Our work at Pentire
Pentire is managed more as a farmland nature reserve than a commercial farm. We're working closely with a local famer and other partners to manage the headland with an emphasis on maximising benefits for the existing wildlife. By creating and restoring habitats and natural processes, we're prioritising the needs of our rarer species and protected landscapes.
Farming at Pentire
A local farmer, who holds a grazing license with us, is still producing food through the breeding and raising of cattle, which graze on the herb-rich pastures. The number of cattle here at any one time is kept low, so the land is not overgrazed.
The cattle are moved around the headland. This means areas of grassland have a chance to grow tall and wild plants can flower, giving a home to wildlife.
This includes the pastures on the cliffs where there are some of the best species-rich maritime meadows, which need preserving.
Cattle are a great help with nature conservation as they graze off the more competitive grasses, keep scrub in check and trample invasive species, such as bracken, to create a mixed habitat for wildlife.
Crops are still grown at Pentire. Generally, it’s spring barley, which provides useful supplementary feed for the cattle in winter. It also becomes a shelter for ground nesting birds, insects (including pollinators), small mammals and a variety of arable wild flowers.
We no longer routinely use pesticides, fertilisers or insecticides on the farm so the plants have a chance to flourish.
Poppies and corn marigolds have started emerging along the field edges. We’re also seeing many other species within the crops, including weasel’s snout and corn spurrey.
Some areas of barley are left unharvested and stubble from cut crops are left over winter, so there are year-round seeds for the birds to forage.
Changes to benefit wildlife
Some fields are returning to wildflower meadows with our help. Two of the techniques we're using are spreading locally harvested seed and introducing special plants like yellow rattle, which suppresses the vigour of aggressive grass species.
Traditional hay cutting after flowers have set seed is also helping to improve the meadows.
Bees and butterflies
Bees and butterflies are benefitting from the increase in flowers. Plus, the meadows are teeming with invertebrates, such as grasshoppers, crickets and spiders.
We’ve also made changes to widen and extend the coastal grassland. By taking areas out of intensive land management in some fields, these ‘green’ corridors improve habitat connectivity across the headland.
A combination of natural regeneration, sowing wildflower seeds and planting some trees in these areas will provide bigger, better and more joined-up homes for all manner of wildlife.
Other areas have been left for nature to ‘rewild’. These will become a mosaic of tall grass, tussocks and scrub. With much less intrusive management, these will be perfect hunting grounds for barn owls and an undisturbed sanctuary for ground-nesting birds, as well as insects and mammals.
Increasing bird numbers
We’ve already seen that the skylark population and numbers of overwintering farmland birds have increased at Pentire. This is a result of having less intensive grazing and wildlife-friendly arable crops, together with leaving and creating more areas of undisturbed long grass through the summer.
We’ll continue to monitor changes in wildlife in the future as we nurture the headland to become species-rich throughout. Look out for wildlife that call this coastal headlane their home when you visit Pentire.
With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.
Discover this dramatic stretch of Cornish coastline just north of Polzeath, whether you want to get active outdoors, or simply sit and soak up the views.
Pentire is a two pawprint rated place. Bring your dog to this stretch of Cornish coastline for fresh-air fun, with lots of walks to choose from, perfect for four paws (and two legs).
We believe that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. That’s why we’re supporting wildlife, protecting historic sites and more. Find out about our work.
Read about our strategy 'For everyone, for ever' here at the National Trust, which will take the organisation through to 2025.