Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Bushcraft Fun

Good enough to sleep in!
 The woods at Penrose were a hive of activity and bonfire smoke last week during our very first family bushcraft event. To kick start the day everyone was split into teams for a den building competition using only natural materials found in the woods. Shelter from the weather had to be taken into account, as well as camouflage and a position for a camp fire.

After all that hungry work it was time to cook lunch on the roaring camp fire. Crumpets, sausages, bacon, baked beans and toast made up our woodland feast, all with a slight smokey, charred flavour! 

Marshmallows are best when they're gooey and slightly on fire!
 Everyone had a go at lighting their own camp fires after lunch. But first we had to collect the correct fire lighting materials including lots of small twigs to get the fire going. The children were delighted by the glowing coal-like King Alfred Cakes, also known as coal fungus, and the sparks generated by the fire steels. However, the most important equipment of the day had to be the box of matches and the newspaper- they never fail to get the fire started!

Nick demonstrating how not to light a fire

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Soapy Shrove Tuesday

Bob investigating
Our dedicated team of volunteers have been busily cutting back thick scrub at Tenerife farm to uncover the remains of a soapstone Quarry which hasn't been seen for over 100 years. Local soapstone expert, Bob Felce, has been along to help out and cast his eye over the findings. Bob has estimated the quarry to date back to the 1700's when soapstone was being extracted in this area for use in fine bone china production. Although a relatively small quarry compared to nearby Wheal Foss, the remains of soapstone within the spoil confirms that it was indeed quarried here. Further archaeological surveys of the area will be carried out by our archaeologists in the coming months.

Pancakes National Trust style

Tuesday was a particularly special day at work for our volunteer team for several reasons, one being that it was Shrove Tuesday so of course we had to attempt cooking some pancakes on the fire for lunch - success! And secondly it was Tom's birthday, Tom has been volunteering with us for almost 2 years now and is a reliable and valued member of our team. We celebrated in style not only with pancakes but a huge sticky chocolate cake too. Well, we needed the energy for all that hard work!

The birthday boy
We will be holding an open day at Tenerife farm later in the year so keep tuned if you'd like to come and see for yourself what has been uncovered.

If you'd like to join our volunteer team on Tuesday's, please feel free to contact me on 01326 291174 or send me an email elle.parsons@nationaltrust.org.uk


Friday, 17 February 2012

Working together for nature

Scrub? Where? Unleash the combined forces of NE and NT.
As part of an ongoing emphasis on partnership working, under the umbrella of "Linking the Lizard" we've recently joined forces with our friends at Natural England to clear an impressive amount of scrub from important rare plant sites, and to open up an overgrown trackway.

Autumn Squill
 The three sites we've been working on are all in private ownership, two near the northern edge of Goonhilly Downs, and one near Coverack. They were highlighted by keen local botanists who have been revisiting many places off the beaten track that were first noted for rare plants in the 1980s, but that have been pretty much forgotten since. With the botanists' knowledge, our combined machinery and muscle, and the support of the land owners, we've been marching to the rescue of the rare plants. On the outcrops, the pretty mauve flowered Autumn Squill (a lily relative) is one of the nationally scarce plants that we've been helping, by removing gorse that was threatening to shade it out.

Yellow Centaury
 The trackway, now that overhanging willow has been removed, should once again be perfect for the delicate little yellow centaury, which is no more than a few centimetres tall. A whole host of our rarest plants, including the very rare pygmy rush, which only grows on the Lizard in Britain, are associated with 'temporary Mediterranean ponds'. Puddles to you and I! And the best way to manage tracks for such rare plants? By driving along them with a tractor occasionally! It's a hard job but someone's got to do it! The tyres cut through the leaf litter and expose bare mud, and spread seed in their tread as a bonus.

Another outcrop cleared thanks to our Feb half term vols
 Thanks to all who have been involved in these days, including our enthusiastic band of volunteers from all over the country, who come down to Cornwall for a week's working holiday every February half-term.

 We're all looking forward to seeing what comes up later in the year, and we're already planning more projects for next winter.

....and after

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Love your park

Mullion community out
to give a hand

A bug hotel

Mullion village were out in force yesterday to improve their local park for wildlife. Each year Mullion village enters into the South West in Bloom judging and as part of last years report they asked the National Trust to help imrove St Mellans Park for native wildlife. The Lizard Ranger team were more than happy to oblige and so yesterday, with the help of Mullion community young and old, we set about improving the recently refurbished park.

Getting messy with pine cone feeders

Local wildife can now enjoy brand new bird boxes, bat boxes, bug hotels, insect dens, toad abodes and a beetle bucket! See if you can spot them next time your visiting the park. The children were not only busy improving their park, they also made pine cone lard feeders to take home for their own garden visitors as well as creating some beautiful log paintings using natural materials. 

Constructing a bug hotel using invasive bamboo
from Poltesco

In March we will continue with widlife improvements in the park with the planting of some native trees and wildflowers around the edges so stay tuned to find out more.

Digging in the beetle

If you fancy making some treats for your own garden visitors this half term then why not join us at Poltesco this Friday 17th between 10am and 3pm for a bird box and feeder workshop. Call 01326 291174 for more information.

St Mellans Park, Mullion


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Hackers spotted at Penrose

For some years now the broad track from Nanspean Farm to Carminowe Creek has
been getting ever narrower, until it has become almost impassable in some parts.



This was radically changed last week when
a group of volunteers hacked their way
through to reinstate the upper section of
the route to its former width.

Not only will this crearte better access
for all, but it will also create opportunities
for wildflowers to flourish along the path;
to encourage this, the path will be
maintained in the future by flailing to
ensure that it doesn't become
overgrown again.


More hacking

Further hacking will take place in
the coming months to open up the 
lower  reaches of the path  

This clearance is part of a concerted
push to upgrade and waymark all the
paths at Penrose, to help visitors to
discover the beauty of the
whole estate.
If you would like to do some legal hacking of your own and help the
National Trust please contact Laura or Nick, Community Rangers on 01326 554715/6.

Nick Gordon

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