A week on the Lizard

My penultimate National Trust working holiday this year was based at a bunkhouse just a few hundred metres SE of Loe Bar, on the west side of the Lizard about 4 miles from Helston and the Blue Anchor.  It seems I cannot mention Helston without the other.  6th to 13th of August.

After  a single visit to the pub (Halzephron Inn) just 20 minutes walk away, Angela the landlady kindly wrote out a list of the beers I had tried:  Skinners Betty Stoggs, Sharpes Doom Bar and Lizard Kernow Gold.  The last was most local and theoretically more to my liking, being pale and hoppy, but a slightly too yeasty taste put me off.  Tried some of their bottled beers later, and found them very pleasing, as was the very very local Chough Brewery Serpentine Ale, only available in bottles at the moment – brewed in a nuclear bunker, they say.

Serpentine is the near unique oceanic floor rock which appears at the surface in the southern part of the Lizard, and I found a bit, was given a bigger bit by fellow holidayworker Colin who picked it up at Kynance Cove, and then went and bought a polished piece as well.
On our first day it rained a lot and we weeded the broken stone drive and paths of property used by long-term National Trust volunteers. The much frowned on habit of using unpaid interns in banking has been normal practice in nature conservation for decades.

The make-over team at work


Didn’t they do well.

Not a weed to be seen.


Most days we cut down large thorny bushes – always thorny – and burnt them in the name of conserving nature. Saw a pretty moth, and later discovered it to be a Magpie Moth, and its larva feeds on, amongst others, blackthorn – the main thorny thing we tackled. Our puny efforts will leave plenty more food for its offspring.

Magpie Moth


The point of removing scrub is to create open space around vestigal patches of meadow to encourage the spread of said meadow. Opening up these patches will also allow cattle to come in and keep down future scrub and grasses, further encouraging, amongst others, the Autumn Squill, a tiny rather dull weak looking blue flowered plant of great rarity, to spread, and thus become less rare.

The original grassy patch is in the middle-ground, the team in the distance widened it by 3 metres


On the ay off I circumnavigated the Loe – the largest lake in Cornwall, created when a bar of flint shingle formed across the mouth of the estuary. I read three stories about the shingle bar:
1 – it was created in association with sea level rise at the end of the Ice Age, about 10 thousand years ago
2 – its formation destroyed the trade of the port of Helston, which certainly did not exist 10,000 years ago, and
3 – it was formed when a passing giant dropped a bag of sand.
Half way round the lake I diverted to the Blue Anchor pub for two pints of Jubilee IPA. As you would expect in such a famous brew pub I met other visitors (from the Midlands and Cotswolds) and we talked about beer.
We did such a good make-over job on the first day that our Rangers found another for us, this time down by the Lizard lighthouse, at a Marconi radio station now owned by the Trust. We tidied up the drive there but also got a tour of the shack where Marconi finally demonstrated that radio could be detected beyond the horizon by sending signals (in Morse code) from this shack to another station on the Isle of Wight (about 200 miles, and well over the horizon). That was in January 1901.

The Marconi transmitter, the coil on right produces electricity to charge the Leydon Jars on left. They provide the power to generate the long and short bursts of Morse code, via the key.


And the receiving equipment:

The 125 feet high aerial (on top of a high cliff) receives messages which are converted into dots and dashes on a long strip of paper.


Have not mentioned the team much, so here they are on our last night together:

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This entry was posted in my travels, Real Ale, wildlife and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A week on the Lizard

  1. fred says:

    If I’d known you were going to the Lizard i would have asked you to seek out the hamlet of Touch Me Pipes
    http://fredpipes.blogspot.com/2008/01/touch-me-pipes.html

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