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Letting nature thrive at Pentire headland

Nature friendly farming and encouraging wild species...

The north Cornwall coastline’s rugged cliff tops and long, winding coastal paths create a picture-perfect vision for nature-lovers and coastal yompers alike. But what goes on behind the scenes at these little havens, and why does it matter?

Mike Simmons, lead ranger, with some of the orchard volunteers

We caught up with Lucy Parkins and Mike Simmonds from the National Trust on a sunny afternoon at Pentire Head, much of which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and National Landscape (AONB - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Here, staff and volunteers have been working hard to make the area more wildlife friendly in response to the ongoing climate and nature crisis. Raising awareness of the wildlife that makes its home here, and what we can all do to ensure it can thrive in an ever changing environment, is a huge priority to the team.

Pentire headland has been under the care of the National Trust since 1937, but in more recent years, the Pentire project has had a focus on ‘nature-friendly farming’, working alongside a local farmer who raises grass-fed beef on their land, and has been supported by various agri-environment schemes over the years.

The Pentire team have had greater control on land management since 2015, which led to an extensive programme of nature focused land management. They work closely with other wildlife organisations such as the Cornwall Mammal Group, the RSPB, Cornwall AONB and Bug Life, who support their ongoing research and projects.

As a sensitively farmed landscape, meadows in the area around Pentire have improved drastically, with more species-rich grasslands being created as a result - a big win for nature’s pollinators, invertebrates and ground-nesting birds.

Rewilding the area is another priority for the team. Some areas have been taken out of productive grazed land to allow nature to take its course, which has welcomed new species and wildlife as a result. For example, the team recently learned that they have a very healthy population of harvest mice scurrying around and making the most of the wild green corridors created. In turn, this benefits the

headland’s increasing numbers of barn owls, who have been seen hunting the area more frequently.

Mike Simmonds, Lead Ranger for this part of North Cornwall, said: “There is a lot of meadow improvement and natural regeneration going on here at Pentire - it’s all about enhancing the existing coastal and farmland habitats and connecting these with areas left to re-naturalise. We’re trying to create more green corridors, linking habitats and letting nature do its thing.”

Those who love to make the most of beautiful headlands such as Pentire may not realise that many species make their homes a lot closer to the footpaths than one might think. Pentire is a haven for

ground-nesting species such as skylarks, which often nest in hedgerows and long grass, so it’s important that dogs are kept on leads during certain times of the year to allow these fascinating birds to raise their young and send them on their way into the world.

There's always plenty to be done!

Almost 4,000 trees have been planted around the headland over the last five years, creating even more green corridors and links to hedgerows. Visitors also have access to the improved orchard area, just

beyond the Pentyr Café, which presents an opportunity to sit in the peace and quiet of nature, and soak up the idyllic views across Baby Bay. The orchard is nurtured by a team of dedicated volunteers, who can often be seen keeping it beautiful and inspiring for visitors.

Mike said: “The orchard has always been there as a walled fruit and vegetable garden, although it became overgrown and untended over time. We’ve sensitively restored it, and also constructed new paths into and around the orchard meaning we can link it with the main visitor facilities and make it much more accessible.”

Lucy Parkins added: “Accessibility at Pentire is a priority. Visitors with limited mobility can hire a Tramper (all terrain mobility scooter) and there is a fully fitted Changing Places. There are sensory and play features in the orchard too, as well as a giant nest swing also suitable for some disabled visitors, and a fairy trail.”

Pentire’s ‘Summer of Play’ returns this year, with a range of activities taking place in the orchard.

Later in the year, there will be other activities that reflect key seasonal moments in the year, while tapping into beloved Cornish traditions.

If you’d like more info about Pentire, or would like to download a walking map, visit


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