West Pentire wows us with wildflowers

Poppies on West Pentire coastal view

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.

8 June 2021 update

What a difference a few days and some warmer weather makes. The poppies and corn marigolds are now making an appearance.

3 June 2021 update

At the time of writing the yellow flower that can be seen in abundance is charlock. This plant has become a regular occurrence, and we get a vigorous flush of this before the other flowers are in their prime.

In an average year the poppies and corn marigolds start appearing mid to late June, and on into the first week or so of July. We can never be totally sure of timings due to varying weather patterns. However, this year we had a very cold, dry spring and we think this will push flowering on a little later. Every year is different; affected by timing of ploughing, climate and other environmental factors. Regular visitors may remember that in 2020 the plants flowered earlier than usual due to the weather being very warm much earlier in the spring.

Please stay on the designated footpaths

Wildflowers at West Pentire
Wildflowers at West Pentire with a sign reminding visitors not to trample
Wildflowers at West Pentire

We appreciate there can be the urge to explore and photograph the flowers and plant life at West Pentire. But to avoid damaging the plants we ask visitors to please stay on the various footpaths that cross the headland.

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.