The Olde House is part of Penpont Farm, a 550 acre working farm that has been in our family for three generations. The Farm is a mixture of grassland, arable, wetlands, ponds and small woodlands which supports a very diverse range of birdlife along with foxes, badgers, hares, rabbits and many other wild animals.
We operate an old fashioned mixed farm that raises 200/250 beef cattle, 750 Dorset ewes utilizing 300 acres of permanent and temporary grass and 250 acres of arable crops.
Our 700 polled Dorset ewes are lambed before Christmas from Nov - Dec and then again with the ewe lambs from Mar - Apr. All our lambs are either kept for breeding or sold to the butcher. Our beef cattle are purchased through the spring and summer and finished through the winter on mostly our own home grown crimped cereals.
On the arable side the farm grows 250 acres of wheat, barley and oats which are used to feed the animals here on the farm with any surplus sold at the end of winter. We also rent out around 50 acres of potatoes or maize as a break crop.
In the 1980s we diversified into tourism, as the farm is ideally positioned for exploring the rugged North Cornwall coastline.
We had a number of stone and slate barns which formed the old yard of Penpont Farm which we started converting to self- catering holiday cottages. They proved very popular as visitors enjoyed the mix of a working farm with the peace and quiet of the countryside. Over the years we renovated all the suitable farm buildings and built some new cottages in the surrounding fields. This move created the nucleus for a business that has flourished for 25 years and is known as "The Olde House".
Over the years we have added extra facilities including a heated indoor swimming pool, sauna, whirlpool bath, toddler's pool, snooker table, indoor/outdoor play areas and tennis courts.
‘Natural England's purpose is to protect and improve England's natural environment and encourage people to enjoy and get involved in their surroundings'. Environmental Stewardship is a key part of the government and EU funded Rural Development Programme supporting sustainable agriculture throughout the countryside. The scheme is administered by Natural England on behalf of Defra. Its aims are to look after wildlife species and their many habitats, ensuring land is well managed and retains its traditional character, protect historic features and natural resources, ensuring traditional livestock and crops are conserved, and providing opportunities for people to visit and learn about the countryside.
Just less than 70% of England's agricultural land is now under an environmental agreement, covering nearly six and a half million hectares of land in over 57,000 agreements.
In 2010 the farm was accepted onto Natural England's Higher Level Stewardship scheme, due to the extensive archaeological sites on the farm and our participation in the Amble Marshes SSSI.
Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) is a targeted and competitive scheme that is only available to farmers and land managers in particular areas of the country or with particular high priority features on their holding. HLS aims to deliver significant environmental benefits in priority areas. It involves more complex environmental management requiring support and advice from our local advisers, to develop a comprehensive agreement that achieves a wide range of environmental benefits over a longer period of time.
The Walmsley Bird Sanctuary which forms part of the Amble Marshes Water Level Management Plan is a very important wetland haven for wild birds especially in winter and is designated for wintering wading birds and supporting wetland habitats. The farm also has a wealth of important archaeology including a nationally important complex of Iron Age - Roman period settlement enclosures with associated boundaries, tracks and field systems. The complexity of these features and proximity and probable association with Killbury Hillfort make them of particular significance. The farm also has a very rare feature known as a cursus - a prehistoric monument consisting of a long narrow parallel-ditched enclosure.
Over the years we have built several ponds, planted lots of the trees to provide shelter etc. We are careful with the sprays we use and use only where necessary. We have rebuilt lots of gaps in stone hedges and then fenced them off for protection. When working in the field (e.g. silage) we are very mindful of birds and animals and we never work in the dark. Arable fields have been reverted to grass to protect important archaeology. We have allowed raised water levels in the Amble Marshes SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and promote sensitive grazing to support wetland birds.
As part of the scheme, we have extended our farm trail which is now classed as a permissive footpath taking in many wildlife spots of interest around the farm and wetlands and now also incorporates a new bird hide that overlooks one of our ponds. Andrew also runs a farm tour every Wednesday during the summer, taking visitors around the farm in a large trailer drawn by tractor.
We have recently diversified our business further by installing 1,008 photovoltaic panels in a field close to the cottages which generates 242kW of solar energy, which directly powers The Olde House and Penpont Farm. Brothers Shaun and Oliver sourced as much as they could from local companies and with tremendous help from Aardvark Environmental Consultants, Western Power, Cornwall Council Planners and of course Barclays Bank this project would never have progressed.
The Olde House has also become part of Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) to promote the benefits of renewable energy in the community.