I’ve just come back from a splendid week in Cornwall taking a short break and also making a video about Trevose Head with the South West Regional National Trust to assist with its fundraising efforts for the Trevose Head Campaign. The footage is currently being edited but while we wait I thought I might just share with you a short clip of film we took of the wintry, rugged surf that was also crashing in below the headland and out of Booby’s Bay while we were being blown about on the headland. Maybe I am crazy but I love the Cornish sea in the winter just as much as in the summer.
But back to the National Trust film and my reason for being in Cornwall in December, and up on Trevose Head in storm force winds.
I met up with Victoria Whitehouse who had organised the session, Ben Vizard – NT internal comms and film maker – and Matt Lewis, the Trevose Head Ranger and Project Manager for Trevose Head. Matt and I talked a lot about the Trust’s plans for the headland. I was pleased to hear about how they intend to introduce more gentle and environmentally sustainable farming practices which will both produce crops and benefit the wild life on the headland. The farm is so very old and the fields can be clearly seen on maps several hundred years old so it is very pleasing to hear that the land will continue to be used along these historic lines.
Our conversations formed an interesting exchange of me sharing my memories of plants, birds and animals that I remember from my childhood and Matt’s obvious delight in affirming that he had found these same plants, birds, etc. creeping back into the field margins and beyond giving a very positive sign for the future. I am looking forward to the day when the fields are full once again of cornflowers and poppies as well as corn and barley.
We also spent a long time talking about the juggling act that the Trust faces in balancing the needs of people – to walk unfettered and immersed in the landscape – and the very real need to protect a headland which for the last 30 years has slowly been sliding into the sea with each gale and storm. Whilst coastal erosion is a natural and inevitable fact of life, the speed at which places like Trevose Head are being eroded is made very much worse by the sheer numbers of visitors that pass through each year.
This challenge is an interesting one for me. I have never liked the notion of laying man-made paths or boardwalks across natural landscapes, much preferring the meanderings of countless generations that forge more natural and interesting paths through nature. When the number of visitors is small these paths are as good as the paths created by sheep or foxes. But the sheer volume of visitors to Cornwall means that this is not the case here and the National Trust has the unenviable task (and duty of care) to come up with a solution – to create and maintain footpaths that can take the strain of millions of visitors each year and in a way that the environment is protected but the view and enjoyment of the natural landscape is not spoiled.
But then every aspect of land management is a challenge here, not just the paths and field systems but also working out how to protect the wild inhabitants of the headland and help increase their numbers, whilst also enabling increasing numbers of people to enjoy the place. They are such diversely opposing aspirations. Just how do you set about nurturing and increasing numbers of birds that may be very shy of people and dogs, or rare plants that may be dependent on fragile and sparse eco-systems that are so easily destroyed under trampling feet.
These are all incredibly complex but also incredibly exciting challenges. They are new ones that have come about because we as human beings have become more aware of the impact we have on the environment. And I can also see how the National Trust is responding to this awareness and is offering a way for us to collectively address these urgent issues and channel what might otherwise be hopes and dreams into something tangible and achievable.
So all in all I am happy to report back and say that having spent so long talking to Mat and Victoria, I am very glad that the National Trust has taken Trevose Head under its wing and is responding to the challenge.
I shall let you know when the National Trust’s video is ready so you can find out a bit more about not only my work with the Trevose Head throws but also about what the Trust plans to do over the next few years.
And don’t forget… if you buy one of the Trevose Head Collection of throws you will have personally paid for the Trust to restore and maintain 25 metres of the coastal footpath around the headland. So why not buy one now!