This land is your land

A couple with their dog overlooking the beach and Loe Pool at Penrose, Cornwall

The Lizard, Britain’s most southerly point, might be a magnet for visitors from all over the world but at its core is a strong local population with its compass firmly fixed on everyday life.

We look after around 1,000 hectares of this diverse Cornish landscape, much of it directly affecting community life.  

People work here, go to school here, shop here, worship here and play here, just like they do anywhere else. The peninsula’s famously quaint villages would be nothing without the families, farmers, builders, business owners and retired people who see the seasons come and go, year in year out.

With wildlife conservation at the top of our list, it is not always easy to make decisions to suit everyone. But by listening to views, holding events, meetings and discussions – such as who to choose as the new farm tenant, how best to open up special woodland for all to enjoy, where to divert that footpath – we try to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.  

Examples dot the map. There is no farm in Britain further south than Tregullas, whose land runs right around the Lizard Lighthouse and sits between the village and the Point. When its tenancy came up for renewal, we asked local people ‘what would you like to see happen next?’

Groups formed to look at new uses for Tregullas’s old buildings, to research the benefits of starting a community food enterprise or to work out ways to allow wildlife to thrive. Their findings formed the basis on which Nevill and Rona Amiss were finally chosen, who with their five children, are now a strong part of Lizard village life. They farm according to organic and conservation principles, sell their lamb in the village butchers and regularly invite the primary school (where their own children go) to visit Tregullas, allowing them to use the wonderful old courtyard buildings when it’s cold or wet.

Point your needle twelve rugged miles further north and you’ll come across another example of working together. In 2014 the Paths for Communities project at Penrose, funded by Natural England, was rooted in and shaped by local residents. The grassroots ideas for this diverse landscape of farms, woods and coast surrounding Loe Pool directly led to the creation of miles of new routes for walkers, less able visitors, cyclists and horse riders.

" Different user groups asked us if we could find news ways for them to enjoy Penrose, and we were happy to take up the challenge"
- Mike Hardy, Penrose Lead Ranger

As Lead Ranger Mike Hardy says “Almost all the improvements we made originally came from ideas from people who already knew the area well. In fact, the proposals came to us first, rather than the other way around. Different user groups asked us if we could find news ways for them to enjoy Penrose, and we were happy to take up the challenge.”

It is a rare weekend now that the footpaths and bridleways of Penrose woods aren’t alive to the sound of locals (and visitors) having fun. And as for a sense of community in Lizard Village – well, visit out of season for yourselves. It’s no ghost town, we can assure you!