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Our work at Pentire 

White Park cattle at Pentire Farm, North Cornwall
White Park cattle at Pentire Farm | © National Trust Images/John Millar

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.

Conservation grazing

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.

Catherine Shelswell of Plantlife and Mike Simmonds (North Cornwall Head Ranger for the National Trust) carrying out an arable plant survey at Pentire Farm, North Cornwall. View of Lundy Bay and port Quin visible in the background.
Carrying out a plant survey at Pentire farm | © National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Pentire crops

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.

Green corridors

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.

Skylark standing in coastal grassland at Pentire Point, Cornwall
Skylark standing in coastal grassland at Pentire Point | © National Trust Images/Nick Upton

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.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

A view of Pentire Farm in Cornwall


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Our partners

European Agricultural Fund for Regional Development

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) finances the EU's contribution to rural development programmes (RDPs).

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