The National Trust acquires 55 acres in Tintagel area
One of the country’s leading preservation charities says its acquisition of coastal land in North Cornwall will bring ‘significant benefits’ for the natural environment – and visitors.
It says the 55 acre acquisition forms a ‘vital piece in the jigsaw’ for joining up National Trust land from Barras Nose to Bossiney. It adds that the land can now be sustainably managed on a larger scale.
The stretch of rugged Cornish coastline that borders the medieval fortress of Tintagel has been acquired by the National Trust to look after on ‘behalf of the nation.’
Smith’s Cliff, on the north Cornwall coast, will be cared for by the conservation charity as a space for wildlife to flourish, for heritage to be conserved and for ‘people to access and enjoy forever.’
The 55-acre acquisition puts in place a vital piece of the coastal ‘jigsaw’ for the National Trust. It effectively joins up land that the charity looks after at Barras Nose all the way to Bossiney. The area is close to King Arthur’s historic castle.
Knitting together these sections will create a continuous stretch of land for the charity which will be around three miles long. It’s hoped the coastal corridor will encourage the ‘spread of wildlife within a naturally and culturally significant landscape.’
The site sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The charity says the land will be ‘expertly managed for nature, bringing benefits to local species such as the small copper butterfly, maritime plants like rock sea lavender and golden samphire, a range of birds including linnet, skylark and fulmar, and a nationally-rare black headed mining bee.’
Environmental importance: ‘Species rich grassland and wildflower meadows’
Rangers aim to create a ‘mosaic of species-rich grasslands and wildflower meadows, while the wild nature of the steeper cliff slopes will be enhanced by sustainable grazing.’
The charity aims to create a patchwork of wildflowers, scrub and trees that mirrors its approach along other parts of the coastline.
‘We’re working hard to bring back these vital species-rich grasslands on many parts of the north Cornwall coast, and wildlife surveys show the positive difference this kind of conservation work can make,’ explains Mike Simmonds, the National Trust’s Lead Ranger for the area.
‘To have the opportunity to extend these wildlife habitats at Tintagel is fantastic. We look forward to improving visitor access, particularly on existing footpaths and rights of way, to help local people and visitors enjoy this very special place.’
‘It’s been widely reported that 97% of traditional meadows have been lost since the Second World War,’ says Jon Stewart, National Trust General Manager for North Cornwall.
‘We’re delighted to be able to make another positive contribution to halting and hopefully reversing this decline.’
The area contains eight known archaeological sites. Occupation by humans is believed to date back to the Mesolithic age (9600 – 4000 BC). On nearby Barras Nose, a Bronze Age barrow can be found, and related archaeology may well extend onto Smith’s Cliff.
A view from above of Smith’s Cliff at Tintagel which is now under the care of the National Trust. Barras Nose is in the distance. Photograph kindly supplied by The National Trust. Image: Steve Haywood.
Aerial mapping highlights medieval land use
Numerous features, recorded through aerial mapping, show a pattern of medieval land use and enclosures known as strip fields.
Access to this well-loved stretch of coastline will also be enhanced through improvements to the network of footpaths along the South West Coastal Path. Footbridges will be installed across wetter areas and improvements to visitor signage are also planned.
‘This acquisition is made even more special as Barras Nose was the first piece of coastal land in Cornwall and England to be acquired by subscription for the National Trust in 1897,’ says Jon Stewart, National Trust General Manager for North Cornwall.
‘As it was back then, the coast remains so important for our collective wellbeing and inspiration and the health of the wild species that call it home.’
‘With the essential support of people over the last 125 years, we continue to be able to care for these places on behalf of the nation.’
The present-day acquisition was made possible by five generous donations, and by several gifts left in wills, some of which were left specifically to support the National Trust’s work in this part of Cornwall.
‘Bringing this remarkable section of the coastal landscape in north Cornwall into our care highlights the importance of gifts left in wills,’ says Jon.
‘Thanks to our supporters, this coastline will be protected for the nation forever. What an amazing way for them to leave a gift to the nation and to be remembered, as we too enjoy the sea and the cliffs they loved so much.’