work that have made an impact over the years are the practical days, on the ground, carried out by amazing groups of volunteers.


National Trust volunteers creating leaky dams in the willow carr on the River CoberNational Trust volunteers creating leaky dams in the willow carr on the River Cober

Whilst other groups, like the Wildlife Trust’s Wild Cober volunteers, focus upstream, as Rangers for the National Trust at Penrose our team of volunteers tackle the tasks on the land directly next to the Pool. In the past a mix of small projects like leaky dams and willow coppicing, which have improved habitats and water quality, and larger projects like the strapwort reintroduction project (http://www.wwct.org.uk/conservation-research/south-west-uk/slapton/strapwort), aiming to establish this critically endangered plant at the Pool for the first time in a century, have all had a positive impact on the area.
Along the Cober, bank erosion and invasive species are also big issues with many days summer dedicated to removing Himalayan balsam from the willow carr and around the Pool.


Back in April volunteers swept around Loe Pool picking up litter from its edge and the woodland tracksBack in April volunteers swept around Loe Pool picking up litter from its edge and the woodland tracks

This year we will continue in our efforts to improve the state of the Loe Pool Site of Specific Scientific Interest with yet more Loe Pool Make-a-Difference Days. In April the National Trust volunteers spent a day filling a truck with litter collected from around the Pool (including a heavy, rusty pink bike frame!). We are now looking forward to more to come throughout the year, with days already in the diary for joint work days with Cornwall Wildlife Trust maintaining the strapwort site and removing balsam in the willow carr, and ideas a-plenty for this coming winter’s habitat management.
If you’re interested in volunteering for one of the groups that work to bring the Pool back to life, check out the volunteering page on the LPF website https://loepool.org/volunteer/
For more information on the Loe Pool Forum, check out their website https://loepool.org/about/


Published: May 2018

Author: Calum McIntosh – Ranger, Penrose National Trust