Making Saltram fit for the future

Family visitors in the garden at Saltram, Devon.

For almost 60 years the National Trust has cared for Saltram and welcomed hundreds of thousands of people into its splendid Georgian house and surrounding 180 hectares of Grade II listed parkland.

Just 3.5 miles out of Plymouth, the number of people spending time in this tranquil place has almost trebled in the last 25 years, and now vital work is planned to not only safeguard the future of this historic site but also to make everyone’s visit as enjoyable as possible.

Continue reading…

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…

From Booby’s Bay to Slapper’s Rock; our guide to silly walks…

Today we’ve launched some new walks taking in some of the most unusually named places on our land.

The ten ‘Silly Walks’ have been created at places such as Kiss me Arse Steps in Cornwall and Scrubby Bottoms in Pembrokeshire.

The walking guides will be available to download for free from 1 April 2011 from and have been launched as part of a wider initiative to encourage the nation to get outdoors and closer to nature.

Jo Burgon, Outdoors Programme Director for the National Trust, said: “The National Trust looks after a hugely an extremely diverse range of places from green urban spaces to remote islands and for too long these places have been one of the Trust’s best kept secrets.

“We’re finding that more people want to get out into the great outdoors but often need to be pointed in the right direction. Part of the joy of being outdoors is having a great experience and these silly walks are designed to tap in to the British love of a real sense of humour.”

The walks vary in length from one to four miles and anyone taking part will be invited to share their experience by uploading photos of the walk to Twitter with the hashtag #NTsillywalks.

The English Places Names Society based at Nottingham University would also like walkers to get in touch to report on the state of more remote spots around the country.

Paul Savill, Editor of the Journal of the English Place-Name Society, and former Principal Research Fellow for the Society, said: “Place-names in England and Wales are often the product of long evolution. Swine in East Yorkshire has nothing to do with pigs, Nasty in Hertfordshire is not a comment on the living conditions, Snoring in Norfolk has nothing to do with sleep and Trevor in Wales is not the name of a man.

“Most names describe the geography or ownership of the land, so finding out the meaning of place-names may be particularly useful to walkers. As place-name scholars work on interpreting documents containing names, information about the physical appearance and condition of the places named is vital which is why we want to hear from you.”

Limited edition commemorative t-shirts will be given away to the first ten people who complete each walk and tweet their photograph of it as proof. The t-shirts feature the iconic National Trust omega sign specially created with the silly place name underneath.

Last year 350,000 walks, or one every one and a half minutes, were downloaded from the National Trust website.

The ‘silly’ walks in the south west are:

Booby’s Bay, Cornwall
A booby is a seabird closely related to the gannet and can be seen diving off-shore in stormy weather which might explain the name. This four mile walk takes the walker popular stretch of the north Cornish coast offers walkers stunning views across Constantine Bay and onwards to the lighthouse at Trevose Head. There is the chance to see some rare species of bird and plant life, and hidden coves. For more information call: 01208 863046.

Slapper’s Rock, North Helford, Cornwall
The rock may well be named after the sound of the sea hitting it and slap in Old English meant a ‘slippery muddy place’ that could well have an influence on its name. The four mile walk runs east of the valleys of the National Trust’s Glendurgan Garden, and next to Helford River, is a mixture of woodland and cliff-top, wildflower-rich fields. You can spot wild thyme, heathers, orchids, dog violets and sea campion growing here and a variety of wartime structures as during the Second World War the Helford River was the base for operations against German-occupied Europe. For more information call: 01872 862090.

Kiss me Arse Steps, Lansallos, Cornwall
The origins of the name are somewhat mysterious but it is believed to have been coined from the steep steps which on ascending would result in the person in front you having their posterior close to your face.

This walk of three miles takes the walker along a magnificent stretch of coastline with the natural splendour of secluded coves and beaches. Slightly inland, the soft rolling hills separate the coast from farmland and the sunken lane at Lansallos Cove conjures up images of smugglers and wreckers hauling carts laden with contraband. For more information call: 01208 265212.

Scratch Arse Ware, Dancing Ledge, Dorset
The meaning behind the Scratch Arse part of the name are unclear and the National Trust would love to hear theories on this and land for rough grazing is normally known as ‘Ware’. This four mile walk along the spectacular Jurassic Coast has been shaped by the quarrying industry and the ever-changing backdrop of the sea. In spring this area has many wildflowers such as cowslips, chalk milkwort, horseshoe vetch and the rare early spider orchid. Butterflies such as chalkhill and Adonis blue, and the local Lulworth Skipper also thrive on the short turf. For more information call: 01297 561900.

Mass south west beach clean

Going to the beach for a walk with my dogs is about the most enjoyable and relaxing thing I do but I was really shocked to discover that there are two pieces of litter for every footstep I and you take on beaches in the south west.

It seems this tide of litter on our beaches is on the increase and not only can it be a  health hazard to us and off putting for our much needed tourists, its estimated that over 100,000 marine animals die every year from entanglement or ingestion of plastics, discarded on our beaches or at sea.

An annual event for us in the Trust and our energetic band of volunteers is our annual spring beach clean, and this year from the 2nd of April, we have 27 beach cleans taking place from Cape Cornwall to the top of Dorset.

Beach cleaning not only helps to improve the coastal habitat for plants and animals but also to ensure beaches that we care for are clean and ready for the first visitors of the season.  But its a big job as we care for over 700 miles of coastline in the south west and each beach costs approximately £400 to clean each time.

If we stood all the skips we fill with beach rubbish side by side, it would stretch as far as three Jumbo jets parked end to end.  If stacked on top of one another it would stand as high as 20 London double-decker buses .

Marine environments are also hugely affected by litter pollution at every level – from tiny microscopic organisms through to the very largest animals such as whales and turtles. Even the most remote beaches are affected by litter blown or brought in on the tide. Litter comes from many sources – the public, fishing activities, sewage pipes and shipping, but it is all preventable.

Previous beach cleans have revealed a number of items from the grounding of the Napoli on Branscombe Beach including BMW parts.  Parts of an old cooking range probably from old cottages washed away in the early 1900’s were discovered at a beach clean on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall, a scaffold clamp from a WW2 beach defence barrier an unbroken light bulb and a telegraph pole weighing 1 tonne, were some of the other items.

Rangers in charge of the beach cleans are anticipating that various plastics will form the greatest volume of litter, and these can present some of the greatest hazards to wildlife, both on and offshore. Plastics can be ingested by turtles, seabirds and cetaceans (whales, dolphins etc) and noxious contaminants can also poison wildlife.

All our teams involved will be reporting on the volume of rubbish found on their beaches, and documenting the stranger or more surprising items found!

Below you’ll find details of beach cleans taking place over the next week or so, otherwise contact your local National Trust place for more details of how you can get involved.

Ayrmer Cove – Ringmore 2 April, 10am
Woolacombe Beach at Mill Rock 5 April 10am
Mansands 6 April,  10am
Scabbacombe 6 April, (following mansands clean)
Wembury Beach 13 April, 10am
Trelissick 6 April, 9.30am onwards
Turnaware 6 April, 9.30am onwards
North Helford 6 April, 9.30am onwards
Gunwalloe Church Cove 9 April, 10am – 1pm
Cape Cornwall Car Park 9 April, 2pm
Godrevy Beach 2 April, 10am
Porth Curno 9 April, 10am
Penberth Cove 9 April (following beach clean at Porth Curno)
Polzeath 2 April, 10-12 noon
Holywell 6 April, 1-3pm
Crantock 6 April, 10-12
Northcott 10 April, 10-12
Poldhu Beach 2 April, 10am
Porthcurnick 4 April, 10am
Strangles 5 April, 10 – 12
Brownsea Island 16th March
Seatown 17 April 11 -1
Burton Bradstock 17 April 11 -1
Cogden 17 April 11 -1
West Bexington 17 April 11 -1
Ringstead 17 April 11 -1
Studland Heath (Poole Harbour side) 13 April, time
Porlock Beach Clean up 15 May, 10am
Brean Down 13 April, 9.30 – 3pm