The Kelseys and Cubert Common

Explore the sandy dunes at Cubert Common © National Trust

Explore the sandy dunes at Cubert Common

This stretch of the North Cornwall coast is perhaps best known for its beaches. However, there are other areas of interest to explore on foot and some great wildlife to look out for.

The Kelseys

The Kelseys consist of three enclosures called Inner, Middle and Outer Kelseys, separated by ancient walls. They were of sufficient importance to be shown on the first edition 1-inch Ordnance Survey map (c1809); fields are not usually represented.  The inner walls are of considerable height and built like the corn ditches of Dartmoor – a near vertical wall on one side and a gently sloping bank on the other. Worked flints and potsherds of an older era were found in the late 1940s in this general area, but no scientific excavation has been carried out.

The Kelseys are now cropped for part of the year with hay and corn, and cattle are grazed after the harvest until ploughing begins. Grazing of exposed cliff pastures has stopped in many parts of Cornwall, but at the Kelseys this traditional form of agriculture continues. Cattle sometimes come down onto Porth Joke beach to drink from the stream flowing across the sand, and to shelter from the wind. 

At Kelsey Head itself a low bank and shallow ditch of a cliff castle can be seen. Off shore is an islet called the Chick, and seals may be spotted from the cliffs. Fulmars nest on the tiny ledges.

Cubert Common

Cubert Common is an undulating area of sandy grassland popular amongst horse riders. It is one of the few enclosed commons in England. Sand blown from the dunes at Holywell has created a lime-rich tilth. A fine Bronze Age barrow (burial mound) stands on the southern side of the common.