Sandymouth BioBlitz

Come and join us on Saturday 3 October anytime between 12.30pm – 7.30pm for the Sandymouth BioBlitz….

Are you interested in nature and conservation? Help us to find and record as many different plants and animals with a range of specialists and experts to help identify everything we find. Join in anytime between 12.30pm and 7.30pm for as long as you like.

Bioblitz poster-page-001

Trailing through the Hinterland

Making the event trailer for The Cruel and Curious


When asked by Cai from Hickory Nines to create the trailer for the Cruel and Curious Hinterland, I, like the artists involved, had to define not only the term, but also what it meant to me personally.

The hinterland as a theme is brilliantly ambiguous – looking inland/inwards can mean different things to different people and how they express this could (and hopefully will) differ greatly, offering endless modes of expression, and a variety of media to do so.

Cai and I could pinpoint a few mutual aspects of what was meant by ‘hinterland’ and this helped determine the shots, tone and what we wanted the film to achieve. Focusing in from the dictionary-style definition of ‘the land behind the sea’, we looked at the loneliness and isolation afforded by this liminal zone; the unknown and thus unnerving; the concept of there once being a human presence in an area and the idea of the natural world reclaiming what was rightfully its own. We wanted the film to be slightly unsettling but not have the feel of horror.

Immediately I saw the film being in black and white. I thought it would provide a stark contrast to the colourful, scenic view usually offered when showcasing the West Country. I hoped that such a dramatic change would create an unsettling feel and almost a pessimistic tone, as experienced in film noir.


I tried to include a couple of sites looked after by National Trust; Wheal Betsy, seen at the end of the film, being one of them.

With the tone set, I then had to scout and chose locations that fitted these criterion.

As someone with an interest in archaeology and built heritage, it seemed natural for features like redundant engine houses, viaducts, railway track beds, disused mills and the like to make an appearance. After all, the landscape of Devon and Cornwall is littered with relics of the industrial revolution, but often on the periphery of the landscape and thus of our attention.

Davidstow airfield was also a prime contender. I looked at it from the view of an outsider: if you came across it by accident you would ask – ‘what happened here? Why is it no longer used?’

This to me, was the hinterland. These were areas often overlooked and unexplored by most – after all, these buildings are ruinous, so serve no purpose. Paradoxically, this made me want to visit them, to find out what happened here and why? In the process I came to terms with the great endeavors people had gone to when altering or manipulating the landscape and how those times are now gone. They offered an air of mystery, and their often dramatic positions in the landscape or the mixture of lighting they offered seemed to look good on camera.


Looking upstream towards the ruined mills of Rocky Valley.

Other locations in this hinterland were deemed curious as they posed unanswered questions. The fallen pylon along the road between Bude and Otterham Station was one such site. This structure had fallen over, only to be replaced by another pylon – but why had the old, broken one not been removed? The land owner had kindly given me permission to film, but did not allude as to why it was still lying there. It was this very discourse that had sparked the theme of the show. This seemed a flagship shot for the film and Cai was keen to include it. Visually it would look great. I was happy to oblige.


In terms of the voiceover, Cai had organised interviews with two artists with differing backgrounds: Eldmer, a male tattoo artist (and like myself originally from Wales) and Somerset/Devon girl Hannah Wheeler, a painter working in oil portraiture. (Both of which now work in Bude). Such a contrast in background and style, we hoped would offer an interesting narration to the film.

Planning the shoot for this film was totally different to any others DSC_1256I have
done, in that I planned little. As someone not originally from the area, much of the landscape felt like the hinterland to me and many locations that feature in the film are places that I have simply stumbled across when walking the dog or out with my camera. This act of discovery in unknown areas epitomised the theme to me. There were of course some shots that were planned, whether by driving past a place, through conversation with others or by hovering over an OS map. But the best locations, I feel, were the ones that would reveal themselves unexpectedly to me, and simply said ‘hinterland’.

– Rhodri


Make hay while the sun shines

After heavy downpours through the night we were relieved to work under glorious sunshine the next day at Lundy Bay. With the help of our band of volunteers we raked up all the grass that we had been cutting recently as part of our nature conservation management at this wildlife rich site near Polzeath. Each late summer the vegetation in the meadows and glades is cut down after the majority of flowers have set seed. By raking up and removing the cut material from the ground, it prevents the grassland becoming over-enriched as it composts down. By reducing nutrients this way the habitat is opened up for a diverse range of species rather than aggressive ones taking over and shading out some of the more delicate plants and flowers. With the added bonus of coming face to face with some of the local wildlife and enjoying a picnic ploughman’s lunch to thank our volunteers for their efforts, an enjoyable day was had by all. Check our other North Cornwall events and volunteer days and join us next time.

Mike – Lead ranger

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Rain stops play. Moth Night CANCELLED

Unfortunately a forecast of heavy rain has meant that we have had to cancel our Moth Night event advertised to take place at Polzeath on 11 September. Despite some moths still flying about in the rain, it doesn’t make for very fun trapping weather!

The slight silver lining to this news is that there is a whole wealth of information on the interweb to help you get out and do some mothing in your own time at home. Any you don’t necessarily need any expensive kit at all! Here’s two very inexpensive methods of luring moths from your garden (images found on the Wildlife Trusts website):

Moth trap (light trap)

Moth trap (wine ropes)

Here’s a few links to other useful sites with information on how to start mothing and printable ID guides for the more common species that you might come across: and

Lets hope September throws a bit more dry weather our way!

Geology walk at Tintagel

Bossiney Cove

There are still spaces on our guided walk next Wednesday 16 September. If you want to know your Tintagel Volcanic Formations from your Willapark Thrusts, or to see some tuffs and lavas or even an Elephant Rock, all will be revealed by our expert guide Jane Anderson. The walk is from 1 pm until about 3.30, meeting at the car park at Bossiney and costs £3 per head payable on the day. You can book your place by calling the NT Property Office on 01208 863046

Mike – Lead ranger

Hinterland Trailer…


The third annual instalment of the Cruel and Curious Art exhibition, that we co-host with Hickory Nines, is fast approaching, in association with:

Finisterre | Harbour Brewing Co | Fear design

Friday 25th September 2015   5:30pm – 9:30pm
Saturday 26th September 2015   4pm – 9:30pm
@ Stowe Barton, Cornwall ~ EX23 9JW

Rum & Ale Bar | Food | Refreshments

Free admission
(donations appreciated)

Now the third event of it’s kind, Hickory Nines and the National Trust once again team up to bring together artists, photographers and makers to the atmospheric 18th century stone barns of Stowe Barton, North Cornwall, for the region’s most conspicuous pop-up art event…

Following two years of celebrating the murk & myth of the sea, The Cruel & Curious exhibition takes an about turn, casting its gaze inland, with over 25 artists and photographers – some new, some returning – each subjectively embracing the new theme of the Hinterland, and the idea of the ‘land behind the sea’, and that which lies therein.

Once again timed to take place during the fading light of two autumnal evenings, the atmosphere of the show is as key as are those who have been hand picked to exhibit.

This year the show opens for a little longer on the Saturday to accommodate more people, having reached capacity on every night, at every event so far.

Food and drink will be available to buy, with a well-stocked bar and the excellent Beautiful and the Feast providing their own take on Hinterland fare.

Work has already begun…

Film produced by Rhodri R Davies

Teaser images from artists and show production crew are also available on Instagram, using the hashtag #cruelandcurious , and more information can be found on the Cruel and Curious Facebook page

Get gazing!

You might think this is a rustic sun lounger. But in fact it is a cloud bench, a very comfortable spot to watch the clouds sailing by!

You might think this is a rustic sun lounger. But in fact it is a cloud bench, a very comfortable spot to watch the clouds sailing by!

Fresh from a workshop in rural Somerset, a couple of new pieces of sculpture/ countryside furniture have now appeared in a small glade within the clifftop scrub at Carnewas near Bedruthan Steps.

Carefully crafted from oak by Somerset based artist Michael Fairfax and carved with cloud names and star asterisms (often mistakenly called constellations!) these are the perfect place to recline and gaze up at the sky above us, something we often don’t give enough time to.

As part of our Coast festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Neptune Campaign, the National Trust in North Cornwall has commissioned these cloud and star benches to encourage people to engage with our amazing surroundings. Not only do we have amazing views of the sea and coastline here in North Cornwall, but with little blocking out the sky we also have uninterrupted views of the towering cloudscapes during the day as well as the awe inspiring night sky.

Make sure you get down to Carnewas and find ‘the sky glade’ amongst the scrub, not very far at all from the gift shop. Take 10 minutes to lay back and enjoy the view upwards! Please do watch out for adders and take a good torch if you visit after dark.

Have a look at Michael Fairfax’s webpage here ( to see what else he has been up to.