Stay and help us protect the coast…

A few years ago, the National Trust started working in partnership with hotels and their guests to raise money for the conservation and management of nearby coastline.  The scheme was suggested by Keith Makepeace, owner of the Soar Mill Cove hotel in South Devon and has since been adopted by a number of hotels across Devon andCornwall.

Participating hotels add a voluntary donation of £1 to each guest’s bill at the end of their stay which is then passed on to the local National Trust countryside team who use the money to support their work.

Recently, we were delighted following a £1,400 gift from guests at the Pentire Hotel in Newquay.  Head Ranger for the area, Mike Simmonds, said, ‘We are really very grateful to the Pentire Hotel for all the money they have collected for us since we started the scheme. This latest donation will help us fund a number of projects in the local area. We are planning on undertaking some further footpath improvements near Polly Joke over the coming year as well as continuing the management of the wildflower conservation project atWest Pentire.’

Amanda Pleasants, hotel manager, said: ‘It’s great that we are able to support the Trust on such a local level. Knowing that our guests’ donations are helping to maintain some of the beaches and footpaths we all love to visit gives it special meaning.’

The Trust cares for 221 miles of the coastline inCornwallalone and basic management and conservation costs around £3,000 per mile of coastline per year.  Unlike the National Trust’s houses and gardens which can charge entry, there are limited sources of money to support open spaces, and so these donations are invaluable.

If you want to get involved  or find out more about the scheme, contact me here

National Trust raises concerns over Atlantic Array proposal

The beautiful, wild seascape of Lundy Island

The National Trust has again raised concerns over Atlantic Array, the proposed wind farm off the North Devon coast. We’ve submitted our response to the consultation this summer on the environmental impacts of Atlantic Array, and will be objecting to the proposals when they come forward to the Planning Inspectorate for decision later in the year.

The National Trust supports all the principal forms of renewable energy, providing they are of an appropriate scale and design for their setting, and produce a net environmental benefit. We are demonstrating how this is possible on our own sites, with over 130 renewable schemes already in place and a commitment by 2020 to be producing 50% of our direct energy use from non-fossil sources.

Renewable energy proposals which have a high environmental impact, such as Atlantic Array, present a particular dilemma. The local impact on landscape, setting and habitats have to be balanced against the longer term benefit of avoiding damaging climate change. It is now clear that in the case of Atlantic Array, the impacts are so severe that we must object to the whole proposal. Squeezed as it is, between two sensitive coastlines, we do not believe it is possible to locate a viable large scale windfarm within this zone without the damage substantially outweighing the benefits.

We believe that offshore wind should make an important contribution to the country’s renewable energy targets. We have not objected to a number of offshore wind development proposals within sight of the coastline protected by the Trust – for example at Liverpool Bay visible from Formby and at Great Gabbard visible from Orfordness, Suffolk. But we cannot support proposals that would seriously damage the beauty of our coastline, and believe that the locations chosen for Round 3 offshore wind developments have not taken sufficient account of environmental factors, and in particular the sensitivity and designations of nearby coast.

If you wish to find out more about the Atlantic Array, then more information is available on the following websites/resources:

National Trust’s position statement

National Trust response to the Environment Impact Assessment

North Devon AONB position statement

RWE, the energy company developing the Atlantic Array

Independent LUC report we commissioned on landscape/seascape and visual impacts

Dorset smugglers trail on smartphone app

A new iPhone app and audio guide will take walkers along a new Smugglers trail along part of the Dorset coast near Charmouth.

Aimed at families, the new trail explores the often turbulent darker history of the coastline from 200 years ago when smugglers and revenue men tried to evade each other in a battle of wits. Continue reading…

Top surfers on board with the National Trust

Nine of the country’s top surfers recently gathered at Sandymouth, a National Trust beach in North Cornwall, to mark the launch of a new phase of a unique surfing project.

The National Trust Surf Ambassadors project helps support and promote the conservation work carried out by the Trust in the surfers’ playgrounds along the Devon and Cornwall coast. The team of Ambassadors each carry the Trust’s oak leaf on their boards, and help to champion the work of the National Trust at the coast. They do this by communicating through a variety of media from short films to facebook and by getting involved in local coastal conservation projects. They also help out at special eco-surf events with National Trust rangers, spending the morning carrying out conservation work on the dunes, cliffs and heathlands overlooking the water, and the afternoon appreciating their hard work from the sea.

Alan Stokes 2009 British Champion, Jayce Robinson 2011 British Nationals Runner-up, Celine Gehret and Dan ‘mole’ Joel legendry big wave surfer have been working with the Trust for the last few years, however just recently they have been joined by a host of Britain’s best longboarders.

The group included European Longboard Champion Ben Skinner, runner up Adam Griffiths, Ben Howarth, Candice O’Donnell, Becky Stanhope and Raife Gaskell. After a quick brief on how the National Trust manages the local area and its importance, the ambassadors were put straight to work doing some vital conservation work. ‘I had a lot of fun and learnt lots about the National Trust and what they do for the coastline. I’ll be getting my hands dirty and involved in the conservation work again’, said Candice O’Donnell, the 2011 British longboard champion.

All the ambassadors are National Trust volunteers and they join some 60,000 others who give up their time to help the charity. Raife Gaskell said: ‘Stoked to be helping out and am impressed how many volunteers you have’. After a couple of hours’ hard graft clearing scrub, the tide had dropped out enough to get in the water. All the ambassadors had been watching it while they worked and knew the peak they wanted to surf. There was some healthy competition between the short and longboarders in the line-up, but everyone was stoked to be the only ones in the water.

For many of the ambassadors, after wintering in places like Costa Rica it was great to back in the water in Britain. ‘I think that the Trust rangers are doing a great job by keeping the coastline looking pristine; it makes the surfing experience much more enjoyable with an amazing background like at Sandymouth’, said Ben Haworth, the 2011 British longboard champion.

The National Trust protects over 420 miles of coastline in the South West alone, and 800 miles nationally. Rob Joules, Watersports Co-ordinator for the National Trust, said ‘It’s a real privilege to be working with such amazing surfers who are so down to earth and so interested in our work and getting more involved. We manage and maintain the coastline for everyone to enjoy but rely heavily on donations to allow us to continue to conserve this special resource’. Alan Stokes, Dan Joel, Jayce Robinson and Celine Gehret have being advocates for the work and the vision of the Trust over the last few years and have given a huge amount of their time so its really exciting to be welcoming more world class surfers onto our ambassador programme.”

Keep your eyes out for the National Trust Ambassadors competing around the world; Jayce Robinson is off to compete in France however slightly closer to home many will be competing in the 2012 British Longboard Championships brought to you in association with the National Trust.

Penzance visitor centre opens its doors

Today (Friday 27th April 2012) marks the official opening of the Welcome to West Cornwall centre in Penzance. 

This groundbreaking project for the National Trust see’s the organisation focussing on more than just the places it owns.  By having a presence in the town centre we will help to promote the area as a destination.  The Trust is working in partnership with thePenzance and District Tourism Association, supported by Cornwall Council, Penzance Town Council and Visit Cornwall.

Ian Marsh, General Manager for the Trust in West Cornwall said: ‘It’s fantastic to see the project come to fruition after almost a year of planning.  We had been looking for an opportunity to raise our profile in Penzance, the key gateway toWest Cornwalland when the Tourist Information Centre closed last May this seemed the ideal location, so began a series of discussions with the town council and the tourism association on how we could help.  The Welcome Centre is really exciting as it is aimed as much at the local community as it is towards visitors, promoting what’s on the doorsteps of people’s homes and hotels. 

‘This is a new area for the Trust to get involved but we feel a vital one.  We are not just about owning places; we also want to get involved with our local communities and help promote the best of what there is to do in the area.  We believe that some of Britain’s children are suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder, in other words alienation from nature.  Children and adults should be encouraged to play outside and re-connect with the outdoors, and where best to do that than in West Cornwallwhich boasts some of the most inspirational and exhilarating countryside there is. The visitor centre in Penzance will help locals and visitors alike with how best to get outdoors, or enjoy their holiday, providing accommodation bookings, advice and inspiration for amazing holidays or days out’, he added.

Malcolm Bell, Head of Tourism, VisitCornwall said: ‘VisitCornwall are delighted to see the West Cornwall Information Centre reopening and are pleased to be attending this occasion.  

‘It was with regret that due to operations and budget restraints that VisitCornwall had to close the centre and so it’s with double pleasure to see it reopening to meet the needs of visitors to wonderful West Cornwallas well as local businesses. VisitCornwall are pleased to be able to support the reopening and we will continue to support the centre as we do the other Visitor Centres throughout Cornwall’, he added.

Jaimie Sibert, Managing Director, for 20/20 Designers from Falmouth in Cornwall said: ‘Helping to secure a new lease of life for Penzance’s Tourist Information Centre through effective use of graphic and interior design and build, has been an exciting brief for us. We feel privileged to have been involved in such a critical project forPenzance, and hope that the Welcome to West Cornwall Centre is something that the town can be truly proud of.”

The Welcome toWest CornwallCentre will also provide general Tourist Information services through its newly recruited team of volunteers.  Sarah Talbot, Visitor Experience Manager forWest Cornwallsaid “We are delighted by the response from the local community to our call for volunteers to help us with this project.  We have a team of 20 people working with us so far with a fantastic knowledge of the town and surrounding area. Many people were very disappointed when the Tourist Information Centre closed, and see this as their way of putting something back into the town.”

The Centre will play a key role in promoting the business community ofPenzancethrough the Destination Management System which all Tourist Information Centres across the South West use.

Chasing butterflies

A powerful symbol of freedom and beauty, nothing quite sums up the British spring and summer like the butterfly. This spring, National Trust naturalist Matthew Oates has picked some of his favourite spots to see these colourful creatures as they gently fly through the countryside and gardens in the South West.

Matthew Oates, a butterfly fan for more than 40 years, said: “Butterflies are fascinating in the extreme. They take you to the most captivating of all places – woodlands, mountains, grasslands and the coast – and the more you learn about them, the more you realise there is to be learnt, and the less you know.

“Over the last two decades a minor social revolution has occurred: butterflies have become cool. They have found their way into all aspects of our life from advertising to diaries and notebooks.

“Butterflying is now as popular a hobby as it was in the heyday of collecting, back in the 1890s, with the big difference that enthusiast are only armed with cameras.”

A new book by Matthew Oates, Butterflies: Spotting and Identifying British Butterflies will be published this June.  It will help both beginners by explaining the key points and fundamental principles of butterfly spotting, and more experienced butterfly watchers in need of expert tips and sharpening the focus.

Containing lots of identification tips, the book is a guide on how to get yourself into the right frame of mind when looking for and observing butterflies. It includes chapters on the history of butterflying and on the English and scientific names of butterflies together with useful summary chapters on photographing butterflies and gardening for butterflies.

Mathew’s five top tips for spotting butterflies:

  1. Master the easy species first and leave the difficult ones till later. Feel unabashed at lumping Small and Essex skippers together and treating the Large and Small Whites as ‘cabbage whites’ – instead enjoy your easy Marbled Whites and Peacocks.
  2. Concentrate on the brighter, showier and more prominent males. It is wise to ignore the female blues at first, for example, and get to know them through observing the mating pairs.
  3. Learn the habitats, food plants and flight seasons. They will provide general guidance.
  4. Use binoculars. It also makes people think you are a birder, and not a weirdo.
  5. Seek help. Join a wildlife group and attend some field meetings.

South Milton Sands wins Sustainability South West ‘Planting Places’ Award

This week the National Trust’s South Milton Sands has collected another award for its work to re-landscape a popular beach in South Devon and challenge people’s perceptions toward coastal change

The Planting Places awards recognise projects which have had a strong and continued involvement with their local communities to work to promote and understand the benefits of green (and blue) spaces in supporting healthy lifestyles and providing valuable habitats for wildlife.

At South Milton Sands, the National trust has worked extensively over the last 6 years with local people to find and implement a shared solution for the long term future of the beach. As a result of climate change, South Milton Sands was identified as a high risk site to changes in sea levels and erosion within the next 20 years. The beach fronted car park was protected from the sea by an old timber coastal defence in need of replacement. The project sought to involve the local community to develop a sustainable approach to management of the beach that would work with natural coastal processes rather than against them. The result was to re-establish a soft and flexible sand dune system

The 4 year projects sought to openly and honestly, listen and communicate with local people through, events, talks, and the formation of a stakeholders group. As the project progressed more people got physically involved in shaping the beach landscape. A very successful programme of community marram planting resulted in over 16,500 marram grasses being planted across the new sand dunes. Participants now proudly return to inspect their work and watch the dunes develop.

National Trust Ranger Simon Hill said “This award is fantastic recognition for the National Trust South Devon Countryside who invested much energy and enthusiasm into the project, challenging people’s views on coastal change and involving them in the decision making processes.  I hope the award highlights how genuine, long lasting relationships can be forged through bringing people on a journey with us rather than delivering our solution.”

Never before had the property delivered such a significant project; re-landscaping a popular beach; challenging people’s views on coastal change and involving them in the decision making processes. SMS has become a blueprint of how we want to work in the future and involve communities each step of the way.

Stay in one of the National Trust’s oldest buildings

Holidaymakers will have the chance to stay in a medieval manor house thanks to a transformation that has created the grandest and oldest holiday property in the National Trust’s portfolio.

Shute Barton, near Axminster in east Devon, dates back to the 13th century and is part of what was a larger family house owned by the Bonville family. It has stood through a staggering amount of history from the dissolution of the monasteries through to the Second World War.

Shute Barton nr Axminster

Come and stay in one the Trust's oldest buildings

The house – which has reputedly the largest fireplace in England where two oxen could be roasted at once – was given to the National Trust in 1959 by the Carew Pole family. Cousins of this family, the Pole Carews, lived there until 2009.

The features include 17th century panelling in one of the master bedrooms and a great hall on the top floor dating from 1450 and reached by a tiny spiral staircase. The room has a garderobe in the corner and an incredible hammer beam roof which can be enjoyed by guests today when they holiday at Shute Barton.

Guests can dine under original paintings belonging to the Carew Pole family, sleep in antique beds and look out of the original lead windows to views little altered over the centuries. The house is approached through an ornate gatehouse – a scheduled monument in its own right – and there are formal gardens which stretch out to the back of the building.

The house, which accommodates ten people, is an ideal venue for a special family holiday in incredible surroundings, and is well located for the sites such as the Jurassic Coast and the attractive coastal villages of Beer and Seaton. It is available for bookings from February 2011.

To book go to or call the National Trust holiday cottages booking office on: 0844 8002070

panelled bedroom at Shute Barton

The Master bedroom has wonderful views over the garden

The kitchen at Shute Barton

Shute's well equipped kitchen

Exploring the past along the path

The South West Coast Path (SWCP) is a regional ‘icon’ and a major tourist attraction in its own right, appealing to everyone from families on outings to serious walkers from all over the UK and beyond. With the National Trust owning more than 420 miles of the South West coast, we play an important role in maintaining and managing the SWCP.

The SWCP team, in partnership with the National Trust, AONB services (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and many other organisations, has just received a significant grant of £2.1million from the Rural Development Programme for England (Sustainable Tourism Theme) towards its ‘Unlocking our Coastal Heritage’ project. This exciting project aims to understand more about our coastal history, repair some key archaeological and historic sites and investigate others threatened by coastal change. It will also provide improved access to certain routes, and interpretation and information at a series of new ‘discovery points’.

National Trust archaeologist James Parry writes: ‘The site of St Anthony Fort & Battery seen here on the headland just above St Anthony Lighthouse, overlooking Carrick Roads and Falmouth beyond, has long played an important strategic role in defending Falmouth and the estuary from coastal attack. It includes what is possibly the best surviving early breech-loading artillery fortress in the United Kingdom. The position and historic nature of this site is unique; the current tranquillity of the coastal walk is suddenly interrupted by the realisation that the site was once a noisy and dramatic place.

St Anthony Battery

‘The black and white photo shows St Antony Head as it was in 1942. The “Unlocking our Coastal Heritage” project will enable the excavation and interpretation of one of the previously inaccessible Second World War gun emplacements as well as essential conservation work to the shell hoists, significantly adding to the understanding and enjoyment of the site.’