Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan 2011 - 2016
02 Pentire Point to Widemouth
This AONB section forms a coastal strip between Pentire Point in the south near Polzeath, and Widemouth in the north. Inland it is bounded by the B3314 in the south and further north by the A39.
Approximately 11,900 hectares or 46 square miles forming just over 12% of the Cornwall AONB.
Statement of Significance
This unspoilt rocky coast is strongly influenced
throughout by the presence and power of the ocean.
The rich geological interest includes folded and
contorted shales, volcanic rocks and slates which
form intriguing coastal features ranging from complex
inlets, caves, coves, islands, and rocky stacks to
blowholes and arches. Pentire Point which is made
of pillow lavas is the location where the underwater
origin of these rocks was first proposed. The highest
cliffs in Cornwall are found at the aptly named ‘High
Cliff’ although the coastline generally lowers further
west towards Pentire Point. This rugged coast is
punctuated by only a few sandy beaches.
Behind the coastline the undulating coastal plateau is cut by steep sided secluded valleys whose streams drain towards the sea. These valleys are especially deeply incised as they reach the coast at Boscastle, Crackington Haven and Millook Haven. East from Tintagel is the tranquil ‘Rocky Valley’ cut by the River Trevillet. This is a well known beauty spot famed for its spectacular scenery where huge slate walls tower over visitors enjoying the shady woodland walk past Bronze Age rock carvings and up to the breathtaking waterfall at St Nectan’s Glen. The wild exposure of the open coastal plateau and sloping elevated land
contrasts strongly with the intimacy of the sheltered valleys. The lines of these valleys draw the eye inland across steadily rising slopes to the elevated Delabole ridge which lies parallel to the coast, physically and visually defining the inland limits of this AONB section.
Whilst windswept sculpted trees do occur occasionally in exposed farmland it is in the sheltered stream valleys where broadleaved woodland has a strong and sometimes luxuriant presence increasing the sense of enclosure. An extraordinary survival of extensive, ancient, pre-clearance coastal sessile oak woodland at Dizzard faces the full exposure from the
Atlantic, clothing the cliffs with a continuous rolling canopy that conceals the unevenness of the unstable slopes below. Elsewhere, coastal heathland edges the cliffs and coastal valley mouths.
The landscape is dominated by the open expanse of green pastoral fields although some arable cropping adds variety. The strong network of small to medium sized fields with irregular boundaries overlays the rolling landform but gives way at the higher ground along the ridge to larger straight sided fields recently enclosed from former upland rough ground. The generally treeless and sparsely vegetated Cornish hedges are often built with tightly packed alternating diagonal slate courses, locally called ‘curzy way’. There are remarkable survivals of Medieval open field strip farming some of which are still in active management, as at Forrabury, whilst others are preserved within later field patterns. A network of old narrow lanes meanders between the fields, sometimes sunken or edged with high hedges.
The settlement pattern is typified by hamlets and scattered farmsteads closely associated with the pattern of medieval field enclosures lending a timeless air to much of the countryside. Small picturesque fishing villages along the coastline are now popular focal points for visitors for example at Port Quin, Port Isaac, Boscastle and Crackington Haven, some still harbouring small local fishing fleets adding colour and activity.
Around small harbours such as those at Port Quin, Port Isaac, Boscastle and Crackington
Haven, larger settlements have developed and Tintagel has expanded onto the coastal plateau. Slate is the characteristic local building and hedging material varying from the mid hues of Delabole slate to the darker shades sourced at Trebarwith. The local slate industry led to the expansion of some villages such as Treknow and Trewarmett and the numerous small scale disused historic slate quarries are now a feature of the coastal landscape although slate quarrying operations continue within and near the AONB at a small number of sites.
Atop the protection of a rocky coastal promontory, the picturesque remains of the thirteenth century Tintagel Castle have a strong association with the legend of King Arthur and form an iconic north coast landmark. Adding emphasis to the historic dimension of the coast are prehistoric earthworks such as Iron Age cliff fortifications. The Rumps, at the most westerly
end of the section is a promontory made of Dolerite, upon which are to be found the remains
of a substantial Iron Age cliff castle, built to take advantage of the defensive benefits of the
elevated coastal location.
• The National Trust manages significant stretches of
the coast from Pentire Head to Port Quin and the Rocky
Valley in the west, to Crackington Haven and Dizzard in
the east. Ponies are used for grazing on coastal rough
ground to control scrub encroachment.
• Parish Plans have been prepared for St Endellion and St Kew.
• Boscastle has recently been redeveloped after extensive flood damage using mostly locally characteristic materials including local slate and killas.
• Active quarrying operations are controlled under the terms of updated planning conditions approved under the ‘Review of Old Mineral Planning Permissions’.
• Some steep valley sides typically have less intensive management and support a range of developing woodland, scrub or rough ground habitats.
• Cornwall Biodiversity Initiative plans include protecting and extending coastal rough ground habitats.
• The RSPB promotes land management that supports the Corn Bunting.
• The Atlantic Coast and Valleys project proposed rough grazing of cliff tops and valley sides around Trebarwith to replicate a traditional farming landscape and its associated flora and fauna, including restoring habitats favourable to the return of the Large Blue butterfly.
• The Polzeath Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA) seeks to increase awareness, enjoyment and interest in the marine environment including its intertidal habitats and the splash zone.
• The coast from Trebarwith to Widemouth is designated SSSI.
• Some modern housing at Boscastle and
Tintagel does not respect local settlement pattern,
vernacular or use of local materials.
• Wind farms including that at Delabole can have a negative visual impact.
• Some local stone quarries have not adhered to operational conditions or are poorly restored
resulting in unnecessary landscape and visual impacts.
• Parts of some major roads are unnecessarily suburban in their detailing, vegetation maintenance, and roadside development.
• Overhead wirescape is visually intrusive especially in historic settlements such as Port Isaac and Tintagel.
• Areas of native broadleaved woodland characteristic of many steep sided valleys for example at Millook, Crackington and St Nectan’s Glen are often unmanaged and in places colonised by sycamore.
• Some locally characteristic habitats are fragmented, e.g. coastal heathland, species rich grassland and native deciduous valley woodlands.
• Japanese Knotweed has colonised Rocky Valley and other valley systems.
• Scrub and bracken encroachment is a significant issue within coastal valleys leading to loss of biodiversity and change in the landscape.
• In parts of this section there was significant loss to disease of hedgerow elm trees with impacts on habitat connectivity and landscape character.
Pentire Point to Widemouth - Guiding Principles
It is intended that these local guiding principles will support the actions of the AONB Partnership and other stakeholders and that their actions will be informed by them. Note: Some local issues may be addressed by strategic policies.
|GP02.1||Seek reduction of landscape and visual
impacts and better integration of existing holiday
sites, visitor infrastructure, car parks and signage.
Pay particular attention to the increase in scale,
massing, associated development and respecting
local character in external works, landscaping, site
design and layout at Polzeath, Tintagel, Bossiney,
Trewethett, and near Widemouth.
|GP02.2||Require an assessment of the landscape, visual and cumulative impact of proposals for tall structures that are likely to have more than localised impact, and require this to be within the context of the evidence base including the emerging Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Supplementary Planning Document. Those proposals which have an adverse impact on natural beauty should not be supported.|
|GP02.3||Support small scale existing slate quarries in order to allow controlled production for use in local works provided that these respect landscape character, topography and vegetation in their operation and restoration and minimise short and long term landscape and visual impacts. Support further measures to protect and enhance environmental quality when existing quarrying permissions are reviewed.|
|GP02.4||Seek better landscape integration of the A39, B3314, B3263, and other major roads with their rural AONB setting by improved planting design and management, reducing the impact of signage and lighting, use of non intrusive methods of traffic calming and characteristic use of local materials and hedging styles.|
|GP02.5||Support initiatives for undergrounding visually intrusive wirescapes for example at Port Isaac and Tintagel.|
|GP02.6||Seek conservation and enhancement of
the undeveloped character of the coast; for example
Witches Cauldron to Port Quin Bay, around High Cliff
and around Dizzard in order to retain rugged and simple tranquillity and promote the enhancement of other parts of coast for example around Tintagel, Boscastle and Port Isaac such that they return to having a more undeveloped character.
|GP02.7||Support a landscape scale approach to
extending and connecting currently fragmented
locally characteristic habitats. These include maritime
cliffs and slopes, lowland heathland, lowland
meadows, coastal native woodland as at Dizzard
and native valley broadleaved woodland found
for example in the Valency Valley, Millook Woods,
Crackington Haven and St Nectan’s Glen. Consider
small scale planting of local provenance native tree
species such as Sessile Oak, Hazel and Alder to
act as a future seed source for native woodland establishment where this is currently absent or sparse to assist subsequent natural regeneration.
|GP02.8||Encourage the productive management of broadleaved woodlands, for example around Millook and Crackington, in a manner that is consistent with conserving and enhancing local landscape character and biodiversity.|
|GP02.9||Encourage the management of hedges
to allow elm and other hedge tree regeneration or,
where appropriate, planting of native or locally
naturalised tree species on hedges in order to restore
landscape character following the impacts of elm
disease including raising awareness that such local
hedges were previously considerably more treed.
PDF of this chapter - which includes all photos, maps and images