The Boscastle Stitches
The Forrabury Stitches
History of the Stitches
Forrabury Stitches is a site of great historic, landscape and wildlife value.
The strip fields are a rare survivor of the stitchmeal system once widespread in the county. The stitches at Forrabury is one of the best three examples of open field farming in the country. The other examples are at Braunton in North Devon and Laxton near Nottingham.
The stitches were farmed under common ownership until at least the seventeenth century. By the time of the Tithe Survey in 1844, Forrabury Common was no longer a common and 14 separate owners were recorded. By 2000 there was one owner.
An essential part of the management is that each stitch is ploughed at least once every four years. The crops grown are usually oats, barley and grass. In the winter the stitches are grazed with sheep or cattle.
Wildlife of the stitches
The stitches which are managed as hay meadows contain a wide variety of plants including orchids, hayrattle, birds foot trefoil and sawwort.
The ploughing of the stitches allows the ‘arable plants’ to exist. Most of the species are common eg Speedwell, Bindweed, Fathen – but some, Lesser Snapdragon and Corn Marigold, are nationally rare. In winter the stubble on the arable stitches provide cover for over wintering birds such as finches and buntings.
Public paths and permissive paths
The public footpaths (marked with yellow arrows) were created in the mid 1950’s. The permissive paths (marked with white arrows) were created in 2001 to increase the enjoyment for walkers and allow farming to continue without conflicting with people who were walking off the paths.
The winter grazing is an essential part of managing the Stitches. This can cause conflict as the paths can become muddy with hooves and feet on the same path. The National Trust will continue to monitor the paths and make improvements to help people walking on the Stitches.