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National Trust brings coastal land at Tintagel into its care

View of Barras Nose, Smith's Cliff and Willapark at Tintagel in Cornwall
View of Barras Nose, Smith's Cliff and Willapark at Tintagel | © National Trust Images/Steve Haywood

A stretch of rugged Cornish coastline that borders the medieval fortress of Tintagel has been acquired by the National Trust. Smith’s Cliff, on the north Cornwall coast, will be cared for as a space for wildlife to flourish, for heritage to be conserved and for people to access and enjoy for ever.

The 22.6-hectare (55-acre) acquisition puts in place a vital piece for our coastal conservation efforts in the area, joining up several sections of land we look after to create a continious 2.7-mile stretch of coastal land reaching from Barras Nose, which lies north of King Arthur’s Castle, all the way to Bossiney.

As the site sits within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Pentire-Widemouth Heritage Coast, and forms part of the setting of the spectacular Tintagel Castle, which is cared for by English Heritage, knitting together these sections will create a coastal corridor that connects and encourages the spread of wildlife within a naturally and culturally significant landscape.

It’s been widely reported that 97 per cent of traditional meadows have been lost since the Second World War, so we’re delighted to be able to make another positive contribution to halting and hopefully reversing this decline.

A quote by Jon StewartNational Trust General Manager for North Cornwall
Meadow at Smith's Cliff, Tintagel, Cornwall
Meadow at Smith's Cliff, Tintagel, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Steve Haywood

How will nature benefit?

Over the coming years, we will manage Smith’s Cliff and the adjacent clifftop grasslands, which were once a golf course in the 1950s, for the benefit of nature, supporting local species such as the small copper butterfly, maritime plants like rock sea lavender and golden samphire, a range of birds including linnet, skylark and fulmar, and even the nationally-rare black headed mining bee.

Our rangers will create a mosaic of species-rich grasslands and wildflower meadows, while the wild nature of the steeper cliff slopes will be enhanced by sustainable grazing. Through this, we will create a patchwork of wildflowers, scrub and trees that mirrors its approach along other parts of the coastline.

We’re working hard to bring back these vital species-rich grasslands on many parts of Cornwall's north coast. To have the opportunity to extend these wildlife habitats at Tintagel is fantastic.

A quote by Mike SimmondsNational Trust Lead Ranger for North Cornwall
Walker at Smith's Cliff, Tintagel, Cornwall
Walker at Smiths Cliff, Tintagel | © National Trust Images/Steve Haywood

What changes will visitors see?

We look forward to improving visitor access, particularly on existing footpaths and rights of way, to help everyone enjoy this very special place. Access to this well-loved stretch of coastline will also be enhanced through improvements to the network of footpaths along the South West Coastal Path. Footbridges will be installed across wetter areas and improvements to visitor signage are also planned.


Smith’s Cliff is also rich in history with eight known archaeological sites. Occupation by humans here likely dates back to the Mesolithic age (9600–4000 BC). On nearby Barras Nose, a Bronze Age barrow can be found, and related archaeology may well extend onto Smith’s Cliff. Numerous features, recorded through aerial mapping, show a pattern of medieval land use and enclosures known as strip fields. This ancient agricultural system may have had similarities to the Forrabury Stitches, one of the UK’s best-preserved examples of such strip fields, which we care for at nearby Boscastle.

Fields at Smiths Cliff towards the headland of Barras Nose, Tintagel in Cornwall
Fields at Smith's Cliff, Tintagel | © National Trust Images/Steve Haywood

A legacy to be proud of

The acquisition is made even more special as Barras Nose was the first piece of coastal land in Cornwall and England to be acquired by subscription for the National Trust in 1897.

The present-day acquisition was made possible by five generous donations, and by several gifts left in wills, some of which were left specifically to support our work in this part of Cornwall, and some to more widely support its stewardship of the coastline.

Thanks to our supporters, this coastline will now be protected for the nation forever.

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