West Pentire wows us with wildflowers

Summer fields of wildflowers at West Pentire

Found between Holywell Bay and Crantock Beach and carefully managed for nature and people, the West Pentire arable fields explode in a riot of red poppies and yellow corn marigolds in early summer.

June 2017 update

We think due to the warm spring, a little earlier than usual there were some wonderful displays of flowers at West Pentire in June. Fine views of poppies could be seen in the field nearest to the farm buildings and track approaching the headland. However, some wet and windy weather inevitably took their toll and gave the delicate flower heads further towards the coast a bit of a battering. Plants can be resilient though and the improved weather towards the end of the month revived the buds still coming into bloom.

Why are there so many wildflowers at West Pentire?

This small section of coastland is a much-needed haven for some of the most endangered wild flowers in the country. 

The farmland here is managed specifically as a nature reserve for plants and wildlife associated with arable cultivation and is not commercially farmed.  It’s one of only a few such sites in Britain. Year after year visitors come to take in this much-loved sight – fields full of wild farmland flowers, and a real reminder of traditional non-intensive farming methods of the past, which worked in harmony with nature.

The arable fields on West Pentire are included in a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS) which provides the funding and guidance to help the Trust, and tenant Bob Coad, continue to conserve and enhance the site for its amazing abundance and variety of arable farmland flowers.

How and why is it done?

Those exploring the headland may notice two distinct patterns of plant life growing. Half of the fields are ploughed either in the autumn or the spring and left fallow, with the other half ploughed and sown with barley in the spring.

The areas sown with barley are intended to benefit declining species of birds such as corn bunting and mammals such as brown hare, as well as sheltering the rare arable plants. 

Alongside the cereal crop wildflower plots are ploughed and then left for the seeds of dozens of species to germinate, including the poppies everyone loves to see.

This ongoing work should offer increased shelter for ground nesting birds like skylark and encourage corn buntings to use the site. The Trust hopes that the ‘wow-factor’ of seeing swathes of poppies and corn marigolds in the early summer will be an on-going one.