Area: 157.9 hectares.

Description and Reasons for Notification:

An extensive stretch of high granite cliffs and maritime heathland on the western edge of the Penwith Peninsula immediately south of Lands End. The 65 metre high cliffs are dissected by rocky pinnacles exhibiting prominent columnar jointing in the granite. Exposure to the prevailing south westerly winds has resulted in a very dwarfed vegetation. 

The site is underlain by the granite massif of Lands End, producing mostly thin, acidic, free-draining soils. Deeper peaty spoils, with wet flushes, have developed in some of the coastal valleys. 

The most extensive habitat type on these cliff tops is waved’ maritime heathland, dominated by heather Calluna vulgarisbell heather Erica cinereawestern gorse Ulex gallii and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix. Other habitats include small areas of maritime grassland, scrub, cliff vegetation, streams, pools and flushes. Species of particular interest include the Red Data Book* species perennial centaury Centaurium scilloides and early meadow-grass Poa infirma and also the rare hairy bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus subbiflorus and yellow bartsiaParentucellia viscosa

The extreme south-westerly location of the site is a factor in its being of considerable ornithological interest, with a total of 186 bird species recorded. The 45 breeding species include stonechat Saxicola torquatawhitethroat Sylvia communis, and teal Anas crecca which is a rare breeder in Cornwall. Some 69 bird species are known to over-winter here, including uncommon wintering species such as chiffchaffPhylloscopus collybita and peregrine falcon Falco peregrimus. This site is one of the most important in Cornwall for the numbers of species of passage migrants; 168 species have been recorded here. 

The rocky pinnacles and ledges support a well-developed bryophyte flora, including the rare liverwort Fossombronia angulosa. Also found here is Teloschistes flavicans, a rare lichen, requiring a particularly pollution free environment. 

Eleven species of dragonfly have been recorded, including the uncommon keeled skimmerOrthetrum coerulescens and common hawkerAeshna juncea

Two noteworthy butterflies are recorded -- the dark green fritillaryMescacidalia aglaja and silver studded bluePlejebus argus

* The British Red Data Book -- vascular plants, documents rare and endangered species.