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Our Great Cornish Walk

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Our Walk on the Wild Side event took place over last weekend. It was one of many walking activities running this autumn as part of the Trust’s Great British Walk campaign. Our offering was a Ranger-led two day coast path hike between Newquay and Padstow with an overnight stop at our Park Head bunkhouse. We were pretty much fully booked with 13 intrepid walkers joining us for the challenge. The weather couldn’t have been kinder with blue skies and gentle winds. It also emerged that there was much to celebrate. Not only was a member of the party, Andrew Easterbrook, celebrating his 50th birthday with his family, but the youngest walker Hannah aged 8 was walking with her mum to raise funds towards a much needed Green Space sensory garden at Double Trees School in St. Austell. There is limited green space available for the children attending the school, which is now working with The Sensory Trust to find ways to create more for the children to enjoy. Hannah’s brother Felix, who has special educational needs, attends Double Trees and will directly benefit from the new garden.
With packed lunches loaded, sunscreen on (Yes, in October!) we set off from Fistral in Newquay with about 11 miles to cover, with the ‘carrot’ of a cream tea waiting for us back at the bunkhouse. A relaxing evening was spent resting aching feet and enjoying chef-Sarah’s delicious bolognese followed by jam roly-poly and custard – Awwesome! Day 2, and we awoke to some thick mist, but this soon burnt off and the weather was even better than the day before. It was a long second day, clocking up 14 miles, but all agreed that the coastal scenery on this stretch was amazing. After 8 hours walking we dropped down from Stepper Point to Padstow Harbour under a late afternoon sun, with Hannah leading the way. Our late afternoon arrival was a bonus for some, as several walkers discovered the pasty shops selling off their wares cheap!
Overall we passed or walked on about 16 beaches -and some of Cornwall’s most stunning – 5 headlands, past numerous iron age cliff castles and bronze age barrows, a lighthouse, and one estuary with glorious views all along from the cliff tops. Extra sights included a toga wearing stag party at Newquay and a wedding at Watergate Bay!
It was a very enjoyable walk in the company of a fab group of people, who were such fun and great to chat to. Congratulations and thanks for attending the event to: Andrew, Jackie, Holly, Rosie, Joanna, Colin, Angesselle, Hannah, Delia, William, Liz, Nicky and Penny!
Looking forward to planning next years!
To find out more about the Great British Walk visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greatbritishwalk

Mike – Head Ranger

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Stowe Barton Family Wild Camp

Camping out in the wild may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially with our unpredictable British weather threatening to deliver a soaking at any given moment. But, with us all living more hectic lives, sleeping under canvas can be one of the best ways to get away from it all. Spending time out in the countryside helps us slow things down to a more natural pace, whilst also teaching us to appreciate the simple things in life like brewing a cup of tea from water you’ve just boiled over your own campfire.

Living the dream in North Cornwall

Living the dream in North Cornwall

The National Trust is running the ’50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ campaign for the second year running, with the aim of getting kids involved with nature and the outdoors.  On the 10th and 11th of August we hosted a  Family Wild Camp which tried to capture this theme, with everyone getting a bit muddy and discovering their wild side. What better way to spend a weekend?

Six families joined us at Stowe Barton farm bedecked with sleeping mats, tents and wellies. With everyone lending a helping hand, the wild camp crew successfully made it to the chosen camping spot, 10 minutes walk away. The field soon acquired its own herd of multicoloured tents and everyone was able to take stock of their surroundings accompanied by a campfire brew.

With camp established the activities could begin. First up, den building in a copse of trees behind the old orchard, not quite a wilderness but its good to practice your survival skills before heading out into the wild! Being careful not to cut down existing trees, the den teams got to work with saws, loppers and secateurs, searching for suitable building materials amongst the tangle of undergrowth. Fern leaves were a firm favourite for providing roof cover and soft carpet material, whilst some teams got all ‘Grand Designs’, lining up old logs to create a seating area. Large branches previously cut by volunteer rangers were quickly snapped up, while other teams used existing trees as supporting posts and thinner branches as beams. Some dens had walls of weaved branches which melted into the surroundings while other teams leant their branches against a main beam or tree to make tepee and tent-like dens. All the finished dens looked amazing, each one different from the next!

Returning to the camp fire, the children were put to work mixing up camp fire dough to cook damper bread, also known as campfire twists to all you scouts out there! This is a seriously easy dough recipe, mixing self raising flour with a little salt, sugar and water and then wrapping it around a hazel stick, stripped of its bark. These are then cooked over the embers of the fire until the dough is firm and sounds hollow when knocked. An excellent starter to a fine campfire stew cooked up by our volunteer rangers!

After dinner we got stuck into some outdoor crafting, making willow dream catchers to leave outside our tents to catch all the bad dreams. I’m not sure who enjoyed this more, the children or adults but an amazing selection of dream catchers appeared around camp. The craft session was interrupted briefly by a rainy interlude as everyone ran for cover in the heaviest rain shower of the evening.

To finish off the evening, Sarah, one of our rangers with a penchant for bats, took us around the woodland edges where we saw and heard common and soprano pipistrelle bats swooping for midges and small flies. We were also lucky enough to hear some tawny owls calling in the distant countryside.

Walking at dusk, looking for bats and owls.

Walking at dusk, looking for bats and owls.

Exhausted from an afternoon of fresh air, and leaving the moth trap running overnight to see what moths were out and about, people then slowly trickled off to their sleeping bags, leaving a few stragglers around the campfire.

Campers awoke to a beautiful, blue skied morning with the smell of bacon wafting about. After breakfast the bright eyed and bushy tailed amongst the group got stuck into some wild art, using flowers and leaves to make natural paints to create postcards. Those still adjusting to the world enjoyed another round of tea!

A lot of the inspiration for the event came from the ’50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ campaign so each of the children were given ‘50 things’ scrapbooks to tick off activities as they did them. Check out www.50things.org.uk to find out more and download the full list. Ticking off number 31, we spent the remainder of the morning hunting for bugs, catching butterflies, grasshoppers and ground beetles and examining them carefully before setting them loose again.

Everyone seemed to have a great time, camping out surrounded by the woods and the rangers always love building a fire of some sort! Make sure you keep your eyes open for next year’s event. Watch this space!

Tom Sparkes, Ranger

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Crantock Summer Swell Longboard Competition

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The second round of the 2012 British Longboard National Championships was held at Crantock Beach just outside of Newquay over the weekend of the 30th June and 1st July. The event was sponsored by The Bowgie Inn and Old Guy’s Rule; with the event supported by National Trust, the BLU’s Environmental Partners.
Conditions on the Saturday were a choppy 3-4 ft with a stiff south westerly, making conditions difficult. However, this didn’t stop the 70 competitors producing some outstanding performances. Ben Haworth was back defending his 2011 Open division title against Ben Skinner, (current European Champion) and Adam Griffiths, last years English title holder was also competing in his home break.
The finals on Sunday saw another sunny day with equally tough conditions but some excellent surfing, especially in the Open where Ben Skinner of Perranporth won the event, closely followed by Newquay’s Adam Griffiths. Ben Haworth the 2011 champion came third, with youngster Josh Le Marquand from Jersey fourth.
It was good to see the new Grand Masters division well subscribed again while the Masters, won by Matt Thomas from Perranporth, remained fiercely competitive. The Ladies enjoyed an expanded entry requiring four heats and the newly introduced U16 Girls produced an expanded entry of 5 who were game enough to paddle out in testing conditions – hats off to these girls for having a go!
The National Trust again provided a great venue with tents, vehicles and support from the local rangers to ensure the event ran on time with staff protected from the elements. The Bowgie Inn was the venue for the pre-contest briefing and it also provided overnight parking.
Vic Danks, BLU secretary, said that many of the contestants expressed their appreciation for the hospitality of the Bowgie Inn and the support of the National Trust. ‘While the local rangers had helped run surf events before, having to cope with 70 competitors was a first, and they did an outstanding job.’
Rob Joules, Watersports co-ordinator for the National Trust, said ‘The BLU ran a really professional surf contest and it was great to be able to host it at Crantock, an area that the National Trust works so hard to conserve. The rugged landscape was a perfect backdrop for some excellent surfing in typically testing English conditions.’

Full results below:
U16 Boys:
1st Ben Bates, 2nd Aron Rowe, 3rd Aaron Bright, 4th Raife Gaskell
U18 Girls:
1st Maise Marshall, 2nd Lucy Howell, 3rd Emily Currie, 4th Cara Gaskell, 5th Jenna Richards
U18 Boys:
Connor Griffiths, 2nd Ben Bates, 3rd Alex Maddocks, 4th Aaron Bright
Ladies:
1st Claire Smail, 2nd Grace Davies, 3rd Nicola Bunt, 4th Chantelle Coote
Masters:
1st Matt Thomas, 2nd Colin Bright, 3rd Alan Reed, 4th Adam Chell
Grand Masters:
1st Adrian Howell, 2nd Eric Davies, 3rd Colin Bright, 4th Glyn Griffiths
Open:
1st Ben Skinner, 2nd Adam Griffiths, 3rd Ben Haworth, 4th Josh Le Marquand

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Leap Day report

Well the weather could not have been better for our team’s Leap Day activity last week! Glorious sunshine and blue skies blessed us for a day spent at the Polzeath Marine Centre giving it its Spring spruce up.

A team of 8 cleared rubbish, cut back vegetation, cleaned walls, and scraped off time-worn paint, before redecorating the outside of the building. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the task – especially those who are usually strapped to a computer not a paint scraper and a brush!

Anyway the place looks a lot brighter and fresher now, and we look forward to continued working with the volunteers at the centre and the wider community throughout the coming season.

We are pleased that our new Volunteer Community Ranger, Rosie, will be starting her role with us in the next week or so, to really get this underway for the year.

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Tales from the Riverbank.

Sunday saw our volunteer conservation group get together to carry out some essential copping work in the Valency Valley, Boscastle. Like gorillas in the mist we spent the day hacking and slashing Alder, Willow and Buddleia saplings as part of the rotational coppicing cycle we have as part of our agreement with the Environment agency for the area following the floods in 2004. By the end of the afternoon with weary limbs and wet feet we trudged to the café for a well earned cup of tea. A big thanks to all who took part. Our next 2 events are:

Feb 7th Clear Carriage wash at Stowe Barton. Meet at Stowe Barton, Kilkhampton, Nr Bude. (Grid ref: SS213 114)
Feb 19th Shelter Building in the Valency Valley. Meet at Boscastle overflow car park. (Grid ref: SX100 913)

If you would like more information then please call Fred on: 07891 688 165.