National Character Area 154

Hensbarrow - Analysis: Landscape Attributes & Opportunities

Analysis supporting Statements of Environmental Opportunity

The following analysis section focuses on the landscape attributes and opportunities for this NCA.

Further analysis on ecosytem services for this NCA is contained in the Analysis: Ecosytem Services section.

Landscape attributes

The landscape of the ‘Cornish Alps’ in the china clay extraction area.

Justification for selection:

  • The old china clay waste tips are conical in shape and add a great deal of flavour to the area, as well as adding to the sense of human history.
  • A disused china clay quarry was used to house the Eden Project.
  • Newer china clay workings show an example of modern industry and include huge, terraced spoil tips.
  • The strangely coloured, turquoise, blue or green pools of the flooded clay pits add to the almost alien feel of the area.

Species-rich heath and moorland and associated willow carr.

Justification for selection:

  • Cattle and ponies are traditionally a feature of the grazed moorland although sheep are dominant in number, with hardy breeds being favoured due to their ability to survive in this harsh environment.
  • These open habitats support populations of marsh fritillary butterflies and other invertebrates such as the spider Araneus triangulus.
  • Heathland in particular is an excellent habitat for pollinating insects because of the many flowers, which last late into the year.

A network of small streams and rivers.

Justification for selection:

  • The upper reaches of the River Fal and the River Par; formed by several fast flowing streams, cut through this NCA draining into the English Channel at Falmouth and Par respectively.

A distinct and varied pattern of fields, enclosures and settlements reflecting a long and ongoing history of agricultural activity and dispersed settlement.

Justification for selection:

  • The unenclosed common land of many of the highest hilltops and the network of small to medium irregular fields creates a rural atmosphere and tells a tale of long human occupation of the area.
  • The dispersed pattern of settlement that has at its core, old buildings of granite, cob and granite mixes or rendered granite and slate roofs.
  • Cornish hedges are a distinctive feature contributing to the sense of place, as well as being important historical features and wildlife corridors allowing species movement and migration.

A long history of human occupation is evident in the numerous heritage assets to be found across the landscape.

Justification for selection:

  • The story of early human occupation is told by archaeology such as the remains of a Neolithic enclosure on Helman Tor. Unfortunately many of the signs of early human occupation have been lost to quarrying.
  • Much of the NCA is scattered with the remains of the tin and copper mining industry.
  • The dips and pools of the east and of Goss and Tregoss moors are evidence of tin streaming.
  • Part of the Luxulyan and Charlestown section of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site is in the western half of the NCA.

Areas of broadleaved woodland in the valleys and willow carr, contrast with the more open hilltops.

Justification for selection:

  • Scattered broadleaved woods amongst the farmland, lend to the sense of rural idyll.
  • The small but impenetrable areas of willow carr add further contrast to the landscape and add a feeling of wilderness.

A diverse landscape of hills often contrasting dramatically from surrounding lowlands.

Justification for selection:

  • The distinctive granite tors rise dramatically above the rolling green hills and woodland-filled valleys.
  • The man-made hills of the china clay spoil heaps, form distinctive landmarks.

Landscape opportunities


  • Restoration of sites affected by the industrial past will provide opportunities to enhance biodiversity and recreation, while ensuring that the legacy of the industrial heritage remains.
  • Development pressures around the town of St Austell combined with the expansion of the tourism offer to the area will provide opportunities to further enhance the areas recreation and biodiversity potential.
  • The development of Eco Towns within the heart of the area provides opportunities for master planning of the complete area to ensure maximum multi use of the area occurs and using this to develop novel techniques to sustainably manage enhancements to the environments.