Article reprint: Conservation

SSSI attracts nature lovers to holiday cottage

English Nature


Reproduced Courtesy of ENGLISH NATURE
Sitelines Issue 49 Autumn 2004
News for all owners and occupiers of sites of special scientific interest

The new rights of access may bring new commercial opportunities to some SSSI owners and managers. Visitor car parking, sale of SSSI-produced goods, and even holiday lets are possibilities. Although unaffected by CRoW access rights, one couple have already used the qualities of their SSSI land to heighten the appeal of their holiday cottage.

Sharing the peace and beauty of the countryside has become a commercial success for Valerie Taplin on the Tamar-Tavy SSSI. Valerie welcomed her first guests to Kingsmill Farm Cottage in February 2004 and was soon fully booked for the summer.

The Tamar-Tavy SSSI and the efforts the Taplins have put into conservation are the main selling points for her rental holidays. "I've been told that our bookings are unusually high for self-catering holidays in Cornwall." says Valerie, "The main reason for this is that people are choosing this location to be as close as possible to nature and wildlife."

Kingsmill Farm is in the Tamar Valley AONB and the creek, which forms part of the 4.5 acres, falls within the Plymouth Sound and Estuaries Candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC).

"The cottage is actually on the banks of the tidal creek which is part of the SSSI and guests can spot buzzards, owls, ducks, herons, swans, little egret, kingfishers, badgers, foxes and deer. It's also fabulous for walking, painting or photography," says Valerie. "We're keen to do everything possible to encourage the local flora and fauna and support various environmental groups such as Woodland Trust, the RSPB, the BTO, Devon Wildlife Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust. We have put up bat and bird boxes, and contribute to records of sightings in the area."

The Taplins have created a wildflower meadow, which involved stripping off the topsoil from a field overlooking the estuary, so that they could reseed on poor quality underlying soil. The seed mixture recommended for their soil included yellow rattle to suppress grass regrowth and a variety of native plants such as poppy, cornflower, corn marigold and corn cockle. Each year, they intend to add plant plugs of other species.

As well as establishing a large fresh-water lake and bog-garden, to attract frogs, newts, dragonflies and damsel flies, the couple have been careful to leave several wild areas undisturbed, with dense undergrowth, decaying branches and brambles. Ferns, fungi and wildflowers flourish, and badgers and stoats have made homes there.

"I think we've shown that you can open up beautiful areas of the countryside to visitors and make a business success of it," adds Valerie.

Valerie Taplin in the Wildflower meadow

Kingsmill Farm Holiday Cottage Cornwall      
Kingsmill Farm Holiday Cottage Cornwall      
tel: (+44) 01752 844 223      

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