The National Trust own and manage lots of the land our races go through or take place on. We are proud to work closely with them in creating our events and making sure they are done in a sustainable, low impact way. By participating in our races you are helping to fund the work they do and keep these special places protected and maintained as we obtain licenses from them to permit the events and pay a donation per person taking part.
Three of our races on the North Cornish coast take in land the St Agnes NT office looks after. To help show the wide ranging work they do and costs they have to meet we have this great information from them.
Steve Sudworth, the Head Ranger of this area of Cornwall has written this for us about their work;
Our core work is about managing the land in our care for the benefit of people and wildlife.
We look after 10 miles of coastline between St Agnes and Godrevy which contains a wide range of habitats including grassland and heathland, sandy beaches and rocky shore, high cliffs and farmland. These habitats are home to a wealth of wildlife. Breeding sea birds on the cliffs, reptiles, heathland birds and butterflies on the coastal heath and grasslands. Small mammals and bats are present and marine species including grey seals, common dolphins thrive on the exposed North Cornwall coastline.
Access for people
We manage 18 miles of footpath including a section of the South West coast path, the longest national trail in the country. To keep our paths open and accessible all year round we cut them in the spring and summer months and carry out surface improvement, drainage work and hedge maintenance in the autumn and winter. In addition to our regular footpath work , coastal erosion is an ever present issue. We have to be reactive, moving our paths and fences to find new routes and maintain access where it is threatened by the retreating coast. We had to move one such section of path used by the race at Godrevy in autumn 2016 because of a nearby cliff slip.
We manage two of the National Trusts busiest car parks in the South West at Godrevy and Chapel Porth, re-surfacing, repairing and keeping the sites in top condition throughout the year.
Litter and fly tipping is a big problem for us on our sites and our team carry out weekly (sometimes daily) litter picking throughout the year. Last year alone we collected over 12 Tons of litter from our sites! We also carry out monthly beach cleans in the autumn, winter and spring to collect any litter that arrives on our beaches.
Managing our habitats
To manage the coastal heathlands our team carry out planned sections of winter cutting and controlled burning each year to create a variety of habitats each favoring different species of wildlife. In addition to this, we cut firebreaks in the heath to reduce the risk of large summer wild fires.
The final important part of our work on our heathland sites is to follow up our management with grazing, which we do on the North coast with our own herd of Shetland ponies. The ponies play an important role in grazing the grasses to allow the heath to thrive whilst getting in amongst the heather and gorse to vary the structure of the habitat, which in turn helps to increase its wildlife diversity.
The ponies do take some looking after and our team of staff and volunteers check them daily to ensure their welfare and make sure that they have enough grazing and water at each site. They are transported between various sites each year.
Many of our sites have problems with invasive non-native species like Montbretia, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam which if left uncontrolled can spread and take over the important habitats we look after. To prevent this, each year we identify these areas and remove or treat them but it can be a continuous battle!
To make sure we are getting our management right, our team monitor wildlife on our sites through butterfly transects like the one recently set up at Hudder Down to record the rare small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly. We walk the transect once a week from April to September and record every butterfly species we see, allowing us to build up a picture of which butterflies are thriving and which aren’t having such a good year.
We also manage areas of flower rich coastal grassland by working with tenant farmers to graze the sites with just the right amount of cattle to ensure that the wild flowers flourish.
Looking after our historic mine buildings
We continue to care for and preserve the historic mine buildings at Wheal Coates ad Wheal Charlotte, part of the Cornwall and West Devon mining landscape UNESCO World Heritage site. Our conservation work to preserve their structure and to manage access around them allows anyone to visit these iconic pieces of Cornish industrial heritage set within the stunning coastal landscape.
You can find out more about some of these site via these web pages;