A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

Out in the land with LAN

LAN is the acronym for the Lizard Ancient sites Network, a group of volunteers set up in 2009 to look after the prehistoric and early medieval sites on the Lizard peninsula. We work closely with Cornwall Council's Historic Environment service, Natural England and the National Trust on the Lizard, and in the five years since we came into being, we have looked after a wide variety of ancient sites, many of which were formerly overgrown or in danger of being lost.

   

These sites lie in some of the Lizard's most beautiful unspoilt countryside, and make a worthwhile addition to anyone's day out in the land. We have a number of site monitors, who keep an eye on the monuments, and once a month we do a clear-up at a different site, removing overgrowing vegetation and scrub.

Penrose, Loe Pool and Hardworking Volunteers

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.

Platform views .....

Old Windmill on Windmill farmAn innovative approach has been found to rescue a crumbling ancient monument at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve on the Lizard. The seventeenth century windmill, from which the site gets its name, has been deteriorating since its roof came off in the 1970s. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and SITA Cornwall Trust an exciting project is underway to install a viewing platform in the windmill tower and crown it with a new roof. The views from the top will be spectacular, taking in the nature reserve and surrounding Lizard landscape. The windmill was used by the Home Guard as a look out post and the nature reserve is scattered with the remains of other structures from the Second World War.

Ponies doing their bit for wildlife...

The ponies were spotted out and about at Kynance recently. Grazing is used to help protect The Lizard’s habitats for wildlife, with Choughs one of  the species that benefits.
Photo: Mark Hayhurst
Nature conservation on the Lizard  

Relocating the coast path between Porthleven & Penrose

As a ranger for the National Trust with the privilege of looking after Penrose I always enjoy hearing the stories of how at one time you were able to drive from Porthleven, along the coast, dropping down across Loe Bar then up towards Chyvarloe. That must have been an amazing yet slightly scary drive in a Morris Marina. Ever since a section of that ByWay fell into the sea in the 70’s that route remained hugely popular for walkers, cyclists and horse riders for decades. A large section of the footpath fell into the sea
It was with much sadness that on a rainy January morning we heard the news that a large section had fallen away into the sea. The route which had served as a favoured walk for visitors and locals alike had finally become part of the ever changing coastline at Penrose. The challenge now was to take this problem and from it create a new opportunity.
There was a great response from the many thousands of people that once walked those cliffs with offers of help and support. It was clear that whatever work we did going forward we would need to make sure it catered for all those who enjoyed the stunning clifftop path, be it walkers, cyclists or horse riders. This was the start of many conversations and trips out to the coast with a range of groups and societies, we were lucky enough to get help and support from the British Horse Society, the South West Coast Path Association and some fantastic feedback from a public meeting in Porthleven town hall.View of Porthleven
After absorbing all these great ideas and looking at the practicalities of building a brand new route through steep cliff fields, it was decided that we would not only create over half a kilometre of new surfaced footpath but also another brand new bridleway link again over half a kilometre in distance.
To make sure the work was done in a way that worked for the landscape of Penrose we undertook a series of surveys to make sure that we were taking into account the Archaeology, the ecology and the historical significance of that stretch of coastline. As part of this process all of this information was submitted to the local council for planning approval. We took this time to fundraise for the new route and had an amazing response to our online donation page, raising over a £1000 within 7 days.

Remember the summer of 2012? It was wet. Very wet.

CattleWhilst this summer hasn’t exactly offered the best weather, here on the farm, we’re still suffering the effects of 2012’s disastrously wet summer. The cattle suffered from day after day of rain, thereby eating wet grass all summer long. Wet grass seems to go straight through the animals, producing little milk or growth. The calves born in Spring 2012 should by now have been fattened and gone for slaughter, but due to their slow start to life, we still have many over 30 month cattle. Calves born in 2015, by comparison, are looking a picture of good health. OK, so it hasn’t exactly been the best summer we’ve ever had, but it has been reasonably dry, albeit somewhat chilly, the dry forage allows good growth and milk for the calves.

Cattle on the Lizard

Following the BSE crisis in 19**, all cattle over the age of 30 months must have all spinal material removed, which includes the backbone. This leaves the animal unsuitable as a butcher’s quality carcass, and therefore reducing its value even if one day over. There is therefore pressure on farmers to force growth in order to gain reasonable value in finishing their animals in under 30 months. Many farmers achieve this through housing the cattle over winter and feeding them a diet of grain and high quality ryegrass forage.

Repairs to the Windmill at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve

1938_Windmill_with_roof.jpg

Windmill with a roof 1938. photo by J.N.Rosewarne

The Windmill at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, has had some much needed TLC recently. Thanks to a grant from Natural England we were able to commission structural and ecological surveys before carrying out emergency repairs to prevent an entire wall from collapsing.

Research on the Lizard

Twin-headed Clover (Trifolium bocconei) in the sunshine at Caerthillian.Thanks to its unique (within England) serpentine bedrock and its unusual climate the Lizard peninsula provides a habitat found nowhere else in England. As a result of this the Lizard is home to an impressive number of rare and endemic species, such as Sea Asparagus (Asparagus prostratus) and Twin-headed Clover (Trifolium bocconei). I am to provide an overview of some of the research being carried out on the Lizard.