Donations promise a nature rich future at Trevose Head

Skylark (Alauda arvensis) singing from a raised clump of Sea thrift (Armeria maritima) on coastal grassland, Trevose Head, Cornwall.

This September marks a year since Trevose Head, on the north Cornish coast was purchased by the National Trust thanks to very generous gifts in Wills and donations, some of which were left specifically for the purchase of this important Cornish headland.

It is particularly appropriate that this week, 11th – 17th September, the National Trust is taking part in Remember a Charity Week.  170 leading charities are working together to encourage more people to consider leaving a charitable gift in their Will.

In March 2016, this nature rich and popular site for walkers went up for sale and following the launch of a £250k fundraising campaign by the National Trust, the Trust was able to purchase this headland, part of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The charity can ensure it will remain unspoilt and would become a space for wildlife to flourish and for people to enjoy for ever.

The headland has always been a popular site for walkers and outdoor lovers with thousands of people visiting the site every year; but the Trust wanted to guarantee that the headland could balance being a popular destination for people while being sympathetic to the surrounding wildlife and countryside by helping join up a coastal corridor aimed at benefiting nature and allowing habitats to join up along the coast.

The first year has been very much about getting to know Trevose and its habitats as well as the many visitors, neighbours and local community. Vehicle counters went in during February to allow us to find out how many people visit and where they park. New Trust signs are gradually appearing and fences are being replaced. A new batch of gates, made of oak and designed to a true north Cornwall style are replacing the old rusty metal ones that are at the end of their life. A new footpath has been created allowing visitors a route across the headland between Mother Ivey’s Bay and Booby’s Bay.

Getting to know the wildlife has been helped by various specialists that have been out recording invertebrates, vegetation and arable plants. The latter is a group of plants that have diminished due to herbicides and more efficient agricultural practices. The small flowered catch-fly has recently been found on the headland, one of only twenty sites in the UK where this plant is known to grow.

The headland is also home to a wide range of farmland birds that have thrived with the mix of arable farming and coastal maritime grassland. Corn Buntings have enjoyed a stronghold at Trevose, a species which declined dramatically between the mid 70’s and mid 80’s.

Matt Lewis, Project Manager for Trevose Head, said: ‘Skylarks are in an abundance at Trevose and their song is heard better at Trevose then anywhere else I know, it is an incredibly inspiring landscape to help care for. A key part of my job is making sure we manage the farmland to ensure these species and many others continue to thrive and actually increase in numbers, while continuing to provide access to this extraordinary place and enable people to experience it in ways that deepen their understanding of the outdoors.’

‘A major step to make the habitat better is going to be the zero chemical input, no artificial fertilisers, no herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. That does make it difficult to grow productive crops that also provide the important cover and nesting sites for many of the birds. We are currently considering growing green manure, something like mustard that can then be ploughed back into the ground and give the crop some feed. We will also continue with leaving some of the crop sacrificial to allow the ground nesting birds safe un-disturbed cover whilst cropping other areas which will provide some income. This income, along with car park charges and membership will continue to help us carry out the important conservation and access work.

‘Last spring there was so much kidney vetch flowering it looked as if someone had painted the slopes yellow. This was peppered by spring squill and thrift with the background song of the skylarks. In contrast, winter can be bleak and exposed but so very atmospheric. Every day is different at Trevose and well worth a visit’, added Matt.

With 1.6miles of South West Coast Path on the headland it is an important part of the coast path network The coast in the South West is visited and enjoyed every year by more than 22 million people, with 63% of people regarding visiting the seaside or coast as important to their quality of life, but the future ongoing protection of these places is essential if our coast is to remain beautiful and accessible for future generations.

It was because of generous gifts left in Wills and other donations that the Trust was able to purchase Trevose Head. The gifts that generous supporters leave the Trust in their wills vary each year and make up a large proportion of our income.  Without them the National Trust would face an uncertain future, if you would like more details on helping the National Trust in the future please contact Wendy Dolan on 01208 265217 or SWlegacy@nationaltrust.org.uk

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