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National Trust News: Enjoy Booby's Bay

The National Trust has launched a collection of online walking guides based around some of the silliest place names found on its land, Stephen Field annouces.

Ten new ‘Silly Walks’ have been created at places such as Kiss me Arse Steps in Cornwall and Scrubby Bottoms in Pembrokeshire.

The walking guides can be downloaded for free. They are part of a wider initiative by the National Trust to encourage the nation to get outdoors and closer to nature.

Jo Burgon, Outdoors Programme Director for the National Trust, said: “The National Trust looks after a hugely and extremely diverse range of places from green urban spaces to remote islands and for too long these places have been one of the Trust’s best kept secrets.

“We’re finding that more people want to get out into the great outdoors but often need to be pointed in the right direction. Part of the joy of being outdoors is having a great experience and these silly walks are designed to tap in to the British love of a real sense of humour.”

The walks vary in length from one to four miles and anyone taking part will be invited to share their experience by uploading photos of the walk to Twitter with the hashtag #NTsillywalks.

The English Places Names Society based at Nottingham University would also like walkers to get in touch to report on the state of more remote spots around the country.

Paul Savill, Editor of the Journal of the English Place-Name Society, and former Principal Research Fellow for the Society, said: “Place-names in England and Wales are often the product of long evolution. Swine in East Yorkshire has nothing to do with pigs, Nasty in Hertfordshire is not a comment on the living conditions, Snoring in Norfolk has nothing to do with sleep and Trevor in Wales is not the name of a man.

“Most names describe the geography or ownership of the land, so finding out the meaning of place-names may be particularly useful to walkers. As place-name scholars work on interpreting documents containing names, information about the physical appearance and condition of the places named is vital which is why we want to hear from you.”

Limited edition commemorative t-shirts will be given away to the first ten people who complete each walk and tweet their photograph of it as proof. The t-shirts feature the iconic National Trust omega sign specially created with the silly place name underneath.

Last year 350,000 walks, or one every one and a half minutes, were downloaded from the National Trust website with a walk along the Bath skyline proving to be the most popular for the second year running with 14,000 downloads of the guide.

The ten walks are:

Booby’s Bay, Cornwall

A booby is a seabird closely related to the gannet and can be seen diving off-shore in stormy weather which might explain the name. This four mile walk takes the walker popular stretch of the north Cornish coast offers walkers stunning views across Constantine Bay and onwards to the lighthouse at Trevose Head. There is the chance to see some rare species of bird and plant life, and hidden coves. For more information call: 01208 863046.

Windy Gap, Leith Hill, Surrey

Although now covered in trees, in the past Windy Gap was heathland and unsheltered at 300m above sea level. An exhilarating two mile walk across the highest point in south-east England, which has been a popular picnic spot since the 19th century. Take in the 360 degree views from Leith Hill Tower where on a clear you can see up to 13 counties and on the southern slopes of Leith Hill, the wood is a mass of colour in spring and early summer. For more information call: 01306 712711.

Great Wood, Walla Crag, Cumbria

Great Wood is a large 95ha wooded area running up to Walla Crag which overlooks Derwentwater, often called the ‘Jewel of the Lake District’. Three hours should give you plenty of time to enjoy the views on this four mile walk. As you steadily ascend Great Wood the there are wonderful views of Derwentwater, and on a clear day, beyond Bassenthwaite Lake, you can also see the Solway Firth and hills of Galloway in Scotland. Keswick lies in the vale to the right. Some parts may be quite wet and muddy and others are rocky so good footwear is essential. For more information call: 015395 60951.

Slapper's Rock, North Helford, Cornwall

The rock may well be named after the sound of the sea hitting it and slap in Old English meant a ‘slippery muddy place’ that could well have an influence on its name. The four mile walk runs east of the valleys of the National Trust’s Glendurgan Garden, and next to Helford River, is a mixture of woodland and cliff-top, wildflower-rich fields. You can spot wild thyme, heathers, orchids, dog violets and sea campion growing here and a variety of wartime structures as during the Second World War the Helford River was the base for operations against German-occupied Europe. For more information call: 01872 862090.

Kiss me Arse Steps, Lansallos, Cornwall

The origins of the name are somewhat mysterious but it is believed to have been coined from the steep steps which on ascending would result in the person in front you having their posterior close to your face.

This walk of three miles takes the walker along a magnificent stretch of coastline with the natural splendour of secluded coves and beaches. Slightly inland, the soft rolling hills separate the coast from farmland and the sunken lane at Lansallos Cove conjures up images of smugglers and wreckers hauling carts laden with contraband. For more information call: 01208 265212.

Scratch Arse Ware, Dancing Ledge, Dorset

The meaning behind the Scratch Arse part of the name are unclear and the National Trust would love to hear theories on this and land for rough grazing is normally known as ‘Ware’. This four mile walk along the spectacular Jurassic Coast has been shaped by the quarrying industry and the ever-changing backdrop of the sea. In spring this area has many wildflowers such as cowslips, chalk milkwort, horseshoe vetch and the rare early spider orchid. Butterflies such as chalkhill and Adonis blue, and the local Lulworth Skipper also thrive on the short turf. For more information call: 01297 561900.

Cock-Up Bridge, Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

A hand drawn map from the 1920's shows the Cock-Up Bridge as being a wooden structure and we believe that the bridge was designed to make it easy for horses to cross hence its name Cock-Up. There several examples of horses being referred to as 'cocks' in this part of the world. The gentle three mile stroll takes you into the heart of the National Trust’s oldest nature reserve. Over 4,000 species are found at Wicken Fen including Britain’s largest dragonfly, the emperor. In spring, listen out for the loud ‘boom’ of the highly secretive bittern. For more information call: 01353 720274.

Pisser Clough, Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire

Clough comes from the Old English ‘cloh’ meaning dell, while it is believed the pisser part of the place name may derive from ‘pissant’, meaning insignificant and slang for an ant. The Northern Hairy Wood Ant is found in large numbers at Pisser Clough. This steep two mile walk through the valleys of Hardcastle Crags offers stunning riverside views while the oak, beech and pine woods are full of tumbling streams. Look for dippers, heron and grey wagtails on the river and woodpecker, jay, nuthatch and goldcrest in the woods. Dragonflies hover over the millponds in spring and summer. For more information call: 01422 844518.

The Nostrils, Isle of Wight

In ancient times the chalk downs which form the central spine of the Island were thought to resemble a dragon, with its tail being The Needles and its head at Bembridge Foreland. Below Culver Cliff, a small cove called The Nostrils supposedly forms part of the creature’s head. This short, but energetic coastal walk of just less than three miles will give you a fascinating insight into the Isle of Wight’s role in wartime defence and intelligence. It is also rich in wildlife with Peregrine Falcons and Chalkhill Blue butterflies lurking around the cliffs and spectacular views over Sandown and Whitecliff Bays. For more information call: 01983 741020.

Scrubby Bottoms, Pembrokeshire

Scrubby Bottoms is so called because of its location at the bottom of the valley and the large amount of scrub (vegetation dominated by shrubs). On this half a mile short circular route around the woodland there are a variety of habitats, including sedge-covered wetland and a ridge lined with Monterey pines. Volunteers have made a huge difference to improving access in Scrubby Bottoms, with groups putting new boardwalks in place and local school children have helped to clear the bracken here, to enable new saplings to grow. For more information call: 01646 661359.


All of the walks can be downloaded for free from www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walks



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